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.


By Chelsea Todaro, Public Relations Specialist with The Travel Corporation

 

Safaris, sight-seeing and authentic food are all the rage when travelers think about vacationing to Africa, but what about leaving a positive impact that lasts a lifetime?

Many people may wonder what sustainability travel is, but African Travel, Inc. defines it well with trips offered alongside ME to WE and The TreadRight Foundation.

Sustainability travel simply means ensuring your vacation to make travel matter. In partnership with The TreadRight Foundation, African Travel’s mission is to have a positive impact on people, wildlife, and the planet for generations to come.

How could you pass up an opportunity to vacation and make your travel matter?

African Travel, Inc. has a variety of safari vacations that include sustainable travel such as a four-day trip to Kenya, a one-day trip to Tanzania and a 10-day trip across South Africa.

 

Help Future Generations in Kenya on a ME to WE Trip

1African Travel Safari Specialist, Marsha Carroll helping build a library at WE College in Kenya

(Photo Courtesy of African Travel, Inc.)

While vacationing in Kenya, you will have an unforgettable community experience in the northern Maasai Mara. You get to dive deeper into Kenya’s vibrant culture and landscape, rather than just taking exotic photographs of the elephants, lions and rhinos (which you can still do!).

While in the Maasai Mara, you help rural communities to break the cycle of poverty and achieve long-term community development by investing in primary education, clean drinking water and sanitation, health care services, agriculture and alternative income projects.

What makes this unique from other experiences?

You CAN WITNESS IN PERSON the positive impact you will bring to these villages. While on a guided walking tour of a local primary school, you get to see the difference between an old school structure and a new working school built by WE Villages.

Other culturally immersive experiences of the trip include learning about daily life in a rural Kenyan village, learning the art of traditional Maasai beading from local women and visiting a local market and health center. You can then roll up your sleeves and work with Maasai and Kipsigi community members to build a new school.

But it’s not all work and no play. Of course, you can still enjoy the majestic scenery around you with exquisite lunches and dinners with a view of the sunsets and mountains.

 

Volunteer in Tanzania for a Day

3Students with desks made by African Travel, Inc.

(Photo Courtesy of African Travel, Inc.)

Guests who are staying at Gibb’s Farm in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Highlands area have an opportunity to devote a morning to sawing, hammering and sanding with skilled carpenters to create school desks and other needed furniture. At schools in this area three to four children typically share ONE desk, so creating new furniture will change their daily lives at school. This is a very rewarding way to participate in village life and support children’s education.

 

Help Save Rhinos in South Africa

4Rhinos at Shamwari Game Reserve

(Photo Courtesy of African Travel, Inc.)

On African Travel’s Majestic South Africa safari vacation, you will stay at Shamwari Game Reserve and learn about the important conservation work done by people like Dr. Johan Joubert, the reserve’s director of wildlife.

Just visiting Shamwari will directly help the rhino conservation efforts. When travelers book this 10-day journey, African Travel will make a donation in the couple’s name, contributing to continued rhino conservation efforts and the building of a new rhino boma at the reserve, which opened in April 2019. The rhino boma is a safe haven to rehabilitate injured or orphaned rhinos until they are strong enough to be reintroduced to the wild. You’ll also learn about Shamwari’s innovative anti-poaching program, which includes micro-chipping rhinos and using a micro-light “Bat Hawk” aircraft for aerial surveillance

These are only a few options to help the communities in Africa but knowing you can have an enjoyable vacation while also having a positive impact can be invigorating and life-changing. So, come to Africa to relax, sight-see and #MakeTravelMatter.

 

Interested in learning more about African Travel, Inc.? Visit www.africantravelinc.com.

For more than 40 years, African Travel, Inc. has helped travelers discover the magic of the wild.  “We Know Africa” because we create extraordinary and unforgettable five-star experiences for each guest’s individual needs.  From relaxing in spectacular luxury to touching an ancient culture, your African dream awaits you.  Our knowledgeable and dedicated experts, who have lived and traveled extensively throughout the continent, will open your eyes to a new and exciting world. Placing local offices in Africa and our headquarters in the U.S. has earned us an enviable position of influence that will leave you knowing Africa like we do.  We’re committed to making travel matter by supporting the environment and the local communities we visit through our partnership with The TreadRight Foundation.  As a proud member of The Travel Corporation (TTC), a family-owned company with more than 100 years of expertise in luxury travel, we ensure exceptional service every step of the journey.  For more information and inspiration, visit www.africantravelInc.com.


By Sarah Bichsel, Social Media Manager at ACIS Educational Tours

When traveling to a new country, you of course want to make the famous highlights a part of your visit – What would a first trip to Paris be without gazing upward at the Eiffel tower after all?  –  but there is also a wonderful feeling in connecting with culture at the local level. Here are 5 activities to try that will bring you a richer experience and a feeling of community in your travels.

backpacks1Photo Courtesy of ACIS

1. Take a Cooking Class

Yes, travel is supposed to be an excuse to get away from your kitchen at home, but taking a cooking class abroad is a worthwhile exception! You will have the opportunity to learn what goes into regional specialties, from Parisian profiteroles to Genovese pesto. Participating in the traditions (often centuries old) that make up your meal will provide you with an in-depth appreciation that you won’t find by simply ordering off a menu. And what can beat a meal from scratch?

Cooking Class 2Photo Courtesy of ACIS

2. Play Ball!

If you’re a sports fan more than a foodie, you can still connect with local culture by playing the games enjoyed by native residents. Walk along the beaches of Nice, France, for example, and you just might stumble upon Pétanque, a Provençal game akin to bocce. The city has several clubs that offer lessons for beginners, so before you know it, you could be by the Mediterranean throwing boules with seasoned players. And Nice is far from the exception: There are lessons for curling in Quebec, cricket in London, and in Mexico, you can even learn Pok-ta-tok, the ancient Mayan ball game.

3. Join a Neighborhood Walking Tour  

As we said, a city is so much more than its most famous monuments. Narrow your scope and broaden your horizons all at once by participating in a neighborhood walking tour. You can find tours organized by subject such as food specialties, architecture or famous residents. There are even options that combine historical information with artistic endeavors, like sketching or painting. No matter which you choose, you’ll go beyond the tourist-populated areas into residential districts and get a sense of what everyday life is like.

walking tour 2Photo Courtesy of ACIS

4. Follow the Music  

Whether it be Flamenco in Spain or Gaelic rock in Ireland, music brings cultural history to life. Before you travel, take some time to research the musical traditions of your destination and look up any smaller music venues showcasing talent from the nearby area. Who knows? You may even see a band before they’ve made it big.

Bonus tip: As you sit down at a coffee shop to rest between sightseeing adventures, take notice of the community boards. You’ll find music and art events tailored to residents rather than tourists!

follow-the-music-2Photo Courtesy of ACIS

5. Shop at a Market

You may not need groceries on your travels, but don’t let that stop you from visiting a food or craft market. From the delightful Viktualienmarkt of Munich the artfully enclosed Mercado Central in Santiago, a market is the perfect place to get to know a community. Stroll amongst the stalls and booths flowing with artisan products, and you’ll be immersed in the daily rhythms of life abroad, the language and the produce, the bargaining customs and the neighborhood relations.

 

Interested in learning more about ACIS Tours? Visit www.acis.com  

Founded in 1978, ACIS Educational Tours provides exceptional educational travel experiences for middle and high school students and their teachers. At ACIS, our mission is to empower educators to introduce their students to the world beyond the classroom and inspire the next generation of global citizens.


By Chelsea Marie Alcock 

Chelsea is an adventurous globetrotter who works in marketing for the travel tour company, smarTours. She’s been to 10 different countries and explored most of the U.S. Her passion is writing about the unique places she discovers and distinctive experiences she has around the world. Follow along Chelsea’s adventures on Instagram, thetravelingfemale.

Petra Palace JordanPhoto Courtesy of smarTours

It’s no secret that Jordan was a top travel destination in 2018 and remains a desirable trip for travelers in 2019. Social media has exploded with stunning images, captivating videos, and incredible stories from those who have visited. With historical wonders, camel rides, desert aesthetics, and one-of-a-kind culture, it’s easy to see why Jordan is such a special place to visit.

Here are six reasons for Jordan’s major travel industry success—and why you should make the trip there yourself.

Culture & Society

The culture, people, and heritage of Jordan are a huge draw to the country. Although there’s western influence, the people blend together the old and new.

On Rainbow Street in the capital of Amman, there lives a modern hub of trendy restaurants, boutique shops, and vibrant nightlife. But, throughout the city you’ll still see many people wearing traditional clothes, restaurants serving classic Jordanian cuisine, and historical sights standing proud.

Handicrafts and mosaics are also a distinctive part of their society. In Wadi Seer, the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative trains women to make traditional handicrafts and products like soap, pottery, clothing, and more. This provides job opportunities and keeps their heritage alive. In Madaba, “The City of Mosaics”, the Madaba Arts & Handicraft Center employs handicapped Jordanians and trains them on the art of mosaics. This was established by Queen Noor, the American and fourth queen of Jordan.

2Photo Courtesy of smarTours

History

The country has a rich history intertwined with various dynasties and ancient empires—no matter what city you travel through, there are stories and history to be told.

In the city of Petra, a new Seven Wonders of the World, you’ll walk amongst land that Arab empires and Western and Eastern dynasties all once ruled. At the Al-Khazneh temple nearby, travelers admire the elaborate temple steeped in Bedouin history, as camels pose in front of it for a perfect photo op.

Visitors to Jerash will discover some of the most well-preserved ruins from the Greco-Roman empires during the 1st to mid-8th century before an earthquake destroyed most of it. It’s said that these ruins rival the ones in Rome.

3Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Religion

Religion is a quintessential part of the country’s DNA. People of Muslim and Christianity faith co-exist peacefully, which makes Jordan a welcoming and safe place to visit.

Throughout the country you’ll find a plethora of Holy sites, churches, mosques, and temples. In Madaba, a city of Christainity, there’s a well-preserved 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. And at Mount Nebo, the presumed site of Moses’ death, there’s beautiful views overlooking the Holy Land and Dead Sea.

Traveling from Petra to the Dead Sea, you can see where Jesus was baptized at John the Baptist’s settlement at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

4Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Hospitality

There are inevitably misconceptions about Middle Eastern countries, but Jordan’s a great testament to how wonderful it is to explore this area of the world. A lot of that has to do with its hospitable people. They continually invite and encourage people to visit their home because they are proud of their heritage and want others to learn more about it. Their economy also thrives on tourism, so they ensure you have a unique and memorable trip.

5Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Easy Exploration & Diverse Landscapes

Jordan has range of landscapes that are not only breathtaking, but are also easy to reach. You’ll be able to wander through the mesmerizing sandstone terrain of Petra, and then with a short drive, be at Wadi Rum having a Jeep adventure over the golden desert dunes while rugged mountains surround you. Jordan’s also famous for the Dead Sea, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. Wherever you stay, you won’t be far from an afternoon of floating in the lake’s clear blue water.

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8Photo(s) Courtesy of smarTours

Jordanian Food

Jordan’s Mediterranean-based food is a delicious experience. Mansaf, a lamb dish, and Maqluba, a meat, rice, and vegetable dish are very popular, as is Turkish coffee, lime and mint juice, and Barazek cookies. Bedouin people commonly cook Zaarb, a dish of marinated meat mixed with vegetables, slowly baked in a pit of hot coals covered by sand.

9Photo Courtesy of smarTours

Interested in learning more about Jordan? Check out the new Journey Through Jordan tour by smarTours, a brilliantly curated trip for an affordable price that includes airfare and taxes!

smarTours offers 50+ one-of-a-kind tours across all seven continents. Every one of their tours include expertly curated itineraries, airfare and taxes, passionate guides, 4-star+ accommodations, and smart-sized groups averaging 23 travelers. Some of their most popular tours include Egypt, South Africa, China, Greece, and Peru


 

By: Fionna Wright, Marketing Specialist, Affordable World

 

USTOA_save time & moneyPhoto Courtesy of Affordable World

1. Save Time, Save Money

Booking trips independently can get expensive fast once hotel accommodations, activities, and flights are factored in. It can also be time-consuming when coordinating all of the travel plans, activities and itineraries on your own. When you book through a tour operator, you get the added benefit of having a one-stop shop, which includes flights, comfortable accommodations, and extensive included sightseeing activities and comprehensive itineraries all at a great value.

 

USTOA_Tour CouplesPhoto Courtesy of Affordable World

2. Safety

Traveling to a new destination solo can be daunting. You are visiting an unfamiliar place, you do not know what to expect, there are language barriers, and safety is often a genuine concern. When you travel with a tour operator, you are provided the peace of mind that you will be taken care of from beginning to end. You already have enough to consider when planning, and knowing you will be in good hands during your trip sets you up for an unforgettably pleasant adventure! Instead of journeying through the unknown alone, you get to enjoy your vacation under the care and guidance of a local tour director who will enhance your overall travel adventure and show you the best parts of each destination, help you to navigate any language barriers, and give informed recommendations of where to visit during your stay.

 

USTOA_tourguidePhoto Courtesy of Affordable World

3. English-Speaking Tour Director

While being exposed to new languages is benefit of traveling, it can be challenging when you are attempting to communicate only to be faced with a language barrier that requires you to tap into your inner Charlie Chaplin, and act out every question you have. With a tour operator, you have a dedicated English-speaking tour director to show you around, explain your surroundings, as well as answering any questions that you may have. It makes for a much smoother and pleasant experience to have someone available to assist you throughout your trip.

 

USTOA_ThailandPhoto Courtesy of Affordable World

4. Learn about New Cultures

One of the most exciting parts of travel is experiencing and learning about new cultures. Along with the already cultural experiences built into your itinerary, you will have the insight and expertise of your local tour director who can recommend the best local, immersive experiences, food, and more! Plus, generally speaking, people are proud to share their heritage and culture with visitors so it’s a win-win!

 

USTOA_group travelPhoto Courtesy of Affordable World

5. Stress-free Planning

Booking a vacation is exciting, but can also be stressful – there are tons of factors to consider and planning it all alone can be overwhelming! For a truly relaxing travel experience, using a tour operator will alleviate the stress of planning a vacation. We will take care of all the details for your next adventure including flights, accommodations, and comprehensive itineraries. All you do is select which adventure suits you best, and with just a few clicks, you are all set. Make your next adventure the best one yet and book through a tour operator. Bon voyage!

Interested in learning more about Affordable World? Visit www.affordableworld.com

With over 35 years of experience and a mission to provide the highest quality tours at an affordable price, Affordable World strives to deliver an exceptional, unparalleled vacation that will transport you to the very heart and highlights of each destination. As a business, we hold our family-run values close. We make great service, integrity, quality and affordability a part of everything we do. When you travel with us, you feel like part of the family knowing that your happiness is our top priority. We believe the best tours combine comprehensive itineraries with extensive inclusive sightseeing, top hotels and excellent value. So we’re proud to be one of the few travel companies to offer exactly this blend.

tour director


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.


 

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.

 


By Kelly Anne Gould, Travel Impressions

An avid traveler with a background in writing and literature, sharing her love for cultures foreign and familiar alike is what fuels Kelly Anne Gould’s passion for writing. As copywriter for Travel Impressions, she does just that across numerous channels for travel agents, from social media to marketing and editorial. When not traveling, she pretends she is anyway with frequent museum visits and an ever-expanding reading list.

 

Set your imagination to go.

 

Art may imitate life, but with this year’s roundup of exhibitions and cultural events already off to a fierce start, you’ll want to follow their lead. From special commemorations to envelope-pushing installations, these seven showcases will have you planning a trip faster than you can say “travel.”

 

1. “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” / “Tim Walker,” The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
With two standout exhibitions planned at London’s V&A, you can’t go wrong no matter which season you want to explore the Town in.

On display through July 14, the Dior exhibition lets us get as close as most of us can dream of to real couture. Numbers like the imperial red silk dress with floral brocade and the coy blush tulle gown are not to be missed.

Just in time for fall fashion, the Tim Walker collection will be unveiled September 21. Photographs, films, and more from the innovative photographer promise to be a fascinating ride, if the teaser image of models in insectile full white coats is any indication.

Tickets for Christian Dior: €20 – €24 (timed entry). Tickets for Tim Walker available spring 2019.

 

2. “Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives,” Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada

A hands-on exhibition offering some fantastic Instagram pics, “Wild Things” encourages visitors to examine how our relationship with nature defines us. Open until September, its immersive look at Vancouver’s “wilds” makes for an eccentric, but powerful, reminder of the importance of cohabitation.

Museum admission from $9.75 CAD for children and $20.50 CAD for adults.

Vancouver Tourism Aerial Sunset Vancouver

Beautiful land-and-seascapes give Vancouver half its charm.

Credit: © Vancouver Tourism

 

3. “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving,” Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY

Few female artists can claim the same level of fame Frida Kahlo has earned around the world. Paintings, drawings, and personal artifacts from the iconic Mexican artist are making their way to the Brooklyn Museum February 8 to May 12.

The biggest collection of her works to hit the U.S. in a decade, fans and newcomers alike won’t want to miss their chance to see so many of her once-lost works.

Timed tickets from $10 for children and $16 for adults; untimed tickets from $35. Member discounts available.

 

4. “Kaldor Public Art Projects,” Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Fifty years in the making, this world premiere spotlights Australia’s groundbreaking public arts project. Contemporary works like Jeff Koon’s Puppy and Marina Abramovic’s In Residence get a second life September 7, 2019 to February 16, 2020 at one of Sydney’s most popular museums.

Free admission.

Tourism Australia HarborPanorama

Sydney, Australia, where first-of-its-kind Kaldor Public Art Projects got its start in 1969.

Credit: © Tourism Australia

 

5. 30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany

November 9th marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall that divided East and West Berlin—the starkest symbol of the Cold War.
Commemorative events have already begun, but the exhibition of previously unpublished photographs by Daniel Biskup of life after the Wall, on display at the Museum in the Kulturbrauerei February 14 to August 25; German Unification Day street party on October 3; and “Insight into Secrets” at House 7, one-time headquarters of the Stasi, are sure to be highlights.

Free admission.

 

6. Daks Over Normandy, Normandy, France
Another turning point in history reaches a landmark anniversary this summer: the D-Day Landings and Battle of Normandy. And a big anniversary means a BIG celebration.

In the greatest gathering since World War II, over 30 DC-3s and C-47s will take to the skies June 5 to June 9 for Daks Over Normandy. Caen Carpiquet Airport will offer an up-close look at the aircraft, making this unique experience one for the books.

 

7. Year of Festivals, Caribbean

Yes, an entire region made the list. The Caribbean Tourist Organization has named 2019 the “Year of Festivals,” and for good reason. From food and spirits (rum, anyone?) to dance and crafts, it doesn’t get more jubilant than the islands. A small sampling of upcoming events:

  • Bon Bini Festival, Aruba: Held every Tuesday year-round, it’s a mini Carnaval, complete with music, dance, and art. Entrance fee: $5 for children, $10 for adults.
  • Crop Over, Barbados: A 200-year-old tradition returns June 1 to August 5. Craft markets, street food, and, of course, costumes make sugar cane season that much sweeter. Admission varies by event.
  • Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, Saint Lucia: This May 5 to May 12 brings one of the Caribbean’s most “noteworthy” festivals to one of its most romantic islands for another round. Admission varies by event.

Aruba Bon Bini Festival 9

 A dancer entertains the crowd at Aruba’s weekly Bon Bini Festival.

Credit: © Aruba Tourism

 

Interested in learning how to build a custom itinerary around one of these events? Visit www.travelimpressions.com or call 800.284.0044.

Serving travel agents only since 1974, Travel Impressions is one of the nation’s largest leisure tour operators, offering packaged and FIT vacations to over 1,300 destinations in the Caribbean; Asia and the Persian Gulf; Mexico; Central and South America; Europe, including the Eastern Mediterranean; Africa; the South Pacific; Canada; the Continental U.S.; Alaska; and Hawaii. An extensive portfolio featuring more than 250,000 resorts, hotels, and over 2,500 luxury villas, plus more than 30,000 tours, attractions, and transfers, provides global options for every traveler.