September is Travel Together Month

USTOA tour operators are taking the road less traveled and visiting emerging destinations in 2020. Check out our full round-up of new, off-the-beaten path itineraries below.

Photo Courtesy of Alexander + Roberts

Photo Courtesy of Alexander + Roberts

Asia

Abercrombie & Kent: South Korea & Japan: Cultural Legacies of the East

Alexander + Roberts: Ancient Lands of the Himalayas: A Journey to Nepal + Bhutan

Audley Travel: Community and Conservation in Myanmar

CroisiEurope Cruises: Around India and Sri Lanka from Madras to Bombay

Holiday Vacations: Vietnam & Cambodia

SITA World Tours: Setouchi, Japan’s Inland Sea

Zegrahm Expeditions: Along the Mekong: China, Thailand & Laos

Caradonna Adventures: Sepilok Nature Resort 7-Night Package 

 

Photo Courtesy of Trafalgar

Photo Courtesy of Trafalgar

South and Central America

Avanti Destinations: Peruvian Bliss

Contiki: Patagonia Trail

International Expeditions: Bolivia & Chile’s Atacama Desert

Pleasant Holidays: Costa Rica Guided Vacations

Trafalgar: Colombia Rediscovered

 

Photo Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

Photo Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

Europe

CIE Tours International: Best of Iceland & Ireland South

Collette: The Baltics Revealed, Featuring St. Petersburg

Europe Express: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Winter Escape

Go-today: Manchester & Liverpool

Holland America Line: 35-Day Voyage of the Vikings Trip

Intrepid Travel: Highlights of Ukraine

Lindblad Expeditions: Coastal Wonders of Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations: Lithuania & Latvia – the Baltics

 

Photo Courtesy of Lion World Travel

Photo Courtesy of Lion World Travel

Africa

Country Walkers: Morocco – Marrakech, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Lion World Travel: Southern African Wild Wonderlands

Luxury Gold: Elegance of the Pharaohs

Perillo’s Learning Journeys: Discover Ethiopia

African Travel: Ultimate Tanzania and Rwanda 

 

Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Middle East

smarTours: Oman, Dubai & Abu Dhabi

 

Photo Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

Photo Courtesy of Seabourn Cruises

North America

Seabourn Cruises: UNESCO Banff National Park & The Rocky Mountaineer

Travel Impressions: Princeville Helicopter Adventure

 

Photo Courtesy of YMT Vacations

Photo Courtesy of YMT Vacations

Australia & Oceania

Goway: Wukalina Walk

YMT Vacations: Islands of the Pacific – Seattle to Sydney

 

Find all the itineraries offered by USTOA tour operators at https://ustoa.com/dream-vacation


Top Destinations for Family Learning Journeys

By Carol Dimopoulos of Perillo’s Learning Journeys

As President of Perillo’s Learning Journeys and in my role as an adjunct professor for SUNY Empire State College, I believe that both travel and education are investments in a child’s future.  When my children were young I realized we could combine the two. Incorporating classes in the destinations we traveled to deepen their course work and bringing the learning to life. When planning family travel, I always consider an experience which moves beyond the realm of the traditional.

Perillo’s Learning Journeys offers a unique collection of customized family journeys designed to combine cultural immersions with hands-on education to ignite learners’ passions in a certain area of discipline or interest.  Meet with other students and their families to learn about life in their respective cultures, forming new relationships.  Participate in a community project as to learn about cultural responsibility.  The experience provides a platform for families to learn something new, which lasts far beyond the physical experience of the journey.

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1. Italy

Family-friendly Italy invites you to explore its beautiful cities and soak up its regional culture, history and cuisine. The learning possibilities are endless!

Participate in a pizza and gelato course in Rome and a mask-making class in Venice. Immerse your family in Italian culture by learning some language skills and enjoy a hands-on studio art program that provides a better understanding of the masterpieces you’ll see. Participate in culinary sessions using regional techniques to make craft pasta, pizza, and ice cream. Visit a local farm to learn about the region’s food and wine production.  Visit the interactive Children’s Museums in Rome and Florence. Take an art or mosaic class to deepen art appreciation.

Italy is a land rich with festivals.  Plan your experience around a festival and you are sure to become immersed in the local life!

2. Greece

The land of mythology, Greece is the perfect destination for family learning travel.  Visit the mythological islands of Santorini and Crete, the seat of muses, gods and goddesses. Learn about the historical sites, visit a volcano, enjoy a Greek dance class, experience a scavenger hunt, cook with a local Greek Yia Yia (grandmother), and experience vibrant Greek community and culture.

3. Peru

Peru is a privileged land of endless opportunities: nature, adventure, culture, history, archaeology, handicrafts, native textiles, fabulous gastronomy, and trekking.  Experiencing an authentic adventure exposes travelers to the local customs and warm people who welcome your family into their homes and share their family’s traditions. From textile and music workshops where you learn how to play traditional instruments and even build your own zampoñ to bring home, to visiting the sacred Machu Picchu, and taking part in the Inca practice, Kusi Runa,  your family will be immersed in Peru’s history, nature, and living culture.

4. Iceland

Stir your family’s imagination for Viking lore and introduce them to fun aspects of geology in Iceland.  Learn about the first Parliament while visiting Thingvellir National Park. Experience the world of whales and seabirds during a whale-watching cruise near Reykjavik. Discover the wonder, beauty, and science behind major geological sites as you stand before powerful waterfalls such as Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss; watch geysers spout 100 feet in the air; witness the site where two tectonic plates collided, and see the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara. Go inside of an Ice Cave, a virtual volcano and even bake Rye bread using geothermal methods.

5. London and Paris

London and Paris are the perfect destinations to bring your family’s learning to life with an immersion in history, arts, and culture. In London, explore British history at the Tower of London with a Beefeater and visit the tombs of monarchs and poets at Westminister Abbey. Learn stage fighting techniques at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, take a walking tour of Harry Potter’s “hometown,” and a cruise along the Thames, and view the city from the London Eye. In Paris, engage with art during special programs at the Louvre and the Musé d’Orsay. Ascend the Eifel Tower, take walking tours of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, join a cooking class and learn how to blend your own perfume.

 

Learning Journeys offers cutting-edge travel experiences powered by Perillo Tours’ 74 years of travel planning expertise.  More than a traditional vacation, Learning Journeys’ itineraries focus on enhanced immersion in a specific interest or passion, such as yoga and wellness, cooking, photography, watercolor painting, bird watching, dance, language study, conservation, and much more. All journeys incorporate elements of culture, nature, culinary traditions, community service, and meeting with locals.  Programs to worldwide destinations include Italy, Bali, India, Malta, Peru and more. 


6 Cities for Art and Architecture Lovers

By Hayley Warner, Monograms Marketing Coordinator

Art and architecture, created long before us and preserved to last long after us, offer a glimpse of the past – of how people looked, how they lived, what they enjoyed. And these 6 cities gave rise to those creators, to the world’s most legendary architects, painters, sculptors and innovators. Their masterpieces continue to provide a portal through which we are able to better understand life long ago. If you travel to see the world’s greatest masterpieces or to marvel at intricate architecture, these 6 swoon-worthy cities are for you!

Madrid

From the surrealism of Salvador Dali to Pablo Picasso’s cubism, Spain gave rise to many 20th century legends. The capital city of Madrid claims many of these masterpieces as her own, housing the likes of Francisco Goya and Diego Velazquez in three major art museums – the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyssen. Though much of Madrid’s infrastructure is modern and her sister city of Barcelona is a bigger hit with architecture enthusiasts, be sure not to miss Plaza Mayor and Parque del Buen Retiro.

Barcelona

Barcelona

Known for the abstract works of Gaudi, Barcelona is a city where art and architecture merge into one. Influenced by nature, Gaudi incorporated curves, color and mosaic patterns into his design in an unprecedented way. Barcelona is marked by his architectural statements – from La Sagrada Familia which took more than 140 years to complete, to Parque Guell. Barcelona is also widely considered to be the childhood home of Pablo Picasso. Although he spent most of his adult life in France, the city pays homage to his early upbringing by displaying thousands of his work in the aptly named Picasso Museum.

London

Though a buzzing metropolis, London’s art scene was slow to develop – Galleries were not a city staple until the late 1980s when the Young British Artists, a group of visual artists including Damien Hirst, decided to shake things up and add contemporary art to the city’s portfolio. London has since evolved into a dynamic and influential player in the art world with renowned museums dominating the city’s West End and emerging artists rising in ranks south of the Thames. Most notably, London has shaped the contemporary art scene, with museums like the Tate Modern, White Cube and the Royal Academy of Arts attracting visitors from around the globe. If you prefer to admire masters from the 17th century or before, check out the National Gallery.

Paris

The City of Light is home to some of the most celebrated single pieces of art in the world. Famous museums like The Louvre and Musee D’Orsay house works including the Mona Lisa, collections of Degas’ dancers, and Monet’s water lilies. France was also a prominent source of inspiration for Spanish painter, Pablo Picasso, and the Picasso Museum in Paris showcases much of his personal collection. Beyond an extensive art collection, Paris is loved for its opulent architecture. It gave birth to the Gothic style, characterized by flying buttresses and the extensive use of stained glass. Sainte-Chapelle is a perfect example of this style!

Rome

Rome

Following in the footsteps of their Greek predecessors, the Romans were architectural masterminds and unparalleled innovators, becoming the first to construct the arch and to create the first concrete-like building material by mixing volcanic ash and lime. No single city on earth possesses more architectural ruins or ancient wonders than Rome. From the Colosseum to the Roman Forum, each preserved ruin reveals something about the way Romans lived and what they valued.

Florence

Florence

Though the city itself is somewhat of an open-air museum, with piazzas displaying sculptures designed by Michelangelo, Florence is predominantly known as the city that gave rise to the Renaissance, and thus, some of the world’s most remarkable, forward-thinking artists. Masterpieces like Da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi, Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus were created here and still live on display at the Uffizi Gallery in the center of the city. Beyond master painters and sculptors, Florentine architects were equally advanced. At the time of its design, Brunelleschi’s Duomo was the largest dome in the world and a true architectural wonder – how was it going to stand without support structures? It took more than 140 years to complete the original design and the Duomo remains an engineering feat.

 There are different ways to travel. You can choose to go with a group… You can choose a do-it-yourself vacation… Or, you can choose something in-between. Something that’s better than going it alone. It’s called Monograms and there’s nothing else like it. Monograms invites you to travel the world independently, with expert help.

 


How to Experience the Northern Lights

By go-today

In Finnish lore, the Northern Lights were sparks from the tail of the fire fox sprinting across the snow. Ancient Estonians believed them to be horse-drawn carriages carrying heavenly guests to a radiant wedding in the sky. Icelandic legend has it that a pregnant woman who looks at the lights during childbirth will produce a cross-eyed baby.

Scientifically, the aurora borealis occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with atmospheric gases at the earth’s poles. The result is one of the most mystical, otherworldly phenomena you are likely to witness in your lifetime. Here are some tips on when and where to catch this spectacle at its most miraculous.

 

When to See It

Though summer is a popular time to travel, it’s not the optimal season for viewing the Northern Lights. Instead, try traveling between September and April, when the skies are dark and relatively cloudless. Active periods can occur anytime within the dark hours, though most of the action tends to happen between 10pm and 2am. Keep in mind that the aurora is a cosmic phenomenon with a mind of its own. It does not own a wristwatch, nor does it value punctuality. It may make an appearance, but it may not. Prepare yourself for either outcome.

 

Where to Go

In general, anywhere in or near the Arctic Circle is a good bet for catching aurora action. Here are four of our favorite destinations:

 

northern-lights1

 

Abisko, Sweden

Abisko’s location in the middle of the auroral zone means that of the 212 nights a year that are dark enough to see them, the Northern Lights are visible an average of 159 of them. The polar desert of Abisko has the clearest skies of anywhere in Europe, thanks in part to the Blue Hole of Abisko: a patch of sky that stays cloudless despite surrounding weather conditions. You can even catch a cable car up Mount Nuoljo to the Aurora Sky Station, where there’s a café and lookout tower.

 

Tromso, Norway

Go to the Arctic Circle. Now go 214 miles farther north until you hit Tromso, where November plunges the town into a Polar Night that doesn’t end until April. This eternal darkness and mild coastal climate (averaging 23°F in the winter) create one ideal aurora-watching destination.

 

Lapland, Finland

Saariselkä is Finland’s northernmost ski resort and the perfect place to get away from the lights of the city. With its bounty of large lakes and fells (barren, mountainous lands), it’s a winter wonderland by day and a snow-carpeted celestial coliseum by night.

 

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Truthfully, the entire country is prime Northern Lights real estate, but you can’t beat seeing them in the middle of UNESCO World Heritage site. Mountains, glaciers, lava fields, ink-blank skies, and shimmering celestial lights—what could be better?

 

northern-lights2

 

Tips for the Trip

  • Pack clothes that will keep you nice and toasty in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Bring a thermos of something warm to drink.
  • Take a nap—or three—the day before your adventure so you’ll have the energy to stay awake.
  • Get away from the light pollution of the city.
  • Altitude is your friend. If there’s a climbable mountain nearby, climb it.
  • Seeing the Northern Lights can be a waiting game, so take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.
  • Check aurora forecasts. Though they don’t guarantee a sighting, they track factors like solar rays and wind speed to help predict when you might catch a glimpse.
  • Consider booking a tour. Most places famous for their views of the Northern Lights will have tours that take you to the best viewing areas.
  • There are no guarantees when it comes to seeing the lights, so prepare for the chance that they simply won’t appear. Have other activities planned to make your trip worthwhile.
  • Give yourself at least three nights to hunt for the aurora.
  • Try to avoid planning your trip to coincide with a full moon, as the moonlight can be so bright that it blocks out the aurora.

 

go-today is a custom travel provider offering both personalized and pre-packaged vacations to destinations across the globe. We love to travel, and we work hard to foster relationships with airlines, hotels, and local sightseeing companies to bring you the very best international experiences and inspire you to get out there and see the world.


The moments that turned us into lifelong explorers.

By Tyler Protano-Goodwin, Marketing Executive at Audley Travel

 

In the world of travel we talk a lot about our favorite countries, but what about the places we first fell in love with? The place that changed our idea of travel forever.

Where did you realize that travel was something that you would never stop doing? Below we share our own stories about how we went from people interested in travel to people determined to see as much of the world as possible.

An Italian adventure with family

Jo Tudisco Guntert, Japan Country Specialist 

The first international trip I took was when I went to Italy with my family after my high school graduation. My mom was determined that we would experience our Italian heritage before I left for college and I quote “take one more family trip together since we’ll never have the time again”. We look back now and laugh since that trip was just the first of what has now been 9 international adventures. However, that first trip to Italy was everything. I fell in love with the ancient streets, the delicious smells, the friendly shouts and laughter from vendors and voyeurs alike. I fell in love with the glitter of sunshine off Venetian waterways and the smell of grapefruit on the worn road to Pompeii. Most importantly I fell in love with what it feels like to discover new places, to notice details that we miss in our everyday lives, to glimpse a world so outside our own that our thoughts can’t help but turn to dreams. When I tell people that I love travel, that trip with my family is the one that I think of.

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Sharing the gift of travel in Colombia

Matthew Nilsson, Latin America Senior Product Executive 

Standing on the Pacific shores of Colombia at daybreak, my brother beside me, we watched as newborn turtles made their way to the sea for the first time. Having lived in Colombia for over a year I was already enchanted by this vibrant country, but the joy of watching travel transform someone else was a new feeling entirely. I was elated to share the moment with my brother who was at the time in the Navy. After our experience in Colombia it wasn’t a week before we were both home and I got a call from him to say that the moment had swayed his decision to leave the Navy and move on to the next chapter in his life. An unlikely affirmation for myself that travel is unwavering in its generosity to transform anyone who is open to it.

Turtle release on Lankayan Island (7998070)

Connecting with Irish culture

Shannon Dirrane, UK and Ireland Product Executive

Before Freshman year of college I traveled to the island, Inis Mor in Ireland with my dad for a family wedding. The beauty of the island was overwhelming, but what changed my idea of travel forever was the people. A culture so similar to my own was in reality so unique and different. Tea and scones are a way for the people to connect with one another and the packed pubs foster important face to face interactions. The lively sense of community and the hardworking spirit of the locals inspired me to return, I felt a sense of calm in a place that puts such a high value on connection. I went back and lived in Ireland for close to a year and afterwards have kept exploring – eager to find more places where the people are more important than the landscapes.

Jerpoint Farm Kilkenny - local farmer giving a guided tour and sheep dog demo

Witnessing the unknown in Tanzania

Jack Morris, Africa Regional Manager 

It’s a long journey by light aircraft to get to Greystoke Camp in western Tanzania, and this is partly the reason why it’s so special. The camp sits on a lake and I knew before arriving that it would be an experience not to forget. The lake itself is crystal clear, drinkable in fact, and you can see the cychlids and yellowbelly fish swimming every which way. Plus there was the reason I’d come all this way – trekking into the jungle to visit the M community of chimpanzees. Clambering through the thick jungle vines and through the steep rocky streams of the Mahale Mountains to find them was something from a childhood dream. Traveling to see things I couldn’t have even imagined felt almost mystical in a sense and it was in this moment, staring at the chimps, that I knew I would never stop visiting new places.

Chimpanzee, Malahe Mountains National Park (248711)

 

Tyler Protano-Goodwin is a marketing executive at Audley Travel who create customized trips for curious adventurers around the world. Each trip is designed by someone who is deeply passionate about the art of travel and who believes that travel has the power to be transformative. Our handcrafted itineraries provide the framework for life changing moments to unfold for you. 

 

 

 


 

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By Melissa DaSilva, President of Trafalgar, Costsaver and Brendan Vacations

 

I love travel.  It’s exhilarating, relaxing and fun… but more than that, I fundamentally believe travel changes you. Experiencing new cultures and meeting people from new destinations broadens horizons, creates connections and teaches understanding and empathy. I want to share this passion and love of travel with my girls. In fact, I am one of the 78% of parents who would rather spend money on a vacation than on holiday gifts.* I’d rather take my two daughters, Chloe (13) and Maddie (10) on trips where they see diverse places, learn about varied lifestyles and of course, spend time with me.

 

However, like many parents, I am the one who is typically granted the unenviable task of planning, organizing and orchestrating the “perfect” family vacation. Between deciding where to go, how to get there, what to do, where to eat, I am exhausted… I end up needing a vacation from my vacation. It is no wonder that many families opt for an all-inclusive resort or cruise. While these are legitimate options, there is growing popularity in an alternative; to combine both ease and exploration. Where everyone can relax while diving under the skin of a destination– a guided vacation. And better yet, a guided family vacation, by Trafalgar.

 

These trips are crafted for the entire family, not just the young guests, so each experience is designed to excite and engage travelers of all ages. Imagine tracking fairies in Ireland, battling with gladiators in the Colosseum, rafting through the Grand Tetons or dining in the last occupied castle in Tuscany with a family who can share their history dating back to the Medicis. These are the kinds of included experiences that bring families together while truly bringing to life the culture of the destination.

 

Melissa's Daughters Whitewater Rafting

 

But the mom voice in my head says, “what about me, when do I get a break?” The beauty of a guided vacation is that all the stress of planning is taken care of. From unique accommodation that includes properties with their own stories to share which make you feel like you are part of the history, to the immersive activities, local meals and guides from the places the trips visit. Every detail is thought of. Literally all you need to do is pack your bags.

 

The best element of a guided vacation is the Travel Director, particularly, a Trafalgar Travel Director. These highly trained experts, the best in the industry, are with you every step of the way. They are a wealth of knowledge and they know the history, the stories, the legends (and the closest ATM or bathroom). Even more amazing, they are some of the coolest and most fun people you would ever want to travel with. When you have free time and want to explore and find the hole in the wall that serves the best authentic food, or admire a local artist’s gallery, your Travel Director will make the perfect recommendation.

 

Melissa's Daughters Learning About Cowboy Culture

 

My daughters loved that on our latest trip there were 13 other travelers ranging in age from 6-17. There was always someone for them to hang out with, play soccer between our cabins in Yellowstone and shoot pool with at the ranch in Montana. At the end of our trip all the adults were commenting how behaved all the kids were. But think about it; when do children typically misbehave? When they are bored. I can promise you there was not a minute on our 8-day adventure that a single guest on the trip was bored, especially the kids.

 

What I took most from my guided family vacation was a sense of connection. Yes, I connected with the people and the places we visited – that I expected, or at least hoped for. But unfettered from the stress and strain of planning and trying to keep everyone happy, by allowing Trafalgar to take care of all the details, I was free to connect with my girls. If you ask Maddie, she will tell you what she liked was that I was “less uptight.” Ah, the honesty of a 10-year-old.

 

Traveling independently, I could never have exposed my family to the amazing people we met or experiences we had. Travelers want genuine experiences that bring them closer to the places and people they are visiting. On guided family trips, you can create connections to culture, learn about these destinations and have truly immersive experiences that are exciting for all ages. With this added layer of discovery, a family trip will be even more rewarding. When you go guided, you gain so much more than you ever expected.

 

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* out of 2,500 parents surveyed in the U.S

 

Melissa DaSilva is President of Trafalgar, CostSaver and Brendan Vacations and has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry in both the US and the UK.  

 

She is motivated by the impact travel has on people and is passionate about inspiring others to experience the Good Life through travel and the connectivity of those shared experiences of adventure, exploration, learning and laughter. An avid traveler herself having been to more than 50 countries, Melissa has shared the travel bug with her husband and daughters.  Their next trip is European Wonderland this summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


By Lisa Young, Product Manager with Authentic Vacations

Lisa Young is a product manager and writer for Authentic Vacations. Travel experiences involving food, wine, art, live music, wellness and engaging with locals make her heart sing.

 

Remember The Partridge Family, an American sitcom from the early 1970s?  The show’s theme song was, “Come On, Get Happy!”  Perhaps the Partridges were secretly Icelandic.  Iceland consistently ranks near the top of the annual “World Happiness Report”.  Let’s explore five potential reasons why:

1. Stunning and Stimulating Scenery.

Often referred to as the “Land of Fire and Ice” due to its unique dichotomy of active volcanoes and massive glaciers, Iceland’s otherworldly landscape is a mesmerizing fusion of scenic glory.

Most Icelanders maintain sunny dispositions despite the lack of winter daylight hours.

Being surrounded by magical skies, spectacular mountains, magnificent waterfalls, peaceful fjords, dramatic geysers, tranquil rivers, calming lakes, black sand beaches, geothermal pools and mossy lava fields – how could these environs promote anything other than an enduring sense of wonder and happiness?

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Photo of Seljalandsfoss waterfall courtesy of David-Mark from Pixabay

2. Culture of Creativity.

Literature.  For years, Iceland held the position of publishing most book titles per capita than any other country.  Iceland claims that one in ten of its citizens will publish a book during his or her lifetime.  Reykjavik (literally “smoky bay”) was the fifth city in the world to receive the UNESCO City of Literature title.  Storytelling is apparently in the blood, dating back to the Viking sagas.  Expand your literary horizons and crack open a contemporary Icelandic novel.

Music.  For music as otherworldly as the performers’ native land, enjoy the sounds of Björk, whose career has spanned four decades, and the “avant-rock” band Sigur Rós.

Visual Art.  Iceland’s notable visual art production does not date back as far as other countries, though some incredible works of art are being produced by the country’s contemporary visual artists.

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Photo of Björk courtesy of Raph_PH-Flickr

3. You Are What You Eat.

Taking a cue from the famous movie line in When Harry Met Sally and adopting an “I’ll have what she’s having” attitude when it comes to the traditional Icelandic diet could be a healthy choice.  Big homemade breakfasts, fresh seafood, and quality meat and dairy are the mainstays of a typical diet in Iceland.

Lysi (aka cod liver oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids) is regularly consumed, even given to children at preschools and daycare.  Skyr, a popular dairy product akin to yogurt, is low in fat yet high in protein and calcium.  The focus on clean, renewable, and sustainable energy results in healthier, fresher and more delicious food.

Even the famous Icelandic hot dog is, debatably, a healthy option since it is lamb-based, supplying iron and those beneficial omega-3s.

Restaurants and food shops in Iceland are increasingly catering to vegetarians and vegans, including Gló, the country’s first raw food restaurant.

Fun fact:  Icelanders have been growing vegetables in greenhouses heated by geothermal energy since 1924!

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Photo courtesy of Marco Verch

4. The Active Lifestyle.

Icelandic people enjoy being active outdoors, exploring the country’s three national parks, numerous nature reserves, and hiking trails.  They place a high degree of importance on nature, treating the vast and unspoiled landscape with deep reverence and care.  Efforts are continuously made to preserve the unique flora and fauna. 

Furthermore, they remain active in other ways, often holding more than one job.  Rather than earning extra money for survival, this is primarily to keep themselves engaged and purposeful, warding off any threats of depression during the months of limited light.

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Photo of Blue Lagoon courtesy of Chris Lawton from Unsplash

5. SSS.

Stable.  Iceland is an island, but its inhabitants feel anything but isolated.  The way Icelanders band together in times of crisis is truly inspirational.  Two powerful, overarching characteristics are embedded in Icelanders—optimism and resilience.

Safe.  The least populated country in Europe, Iceland claimed just under 340,000 people in 2018.  The country maintains an impressively low crime rate with only five prisons in Iceland housing less than 200 prisoners among them!

Socially Progressive.  Iceland is consistently ranked number one by the World Economic Forum in gender equality.  Proof exists in the form of a female Prime Minister and more women currently enrolled in university than men.

Let’s make like the Partridges, book a trip to Iceland, and soak up the happiness!

 

For over two decades, Authentic Vacations has been crafting highly personalized, unique, and immersive experiences that connect travelers with locals.  Destinations include Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand.  Our passionate Destination Experts are ready to help you plan your next trip – perhaps to happy Iceland! Visit www.authenticvacations.com today.

 

 


By Chelsea Todaro, Public Relations Specialist with The Travel Corporation

 

At more than nine million square miles, North America is a vast and diverse continent that likely has close to nine million different ways for travelers to explore.  For those thinking of a vacation within the US or Canada, a guided trips through Insight Vacations offers immersive experiences in a variety of destinations, from America’s wondrous National Parks to the rugged coasts of Atlantic Canada. Unique Insight experiences will also connect guests with local characters who really bring the destinations to life.

See the diverse nature and history of the U.S.

Insight’s 15-day America’s Magnificent National Parks trip offers an unforgettable adventure while visiting America’s magnificent National Parks across Arizona, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park is home to the Upper Geyser Basin which boasts the highest concentration of spouting geysers, hot springs and steaming fumaroles in the world. An authentic dude ranch experience at the Ranch at Ucross provides an opportunity for guests to go horseback riding, taste homemade meals and share stories around a bonfire.

Once in Arizona, the majestic red rock landscapes of Sedona mesmerize, and while there, guests will learn about the Navajo Tribe at Monument Valley where they will also have an exclusive experience riding on an all-terrain vehicle with a Navajo guide.

Travelers will be immersed in the fascinating history of America’s western adventure. In South Dakota, local guides on Kevin Costner’s Original Deadwood Tour bring to life the days of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. For a unique Insight Experience, travelers will get to speak to members of the Lakota tribe who will share a live narrative of the Great Sioux Nation.

1Photo Courtesy of Insight Vacations 

Further east lies a different tale of the U.S. along the New England coast. On Insight’s eight-day Boston, Cape Cod, and the Islands trip, travelers will be captivated by New England’s chic waterfronts, history, and summer playgrounds. This trip highlights the area’s history of the Revolutionary War and its well-known, mouth-watering seafood.  A visit in Boston wouldn’t be complete without a guided walk along the red-brick Freedom Trail that brings the story of the American Revolution to life.

In Newport, guests will board the Adirondack II—an 80-foot schooner – for a sailing experience on the waters of Narragansett Bay passing some of the islands, historical homes, and the summer “cottages” of many famous and affluent families. While enjoying a taste of what the America’s Cup race might feel like, there’s also time to learn about the region’s history – such as pirate activity, the trade industry, and the Gilded Age.

2Photo Courtesy of Insight Vacations 

On Martha’s Vineyard travelers can tour the island that has hosted the Clintons, the Obamas and where former U.S. First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, owned a home. They can also spend time at their leisure at the scenic Oak Bluffs, a famous neighborhood and picturesque community known for its rainbow-colored, gingerbread-like cottages. As a special treat, guests have the exclusive opportunity to spend the night on the island, which many tourists cannot do during the busy summer time.  A celebratory dinner on the last night of the journey features local fresh seafood, set on a glassed-in porch with a peaceful, scenic view of the ocean.

Courtesy of Insight Vacations 

Discover coastal landscapes and fishing heritage of Canada

The colorful harbors and sweeping coastlines of Atlantic Canada provide the backdrop to Insight’s 12-day Landscapes of the Canadian Maritimes.  Travelers will learn about the village traditions and iconic maritime history while enjoying delicious native seafood while visiting Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

A popular highlight of the trip is a whale watching cruise in the Bay of Fundy to potentially spot rare species of whales and learn about these majestic sea mammals.  On Prince Edward Island, guests can explore colorful Cavendish, along with a visit to the Green Gables farm house that inspired the beloved children’s classic, ‘Anne of Green Gables’.

3Photo Courtesy of Insight Vacations 

Guests will be immersed into the heritage of the region in Truro, Nova Scotia, while visiting the Millbrook Cultural and Heritage Center to hear about the Mi’kmaq heritage and Glooscap legends.

Once in Shediac Bay, there’s an opportunity to taste the exceptional and authentic food of a former lobster fisherman while cruising along the bay to learn about lobster and the industry, followed by a fresh lobster lunch. In Digby, guests will meet a former scallop fisherman, one of the region’s key delicacies, and end the trip on a tasteful note, with a sea-to-table dinner with freshly-caught scallops.

 

Interested to learn more about Insight Vacations? Visit www.insightvacations.com/us

As a global leader in premium escorted travel, Insight Vacations® has been crafting magical journeys for almost 40 years that embody The Art of Traveling in Style™. Through meticulous planning, detailed preparation and boundless passion, Insight’s collection of award-winning itineraries showcases the most outstanding destinations in Europe and North America. Guided by a highly-skilled Travel Director, guests can look forward to traveling in smaller groups, savoring authentic dining and enjoying a range of immersive Insight Experiences. 


By Becky Youman, TCS World Travel

 

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“I wish I would have packed less.” At TCS World Travel, we often hear this comment from our guests after their around-the-world expeditions. Even on the most seamless journey, overpacking can add unnecessary time and stress to your arrivals and departures, and could even prevent you from taking home a truly special item you find along the way.

We have been taking guests on around-the-world expeditions for over 25 years. During that time, we have learned a thing or two about packing. Here are our essential tips on packing for success:

Less Is More

Your itinerary will involve traveling to many destinations. The less you bring with you, the less time you’ll spend packing and unpacking… and the more time enjoying the incredible experiences that await you.

Hands of man unpachking travel bagPhoto Courtesy of TCS World Travel

The Trick of Thirds

Guests are allowed two bags per person on our trips: a larger bag and a smaller carry-on-size bag. We recommend you start with your large bag and fit everything you’ll need into just that bag. Then, empty a third of it out and put those items into your smaller bag. This way you’ll have plenty of room in your big bag for the gifts and souvenirs you’re going to want to bring home.

Layers Look Lovely

We recommend you choose a single color scheme you can mix and match. It’s a simple, “less is more” approach that makes it easy for you to decide what to bring. During the day, you will want to dress casually and prepared for adventure. Lightweight, quick-dry activewear that you can easily layer or remove will keep you comfortable throughout the day.

 ©TCS_CAMBODIA-92Photo Courtesy of TCS World Travel

Respect Local Norms

If your itinerary includes religious sites such as temples or mosques, it may be customary or even required to cover your legs and shoulders to enter. Short skirts, shorts and tank tops are not culturally appropriate to wear within these sites. This goes for both men and women, and is a great opportunity to invest in a pair of convertible zip-off pants. Women also have the option of wearing a comfortable sundress that covers the knees and covering their shoulders with a pretty scarf.

©TCS_Easter Island_guestsPhoto Courtesy of TCS World Travel

Spiff It Up for Your Festive Dinners

Men will bring a pair of slacks and a couple of nicer shirts, and maybe even a lightweight blazer. Women often bring a neutral dress or slacks and nicer tops that can be changed up with different scarves or other accessories. A small purse with a strap comes in handy at any pre-dinner cocktail parties.

©TCS World Travel JetPhoto Courtesy of TCS World Travel

Happy Feet

Once you step off the private jet, it’s essential you have the right footwear to keep you comfortable. Make sure your walking shoes have good tread, and most importantly, break them in at home for at least a couple of weeks, using the same socks you’re planning to use when traveling. Never bring a pair of shoes you haven’t worn. You should also pack a pair of slightly dressier shoes. We recommend staying away from high heels because you might have to walk over uneven terrain.

 

Packing Hacks

Here are a few hacks we share with guests:

  • Place hotel shower caps on your shoes to protect your clothes from dirty footwear.
  • Store your charging cables and compact headphones in a sunglasses case. It also makes a great, easy-to-locate container for an on-the-go sun protection kit, with a sunscreen stick and lip balm.
  • Packing cubes are great for organizing, helping you know exactly where everything is. They make it easy to pack and unpack by simply moving them directly from your luggage into a hotel dresser, and back when it’s time to go.

And lastly, don’t worry about re-wearing an outfit or two; when you’re jet-setting between spectacular destinations around the world, no one will notice.

 

Interested in learning more about TCS World Travel? Visit www.tcsworldtravel.com.

TCS World Travel has hosted guests on adventures of a lifetime for over 25 years. Their all-inclusive journeys deliver unparalleled and meaningful experiences, with exceptional service, in unique destinations around the globe. As pioneers in the private jet industry, TCS World Travel has developed and operated just shy of 300 luxury jet expeditions to more than 200 destinations. They are the most experienced jet expedition company in the world. It is that expertise that led them to be named #1 Tour Operator by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2017.


 

As the winter melts away and flowers begin to bloom, spring is one of the most colorful times of year to visit new destinations. Cherry blossoms take over Japan’s landscape in March, followed by Holland’s famous tulips bursting out of the ground in April, and London’s RHS Chelsea Flower in May welcomes more than 157,000 visitors. Throughout all the seasons, tour operator members of USTOA offer even more floral attractions, botanical gardens, and celebrations all over the world. Here are a few.

rose-paradePhoto Courtesy of Mayflower Cruises and Tours

Southern California welcomes the New Year with the Tournament of the Roses Parade, showcasing animated floral floats followed by marching bands with high-stepping equestrians. Mayflower Cruises and Tours’ “Tournament of Roses Parade 2019” itinerary is packed with private events surrounding the parade, including a walking tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood, a private New Year’s Eve gala with a live orchestra, and exclusive seats at the parade for a magnificent view of the celebration. Departure is available December 30 starting at $1,699 per person.

PEAK DMC-colombia_cocora-valley_traveller_cloud_forestPhoto Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

Colombia’s flower farms, coffee production, and rich history can be explored with Intrepid Travel’s nine-day “Café Colombia” itinerary. Venture to Santa Elena, located outside of Medellin, where a silletero (chair maker) at a local flower farm will teach travelers how to make the flower displays that compete in the Fiesta de las Flores each year. Free time can be spent in a mud bath in Cartagena or at the Plaza Minorista Market purchasing local fruits. As one of the world’s largest coffee producers, travelers will also learn how beans are grown, harvested, and roasted. Departures are available throughout 2019 starting at $2,350 per person.

Each year in May, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show showcases impressive English garden designs across an 11-acre property in London. Abercrombie and Kent’s “English Gardens & The Chelsea Flower Show” itinerary dedicates a day to exploring the show’s finest English gardening in the world, and guests have access to an exclusive Royal Horticultural Society hospitality area for morning and afternoon tea. The rest of the ten-day trip is spent strolling through the Arts and Crafts-style gardens of Sissinghurst Castle, visiting Blenheim Palace, and more. Departures are available May 14, 2019 starting at $10,495.

Simons photo of double flowered late cherry blossomPhoto Courtesy of APT

APT Botanica World Discoveries offers botanically-themed river and small ship cruises to combine a passion for travel and history with gardening.  The 12-day “Cherry Blossoms, Culture & Sights of Japan” cruise takes place during peak cherry blossom season. Explore the 350-year-old garden, Ritsurin Park, and the famous landscape garden of Okayama, Korakuen Garden, or visit a Samurai’s home, study Japan’s history, and learn about Japanese plants and gardening from a Botanical guide. Departures are available from January to April, 2020, starting at $11,495 per person.

Beautiful Mountain Fuji and sakura cherry blossomPhoto Courtesy of smarTours

SmarTours’ “Discover Japan” trip takes travelers across Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, and Kyoto. The 12-day tour includes a trip to the 1093-foot-tall Tokyo tower for a birds-eye view of the vibrant city, a boat ride on Lake Ashi below Mt. Fuji, and a visit to the rural region of Shirakawago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Witness miles of cherry blossoms along the way when you travel during the spring season, and view the world’s largest indoor Buddha with a large collection of Japanese-style gardens throughout the year. Departures are available throughout 2019, starting at $4,199 per person.

CCKeukenhofGardensRedTulipsPhoto Courtesy of Viking River Cruises

Admire the Dutch countryside and visit a tulip farm with Viking River Cruises’Tulips & Windmills” tour. Tulips have always been important to local communities in Holland, and you can visit the village of Slootdorp, which produces 25 million tulips every year on its own. A lesson on the evolution of windmills and a sampling of Belgian beers and chocolates will be provided, and guests will lay eyes on the world’s largest floral park, the Keukenhof Gardens, and explore Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Departures are available March through May every year, starting at $3,399 per person.

Adventures by Disney Seine River CruisesPhoto Courtesy of Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney’s “Seine River Cruise” includes trips to French gardens and the beaches of Normandy. First, stop at Monet’s Gardens, where the famous impressionist Claude Monet found inspiration for renowned works such as Water Lilies and Wheatstacks. Afterwards, tour the Château de Bizy castle with its vast gardens, fountains, and English vegetable garden. The trip includes gourmet food tastings, a tour of the Eiffel Tower, and a hands-on painting workshop. Departures are available throughout 2019 starting at $4,669 per person.

PR_Images_For_USTOA_GardenTours_Brazil_RioBotanicalGardensPhoto Courtesy of Avanti Destinations

Go to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens and the Tijuca Forest by jeep with Avanti Destinations. Created in 1817, Rio’s Botanical Gardens showcases native and exotic plants from around the world across a 346-acre property located at the foot of Corcovado Mountain. The property contains 6,000 species of plants and 900 varieties of pam trees, a cactus garden, and the Fountain of the Muses. The excursion is available to book daily while traveling on any Avanti Destinations tour, starting at $99 per person. Contact your travel advisor for more information, or find a USTOA-certified travel advisor by visiting https://ustoa.com/travel-advisor-directory.

 

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