Guest Spotlight

Jane Plitt

We have the coolest guests! An adventure isn’t just about the itinerary–it’s also about who you share it with. We want to turn the spotlight on some of our guests and what projects they’re working on.

We’ve had the great good fortune to travel with Jane Plitt twice (so far!)  We first met Jane on our 2017 Pilgrimage to Ladakh with Tricycle magazine; Jane, her husband Jim, and her sister Arlene then joined us in the Galapagos in January 2020. Jane is based in Bradenton, Florida, but her community involvement and love of travel have her on the road quite frequently!

Jane is an absolute force of nature; you’ve never met someone so eager to engage with the world around her! Her heartfelt enthusiasm and deep curiosity are such a blessing on tour. Jane not only engages the world, but also changes it: she was the first Executive Director of the National Organization of Women, she’s a Visiting Scholar at the University of Rochester, and she has a long list of accolades in recognition of her fierce advocacy for women’s equality and empowering small business owners. Jane is the world’s foremost expert on the life of Martha Matilda Harper, the entrepreneur who created the very model of business franchises. Have you ever had your hair washed in a reclining chair at the salon? You can also thank Martha for that!

Jane was generous enough to take a moment out of her busy schedule to talk a bit with us about her projects, travel, and inspiration.

Hand pouring Shrine candles

Jane (center) flanked by her sister Arlene and her husband Jim on an excursion to Los Tuneles in the Galapagos. Our January 2020 Galapagos trip was wonderful, made extra memorable since it was the final outing of 2020 for most of our guests (and us). 

Shrine's Mushroom Arch packaging

This is such a silly picture of Jane and me in Ladakh in 2017 (and I love it so much), and it’s a testament to the fact that everything that comes out of her mouth is a jaw-dropper!  

Tell us a bit about the projects you’ve been working on!

I stumbled on a clipping about Martha Matilda Harper, the forgotten franchise pioneer, and spent six years criss-crossing the U.S. and Canada trying to uncover her story speaking with former Harper franchisees, workers and family. Now her story is captured in three books—Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream (for history lovers), Martha the Hairpreneur (for young adults) and Martha’s Magical Hair (for youngsters), and most recently Europe’s ARTE’s broadcast station has created a documentary about her for their German and French viewers.

Bonus: Check out the interview with Jane over at Elena Reads. Elena is the 12-year-old daughter of a dear friend of BJ’s; she is a voracious reader and reviewer, as well as a writer herself. We highly recommend following her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, too! We love Elena!

Do you have a favorite memory from one of your travels with us?

While on the Pilgrimage to Ladakh I was meditating on a rock taking in the awesome spirit of the Himalayas, I heard a timid voice, “Cup of tea?”  Turned out a lovely Buddhist teacher was inviting me to her home. That led to an ongoing exchange of meals, gifts, and communications, all encouraged by you and with the added bonus that my new friend was the cousin of a monk associated with the Thiksey Monastery. Your journeys enable such delicious, serendipitous happenings.

(In all fairness, Jane makes this happen everywhere she goes! She visited Rapa Nui [Easter Island] a couple weeks before BJ and I arrived there, and by the time she left she had a laundry list of people we had to meet, complete with their life stories!)


How does travel inspire you?

Travel delights my soul, introduces me to new worlds, new values, new ideas. Travel expands my thinking and energizes me.


Do you have any favorite ‘travel gear’?

I have diabetes and am insulin-dependent. I adore the Frio Cooling case that lets me safely carry my backup insulin without refrigeration anywhere in the world! I simply dunk the case every three days in water and my insulin remains sufficiently cooled!

Jane was the only one to push through to the very end of the Sierra Negra volcano hike on Isabela island with me. This is not a surprise to anyone that knows Jane; however, this is a giant surprise to anyone that knows me

The whole Shrine candle family.

Jane on our last night in Ladakh in 2017. 

“I have traveled to many parts of the world. What RetreaTours provides is extraordinary personalized trip planning and organization that lets me soak up the experience without my focusing on nitty-gritty arrangements . I get exposed to the best the area has to offer.”

Learn more about Jane Plitt (and Martha Matilda Harper!)

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