As Detour’s creator, I can’t talk about the company’s history without talking about mine.

For a long time, it never even occurred to me to go on a guided tour, much less lead one. For one thing, I’m a language lover. So I like to vacation in places where I speak the language… and to spend my trip immersing in that language, away from other English-speakers.

I also had a misconception about tours. I thought a tour was just a huge bus full of tourists bouncing from one big tourist attraction to another. The only people they’d ever encounter would be either other tourists or locals who work in tourism. Not my idea of a good time.

Argentinian child-sized red leather and suede jacket.

Not everything touristy is bad. This leather store was fun. But for the most part, I’d rather experience a destination outside of the standard tourist bubble.

My ideas only changed when I took my family on a trip to Panama to visit my out-laws*. I caught on quickly that without knowing any Spanish, and without knowing their way around, my family depended on me. When my sister wanted to visit Monkey Island, I arranged for a local fisherman to take us there in his tiny boat. When a restaurant’s menus were all in Spanish, I translated. When we couldn’t rent pedal-carts without a Panamanian ID, I negotiated a solution. Because they had me, my family got to go places and do things they couldn’t have done on their own. And I had a blast being their trusty guide.

From there, it didn’t take much to figure out I had something to offer. Not everyone speaks Spanish, spends serious time in Latin America, and gets to learn their way around. Not everyone has family/friends/connections all over the place. And so not everyone can design the kind of unique, personal tour I can.

Some training here, a bit of web design there, and months turning all my favorite spots into tour itineraries… and voila! Detour Travel was born.

monkey in a tree

An inhabitant of Monkey Island sizes us up.

*Out-laws are like in-laws for same-sex couples who can’t get lawfully married.

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