Bucket-list trip boom

A cancer survivor has booked the trip of a lifetime – across Route 66 on the back of a Harley Davidson.

After Dave Hughes was diagnosed with throat cancer, and endured a gruelling operation in 2019, he and wife Karen knew it was ‘now or never’ for their dream trip.

The 55-year-old is one of a growing number going for big ‘bucket list’ holidays post-lockdown, according to Stockton travel agent Sue Macaulay.

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The once-in-a-lifetime bookings are up by around 50% says Sue.

Dave, who runs HGV driver training centre DHDT at Teesside International Airport, says his life-changing illness made him pick up the phone – and book the American odyssey he’d been dreaming of for years.

“I had a massive operation in 2019, an esophagectomy, they pull your stomach into the chest,” Dave told Teesside Live.

“It’s one of the biggest operations the NHS does.

“I was in James Cook for three weeks. But I recovered well.

“I’m not going to get the chance to do this again.

“When you have a scare like that – well, that’s why I wanted to do it.”

Route 66 – The ‘Mother Road’ – is a popular bucket list item for many

Driving Route 66 has been a lifelong dream, he says.

“I had the opportunity 12 years ago but it would have crippled me financially.

“The time wasn’t right.

“But life changes over the years, we’re not doing so bad with the business.

“And I’m not getting any younger.”

Dave and Karen, an NHS nurse, will ride a Harley Davison motor bike the 2,400 miles across Route 66.

They’ll cross eight states and three time zones from Chicago to Santa Monica.

The flights, helmets, leathers, Harley Davison and support back-up for luggage are all booked, ready and waiting.

“People say why are you spending all that money on a two or three week trip,” Dave adds.

“But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s been a lifetime dream. If I don’t do it now, I never will,” said Dave, 55.

“You never know what’s round the corner.

“I’ve survived cancer and the effects of Covid on my business and family.

“There are no pockets in shrouds……bring on the Harley.

“Sue’s put all the details in place to make it the journey of a lifetime.”

The ‘bucket list’ boom is thanks to a covid triple whammy says Sue, who runs a notjustravel franchise from her Stockton home.

The stress of being locked down, all DIY projects done and dusted – and the fear of a winter rise in covid death rates have spurred people to spend rainy-day money before it’s too late.

“Bucket list holidays accounted for one or two percent of bookings before the pandemic,” she says.

“In the last two weeks it’s rocketed.”

She tailors holidays to individual needs – and has organised everything from wild bespoke adventure holidays to luxury safaris and expeditions to The Antarctic, Trans-Siberian Express journeys and The Northern Lights Experience.

“We take out all the hassle. We deal with all the little details which can make or break a trip.

“We read hotel reviews on behalf of our clients, and organise such requests as limo transfers, petals on the bed, champagne on ice in the room, the perfect view….whatever our clients ask for.

“Because of this I have time to talk to them personally about the reason for their trip.

“And more and more people are saying they want to tick a box on their bucket list.

“Because of the threats and stress of Covid they want to do things they’ve never done before or are likely to do again.”

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