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.

 

Click here to find the perfect itinerary for you.

 


By Jennifer Eremeeva 

Jennifer Eremeeva was Alexander+Roberts manager of services in Russia for many years. An accomplished traveler, Jennifer writes about her adventures around the world frequently and recently published Lenin Lives Next Door, a witty depiction of life as an expat in Moscow.

 

It is telling an overwhelming number of travelers report that the steep, arduous climb of 1-4 hours to see the gorillas is a small price to pay for the exhilarating experience of witnessing these remarkable animals at work, play, and in the midst of intimate family interaction. It’s a long day, but an exhilarating one. Once the arduous climb is behind you, and the team of expert guides has located gorillas who have been adapted to humans in proximity, you need only sit quietly and marvel at these remarkable animals.

Rwanda_MtnGorilla-2_WildernessSafaris_CCulbertPhoto Courtesy of Alexander+Roberts

According to the World Wildlife Fund, gorillas share a whopping 98.3% of DNA with humans; just one of the myriad of similarities that make gorillas so eerily familiar to humans. Researchers who have worked for over 40 years with Koko, a domesticated gorilla have been able to teach her over 1000 words in American sign language, in which Koko communicates her grasp of complex concepts such as happiness, remorse, and even the nature of death and dying. In their closely-knit family or “natal” units, gorillas display years-long nurturing of their young, which involves socialization into the broader community.  We also know that they can fashion tools, which enable them to better exist in their native habitats.

Though still considered “critically endangered,” the gorilla population has shown encouraging demographic growth thanks in large part to the dedication of conservationists and the government of Rwanda. Stringent efforts to curb illegal hunting, poaching and the sale of gorilla body parts for trophies, traditional medicine, and charms have seen the population rise from 250 to its current estimate of approximately 1000.

Traditional gorilla “natal units” are led by a dominant older male, immediately recognizable by the silver hair on his back, which turns with age and gives these patriarchs their name of Silverback.

Gorillas and humans are similar not only in our unique fingerprints and facial features but also in the way we conduct intimate relationships and how we progress through our life cycles.

Rwanda-245_BisateLodge_WildernessSafaris_DanaAllenPhoto Courtesy of Alexander+Roberts

Female gorillas mature at approximately 8-10 years, at which point they leave their own natal groups to avoid inbreeding and begin to search for a mate. When she finds a likely mate, the female initiates the mating ritual by pursing her lips and approaching a Silverback while maintaining prolonged eye contact with him.

If all of this sounds familiar, so too will the subsequent gestation period of 8-½ months. A female gorilla can expect to birth a baby once each 4-6 years for a total of 3-4 offspring in a lifespan.

The lengthy period between pregnancies is explained by the importance of parental care for the infants and juvenile gorillas. In extreme infancy, this care is provided by the mother, who feed infants on the hour and maintain close contact throughout the day with their young, including cuddling, grooming them, and wrapping them in her arms during sleep.

This close bonding gradually decreases as the infant enters the juvenile period at 4-5 years. At this point, the role of the father becomes more critical, particularly after the young gorilla is weaned. Up until this time, the father has acted primarily as a protector of the family unit from predators, but as the juvenile detaches from its mother and she enters a new cycle of ovulation, the father begins to play a more important role for the juvenile, helping him socialize into the larger community outside his tightly-knit natal unit.

Rwanda Gorilla trek image002Photo Courtesy of Alexander+Roberts

Since the 1990s, researchers have noted an interesting shift in the demographics of gorilla natal units, which appear to be expanding to larger numbers of up to 66. These expanded units boast multiple mature males as well as the traditional “harem” of females, though a Silverback is still the dominant patriarch. This shift may well be the gorillas’ evolutionary response to the threat of population decline, and the trend shows no sign of reversal.

Your arduous climb up the steep slope to their bamboo forests may well be rewarded by seeing female gorillas nurture their young, the playful antics of juveniles, overseen by a benevolent “babysitting” Silverback, mutual romantic grooming between a female and her mate, or even the mating ritual!  So, put a meet up with gorillas on your travel bucket list!

 

Interested in learning more about Alexander+Roberts? Visit www.alexanderroberts.com or call 800-221-2216, 9am to 9pm, Monday through Friday. 

Alexander + Roberts is proud to partner with Rwanda’s National Park Headquarters and their expert staff of gorillas experts and guides in our signature programs, Rwanda Gorilla Trekking.  Contact one of our knowledgeable reservation agents to learn more about these unforgettable opportunities to meet the primates!

Marking its 72nd year, Alexander+Roberts is an American travel company and a founding member of USTOA. Whether it’s a Small Group Journey with never more than 16 guests, a luxury Private Tour or a Custom Itinerary, Alexander+Roberts’ expert native-born guides can take travelers deeper inside the history, cultural traditions, personal stories and natural wonders of the world’s most fascinating places. Intimate hotels, luxury safari camps, congenial dining with wine, and authentic cultural encounters are among the Small Group and Private Travel highlights you won’t find on other tours.