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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.


 

Drum roll please…the hottest destination of 2019…is Italy!

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That’s according to a recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) for the tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). With Italy leading the pack, the top 10 “hot” destinations for this year include Iceland, which ranked second, followed by Japan, Vietnam, Australia, France, Spain, Colombia, Cambodia and Portugal.

USTOA tour operator members also identified their top 10 off-the-beaten path or emerging destinations that they see gaining popularity in 2019: Iceland ranked first, Cambodia ranked second, followed by Croatia, Colombia, Vietnam, Portugal, Bhutan, Bolivia, Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

Gullfoss (Falls)Credit: Goway Travel

Who is Traveling This Year?

When asked about the guests traveling, respondents said that about half (48%) of their customer base are 51 to 70 years of age. The next largest category was age 36 to 50 years representing 20% of customers…a growing segment of travelers.

Your 2019 Itinerary

“It’s interesting to see five destinations – Iceland, Cambodia, Colombia, Vietnam and Portugal – appear on both the hot destinations and emerging destinations lists,” added Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “This tells us that off-the-beaten path travel experiences continue to grow in popularity amongst travelers.”

The demand for experiential, immersive travel programs continues to remain high. Roughly 82% of members offer art and culture travel experiences. The art and culture category is also the highest ranked experiential program for travelers in 2017, based on volume of sales. Two thirds of membership offer honeymoon and romance programs, 63% of members offer adventure programs, and more than half (56%) offer multi-generational family programs.

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How’s Business?

According to the study, USTOA tour operator members projected to close out 2018 with sales reaching $18.7 billion dollars, representing 9.8 million individual travelers. Even more individuals are expected to travel in the upcoming year, with one hundred percent of USTOA tour operator membership anticipating growth in sales for 2019.

Travel opportunities to all these destinations – and more – can be found at USTOA’s Dream Vacation Itinerary Finder. For help planning your dream vacation, visit www.ustoa.com/travel-agent-directory and find a USTOA certified travel agent near you.


By Ryan Neal Cordwell, AFAR Ambassador

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Just as Galileo had made headlines with his findings of the universe, some seven-thousand kilometers away, the great unifier Zhabdrung had just tossed a replica of the sacred Buddhist relic into the Mochu River. This implausible gambit, midst a grim and unflattering outlook, had effectively ended the Tibetan invasion. The Tibetans’ efforts were subsequently rendered useless, as that which was sought had then been believed lost, and they vacated the land that would resultantly become known as Bhutan.

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But the seventeenth century was really just a domino in the methodical Rube Goldberg contraption of this country, as well as its neighboring powers. Bhutan and Nepal are respectively, two, remarkably and alluringly ornate lands, built on tales as unremittingly unbelievable as they are true. They are places that upon touring, and upon experiencing first hand, remind one of the sheer, enormity of Earth and the perpetual motion that is time’s ability to craft a culture. I was met with this sort of awe each moment of my journey with Luxury Gold, as our traveling concierge kept my journal occupied, and my camera at the ready. It isn’t only the absorption of undiluted insight, but the ability to participate interactively, that stamps this page of the world with gold.

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Surveying outward from Swayambhunath Temple, one has a radial view of Kathmandu. It’s one of those views that elicits speechlessness for its beauty, as much as it haunts you with its endlessness. This was one of those moments that generate that awe; it ushers in your understanding of the world. The tenor of prayers compete only with the bicker of Nepali Assamese monkeys; and the sensation of uneven stone beneath your feet is only offset further by the entrancing spinning of the stupa’s wheels. I had been intercepted by such awe repeatedly, not only by magnificent and blatant demonstrations of culture, but also by those which one would be so quick otherwise to pass by. I cannot help but remain confident in the success of these moments as a direct result of the Luxury Gold itinerary. To spin a globe and flip an atlas is merely preparatory; to subscribe to a program so vivid in its strokes of any one culture is scholastic in itself. Our small group was provided truly unique insight into Kathmandu Valley and the countryside of Western Bhutan; from vetted views of the famous Punakha Dzong, sharing the sanctity of silence in Paro’s holiest temples with the Buddhist masters, to meandering a nearby rice-terrace village, and even hearing firsthand, over a french-prepared Nepali meal, the hurdles of scaling Everest from Shailee Basnet. Pacing a quiet Punakha corridor, observing nothing too blaring but the everyday of a riverside collection of facades, muted in color and calm in chatter at an early dusk— this window into a culture’s ordinary is, to me, just as consequential in one’s self-realization and that of our planet’s many other inhabitants.

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You have no idea. You think you do. You don’t. The magnitude; the incomprehensible, immeasurable vastness of resources; humans, the hands they tool with, exchange with, and love with. Everything, everyone you see; it all exists, and always has, concurrently and withstanding of your input. You were not here to witness it, but the tree does in fact fall. Billions of souls in the first person, in millions of places, and trillions of routines, all contribute to the awe; transoceanic, and antipodean.

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So, just as we scroll headlines here, somewhere on some side of some sea, someone else is making them, while the reciprocal remains true. It won’t always be shaping kingdoms or dodging invasions, and that’s okay. These are the sort of journeys that live to tell, that are survived by our study, and make the ongoing clock of our history on Earth, a bit softer.

 

Interested in learning more about Ryan’s journey? Read more about it on AFAR.com, the USTOA blog, and check out Luxury Gold’s Magnificent Nepal and Bhutan itinerary.

Ryan is a filmmaker, first and foremost, with 12 years’ experience. But he keeps his hands callused by a number of other projects, including: photography, branding initiatives, city guides, and community organization. He’s a passionate storyteller and believes if you aren’t having fun, it’s not worth doing and that easy roads are seldom worth the tales to which they take you.


This year, USTOA set out to uncover the emotional connection between travelers and the destinations they visit with the Why We Travel campaign. Through a collection of articles and videos, like the one below, you can hear firsthand accounts of guests who traveled on four USTOA tour operator member itineraries this year.

You can follow along as Bill and Janet Gorth participate in a traditional tea ceremony in Japan, Frank Albanese and Kelly Patrick hike their way through New Brunswick, mother and son duo Laurel and Jared Trimble meet the locals in the Cook Islands, and Josh and Jessica Greenberg dive with whale sharks in the Philippines, and perhaps most importantly…learn why they travel in the below video.

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Discover more Why We Travel videos here or find USTOA member trips to each of these destinations below. You also can follow the adventures on Instagram and Twitter using #traveltogether or by visiting USTOA’s Facebook page.

 

JAPAN

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THE PHILIPPINES

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THE COOK ISLANDS

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NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA

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With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines has become a bucket list tropical destination in 2018. The Southeast Asian country boasts more than 22,000 miles of coastline with pristine beaches, cosmopolitan cities, rich history, and welcoming locals ready to share Filipino culture with visitors.

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Here is a sample of USTOA member itineraries to inspire a hassle-free vacation to the Philippines with exclusive local access. For more USTOA member packaged travel to the Philippines, visit: https://ustoa.com/why-we-travel/philippines.

 

SITA World Tours’ “Manila & Boracay Sojourn” itinerary mixes the history and modern energy of Manila with one of the world’s most beautiful beaches on Boracay Island. During the six-day tour, guests will enjoy a half-day tour of Old Manila before traveling to the paradise of Boracay. Whether it’s a massage or yoga lesson on the beach or a boat ride through the crystal-clear waters, Boracay is the ideal place to disconnect and enjoy the untouched beaches. Available throughout 2018 from $695 per person. www.sitatours.com

Intrepid Travel’s “Philippines Palawan Island Getaway” is a nine-day adventure of island hopping and snorkeling among the coral and tropical fish. Guests will interact with the Batak tribe in their village to witness their daily life with a local guide. The package includes two nights on a private beach, sleeping in beach cottages, and will enjoy local cuisine at Kainato, a local restaurant which supports the community and employs people with disabilities. Departures available bi-weekly from December to May in 2018 and 2019 from $1,630 per person. www.intredpidtravel.com

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New for 2018, Avanti Destinations’ “Philippines Escapes” itinerary is an eight-day vacation to some of the island’s most alluring beaches. With year-round accessibility, the islands feature stunning tropical waters, otherworldly rock formations and coves. The trip includes four nights at the Miniloc Resort located in the remote Bacuit archipelago. In addition to snorkeling and other water activities, guests can participate in a private tour with tribal foot massage and choice of massage treatment at the Nurture Spa Village in Tagatay, and all meals at the Miniloc Resort. Prices from $2,475 per person, double occupancy (land only). www.avantidestinations.com

Goway Travel’s “Palawan El Nido” four-day itinerary to the Philippines provides the flexibility of an individual worry-free vacation with a tour operator. Travelers will spend the trip relaxing in El Nido, an almost untouched site with white sand beaches, clear waters, and stunning cliffs. Considered “The Philippines’ Last Frontier,” the waters are full of marine life and dive sites for adventurous travelers to experience. Available through October 2018 from $961 per person. www.goway.com

(credit Pixabay) manila-1709394Credit: Asia Answers

Discover a diverse vacation of the Philippines’ city life and spectacular beaches during Asia Answers’ “A Perfect Week in the Philippines” itinerary. The first part of the week includes a tour of Old Manila rich in history and mixed with contemporary skyscrapers or an optional day trip to Pagsanjan Falls. End the trip at one of the world’s most serene beaches with two days of leisure time in Boracay. Departures are available daily from $1,449 per person. www.asiaanswers.com

 

Find your dream island vacation to the Philippines here.

 

 


By Ben Schuyler, AFAR Ambassador

There’s no doubt about it—something really is so romantic about being in Paris. It’s the “city of love” after all, but I’m not talking so much about affectionate romance. I’m talking about the city’s ability to take you to a different reality, to transport you to a different time. As a travel photographer, I find myself experiencing the “losing of oneself” to a place fairly often, but my experience in Paris and the surrounding villages along the Seine River were in a league all their own.

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My wife and I chose Paris as our honeymoon destination, as so many other newly married couples do. We had originally entertained the thought of venturing to a tropical beach for a week doing nothing but drinking Pina Coladas to excess and eating endless amounts of fish tacos, but ultimately chose to seize the opportunity of travelling the Seine with U by Uniworld—a boutique cruise line geared towards the “young at heart” – after reading more about their trips. Our time to travel was limited and we wanted to cover as much ground as possible since neither of us had ever been to this area of France. I’ll be honest that taking a cruise wouldn’t usually be of interest to me, but the ability to see so many places without being surround by huge amounts of fellow travelers hooked us.

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We embarked on our journey with a small list of recommendations from friends who had been before. Aside from those select places our schedule was at the mercy of our “U-Hosts”, incredible culture guides from the cruise that led our excursions or connected us to an incredible cast of experts on different significant topic. From a list of over a dozen “U-Time” options, we chose a handful of activities that related to our interests in food, art, and the outdoors.

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On the top of my personal list of places I’d long wanted to visit were the cliffs of Etretat—beautiful limestone cliffs towering over the shore of the English Channel. These stone monoliths have been topics of lore from Viking ages to the modern times. Standing on the edge of the shore felt like staring off at the end of the world. Monet had painted these cliffs on numerous occasions, attempting to freeze these scenes in time. My wife and I walked along the sun-bleached stones, picking up a few to bring home as earthen souvenirs.

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While traveling to the coast, we weaved through the Normandy region—an area known for its biological diversity and rich farming conditions. Manoir D’Apreval—an organic apple orchard specializing in producing organic cider, Pommeau, and apple brandy. Each sip was a refreshing taste of the history of this land.

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Rouen shone as one of the gems on the Seine. Each corner revealed layer after layer of history and beauty. Gros-Horloge, one of the oldest astronomical clocks in France, sits in the middle of the old city and has been running since the middle ages. The Rouen Cathedral features a nightly light show at 10pm telling the story of the new creation and Viking invasion of France. Julia Childs once called her dining experience at famous French cuisine restaurant La Couronne “the most exciting meal of my life,” which we affirmed with our meal of gazpacho and veal.

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The romance of the Seine is undeniable and endless and best experienced with open hands. Find the few things you HAVE to see, and with the rest just let their ancient stories draw you in.

 

Interested in learning more about Ben’s journey? Read more about it on AFAR.com and check out U by Uniworld’s The Seine Experience.

A Pacific Northwest native, Ben has spent his life drinking coffee, hiking the Cascade Mountains, and breathing the salty air of the Puget Sound. Ben’s inspiration includes dirt roads, flora, and fauna, and his photographs capture a sense of adventure in warm colors that produce an ambient nostalgia. He recently traveled America to document mobile living: When the Road Is Home.


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Thinking about taking a solo vacation? You’re not “alone.” Roughly half of United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) tour operator members have reported growth in solo travelers last year and many have created new opportunities for those going it alone to visit their dream destinations. With waived or discounted single supplement fees, new itineraries tailored to single travelers, and new ways to connect guests before and during the trip, off the beaten path experiences no longer only come in pairs.

 

The following are just a few of ways USTOA members are encouraging solo travelers to see the world.

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Specifically designed for solo travelers, Intrepid Travel’s “Best Morocco – For Solo Travelers” itinerary brings together an intimate group of 12 guests and a local Moroccan guide. The group will trek the High Atlas Mountains and stay in a traditional Berber village where they will learn about the indigenous population. Other trip highlights include fortune telling in Marrakech’s lively medina, chatting with medicine men in Jemaa el-Fna square, and more. Available on select departure dates through November 2018 from $1,175 per person. www.intrepidtravel.com

Alexander+Roberts has waived the single supplement fees on all nine departures of its “Colombia Emerging” trip. On this private journey with no more than 16 guests, travelers are lead through the vibrant country to spend time with flower farmers outside Medellin and join Bogotá residents in some of their traditional pastime. The trip also features a guided walk to discover Medellin’s vibrant street art, and a full day to explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Cartagena. Available on select departure dates through April 2019 from $3,699 per person for single or double occupancy. www.alexanderroberts.com

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Make friends with your fellow passengers as you travel through 10 European countries during Contiki’s 13-day “European Discovery” itinerary. Solo guests can share a bottle of champagne under the Eiffel Tower or bike through Munich with other guests helping to form lifelong bonds. Guests also will discover the canals of Amsterdam and Venice; visit Vatican City and explore the ancient streets of Rome; and enjoy two days in the city of lights, among other exciting activities and destinations. Available for select departures through fall 2018 and throughout 2019 from $2,376 per person with savings. www.contiki.com

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Credit: Contiki 

Black sand beaches, snorkeling with Galápagos penguins, and an experienced expedition team create an unforgettable and educational experience for solo travelers on Lindblad Expeditions’ itineraries to the Galápagos. Lindblad Expeditions is waiving solo traveler premiums on solo cabins select 2018 National Geographic Islander and National Geographic Endeavour II voyages. New ships also feature an increased number of solo cabins. Solo travelers will pay double occupancy rates for solo occupancy in designated cabins/categories. Valid for new bookings only and subject to availability with weekly departures year-round from $10,130 solo occupancy. www.expeditions.com

Tabletop Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and more must-experience adventures bring solo travelers to the southern tip of Africa for Abercrombie & Kent’s “South Africa & Victoria Falls” itinerary. The nine-day trip also features a visit to the thundering Victoria Falls and an on-safari Chef’s Table experience where travelers will cook traditional fare side-by-side with a chef. Solo guests save 50% on single supplement fees on select departures including July 19, 2018, August 9 and 13, 2018, and September 8, 2018 from $7,795 per person. www.abercrombiekent.com

Travel to Greek IslandCredit: Trafalgar

Trafalgar has waived the single supplement fee on the August 20 and October 8, 2018 departures of its “Best of Greece” itinerary. Guests will traverse the mountains of Arcadia to ancient Olympia, dine with a local Greek family, enjoy a night of traditional food and dancing with local residents, and more during this eight-day trip. Solo travelers also will visit iconic sites like the Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis and Parthenon with a local specialist. Trip is available from $2,050 per person. www.trafalgar.com

Tauck is offering single travelers special savings in 2018 with waived single supplement fees on select river cruises and reduced fees on other departures worldwide. Waived single supplement fees on all Category 1 European riverboat cabins makes it easier than ever for solo travelers to enjoy an upscale European cruise. Tauck has trimmed the single supplement by up to $400 on 68 departures of 23 different land itineraries. In North America, Tauck has taken up to $300 off the single supplement on 61 departures of 21 tours, and within its “Exotics” portfolio, has reduced the supplement by up to $600 on 26 departures of nine trips in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. For more information visit www.tauck.com

Kenya - Lake Nakuru Flamingos - Credit Kenya Tourist BoardCredit: SITA

SITA World Tours’ “Masai Footsteps” itinerary brings groups and solo travelers on a game drive through the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The exciting seven-day trip includes a visit to Lake Nakuru to see its flamingo-lined shores and a drive to see Mount Kilimanjaro from Amboseli National Park. Guests also may encounter elephants, lions, buffalo, cheetahs, giraffes, etc. Available on Tuesday and Thursday departures April 9 through June 18, 2019 from $2,650 per person double or single occupancy. www.sitatours.com

Kenya - Lions in Tall Grass - Credit Erico HillerCredit: SITA

Ceremonial Warrior Dancers - Credit Erico HillerCredit: SITA

Travel to the southern part of Africa for an unforgettable safari during Country Walkers’ “Botswana and Zambia Safari: Victoria Falls to the Okavango Delta” itinerary. During the 11-day tour, guests will witness the river rituals of hippos along the Zambezi River and walk through forest along the roaring Victoria Falls. Guests will end each day at intimate, award-winning lodges and bush camps. Discover Africa on foot from $7,398 per person, double occupancy (including airfare). Departure dates available October 30-November 9, 2019 and November 7-November 17, 2019. www.countrywalkers.com

CIE Tours International encourages solo travelers on “The Irish Pub Tour” itinerary to explore the cozy pubs and meet the local people throughout Ireland. The trip includes boozy stops at the Guinness Storehouse, Teeling Distillery, and South Pole Inn for a real Irish coffee. Guests on this eight-day tour also will enjoy dinner and music at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, story-telling at Dublin’s oldest pub, and stays in the towns of Kilkenny, Killarney and Westport. Available on select departures throughout 2018 from $1,520 per person (land only). www.cietours.com

Whether you’re going it alone, or traveling with friends and family, click here to search member itineraries to destinations around the world.


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The Bordeaux region in France brings to mind visions of winding country sides…and of course robust red wines. While known for its vineyards, the region in southwest France also offers picturesque towns, beautiful coastlines, and impressive architectural gems. Need more inspiration? Here are eight reasons to visit the famous French region:

Le Médoc

  1. Pack and Unpack Only Once:  Unlike a land tour, a river cruise will take you from town to town throughout the Bordeaux and Medoc regions on a river boat, with a new port and a new adventure each day.  You’ll relax while the river sweeps you to your next destination.
  2. La Cité du Vin:  Opened in May 2016 in Bordeaux, this modern building – reminiscent of a lighthouse on the banks of the Garonne – is a unique invitation to travel to the heart of wine country and the traditions that it holds. As you enter the Cité du Vin you will enjoy a self-guided tour punctuated by 20 themed spaces explaining the culture of wine in an immersive, sensorial setting. The grand finale of your visit will bring you to the upper level for a gorgeous 360° view of Bordeaux and a complimentary glass of wine.
  3. Experience Joie de Vivre on the Sun Deck:  The confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers into the Gironde Estuary create beautiful landscapes of picturesque villages, sweeping vineyards, and striking coastlines.  Enjoy the sights while sipping Champagne from the sundeck.
  4. Grands Crus of the Medoc:  A trip to Bordeaux is not complete without a visit to some of the famous wineries that call this region home.  Sample wines from the finest terroir on earth and learn how these world-famous wines are made – from grapes to glass.
  5. Breathtaking Views at the Arcachon Bay:  From atop the great Dune of Pilat, in the Arcachon Bay area, there’s a sweeping view across the bay to the north, the Atlantic to the west, and the Medoc to the southeast.  If oysters are your thing, you’ll enjoy a tasting at a local restaurant before returning to the ship.
  6. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Site Saint Emilion’s Underground:  The name Saint Emilion goes hand and hand with Merlot grapes and world-class wines, but this medieval village has so more to offer.  Step inside the biggest monolithic church in Europe – right from the town square, a single piece of limestone was carved into a massive church.  You can explore the cavernous space, the hallways below ground, or take a trip to the bell tower.
  7. Hiking in the Hillsides of Cadillac:  From the riverside town of Cadillac, France, take a tour on foot to the surrounding hillsides as buildings give way to fields and vast vineyards.  After walking, you’ll stop at a family farm to try some local favorites and, of course, a glass of wine.
  8. Enjoy a French Meal: A typical CroisiEurope meal is a typical French meal:  Refined cuisine, convivial atmosphere, and exciting desserts.  Even lunches on board are special – a break from the days’ activity and exploration for multi-course dining.  Reminisce about the morning’s excursions over some local cheese, enjoy some ratatouille, and compare the bouquet of unlimited French wines paired with each meal.

France-Gironde-Garonne-Bordeaux-cite-du-vin06-84866©Cite du vin

Established in 1976, CroisiEurope has been a leader in offering the best value in all-inclusive river cruising for the last 41 years. Based in Strasbourg, France, CroisiEurope is headquartered at the epicenter of Europe with offices in Brussels, Paris, Lyon, Nice, Lausanne, Madrid, London, Phnom Penh and New York.  This family-owned company operates 50 ships and a diverse selection of canal, river and ocean cruise sailings that navigate the most famous waterways in Europe, Asia, Russia, South America and now South Africa. Choose from a variety of itineraries from 4 to 26 days and explore picturesque riverside cities & towns in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy & Spain. Or visit the international destinations along the Mediterranean coast, Vietnam, Cambodia or South Africa.

www.CroisiEuropeRiverCruises.com