5 Reasons to Join a Walking Tour as a Solo Traveler

By Matt Thompson, Brand Manager for Country Walkers

1. Meet Like-Minded People

When you choose to experience the world on foot, you’re making a conscious decision to travel authentically. Your traveling companions will share your passion for experiencing a destination up close, at a slower pace that allows you to really connect with the local culture. Whether you’re spending time together on the trail, in a cooking class led by a local, or over a delicious meal at the end of the day, you’ll find many opportunities to create meaningful bonds. You may start out as a solo traveler, but you’ll end up with whole group of newfound friends. Many of our guests form lifelong friendships on tour, and choose to travel together again on subsequent adventures.

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2. Don’t Worry About Planning

Traveling on your own can mean not having anyone to share the burden of travel planning with. Rather than spend your time researching and booking hotels, transportation, and attractions, join a walking tour that handles all the details for you. You can simply show up at the airport and then relax in the knowledge that you have an expertly planned itinerary awaiting you. You’ll avoid the headaches that often come in the planning stages weeks and months before a trip, and return truly refreshed and invigorated.

3. Travel Your Own Way

Striking out on your own allows you to make spur-of-the-moment decisions independent of concern for a traveling partner’s desires. Do you want to skip the day’s walk and enjoy the spa instead? Go ahead! Feeling energetic and want to choose the extra walking option? You don’t have to check in with your companion to see how they’re feeling first! Linger at an art gallery, relax quietly on the beach with a good book, skip attractions that don’t interest you—you can travel according to your own wishes and whims. Walk at your own pace, and make your own unique discoveries along the way.

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4. Just Be Yourself

At home, we often fall into roles designated by others or by ourselves. Whether the role is “mother,” “boss,” “husband,” or one of countless others, travel allows you to shed your usual day-to-day and be whoever you want to be. Give yourself opportunities to enjoy your own company and rediscover your own personal joys—from a solitary moment on a peaceful stretch of the trail to an engaging conversation with a traveling companion over a glass of wine at the end of the day.

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5. Venture Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Traveling far from home in an unfamiliar culture where you don’t speak the language can be daunting. By joining a walking tour, you’ll have guides who are familiar with the lay of the land. You won’t need to worry about negotiating taxi rates in a foreign tongue or getting lost in an unknown city. Your guides will also provide insight and perspective that you wouldn’t have access to on your own, allowing you to connect with your destination on a deeper level. Walking tours make it easier to venture to destinations you might not be comfortable traveling to on your own.

 

Country Walkers began with a simple idea: explore the world actively, passionately, and with a commitment to authentically engaging with local cultures. With this guiding principle, the company launched in 1979 from an old barn in Vermont and soon expanded from local to international destinations. Today, Country Walkers is recognized as one of the leading providers of walking adventures worldwide. Matt Thompson serves as Brand Manager and has been with the company for five years.


Scenic Scotland: Scotland’s Hidden Gems

By: Chelsea Matthews, Sales & Marketing Executive with Celtic Tours World Vacations

When planning a visit to an unfamiliar place, try finding uncommon areas hidden from the crowds of more popular spaces. There is something about unwinding and discovering a place which is off the beaten path so to speak, a place that allows you to truly immerse yourself in the culture of a new area. Sometimes, the best way to truly understand a place is by stepping away from the touristy attractions and finding remote locations, to better understand the way of the locals.

When planning your Scotland vacation, naturally, you will be drawn to visit some of Scotland’s most well-known sites, such as Edinburgh or Inverness. While both of those locations are nice, there are quite a few places in Scotland worth visiting that you may be unfamiliar with…

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Sandwood Bay: Sandwood Bay, in Kinlochbervie, is not only a hidden treasure in Scotland, but also quite possibly one of the most beautiful (and secluded) beaches in Britain. This remote beach is only reachable by a four mile walk on a fairly flat path that leads to beautiful pink sands flanked by cliffs.

Smoo Cave: Smoo Cave is a dramatic and spectacular sea cave set into the limestone cliffs in Sutherland. Accessible by path or by boat, the cave boasts one of the largest entrances to any sea cave in Britain at 50 feet high. Smoo Cave would be an ideal stop for those driving along the North Coast 500 route, as it is hidden right beside the main North Coast road, just a little over a mile east of Durness.

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Whaligoe Steps: Whaligoe Haven is a beautiful and scenic location, accessible by steps, that descend into the harbor. This location truly is one of Scotland’s most precious hidden gems, so much so that you will not even find signs pointing you to the location. Admire the awe-inspiring scenery, the ample wildflowers, and plentiful seabirds, as you descend approximately 350 steps.

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Duncansby Head: Located in Caithness, Duncansby Head is the most northeasterly part of the British mainland, exceeding John O’Groats distance from Land’s End by a mile or two. Take in the stunning views of the cliffs as you walk along a well-trodden path which first brings you to the Geo of Sclaites, a huge rock cleft, separated by the water. Continue on the path to reach stunning views of Thirle Door; a rock arch, and the Stacks of Duncansby; a group of large jagged sea stacks.

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Lunan Bay: Lunan Bay offers a secluded and stunning beach, backed by dunes and framed by cliffs, located on the Angus coastline. Lunan Bay is perhaps one of the finest beaches in Angus, which offers plentiful sand, a cave, an arch, and a ruined castle. The Red Castle, originally built for King William, dates back to the 12th century. Now the ruins of the castle stand on elevated ground and overlook the bay.


5 Must-See Places in Italy for Repeat Travelers 

By Gina Bang, Senior Manager of Inside Sales & Marketing at Avanti Destinations

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So, you’ve been to Rome, Florence and Venice, maybe even stayed in a villa in Tuscany or driven along the Amalfi Coast? You’ve only scratched the surface of this amazing country.

In these days when “overcrowding” is a genuine concern, travelers will do themselves a big favor by going beyond the best-known cities. Fewer tourists and an astounding diversity of landscapes, experiences, food and wine await.

Italy has so many wonderful places that are “off the radar” for most travelers, but here are five less familiar regions.

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Sicily

The big island off the toe of the Italian boot is a world of its own. Most Italians from the mainland don’t even think of it as Italy – it’s that different.

Sicily has been called the museum of Europe. The layers of history and the different cultures that conquered it are visible everywhere: Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish – and finally the northern Italians who in the 19th century unified the independent regions to create the country we now call Italy.

Western Sicily has more Arab influence than the rest of the island – and it shows in its cuisine. You can’t miss the seafood in Trapani with couscous like you’ve never tasted before.

Basilicata

The mountainous region at the instep of the boot has a history that goes back 7,000 years. But it’s been overlooked by most tourists until now. Matera is the place to visit, particularly this year – it is one of the 2019 European Capitals of Culture, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This breathtakingly beautiful city is built above and around limestone caves, which were inhabited by as many as 15,000 people as recently as the 1950s. The town literally merges with the landscape.

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Puglia

The heel of the Italian boot is an economically poor region, but rich in a long and varied history, beautiful scenery, whitewashed hilltop towns and fantastic produce and food.

Top hits: orecchiette (cute little ear-shaped pasta), burrata (mozzarella with cream added – to die for), panzerotti (half-moon shaped savory pastry pockets), tiella con cozze (casserole with mussels, potatoes, rice). Puglia produces 40% of the country’s olive oil, and it’s out of this world.

Puglia’s long coastline has some of Italy’s best beaches. And there are limestone caves to explore – even a gorgeous restaurant in a cave near Bari. It’s a landscape that won’t be forgotten.

Don’t miss the charming traditional trulli, a style of buildings – unique to Puglia – with dry-stone conical roofs (no mortar). In Alberobello, there are more than a thousand of them!

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Umbria

This landlocked “green heart of Italy” has all the appeal of its famous neighbor to the east, Tuscany, but far fewer tourists. You’ll see much the same landscape as Tuscany with rolling countryside, vineyards, olive trees, and dramatic walled hilltop towns like Assisi and Orvieto.

Perugia is my favorite, founded by Etruscans, now a center for the arts and culture and home to a prestigious university – and site of the Eurochocolate Festival (October), as well as the Umbria Jazz Festival (July).

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Piedmont

The largest region in Italy’s northwest and bordered by the stunning Alps, Piedmont is completely different from central and southern Italy in so many ways. Instead of pasta, you eat risotto. Instead of flamboyance, there is northern restraint – in the architecture, and the dress, speech and behavior of the people.

Coffeehouses in Turin looked like they could be in Vienna or Budapest. Which makes sense, because Piedmont was for much of its existence part of the Holy Roman Empire as the Duchy of Savoy.

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Turin 

Turin is every bit the European powerhouse it was intended to be, with palaces, museums, operahouses, and other grand buildings in styles from medieval to Art Nouveau. FIAT is headquartered there. And Lavazza coffee. But best of all is the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate-hazelnut confection called gianduia (john-DO-yah).  Memorize that word and bring lots home – your friends will thank you.

But woman and man do not live by chocolate, coffee and risotto alone. Piedmont’s wines are considered Italy’s finest: Barolo and Barbaresco are reasons enough to go to Piedmont.

Arrivederci in Italia!

 

Gina Bang has an insatiable curiosity about other people, their history, their culture, and their cuisine. An unabashed foodie, she’s eaten my way through most of Europe, Asia, and the Americas!

As a Senior Manager of Inside Sales & Marketing at Avanti Destinations, Gina started as a customer service representative, then manager of inside sales and product manager for Central and Northern Europe.

Avanti sells customized independent and group travel exclusively through travel agents. They “connect the dots” of multi-destination itineraries to create a totally unique vacation, including extraordinary experiences, activities, accommodations, and transfers. Avanti can help your travel agent put together a unique, customized independent vacation to any of these five regions – or anywhere in Italy.

 


What Seniors Need To Know To Get Through Airport Security Easily

By Diana Cowgill of YMT Vacations 

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Getting through airport security can be a nuisance for anyone, but the experience can be especially stressful for seniors. The good news is that the Federal Aviation Administration has put rules in place to streamline the process for you. However, it helps to do research ahead of time and prepare yourself (and your belongings) accordingly. Here is what you need to know to make your airport security screening as simple as possible:

 

  • Travelers with disabilities and medical conditions may consider getting a TSA Notification Card, which specifies health conditions, disabilities, or medical devices that may affect your screening. Provide this card to the TSA officer when you get to the checkpoint so they can make special considerations for your screening. The card also provides instructions for calling the TSA 72 hours prior to your travels to request any assistance you may need.

 

  • Seniors who do not have this card can still request assistance once you arrive at the airport. Simply ask a TSA officer to request a passenger support specialist. These specialists will answer questions, address concerns, and assist with security.

 

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  • The TSA 3-1-1 rule means that carry-on liquids must be 3.4 oz. bottles or less; in one quart-sized clear, zip-top bag; and limited to one bag per passenger. However, there is an exception to this rule for larger amount of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols – but you must declare them at the checkpoint for inspection.

 

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  • Medications in solid or liquid forms should be clearly labeled, with the prescriptions handy if possible. Let the TSA officer know that you have medically necessary medications and keep them separate from your other belongings before the screening starts. Items you should declare to a TSA officer include freezers packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes.

 

  • Expect TSA officers to test liquids, gels, or aerosols for explosives or concealed prohibited items. They may also open containers and transfer pills to another container for testing. If you do not want your medication to be screened by X-ray or opened, let the officer know and they will take alternative steps to clear these items.

 

  • Passengers with medical conditions that prevent you from standing or walking at the checkpoint will not be required to remove shoes, though they will be manually inspected. Walkers, canes, crutches, and other mobility aids will be X-rayed or hand-inspected.

 

  • Travelers 75 years or older will receive expedited screening, meaning the ability to keep shoes and light jackets on. If you are unable to stand for the screening, you will be cleared by manual inspection.

 

Airport security can be an intimidating process, but being prepared will speed up the process. Have any medications separated, labeled clearly, and with the appropriate documents/prescriptions. Keep your doctor’s name and number within reach in case a conversation is needed to verify your pills, gels, and liquids. Knowing what to expect and how to get assistance will give you the confidence to get through TSA screening as effortlessly as possible.

 

Diana Cowgill is a copywriter at YMT Vacations. She and her husband love to flit around the world together, gorging on regional baked goods and petting as many street cats as possible.

YMT Vacations has provided affordable guided tours for mature travelers since 1967. Our guided cruise and land tours, to destinations around the globe, are designed with value in mind. By thoughtfully bringing together each separate element of your vacation, we can guarantee you the best price and an easy, worry-free trip. Visit ymtvacations.com to learn more!


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:

 

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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?

 

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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

 

©TCS_SS_664519924

“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.