Big Travel Nut turns 5 today! On August 21, 2013, I launched Big Travel Nut as a blog for “women who love to travel but are not beneficiary of a trust fund”. A few years later, I decided to focus instead on “affordable solo travel for the 40+ crowd” (both men and women), after this article became my most popular post: Solo traveller in your 40s or 50s?

This past Saturday, on a warm and sunny day, a small group of travel nuts assembled in downtown Toronto to help me celebrate my blog’s 5th anniversary. Yes, it was a small group of locals, but it’s all about quality and not quantity. And this small group of travellers was certainly of high quality. (I don’t do too well in crowds anyway.)

The plan for the day was to start with a free walking tour of Old Town Toronto (given by me) in the late morning, and then follow this up with lunch on a patio at a nearby restaurant. Here’s how it went.

About to embark on a walking tour of Old Town Toronto (Big Travel Nut turns 5)

Travel nuts about to embark on a walking tour of Old Town Toronto (with me as the guide!)

I had six participants on the walk, and we all met at the Berczy Park “dog” fountain between 11:00 and 11:15. There is nothing like giving a walking tour to realize that guiding is a lot more difficult than it appears. My group of people all bonded so fast and got along so well, that they had a natural tendency to want to stay in one spot and chat. Ha ha! Tempting as it was, this show had to get on the road. “Let’s go” I yelled over the noise of the busy public park, and we were on our way.

Over the next hour and 45 minutes I showed my “visitors” some of the oldest buildings in Toronto, such as the Flatiron and St-Lawrence Market. Despite this crowd being all local, several people told me that they discovered new things on the tour, including some historical photos inside the Market, and a 3D model of 1837 Toronto at the back of Toronto’s First Post Office.

An iconic view of the Flatiron (a.k.a. Gooderham Building) (Big Travel Nut turns 5)

An iconic view of the Flatiron (a.k.a. Gooderham Building) near our restaurant

By 1:00 we were all feeling hungry and made our way to Hot House Restaurant. Two people left the group, but two new ones joined, so we were once again seven!

I sat in the middle of my little “tribe” but of course couldn’t keep up with all the conversations! Travellers tend to be well-read knowledgeable people and the topics ranged from travel (of course) to nutrition to life in general. Since we happened to be all women (not intentionally), we also talked about men, but just a little bit. 🙂 Whenever we meet next, hopefully we can get some guys to join.

Having lunch at Hot House Restaurant (Big Travel Nut turns 5)

Having lunch at Hot House Restaurant

After we finished the main course, I surprised everyone with a draw. The prize: a 50% off promo code from Tilley, a company that creates sturdy Canadian-made travel clothing, including the famous Tilley hats.

Everybody wrote their name and email address on little slips of paper, and I drew a name out of a hat (which happened to be my TH4 Hemp Tilley hat – couldn’t resist). The winner was … Maria Victoria (Victoria for short) who was ecstatic, as she had just been planning to buy a Tilley hat. (What a coincidence!) Well, it turns out that over half this group were already Tilley aficionados.

Drawing for a 50% off Tilley promo code (out of a Tilley hat)! (Big Travel Nut turns 5)

Drawing for a 50% off Tilley promo code (out of a Tilley hat). Victoria (far left) won!

I also drew two more names for “consolation prices”. Diana and Ildiko won copies of my two e-books: Organize your own amazing trips to Latin America and Organize your own amazing trips to Southeast Asia, perfect for independent travellers. (The e-books are currently only available by contacting me directly and paying through Paypal.)

I had told the group that Hot House was known for its large servings of delicious desserts, so several of us indulged and ordered a few different ones. (Mine was the carrot cake.)

Ending the afternoon with luscious desserts (Big Travel Nut turns 5)

Ending the afternoon with luscious desserts

We had an unhurried lunch, and it was 4 PM by the time we all went our separate ways, vowing to keep in touch. I think some of the ladies were already considering each other as potential travel partners. I love this! 🙂

As a writer and blogger who works mostly from my apartment, it was great to have a chance to meet some of my readers in the flesh. It does motivate me to keep writing and helping solo travellers. And I’ll be getting some assistance with this task soon.

As I’ve already announced in my newsletter, Big Travel Nut is now accepting guest posts. So if you have tips about a destination, or travel stories that you want to share with the world, contact me with your ideas and I’ll send you the guidelines.

And if you feel a bit sad that you could not participate in this year’s celebrations, check out the post I wrote last year: 4th anniversary special: I answer your questions. Lots of very useful information in there.

Here’s to the next five years!

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