My Just You Story: Sheila

Sheila Heppell has enjoyed two Just You holidays with another two already booked for this year. Here’s why she loves to explore with Just You…

“Travel means so much to me, it’s about exploring lots of places of course, but also experiencing other cultures and being around like-minded people. At the end of the day, life’s too short to stay at home – I’ve spent too many years working, so now it’s all about travelling for me!

I love the fact that with Just You, it’s an exclusively solo tour, your itinerary is all sorted with great hotels and features the best and safest places to go - it’s all taken care of for you.

Highlights of Tuscany 

In April 2022 I joined the Highlights of Tuscany tour, which was my first experience with Just You and it was absolutely fantastic.

I’d been to Italy before, visiting Florence on a school trip in the 1970s, which is obviously a different experience, but I’ve wanted to revisit Italy ever since.

I’ve travelled solo quite a few times, but this was my first time on an organised tour. I chose Tuscany as it’s not too far away and I could see more places than if I’d booked independently.

Our Holiday Director, Christina was so bubbly which was great, and on the first night she booked dinner for us and the whole group went, which was a great way to bond with each other. The camaraderie of the group in Tuscany was fantastic! I felt like I had known a lot of the group my whole life, we felt like family.

Farmhouse lunch in Tuscany

Farmhouse experience in Tuscany

On the fourth day we dined on a farmhouse lunch at Fattoria Il Poggio, where they produce their own wine and olive oil. It was phenomenal, there was plenty of food and wine which we could have made last all day! Everything was so fresh as a lot of it was produced on the farm, and the homemade breads and dips were delicious.

The coach journeys were fun too. Christina would organise a quiz, sing-along or just ask the group questions about what they had seen and enjoyed the day before which was a great way for us to get to know our travelling companions.

The Lucca and Siena optional tours were amazing. On one day a few of us stayed back and enjoyed a late breakfast, a leisurely walk into Montecatini Terme to see the thermal waters and have a coffee, before heading back for an afternoon by the pool. I always like to leave a day free on tour to be able to relax and use the hotel facilities.

On the last night, after our farewell dinner, my friend and I took the funicular train to see the town of Montecatini Terme from above. We sat with a glass of limoncello and enjoyed the twinkling lights of the town below. We’re so glad we rushed to get on the last train to go and do it – it was worth it!

Canada and New England in the Fall

Canada and New England were fantastic too, just in a totally different way. Tuscany felt more personal and intimate in comparison to Canada which was a faster pace of key Canadian cities, which ticked off an unbelievable amount of attractions including Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

This was a really important tour for me to tick off some personal places I wanted to visit. I was delighted at the time I booked, as Just You was the only solo travel company offering New England and Boston as an add on so I had to book!

Boat Trip in Boston

I was exhausted, I walked something like 114 miles as part of our excursions and during my free time - but it was absolutely worth it for all the places and scenery I was able to enjoy. I just wish I could have stayed in Quebec City a bit longer to enjoy all the amazing autumnal colours, but it’s tricky sometimes to fit this in with the rest of the itinerary.

The absolute stand-out for me was Niagara Falls – it was so impressive and just one of those attractions you must see in your lifetime. I visited Victoria Falls in the 1980s which was a similar feeling, but the sheer volume and intensity of Niagara was out of this world in comparison.

Sheila in Niagara Falls on her solo travel adventure

The fall foliage in Quebec on Sheila's solo holiday

The coach stopped at the upper viewing platform for some pictures, then headed down into the town where we had plenty of time to explore, get a bite to eat and back on the coach. It was well coordinated and nice to have a bit of guidance from our Holiday Director, Roberto on where to go and what to see in the area.

What's next for my solo travel adventures...

I have two more holidays booked – the Croatian Island Explorer which I had been looking at for a while. A fellow traveller on the Canadian trip convinced me to book it as she said it was wonderful.

You get a cabin to yourself and there’s just 20 people onboard. I have been to Croatia before but haven’t seen the islands. I was planning on going with a friend but she can’t visit at the moment so the only way to go is for me to do it solo with Just You.

I’m also booked on the Canada and the Rocky Mountaineer tour in September, and just deciding if I want to upgrade to the Gold Leaf service.

Once I’ve completed these two trips, I’m thinking about St Lucia next as despite being well-travelled I’ve never visited the Caribbean so it would be a good one to do next.

Sheila is considering St Lucia for her 2024 solo holiday adventure

The Canadian Rockies is up next for Sheila

Why choose Just You

If you’re reading this and thinking of going but still feeling a bit apprehensive, my advice to you is bite the bullet and just go - you won’t regret it. You’ll meet lots of people, make new friends, see new places you wouldn’t ordinarily go to, so just go for it!

I’m delighted that I took the advice of my local travel agent Darren, and I have been sharing this advice too - even with my dentist who now wants to book the Croatian Island Explorer for his wife.

I think it’s important to remember that Just You is solo travel, not single travel. You meet people from all walks of life, so each trip is different.

Some of my friends thought it was expensive but once I broke it all down, they could see what great value it is and the quality of the hotels is fantastic. Plus you don’t miss out on the scenery versus if you had hired a car to drive it yourself; you can just leave it to the Holiday Director and the coach driver to sort it all out.

I’ve made some wonderful friends and memories so just get out and do it, you don’t know what’s around the corner!

Follow in Sheila's footsteps

  1. Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano, Tuscany

    Highlights of Tuscany

    Explore Tuscany's rolling countryside, dotted with olive groves, vineyards and medieval hilltop towns. You'll also visit Pisa, home of the Leaning Tower, and Florence, Italy's 'Art City'.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in 4-star hotels and 11 meals
    • 12 meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners

    8 days from
    £1,499
    was £1,649
    Explore
  2. Croatian Harbour

    Croatian Island Explorer

    From chic towns and secluded beaches to exquisite wine and delicious cuisine, discover it all on this island-hopping cruise.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights on board MV Paradis
    • 17 included meals: 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners

    8 days from
    £3,099
    was £3,399
    Explore