A 'maven' (from the Yiddish word 'mevyn') is a person with a deep understanding of a particular subject built up through many years of practical experience, unlike an 'expert' who typically has formal training in their field.
Mavens are the people you turn to for advice, whether it relates to cars, fashion, computers, musical instruments or travel. In recent years, the term gained much exposure when Malcolm Gladwell explored it at length in his book 'The Tipping Point'.
Barry Devolin's first passion has always been travel. He made his first trip to Europe when he was 15, and has subsequently visited more than 40 countries (does East Germany still count?), 49 American states and 12 Canadian provinces & territories.
In 2015, Barry and his wife Ursula took their kids George and Molly (13 & 11 at the time) on a six month backpacking tour around the world. They visited 19 countries, took 17 flights and stayed in more than 40 places in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Australia. Barry planned every step and stop, and at the time, believed that trip was the magnum opus of his travel planning life.
In 2018, after a long and successful career in government and academia, Barry launched a new career in the travel industry. His goal is to share his love of travel with everyone he meets, and to show them that it is possible to have amazing travel experiences at affordable prices.
To this end, most of the tours Barry offers are small group walking tours of Great Cities, usually staying in one hotel in one city for one week, or two hotels in two cities for two weeks. Christmas Markets is a little different, as we explore several smaller cities. Kruger Safari is unique, as we spend all our time in nature’s splendour. During the summer, Barry also manages and operates DeLuxe Hiking for DeNureTours, which specializes in hiking tours across Canada.
BarryTravelMaven is an affiliate of and receives booking services from DeNure Tours, where it is licensed and insured under TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario).
TravelMaven tours are based on the belief that simplicity is better than complexity, that less is often better than more. For example, going to just one destination, taking just one flight, and staying in just one hotel is much simpler (and dare we say more enjoyable) than a whirlwind tour.
For practical reasons, it isn't always possible to limit our tours to one week, one flight or one hotel. However, our goal is always to have fewer rather than more. For example, our one week tours use one or two hotels. Our two week tours use two, or possibly three hotels.
Some of you may remember the 1969 comedy farce "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium". That film was based on the crazy idea (common at that time) that all of Europe could be seen in just a couple of weeks. ("Visit 7 countries and fly real low over 3 more!") Unfortunately, more than a few tours are still operated this way.
Today, many experienced travellers are embracing the idea of "slow travel", taking their time and savouring the places they visit. The TravelMaven philosophy is built on this principle, and on the understanding that one or two weeks is plenty of time to explore and experience one or two places.
While we can appreciate why some people take the "we won't be back so we want to see it all" approach, that's not how we organize our tours. TravelMaven doesn’t offer "all you can eat buffet” tours. Rather, we prefer to take a deeper dive and experience one or two places really well.
This is largely based on the understanding that we cannot be all things to all people, and that if we were to try, we’d simply end up pleasing no one . For example, some folks love huge hotels and resorts with tons of facilities, we lean towards smaller and often older boutique hotels in walkable areas.
While we don’t do fast-paced, action-packed vacations (except our Kruger Safari in March Break), we are always happy to direct people towards tour operators that specialize in those kinds of tours. In other words, we’ve decided to sell sandwiches instead of pizzas or hamburgers or lobster dinners (even though we love those too!). But our sandwiches are good, really good.