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?


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.


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!


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.


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 today.




During this year’s Travel Together Month, the members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) are putting the world on sale with nearly 100 offers on bucket list trips to all seven continents.

The month long celebration showcases offers like free airfare, direct savings, and complimentary add-ons from the country’s leading travel companies. Book by September 30, 2018 to take advantage of these exclusive offers and make your dream vacation a reality.

2018-06-28-01-38-27-ustoa-offer-1200x800-nptr.jpg-ymt vacations

Photo courtesy of YMT Vacations

Exclusive offers include:

  • YMT Vacations: Save $500 per couple on the “National Parks of the Golden West” tour for available for travel from May to July 2019.
  • SITA World Tours: Save $200 per couple on the eight-day “Uganda Wildlife Safari” tour available for travel by December 31, 2018.
  • Lindblad Expeditions: Free roundtrip airfare between Miami and Costa Rica or Panama City, or a free overnight and sightseeing in Panama City on select “Costa Rica & The Panama Canal” itinerary departure dates in 2018 and 2019.
  • Gate 1 Travel: Save $400 per couple on the “Antarctica Cruise with Buenos Aires” itinerary including an 11-night Antarctica cruise and three nights in Buenos Aires for travel November 2019 – March 2020.
  • International Expeditions: Kids under 18 sail for 25% off the published fares on the June 28 or August 9, 2019, Galapagos Islands expedition cruises.
  • CroisiEurope Cruises: Save $1,000 per couple on “Southern Africa: Journey to the Ends of the Earth” with an unexpected cruise on Lake Kariba, Africa’s largest man-made lake, available for travel through 2019.
  • Abercrombie & Kent: Save $1,000 per person on the August 18-30, 2019 departure of the “Italy Cruise: Hidden Treasures from Florence to Venice,” luxury itinerary.
  • smarTours: Save up to $1,000 per couple on the “Deluxe Dubai & Abu Dhabi” itinerary with non-stop, round-trip flights available for travel through 2018 and 2019.
  • Collette: Enjoy a free three-night Fiji extension on South Pacific Wonders tours with May-August 2019 departures dates.
Click here to start planning your dream vacation.

2018-07-20-17-30-10-anarctica_halfmoonisland52321036.jpg-gate 1 travel

Photo courtesy of Gate 1 Travel

And for our travel advisor partners, there are special bonus commission opportunities and savings for you this month as well. For more, visit to see all the travel advisor offers.

Note: offers can be booked September 1-30, 2018. All travel deals, restrictions and booking instructions can be found at


For further inspirations or to search for dream travel itineraries and destinations, visit


This September, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) marks its annual Travel Together Month with more than 100 exclusive savings on bucket list destinations and experiences around the globe.

Travel Together Month showcases a curated selection of offers from the country’s leading travel companies with dates available through 2019. Offers can be found through September 30, 2017, at, featuring travel to all seven continents with countless “live like a local” and bucket list opportunities.

photo credit Hurtigruten

photo credit Hurtigruten

Exclusives include the following offers:

  • Abercrombie & Kent: Save up to $10,000 per couple on a 2017-2018 Luxury Expedition Cruise to Antarctica. Book Category 1-3 and save up to $5,000 per person on Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands for travel through January 2018.
  • Ritz Tours: Save $500 per couple on the “China Scenic” 12-day tour to experience the natural landscapes in Guilin, archeological sites of Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in Xi’an, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing, and the cosmopolitan Shanghai for travel in 2018.
  • Hurtigruten: Save up to $1,000 per couple on cruises to Antarctica, South America, Canada, the US, the Caribbean and Central America for travel from April 4, 2018 to April 3, 2019.
  • Islands in the Sun: Enjoy two bonus nights and all meals on Islands In The Sun’s 8-Day Fiji Romance in Matangi Private Island trip with prices from $2,829 per person for travel until March 31, 2018.
  • go-today: Save $100 per person on Cape Town Escape with Great White Share Encounter. From $1,499 per person after discount using promo SHARK at checkout. Travel available through June 5, 2018.
photo credit Asia Answers

photo credit Asia Answers

Travel agent incentives can be found at Highlights include the following:

  • Lion World Travel: Travel agents earn $100 per person booked on the luxurious “Discover East Africa” tour for travel on April and May 2018 departures.
  • GOGO Vacations: Travel agents have the chance to win a $1,000 gift card on any new GOGO Vacations’ itinerary booked during the month of September. Winners will be announced on October 13, 2017 in the GOGO Vacations’ Travel Agent Insider email.
  • Asia Answers: Travel professionals can earn bonus commission of $50 per person booked on a China vacation lasting seven days or longer for travel through August 31, 2018.
  • Celtic Tours: Enjoy an Italian vacation with the travel agent exclusive of the five-night “Tuscan Villa” independent package with car rental or transfers, net rates from $449 per person for travel by December 15, 2017.
  • Zegrahm Expeditions: Receive a $100 gift card for each new guest booked on “Across the Antarctic Circle: Voyage to the 7th Continent” for the January 22, 2018 and February 4, 2018 departures.
  • CroisiEurope Cruises: Sell three double cabins (or six passengers) on the 11-day safari cruise itinerary and be entered to win an 11-day safari cruise for two people for travel in 2018 based on availability. Prize drawing December 20, 2017.
  • Alexander+Roberts: Earn $50 per person “Booking Bonuses” on all Private Tours, Small Ship Cruises and Small Group Journeys (never more than 16 guests) when clients pay-in-full for travel through April 2019.
photo credit Alexander+Roberts

photo credit Alexander+Roberts

Note: offers can be booked September 1-30, 2017. All travel deals, restrictions and booking instructions can be found at

For further inspirations or to search for dream travel itineraries and destinations, visit



By Terry Dale, President and CEO, USTOA

September is Travel Together Month (Credit: Celtic Tours)

This September, USTOA kicks off its celebration of world travel during the third annual Travel Together Month. Throughout the month travelers and travel agents will find more than 100 special offers and exclusive savings to explore the globe.

Travel Together Month showcases a curated selection of offers from the country’s leading providers of independent and escorted group travel with travel dates available through 2018. Offers can be found through September 30, 2016, at, featuring travel to all seven continents and countless “live like a local” opportunities. Travel agents will also find exclusive incentives, free trips and bonus commissions.

Cuba (Credit: International Expeditions)

Cuba (Credit: International Expeditions)

Highlights include the following:

For consumers:

  • Alexander+Roberts: Couples can save as much as $1,000 ($500 solo) on all Small Group Journeys and Private Tours for the traveling party – including Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, and all across Southeast Asia. Available through April 2018.
  • Australian Pacific Touring: Travelers save $2,000 per couple on select worldwide Small Ship Cruising itineraries. Valid on select itineraries; departure dates through 2017.
  • Globus: Guests on the 11-day “Best of Italy” itinerary visiting Rome, Tuscany, Florence, Venice, Naples and Capri save up to $646 per couple. Available on select 2017 departures.
  • Goway Travel: Savings of up to $12,000 per couple on select Antarctica sailings featuring destinations such as the Drake Passage and the Arctic Peninsula. Travel available during the 2016-2017 season.
  • Gate 1 Travel: Receive savings of $200 per person on the 12-day Classic South Africa trip, including, Cape Town, Hluhluwe, Swaziland, Hazyview and Johannesburg. Travel available through 2017.
  • Insider Journeys: Savings of $713-$1,547 per person on their choice of 17 departure dates between 9/1/16 and 12/31/16 for the Indochina Explorer 19-day trip in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
Vietnam (Credit: Insider Journeys)

Vietnam (Credit: Insider Journeys)

 For travel agents:

  • Lindblad Expeditions: Travel agents receive a complimentary double cabin aboard the National Geographic Endeavour or National Geographic Endeavour II to Galápagos when six full-paying guests are booked aboard the same departure. Offer valid on a September 2016 – April 2017 departure.
  • Alexander+Roberts: Travel agents earn a $50 per person booking bonuses every time clients pay-in-full, and save $1,000 per couple ($500 solo), on three new Small Group Journeys, with never more than 16 guests, including the following trips: Our Pacific Northwest; Canada by Land, Water + Rail; and Stories of the Old South. Travel through April 2018.
  • Celtic Tours World Vacations: Receive a 16% commission plus $50 per person discount on all European self-drive tours, with a minimum of six-nights. Departures between September 1 – November 30, 2016.
  • African Travel, Inc.: Travel agents earn 15% commission for each Scenic Cape Town & Kruger Safari Vacation package booked. Clients will explore Cape Town, experience a Big Five safari near Kruger, and receive international and internal air. For travel January 1, 2017 – December 1, 2017.
  • Austin Adventures: Receive 12% commission plus an additional $100 per person booking bonus; applicable on all itineraries and destinations for departures within 2016.
  • Cox & Kings, The Americas: Travel professionals receive a $150 bonus commission when booking guests during the early booking incentive—save $500 per couple when travelers book any Custom Private Journey in the 2017/2018 brochures or on the website.
  • Collette: Travel agents can earn more with “Book Your Own Bonus”—agents qualify for the program with their first booking, can earn $50 for the second booking, and $100 for the third. Any additional bookings earn $100 per booking with no limit. Valid on new retail bookings made between September 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017 for departures in 2017.
Antarctica (Credit: Goway Travel)

Antarctica (Credit: Goway Travel)

Note: offers can be booked September 1-30, 2016. All travel deals, restrictions and booking instructions can be found at

For further inspirations or to search for dream travel itineraries and destinations, visit

by Terry Dale, President and CEO, USTOA

September is Travel Together Month!

To celebrate the breadth of experiences offered by our tour operator members, USTOA has curated a collection of value-packed savings for travelers and special travel agent offers available throughout the month of September.  Featured on are special prices, premium offers, bonus commissions and more to destinations across the globe from the country’s leading providers of independent and escorted group travel.

Kelley Ferro traveling with Swain Destinations in Papua New Guinea.

Kelley Ferro traveling with USTOA member Swain Destinations in Papua New Guinea.

Travel Together Month is a highlight of USTOA’s Travel Together campaign…a growing collection of videos and blog posts that celebrate “live like a local” experiences around the world accessible through USTOA tour operator members. There’s a wealth of content that is yours to view and share…and if you do, use #traveltogether to join the conversation.

A tour group lead by USTOA member VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations takes in the view from high above Brac, Croatia.

A tour group lead by USTOA member VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations takes in the view from high above Brac, Croatia.

Here are some highlights of the special Travel Together Month offers, which can be booked throughout September. All travel details, restrictions and booking instructions can be found on the Travel Together website.

For consumers:

  • Abercrombie & Kent: Save $4,000 per couple on the 10-day “Egypt & the Nile” Luxury Small Group Journey. Available on select 2016 departures.
  • Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic: Free round-trip air from Miami to the Galapagos (up to $1,250 per guest) on select 2015 departures aboard the National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Islander.
  • Mayflower Tours: Receive free airfare on the “Enchanting India with a Ganges River Cruise” itinerary departing 3/15/16, a value of $2,500 per couple.
  • Quark Expeditions: Save up to $2,300 per person on the following three Ocean Endeavour voyages including Buenos Aires flights: “Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent,” “Falklands South Georgia and Antarctica: Explorers and Kings” and “Crossing the Circle: Southern Expeditions.”  Available on select departures through 12/31/15.
  • Swain Destinations: Book the “Baillie Lodges Australian Luxury Defined” itinerary  including an island-inspired barbeque lunch with premium wine and a 15-minute scenic helicopter flight over Uluru and get upgraded to the next luxurious suite category at Southern Ocean Lodge, a savings of $2,000 per person, plus 15% off travel gear at the Swain Destinations Travel Store. Valid on travel from 1/1/15 – 12/24/15.
  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Save up to $1,600 per couple on select 2016 Europe boutique river cruises when you pay-in-full at time of booking.

And for travel agents:

  • Alexander + Roberts: Earn an extra booking bonus of $100 per couple on top of full commission every time clients take advantage of pay-in-full savings ($600 per couple or $300 per solo traveler) on 95 original Small Group Journeys, Small Ship journeys and go-any-day Private Journeys to Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, the Middle East and Antarctica. Commission available on departures through April 2017.
  • Celtic Tours World Vacations: Enjoy a land only FAM rate of $499 per person sharing on a 5-night independent Tuscan experience. This travel agent exclusive includes accommodations at Villa Casagrande, breakfast daily, a welcome dinner, and car rental to explore the region. Book 9/1/15 – 12/15/15 for travel through 3/30/16.
  • Down Under Answers:Earn a $50 bonus commission when you book any Virgin Australia air/land inclusive vacation to Australia. Commission available on departures from 10/1/15 – 6/30/16.
  • Goway Travel: Book one Shongololo Africa train trip and earn a free 14-day train journey; your partner travels with you for 50% off. Valid for travel on any 2015/2016 journey.
  • SITA World Tours: Book clients on the “Peru: Ancient Civilizations” journey and earn a 20% commission plus an $82 appreciation bonus in the form of a SITA American Express Gift Card; clients receive room upgrades in Cuzco to oxygenated rooms and a Shaman Blessing ritual at Machu Picchu. Valid on daily arrivals through 12/10/15.

Note: deals can be booked September 1-30, 2015. All travel details, restrictions and booking instructions can be found at

Videos and blog stories can be found at and, as well as Follow the adventures on Twitter and Instagram by using #traveltogether and by joining Facebook chats at

For more information about tours and packaged vacations, visit  And, remember that when booking with USTOA Active Members, you also get the assurance of knowing that they are held to the highest standards in the industry with our $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.  Visit for complete details.

Travel Together Now Header

On September 1, 2014, the United States Tour Operators Association kicks off its first-ever, month long promotion that brings together on one website deep travel deals from the country’s leading providers of independent and escorted group travel. Delivering a versatile, one stop shop for consumers, Travel Together Now! Month showcases special pricing, premium offers, and value-added incentives on peak and off-peak travel itineraries spanning all seven continents.

“Our members’ business patterns tell us that September is when travelers like to book their bucket-list journeys, so we brought all the deals together in September to give them easy access,” said USTOA President and CEO Terry Dale. “It’s the first time USTOA has ever orchestrated such an extensive promotion, and we’re certain travelers will find their perfect trip among the array of offers.”

Throughout the month of September, consumers can visit to find more than 50 different travel offers to a myriad of destinations including some of the most sought-after locales in the world.  From complimentary upgrades and bonus air credits, to savings of up to $2,000 per couple, Travel Together Now! offer highlights include:

NOTE: deals can be booked between September 1-30, 2014. All travel details restrictions, and booking instructions can be found at

  • Africa: Save $1,000 per couple ($500 for solo travelers) on seven Alexander+Roberts small group safaris to East and Southern Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe when you pay-in-full at time of booking. Available on scheduled departures through April 2016.
  • Antarctica: Quark Expeditions is offering up to 25% savings on a cabin plus an $800 air credit on holiday voyages including the “Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent” December 5 – December 16, 2014 or December 20 – December 30, 2014, and “Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica: Explorers & Kings” November 14 – December 3, 2014.
  • Asia:  Save $500 per person on International Expeditions’ 16-day Myanmar tour departing October 29 or December 3, 2014.
  • Australia/South Pacific: Receive up to $1000 per couple vacation credit on select 2015 air-inclusive South Pacific vacations with Monograms, a Globus family of brands.
  • Europe: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is offering up to $2,000 per couple saving on 2015 European, all-inclusive luxury boutique river cruises when paid-in-full at time of booking.
  • North America/Caribbean: Free roundtrip air to Cuba on select 2014 and 2015 departure dates on Latour’s (an ISRAMWORLD Company) 9-day “Hello Cuba,” “Shalom Cuba,” and “LGBT Cuba” People to People Exchange programs.
  • South America: Receive free roundtrip air to the Galapagos from NYC or Miami with the booking of Lindblad Expeditions’ 10-day “Galápagos aboard National Geographic Endeavour” and the 16-day “Galápagos aboard National Geographic Endeavour + Peru’s Land of the Inca.” Available for travel through December 31, 2014.

Travel Together Now! Month is a paramount piece of the association’s recently launched campaign, Travel Together introducing a thoughtfully curated collection of experiential videos and blog posts exposing travelers to “live like a local” moments that delve deeply into immersive cultural experiences in featured destinations across the globe.

Travel Together is all about sharing experiences – whether it’s with a travel companion or making a connection with the native people of the location visited,” added Dale. “Our mission is to share with all travelers the rich experiences, local expertise, and insider access that our tour operator members deliver to more than 6.5 million travelers each year.”

Travel Together videos can be found at, as well as Consumers can follow the adventures on Twitter by using #traveltogether.


by Kelley Ferro

Never have I been anywhere that has more “sky.” I know what you are going to say— “every place has the same amount of sky” but trust me, when you are standing in the desert of the Northern Territory, you might rethink that statement.

As I stepped onto the tarmac in the Northern Territory, I felt like I had just stepped onto a different planet. The Earth was glaringly red, sharp mountains jutted out of the expanse of desert, the trees looked like they had withstood millenniums and the sun was so bright it hurt my eyes. This place felt like it had seen the dawn of time—it felt ancient and primal. However the people of the Northern Territory could not have been more vibrant, youthful and fresh.

Kirsten, our Northern Territory guide, welcoming us at the airport.

Kirsten, our Northern Territory guide, welcoming us at the airport.

I was met at the gate with the biggest smiles and that warm, welcoming feeling continued throughout the trip. The Northern Territory Aussies were just happy to have us there. Everyone seemed so healthy and full of life and very much in tune with the natural surroundings. I was blown away by the nonchalance of Rex the Reptile Hunter, who cracked jokes while catching a lethal Western Brown Snake slithering by our feet. I listened to stories from the trio of brothers at Earth Sanctuary who knew just about everything about the sustainable living in the Outback. And I can’t leave out Mark, our cameleer and owner of the Camel Farm, whom I swear was having conversations with these leggy creatures as we rode across the plains into the sunset. This dry Outback sustained so much life and much of it was not in human form.

One of the three brothers that run Earth Sanctuary.

One of the three brothers that run Earth Sanctuary.

I had ridden a camel on a previous USTOA adventure in Egypt, so I assumed that I knew basically all that what was need to know about camels. They make funny, Chewbacca-like* sounds, they look at you as if they are unimpressed and they are really, really tall—much taller than any horse. But it wasn’t until I was plopped in the middle of Australia, in the expanse of beautiful Outback that is the Northern Territory, that I realized camels are SO much more.

Wally & I, ready for our jaunt into the desert.

Wally & I, ready for our jaunt into the desert.

Camels are not native to Australia, they were introduced in 19th century to help build up central Australia as their hardy nature makes them perfect for the harsh desert climate. When they were no longer needed, they were let go and these dromedaries flourished. At one point there were over one million feral camels across Australia. (Disclaimer: I learned all of this while watching Australia’s new hit movie, Tracks, on the plane. Tracks details the solo journey of one woman and four camels across the unforgiving outback and it’s a very good watch). All this feral camel information came in handy when I was 4 wheeling through the remote Kings Canyon. Our guide casually told us to watch out for wild camels as he sped off. I was expecting lizards or maybe a bird, but it’s not every day that you are dodging camels while racing through the Outback on a quad!

Though feral, these camels that we stumbled upon were so cute!

Though feral, these camels that we stumbled upon were so cute!

Besides being important in developing the Northern Territory, camels are also loved for sport. Alice Springs hosts an annual Camel Cup, where the fastest camels come to race for the grand prize. I once thought that these lumbering beasts could only chew their cud sideways and amble on their bony legs. I was wrong. These beasts can move! When they were speeding around the track, they were quite a dramatic spectacle. In addition to the races, there’s plenty of camel related entertainment for everyone. From the dancing camel mascot, to the human rickshaw races (we came in dead last) to the food-filled fairground atmosphere. Aussies come from far and wide to attend this camel fueled day. And the icing on the cake? While donning my most American get up, I was honored to be crowned Miss Camel Cup by Australia’s famous Big Brother star, Tahan.

Holding my winnings as Miss Camel Cup!

Holding my winnings as Miss Camel Cup!

I held a python, I took a photo of the horned lizard up close, I smiled face to face with a crocodile, and I fell asleep to the lullaby of the dingos outside of my tent, but I can’t deny that my favorite Northern Territory experience did indeed involve the camels. At the Uluru Camel Farm, I learned that each camel has his or her own personality. The owner, Mark, explained that some are mischievous while others just want to play, some are stubborn and some require humans to earn their love. The baby of the farm was named Milkshake. Unlike her fellow brethren that were caught in the wild and trained to take guests on tours, Milkshake was born on the farm and hand-reared by the cameleers. She thought she was a human and she had no qualms about getting friendly with all humans around her. She also seemed to be a bit of clotheshorse (see below).

Milkshake really liked to nibble my jacket and shoes.

Milkshake really liked to nibble my jacket and shoes.

Mark led us on a camel ride at sunset and these slow moving vehicles made me turn into a lower gear and breathe in the intricacies of Outback life. Sitting on top of Wally, a recently caught and trained camel, I realized how life out here was so synchronistic. Every plant, animal and human had to work together to survive in the stunning but severe landscape of the Outback. And as Wally and I ambled into the sunset, I felt like I was a part of that balance for just a brief moment in time.

Kelley_NT_7_a Kelley_NT_7_b

*Little known fact: Did you know that the voice of Chewbacca in “Star Wars” was actually made by a camel? 

Kelley Ferro is a travel expert & video journalist living in NYC. She films her show, Get Lost, around the world–hopping on a plane at least twice a month She is also the executive producer for For more on her travels, follow Kelley’s Facebook page.










Ready to experience one of the UK’s most iconic regions? Enter the USTOA Travel Together Sweepstakes and you and a friend could win a 5-day journey through The Heart of England provided by Worldwide Traveler, including visits to Harry Potter Film locations, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and much more!

If you’re having trouble entering the sweepstakes above, please click here to enter.

Follow the Travel Together adventures on Twitter by using #traveltogether and joining Facebook chats at throughout the coming months. More information about Travel Together destinations can be found at and

As part of her journey in Egypt, travel expert, video journalist and contributor to, Kelley Ferro was taken on a luxury cruise on The Nile by USTOA member Abercrombie & Kent, a highlight of her experience. The vessels are equipped with an ever-accommodating staff as well as modern amenities, chic design and floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the breath-taking views as you cruise The Nile. Stops along the way include the Temple of Dendara, the Luxor Temple, the Karnak temple and more. View the highlights from Kelley’s cruise here:

For more up close and personal looks at the people and experiences of Egypt, check out these specialized videos from Kelley Ferro on Egyptologists, shopping, food and touring like a local.

Kelley Ferro is a travel expert & video journalist living in NYC. She films her show, Get Lost, around the world–hopping on a plane at least twice a month She is also the executive producer for For more on her travels, follow Kelley’s Facebook page.