She will lead them

Patricia Thaxter

Photo By Andrew Nixon

According to Patricia Thaxter, it takes 10 or more to tango. That’s the minimum number of travelers she’ll take on one of her jaunts to Buenos Aires, Paris, Prague or wherever her work as the owner of Infusions Travel leads her. A longtime tango dancer, Thaxter started her tour business by organizing a trip to Argentina’s World Tango Festival for other dance enthusiasts. Since then, she’s expanded her custom trip planning to accommodate golfers, yoga practitioners, classical-music enthusiasts and global sightseers of all stripes. Drawing on her extensive travel experience, Thaxter connects Sacramentans to the larger world—10 (or more) at a time.

When did you start leading tours?

I started about two-and-a-half years ago. I wanted to combine my passion for dancing, for tango, with my travel experience. I also speak French and Spanish. I’ve lived in France, I’ve lived in Mexico, and I’ve traveled quite a bit. I wanted to find a way to put it all together. The thing that inspired me was I found, on the Internet, a tango festival that the city of Buenos Aires organizes every year. I thought, “Wow! I could put together a trip for this.”

You’re also a certified France Destination Specialist?

In the travel business, you can specialize in a certain country. It’s a program that’s put together by The Travel Institute and the French Government Tourist Office. You take a course and then a couple of tests. I decided to do it because I was already pretty familiar with France, so it made sense. The next logical ones for me would be, of course, Argentina and Mexico.

How many people make up a tour?

My first group was 37. My daughter came with me to help, because it was planned for 20, and it just continued to expand. When it got to 30, I thought, “OK. I need help.” My daughter also speaks fluent Spanish, so it made sense to have her come. It worked out pretty well, but the second trip to Buenos Aires I did was 22, and I thought that was a really good number. So I’m aiming for 22, 24 maybe.

How do you create an itinerary that pleases everyone?

I create it with a lot of freedom. We’ll have a couple of activities done with the group, like the initial city tour and maybe, in the case of Buenos Aires, a dinner and tango show. The rest of the time, people are on their own. We have a pre-departure group meeting to go over all the details, answer all the questions. I give them maps, tell them how to get around on the subway. Once there, I’ll have optional day trips or activities. That works well because if you’ve been someplace before, you’ll want to take off on your own. If it’s your first time, you’ll want to do more things with the group.

Can you share any travel tips?

I like to travel lightly. My tip for a long flight is a neck pillow and slippers. I take off my shoes when I board the plane and put on my slippers—for me it makes a difference. Packing lightly just makes sense. Most likely, you will find things you want to buy at your destination.

What’s the best way to get oriented in a new city?

Just leave the hotel and start walking. Have absolutely no plan of what you’re going to do during the day. Leave it entirely open and just walk with an open mind, to see what’s around. Usually, you discover wonderful stores, little neighborhoods, great architecture, a café where you sit down and have coffee or lunch. In Paris, there are tons of little shops—the olive-oil shop, the hat shop, the cheese shop—I love going into little shops like that just to see what there is. Maybe you’ll even find a beautiful park to sit in and enjoy. You’ll meet people that way, also. Just walk.

Where do you want to go that you’ve never been?

I want to go to China. I sent a few people there on a tour and the more I researched about China, the more enchanting I found it. The history! The Great Wall, Buddhist temples, tea tasting. I thought it would be great to go to little tiny villages to do tea tasting. That might still come for 2007.

Travel always brings surprises. Can you describe a travel miracle or a travel disaster you’ve had?

I always tell my travel groups to keep an open mind and a really good attitude. I think when you go to a new country with a good attitude, you’ll find wonderful things come your way. In Paris, I happened to walk into the Paris opera a few minutes before they were going to do this Mozart opera. I inquired about tickets, and of course they were all sold out, but there were people there with tickets they didn’t want, and there it was; I had tickets to the opera! I wasn’t dressed for it, but that was OK. It was a great experience.