By: Paddy Hockett

 

Traveling to a new and exciting place with a group of your best friends or family can be such a rewarding experience. You’ve decided on the perfect destination, made sure everyone has their funds and updated paperwork in order, the flights are booked and your bags are packed. But how do you make sure everyone actually makes it through the trip with their wallets and sanity in check? Whether you’re planning an annual family reunion, a bachelorette getaway with friends, or a culinary tour through Europe, here are 17 safety tips to keep in mind when traveling with a large group.

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DO YOUR RESEARCH

  1. Travel with companies you know and trust, or can verify. Look for companies that specialize in group travel and are part of an organization or 3rd party that ensures quality or money back guarantees.
  2. Download the app! Most airlines have apps that let you see updated flight information in real time. You’ll know whether that connecting flight is delayed or early and can adjust accordingly. As an added bonus, you can check into your flight before you get there and everyone can pull up their boarding passes instead of keeping track of yet another stack of paper.
  3. Have everyone learn basic phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. Even if you never end up needing them, you will be able to recognize them when someone says “Xièxiè” on your way out the door.

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GET PREPARED

  1. Send out your itinerary to the group before the trip so everyone is on the same page before you even take off. This is especially important if you are leaving from different airports or at different times.
  1. Have medication and vaccines ready to go prior to the trip, and have extra in case of emergencies.
  1. Decide on a rendezvous point for unstructured activity. At each destination, chose a place to start and end your day. Pick an easy to recognize location to avoid confusion.
  1. You insure everything else, why wouldn’t you insure your travel? Get travel insurance, which is a small investment that saves you big time if the worst should happen.
  1. Talk to your bank, let them know you’ll be traveling so they don’t flag your purchases as fraud.
  1. Stock up on RFID blocking sleeves and wallets. They’ll make it more difficult to be taken advantage of and keep your personal information…well, personal.
  1. Do not take anything you’re not willing to lose. Anything can happen when traveling and it’s not the best place for family heirlooms or irreplaceable items.

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OUT & ABOUT

  1. Don’t be flashy- You can usually spot a tourist from a mile away, so can scammers. Keep your money and itinerary to yourself.
  1. Don’t carry too much cash, when possible, use prepaid and/or credit cards. Carry your valuables in front pockets and take them with you wherever you go.
  1. Wash your hands frequently. This is a new place and you might be more susceptible to things going around, better safe than sorry.
  1. Get a buddy system in place so that no one gets lost in the excitement.
  1. Have everyone in your group double check each other’s contact info and take a photo of the individuals in a group. If anything goes wrong, you have an updated picture to show if you need help.
  1. Matching outfits seem silly, but it makes your group easier to identify in big crowds. Get special hats or sweaters made to spot each other easily.
  1. Carry an extra battery pack. All those photos and videos you’re taking are going to drain your phone much faster than usual. Charge it every night.

You want to be vigilant in a new and unfamiliar place, so that everyone makes it home in one piece, but never forget the most important rule for any vacation: Take time to relax! As a group, it can get a little overwhelming and loud, coming together for a nightly meal or quick check-in will get everyone back on the same page and ready to go for the next adventure!

 

Interested in learning more about Ritz Tours? Visit www.ritztours.com

With over three decades of experience and a mission to provide “Best Quality & Value in Travel” Ritz Tours delivers an exceptional, unparalleled vacation experience, so you can feel confident you’re traveling with a highly-reputable, client-acclaimed tour company. Ritz Tours crafts each travel program so that it incorporates five-star accommodations, exceptional sightseeing, superior tour guides, exciting entertainment, flavorful cuisine, and the popular attractions and spectacular scenery that define China, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.


By: Jared Alster; Vice President, Marketing; Cox & Kings, the Americas

Jared Alster is Vice President of Marketing for Cox & Kings, the Americas, and a travel industry veteran. Before his role at Cox & Kings, Jared was co-founder and VP Marketing for StrideTravel, the largest marketplace site for multi-day tours and adventure trips. Prior to that, he was head of marketing for Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest adventure travel company.

 
The world is getting smaller. Never before in history have so many far-flung destinations been so accessible by so many travelers. The conglomeration of long-haul air routes and a desire for “social-media-worthy” experiences has led people to visit places that were completely off the map in previous generations.

This results in a challenge for tour operators: how to uncover new, untouched areas of the globe with the infrastructure to support tourism.

Armenia is one of these places.

shutterstock_1276227367Blue Mosque

Located in the Caucasus between Asia and Europe, Armenia is ripe for opportunity as a tourist destination. A similar trend was recently witnessed in neighboring Georgia, with tourism arrivals increasing to a record 8.7 million in 2018. Compare that with Armenia, with 2018 estimated total tourist arrivals of only 1.6 million, and the opportunity for tourism to play an outsized role in GDP production is obvious.

With thousands of years of rich history, beautiful and rugged landscape that begs for adventure, and a dynamic capital city, Armenia is ready for prime time.
 
Here are the top 3 reasons to visit this emerging destination:
 
1. Unmatched History: 

One could write an entire article alone on Armenia’s historical significance. With three current UNESCO World Heritage sites, and another four pending, Armenia is a history buff’s paradise, without the crowds.

First up is The Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots, the former which dates back to AD 301. The “central-dome” architectural style is common throughout the country and is on wide display in the city of Echmiatsin.

The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, added to the UNESCO list in 1996 and 2000, respectively, are Byzantine-era structures built during the Kiurikian dynasty in the 10th to 13th century. These perfectly intact structures were once important centers of learning, with a focus on schools for calligraphers.

shutterstock_233737981Monastery of Geghard

Last but definitely not least is the Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley. The monastery contains a series of churches and tombs cut naturally into the surrounding rock. The area is one of great natural beauty, with soaring cliffs signifying the entrance to the Azat Valley in Armenia’s eastern reaches.

 

2.  An Outdoor Paradise: 

With mountainous terrain, free flowing rivers, and tons of fresh air for everyone, Armenia is an emerging adventure destination in its own right. Hikers will have the trails to themselves in Dilijan National Park, which is home to the newest section of the Transcaucasian Trail (TCT). When the feet get sore, retreat to the village of the same name and soak in restorative natural hot springs.

shutterstock_681278470Tsakhkadzor 

Skiing is serious business in Armenia and the resort of Tsakhkadzor is where to carve your turns. The mountain, only about an hour from the capital of Yerevan, rises to over 9,000 feet, where the snow is plentiful and powdery.

With 300 days of sunshine, (similar to Denver, CO) good weather is almost guaranteed to enjoy Armenia’s natural riches.

 

3. Yerevan:

Yerevan is Armenia’s capital city and the jumping off point for any tour of Armenia. Known as the ‘city of cafes,’ Yerevan does a terrific job of blending the old with the new.

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Founded in 782 BC, Yerevan now features areas like vibrant Northern Avenue, with high-end boutiques and boisterous cafes and nightclubs. A somber visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial is an important stop on any city tour of Yerevan. From there, travelers can visit the Blue Mosque, (the sole Mosque in all of Armenia) and Republic Square, which provides a focal point while touring and much of the city’s buzz.

Newer hotels, like the Marriott Yerevan, add a bit of comfort and familiarity to your stay.

 

Discover Armenia on Cox & Kings’ new 2019 private journey “Armenia & Georgia: Past and Present.”

With a history spanning more than 260 years, Cox & Kings is the world’s most enduring luxury travel brand. Today, the company’s U.S. business provides travelers with exquisite luxury journeys worldwide. Specialized destination teams share their extensive local product knowledge and offer extraordinary insider access. Together, they create private custom and small-group experiences to the world’s most exotic destinations. 


 

Traveling is the ultimate opportunity to strengthen family bonds and spend quality time with loved ones. Without the distraction of regular day-to-day activities, a vacation together encourages families to unplug and reconnect, creating time for children and adults alike to grow, learn, and become better global citizens.

All that’s needed for a successful vacation with loved ones is a trip designed for the children of the family and the child in all of us. Here are new educational, adventurous, and even mysterious trips for 2019 that can be enjoyed by travelers from every generation.

CIE_FamilyCredit: CIE Tours International

Medieval Myths and Storytelling

CIE Tours International’s “Lochs, Luck, and Lore” trip explores Ireland and Scotland from the countryside to the coast. Guests will “Be Irish for a Half Day” by playing a bodhran, learning hurling, and watching a sheepdog demonstration. There is ample time for visiting castles with ghostly myths and legends where knights prepared for battle and monarchs were crowned, as well as a day in the Belfast shipyards to listen to the story of The Titanic. Departures are available in 2019 for June 30-July 7, August 4 – August 11, and August 25 – September 1 from $1,950 per person. https://www.cietours.com

From gladiator schools in Rome to Carnival mask-making in Venice, Trafalgar’s “Gladiators, Gondolas, and Gold” offers an action-packed ten-day trip. Guests can explore medieval cities from the comfort of a traditional gondola or spend an afternoon watching Venetian glassblowing, and there is plenty of time to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and eat pizza at traditional markets. Departures are available May 31; June 7, 14, 21; July 5, 12, 19, 26; August 2, 9; September 13 from $8,658 for two adults and two children. https://www.trafalgar.com.

Rome_Trafalgar familyCredit: Trafalgar 

Learn About the Local Culture

SITA World Tours’ “Pandas, Wall and King Fu” allows travelers to immerse themselves in China’s thousand-year-old cities and villages. The nation’s long and rich history will be explored by boating through Er’hai Lake and taking part in the local tea culture in Dali. The trip includes hiking in the pandas’ habitat of Mt. Qingcheng, rafting in the Hongkou Scenic Area, and children can take a Kung Fu class while the adults experience the local culinary scene. Daily departures are available throughout 2019 from $7,325 per person, based on four people traveling. https://www.sitatours.com

Pottery demonstrations and Turkish cooking classes allow travelers to live like a local on Intrepid Travel’s “Turkey Family Holiday” trip. Children can dip their toes in the clear blue springs of Hierapolis and Travertines National Park, one of Turkey’s most photographed sites and home to natural terrace baths. The trip includes a day of exploration in the Kaymakli Underground City, an eight-story historic underground marvel, and creating artwork using traditional materials such as earth dyes and rose branch brushes. Departures are available in June, July, and August from $1620 per adult and $1458 per child. https://www.intrepidtravel.com

PandasCredit: SITA World Tours 

Take a Cruise with the Whole Crew

Tauck’s “Holiday Magic: Danube Family River Cruise” sets sail from Munich in December 2019 with an itinerary full of European holiday festivities. Guests will go to Oberndorf, Austria, where Silent Night was written and first performed, and visit 700-year-old holiday markets. Children will be surrounded with the aromas of gingerbread and cinnamon while playing medieval games in Old Town Bratislava. Departures are available December 22nd and December 23rd in 2019 from $4,190 per person and $3,690 per child, plus airfare. http://www.tauck.com

Regensburg - kids at Neupfarrplatz

Credit: Tauck

Adventuring Together

Adventurers will paddleboard with penguins, float through secluded caves, and slide down sand dunes with Audley Travel’s “Discover South Africa” trip. There’s never a dull moment with the vast collection of experiences in the city, the wilderness, and the ocean. Opportunities to work on an Ostrich farm and eat ostrich egg omelets for breakfast or watch sea lion colonies on the Robberg Peninsula are just a few of the unique experiences available with a custom itinerary. Individual departures are available every day in 2019 from $3,825 per person. https://www.audleytravel.com

Click here to find the perfect itinerary for you and your family.