Monday,  December 4, 2023  5:18 am

Their clients couldn’t travel. So these travel agents invented a game about travel

Their clients couldn’t travel. So these travel agents invented a game about travel
From left: Rhonda Dashevsky & Kathryn Comeau-Wong of Personal Travel Management.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

As a travel expert with BC-based Personal Travel Management, Rhonda Dashevsky was used to sending her clients on unforgettable adventures around the world.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, “the world shut down,” as she would say.  

“Friday, March 13 [2020] is a day none of us will forget,” Dashevsky tells PAX, recalling that moment last year when borders closed and flights were grounded and the travel industry, as we knew it, came to a screeching halt.

The weeks that followed that date were busy ones for Dashevsky and her colleagues as they worked around the clock to fly clients home, process travel credits and figure out insurance claims.

By April, the work was done, and that's when things really started to slow down.

“I was thinking, this [pandemic] isn’t going anywhere quickly,” Dashevsky says.

So Dashevsky and her colleague, Kathryn Comeau-Wong, put their heads together and hatched an idea that would not only keep them busy, but would also get people excited about travel as travelling, faced with indefinite restrictions, was becoming less possible.  

Their creation? A travel-inspired party game, called “Trips to Tales,” that takes players around the world to relive previous travel adventures and follies, dream about future trips, and participate in fun (and sometimes zany) challenges.

“We wanted something that would keep people involved in travel and remembering how good it is,” Dashevsky says.

Made by travel advisors

Trips to Tales is a competition game for two to six players, suitable for family members or groups of friends, that was made “for the love of travel made by travel advisors.”

The game’s backstory sets the stage for how it’s played.

So, imagine this: you and family/friends have spent the last few years travelling the world and it is now time to go home.

You go to purchase your flight but, oh no! Your pockets are empty.

Over a pint, you brainstorm ways to find money, all the while laughing and reminiscing over all the crazy adventures you had during your travels.

Meanwhile, "listening ears" overhear your dilemma and offers each of you a sum of money, per story, memory, and challenge, to help pay for that flight home.

This is where Trips to Tales begins as players take turns picking up cards and following the instructions, or challenges, that accompany them.

Each card has a dollar value, and the first player who raises a set amount for that flight home, as outlined in the instructions, wins the game.

Real-life experiences

The challenges on each card were written with travel aficionados in mind (they’re all based on real experiences) and no game is ever the same. 

There’s “would you rather” questions. For example: “Would rather see the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda or see the Komodo Dragons in Indonesia?”

Trips to Tales takes players around the world to relive travel adventures, dream about future trips, and participate in fun challenges. (Supplied)

There's opportunities to share fun stories, such as “Have you ever missed a flight? What happened?” or “Share your worst bathroom experience from your travels.”

There are physical challenges, too. One card instructs players to face each another (as if they’re in line at customs) and do everything possible to make each other laugh.

(The player who keeps a straight face the longest wins the round).

But like any trip, problems are bound to happen along the way. And just as you accumulate dollars in the game, there are “Problem!” cards that can deplete your funds.

For instance: “You drank too much last night and misplaced your hotel room key. Discard your lowest value card,” as one card reads.

Or the bus broke down. Or the ATM ate your debit card. Or your wallet was pickpocketed.

Sound familiar? Remember, this game was invented by pros (Dashevsky and Comeau-Wong have more than 22 combined years in the travel industry) who’ve seen and heard it all.  

“The game gives people a chance to remember those trips and adventures,” says Dashevsky, who, alongside her colleague, started selling the game in December 2020.

“We’ve had incredible feedback."

Keeping the dream alive

One unique aspect about the challenges – the destination-based ones, in particular – is that they are all researched itineraries that people can actually do.

“Being travel agents, we know there are off-the-beaten-path experiences that get people dreaming, and thinking, ‘When this is all over, I wanna do that,’” Dashevsky says.

The game’s cover art depicting travellers soaring through the clouds on paper airplanes, passing iconic, cloud-made landmarks, authentically captures those travel dreams that, due to the coronavirus, have been put on hold.

Trips to Tales is “for the love of travel made by travel advisors." (Supplied)

It’s therefore no surprise to learn that travel agents across Canada have been gifting Trips to Tales to clients, and using it as a tool for virtual sessions to stay engaged. (The game can easily be played over Zoom).

“Sharing it with clients is awesome,” Dashevsky says. “When they remember travel, they’ll remember you, and when they’re ready to book, they’ll go to you.”

The game, of course, has been a hit with travel advisors, too.

“I think they’ll appreciate it,” Dashevsky says. “Travel agents love to travel and this game lets you relive your dreams and think about the next place you want to go.”

Trips to Tales comes with a 30-second hourglass timer and 250 cards, and the creators have plans to release an “expander pack” of new challenges in time for Christmas 2021.

“Even when travel comes back, it’s such a great game to play when you’re in between travels,” Dashevsky says. “It creates that fun connection.”  

Trips to Tales is available at for C$29.99 (plus shipping). Travel advisors that buy two or more games to the same address are eligible for a 10% discount using the promo code TA2021.

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!