While we are all staying home, we are finding that we have time to do things that we tend to put off. Personally I've been cooking a lot more, and watching a lot more streaming videos; my husband is sorting hundreds of old photos and putting together albums for relatives, as well as getting caught up on entering information discovered during years of research into Ancestry.com. Are you looking for ways to pass a few minutes? I've curated a list of websites offering virtual tours or streaming activities. Please enjoy!
Did you enjoy these experiences? I am currently using my blog and my weekly newsletter to suggest things to do during quarantine. Want to receive travel inspirations in your inbox? Please subscribe to my weekly newsletter - it's a good way to keep in touch.
"Whoever lets himself be led by heart will never lose his way" - Egyptian Proverb
As a young child, my family subscribed to National Geographic. I loved the issues that focused on archeology and anthropology- and those I loved best described stories and photos of discoveries of the treasures of ancient Egypt. Living close to the University of Chicago, I loved exploring its famed Oriental Institute - full of treasures from Egypt and the near east. A few years later Treasures of Tutankhamun toured the US and become a pop culture happening - I was thrilled to get a ticket to see the exhibit in LA. But still I dreamed of seeing the pyramids in Egypt with my own eyes. In 2015 I had the opportunity - as tourism was just starting to return to Egypt after the Arab Spring. My husband and I spent two nights in Alexandria on board a cruise ship - visiting the Egyptian Museum and the Pyramids at Giza was the realization of a life-long dream. It was an amazing experience driving through Cairo and seeing the pyramids come into view - truly one of my most spine-tingling experiences! And now, absorbing even more of Egypt’s history and culture in grand style is becoming more widely available to travelers.
Egypt’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and the Egyptian government has made significant investments in security infrastructure. These efforts are paying off. Egypt has been named a top 20 destination for 2020, and Cairo is in Lonely Planet’s Top 20 Cities to visit in 2020. With renewed interest in experiencing Egypt, international travel companies have created unique ways to experience Egypt - and this week, I’m highlighting Nile River Cruises offered by two of my trusted partners.
AmaWaterways recently announced the launch of a new ship, the AmaDahlia, on the Nile River. Her inaugural sailing is scheduled January 8, 2021 with sailings through May, before returning to the Nile in September of 2021. These dates will be open for booking this coming March 3rd and are sure to fill quickly - read on to learn why!
The new ship will have 34 cabins, mostly suites. "The Secrets of Egypt and the Nile" itinerary starts with 3 nights at Cairo's Four Seasons Hotel. Visits to the Pyramids at Giza are scheduled during the Cairo stay. Passengers then fly to Luxor, and board the AmaDahlia for a 7-night round trip voyage, which will offer the opportunity to see Aswan and Kom Ombo, with an optional excursion to Abu Simbel. Passengers return to Cairo for a final night at the Four Seasons Hotel. While in Egypt, all meals are included. Should you choose to stay longer and explore more of this region, there are available add-on destinations - choices include 3 nights in Dubai, 4 nights in Jordan (2 in Amman and 2 in Petra,) or 4 nights in Jerusalem.
Don’t want to wait until 2021? Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is starting their Nile River Cruise season next week; there is space available for 2020 sailings. Their 12-day itinerary, “Splendors of Egypt and the Nile,” sails on the SS Sphinx, a new ship for 2020. This ship accommodates 84 passengers; all staterooms have balconies. The itinerary starts in Cairo at the Four Seasons Hotel, with visits to the Pyramids at Giza and the Egyptian Museum, before flying to Luxor to board the ship for a 7 night cruise. Highlights of the trip include visits to the Temples at Karnak, Luxor and Hathor and the Valley of the Kings. At its conclusion guests return to Cairo for a final night at the Four Seasons. Two extensions are available - 5 nights in Jerusalem or 6 nights in Jordan.
Sound interesting? Please let me know - I’d love to help you experience Egypt in style!
This week's feature explains why scheduling a photo shoot while on vacation is an excellent idea! This shot was taken by a "street fashion" photographer in Paris - we ducked into a cafe to warm up (it was 20 degrees and sleeting outside) - and my photographer captured this moment - one of my favorite photos ever!
Exciting news - my colleague, Celeste Auger-Munshi and I have been selected to host an Azamara Cruise from Venice to Athens in September, 2020. Along the way we will visit Sibenik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Katakolon, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, before finishing in Athens. My consortia, Virtuoso, in conjunction with several luxury cruise lines, offers Virtuoso Voyages - cruises which are hosted by a professional travel advisor. Passengers booking with a Virtuoso Advisor on a Virtuoso Voyage receive a complimentary special amenity - possibilities include an exclusive shore excursion, or services of a driver/guide, or a generous onboard credit. Celeste and I would love for you to join us on this cruise - space is very limited (great itinerary!) - so if you are interested please contact me as soon as possible to secure your cabin. More details here:
Why Book a Professional Photographer on Your Next Vacation?
Want a fun, unique activity for that upcoming vacation? If you're like me, and your selfie game is weak, you've too often relied on the kindness of strangers to snap a photo of you in front of [fill in the blank] - and maybe the resulting photo is not quite what you'd hoped for. The solution: Schedule a photo shoot in your destination with a professional photographer! Here are several reasons to book a photographer on your next trip:
Did you know that the US Travel Association has designated January 28th as National Plan for Vacation Day? Here's why this is important:
Last year my company partnered with Virtuoso - to quote them:
"Virtuoso is the leading global network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors. We partner with over 1,800 of the world’s best companies such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more. Our advisors use their personal connections and firsthand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, special values, complimentary perks, VIP treatment and rare access."
And how does this benefit you? Here are five ways:
First, A great travel advisor...takes it from ordinary to extraordinary. A Virtuoso travel advisor can secure special benefits that you can’t get on your own, such as complimentary breakfast, spa credits, and upgrades at hotels. But they also see the nuances in every trip. From big-picture aspects (where to go – and when) to the details that matter (booking the hotel rooms with the best views, where to get the most authentic pizza on the Amalfi Coast), your travel advisor knows how to plan a memorable trip.
Second, a great travel advisor knows the world. Just as you might use a financial planner, an interior designer, or personal shopper, it makes sense to entrust your most valuable asset – your time – to an experienced travel advisor. The best advisors spend a lot of time on the road themselves – scouting out hotels, deepening relationships with tour guides, and finding the best restaurants and things to do.
Third, a great travel advisor knows your travel style. A Virtuoso travel advisor understands what’s most important to you and your traveling companions. You may want to take a cooking class or a private tour, or you may not want to leave the resort pool! Perhaps you want to use travel to educate your kids, plan an unforgettable anniversary trip, or celebrate a milestone birthday with friends and family. Your Virtuoso travel advisor will have plenty of suggestions on what might work best for you.
Fourth, a great travel advisor expands your horizons. A great travel advisor will help you think creatively about where to go and what to do. Italy, France, and Hawaii will always be popular. But your advisor also knows the best ways, say, to see Chile, Portugal, New Zealand, and many other hot destinations – plus new ways to experience the places you’ve already visited. Together, you can plan your next dream trip or weekend getaway.
And Finally, a great travel advisor can handle anything. Have you ever been on a trip where everything went exactly as planned? Right – this almost never happens. Issues are bound to pop up, and your Virtuoso travel advisor is your personal help line and “fixer” who knows how to quickly turn things around for the better. When they follow up after your trip, you’ll surely have an answer to this question: “Where do you want to go next?”
WHAT IS WAVE SEASON?
The New York Times describes Wave Season as an "annual deal-making ritual," during which "cruise-goers can snap up savings that generally aren’t available the rest of the year." USA Today says: "wave season remains a peak time for cruise lines to include free upgrades, onboard credit, and other incentives." Wave Season coincides with the winter months after the new year when a full year beckons, and when those living in colder climates long to catch some rays, this time of year is typically one of the busiest for booking travel. During Wave Season, extra incentives or special promotions are offered to encourage would-be travelers to book. Offers may include upgraded staterooms, free air, reduced deposit amounts, beverage packages, prepaid gratuities, or generous discounts. While promotions are offered year-round, Wave Season offers to tend to provide travelers the most benefits and the best value. Wave Season promotions are provided by all sorts of cruise companies, from Ultra-Luxury to Expedition - and frequently apply to cruises scheduled through 2022. Booking early has its advantages - best choice of staterooms and extended-time period to pay for a trip. My consortia, Virtuoso LTD, has put together a helpful list of Wave Season offers, which I've summarized below. I'd love to help you plan a special trip AND a great value - please let me know when you're ready to book!
Wave Season Promotions
AmaWaterways - WAVE Triple Savings Promotion - on select 2020 sailings, up to $2,000 savings per stateroom plus stateroom upgrade and onboard credit. Offer expires 3/31/2020
American Queen Steamboat Company - "Rollin' On The American Rivers" - Opportunity to save significantly on staterooms; savings range from $400 - $5,800 depending on cruise date and stateroom category. Offer expires 3/31/2020
Azamara - Save up to 40% on select cruises between 4/14/2020 and 11/21/2021. Offer expires 2/29/2020
Celebrity - Sail Beyond Event - save up to $400 per stateroom and choose one: unlimited drinks, $150 onboard credit, unlimited wifi, or prepaid gratuities. Offer expires 3/4/2020
Crystal Cruises: Reduced deposit of $100 on 13 select Mediterranean cruises between April and August 2020. Offer expires 3/4/2020
Cunard: Upgrades on Us, Plus Free Drinks Package for Grill Suites, plus 50% reduced deposit and included gratuities on a wide range of sailings for 2020 & 2021. Offer expires 2/27/2020
Holland America - "View & Verandah" - Choose from 500+ sailings and receive Free Stateroom Upgrades, Free Onboard Spending Money (up to $500 per stateroom) free/reduced kid's fares, 10% off select shore excursions, 50% reduced deposit. Offer expires 2/28/2020
Hurtigruten - "The World is Waiting" - Save up to 30% on select 2020, 2021, and 2022 voyages to Alaska, Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, Central & South America, Norway, and the Northwest Passage. Offer expires 2/28/2020
Ponant Yacht Cruises and Expeditions - Treasures of Japan - May 30 - June 7, 2020 sailing - $3,000 air credit based on double occupancy. Offer expires 2/29/2020
Princess - Best.Sale.Ever - $100 deposit, Premier Beverage Package, Unlimited WiFi, pre-paid gratuities. Offer expires 2/29/2020
Regent Seven Seas Cruises - Celebrate Luxury Perfected - receive up to $1,000 in onboard credit for select voyages in 2020 and 2021. Offer expires 3/31/2020
Royal Caribbean - 60% off second guest and kids sail free - Offer expires 1/31/2020
Seabourn - Signature Savings Event - for select sailings, offer may include suite upgrades, shipboard credit, internet package, 50% reduced deposit, and in Alaska, a free zodiac shore excursion. Offer expires 2/28/2020
Silversea - Bonus Savings Days - up to $1,000 in savings on select voyages. Offer expires 2/28/2020
UnCruise - 2020 Adventure Savings - Save up to $1,000 per couple for 7-day sailings on select voyages. Offer expires 2/28/2020
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection - 100th Anniversary Celebration Event - Save up to 30% on select 2020 voyages. Offer expires 2/29/2020
Virgin Voyages - Sailor's Loot - Up to $400 in Onboard Credit. Offer expires 2/14/2020
Windstar Cruises - Small Ship Big World Savings - on select voyages; choose one: up to $1,000 in onboard credit, up to $300 airfare credit or unlimited wifi. Offer expires 2/28/2020
Rich and I were in Fort Lauderdale last week and we took the Water Taxi around "The Venice of America" - this house is one of many elaborately decorated along the canals.
Happy Thanksgiving! Late November through the New Year's Holiday is one of my favorite times of the year. In my family, the season kicks off with birthdays just before Thanksgiving and eases into end-of-year holidays, many of which center on gatherings of friends and family, celebrations, and traditional holiday dishes. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season. Merchants have adopted "Black Friday" as an opportunity to offer tempting promotions with a built-in sense of urgency – due either to limited inventory or a small window of time to buy. For many families, the Thanksgiving meal is lunch, to allow shopping fans time to visit retailers starting their "Black Friday" sales Thursday evening.
Black Friday sales are not limited to brick and mortar stores – many e-commerce retailers also offer "Black Friday" sales. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is one of the busiest days of the year for online purchases. Travel companies have become very active participants in Black Friday promotions – attractive offers are already being previewed.
So while your family and friends are together for Thanksgiving, why not have a conversation about planning a trip? Alternately, have you considered gifting a travel experience? And it goes without saying that it would be my pleasure to be of service to you and your family to plan a trip. Please reach out to me – I would be happy to help you find a "Black Friday" trip to match your travel wish list. For that "Traveler's Guide" - I've listed below a handful of offers hitting my inbox this week.
Black Friday - Travel Specials
While in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, my daughters and I visited the "Umbrella Street" - photo credit to my daughter, Sandy.
Hola! I've got a very busy travel schedule for the balance of 2019, and my travel dance card for 2020 is quickly filling. We are looking forward to one bucket list experience, specifically attending Oberammergau in July 2020. I've certainly led a very charmed life with respect to my ability to travel - but I still have so many destinations on my personal bucket list....So I'm asking for your help in choosing my next big experience. What's on YOUR bucket list, and where would YOU go first? And/Or - what am I missing???
My WanderList is below - Would love your feedback and suggestions!
Where Should I Go?
Should I go on Safari?
Or perhaps to Japan?
I've always wanted to see the Panama Canal...
Chasing the Northern Lights?
Cruise the Mekong River?
Adventure cruise in the Galapagos?
Or going Down Under...So many choices!
One of the highlights of our summer was an Alaskan Cruise; here I am on our balcony overlooking Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park
Hello from sunny Leucadia, California! It's been a busy few months, and I've got lots to catch up on - but I would love to hear what you did during your summer! We are just home from a week in Illinois, and head east in a few days for something new to me - a business conference on board a cruise ship! We have lots to look forward to right on through 2020, including a special trip that I booked in April of 2018 - yes, you read that correctly! Last week we visited a winery in Southern Illinois, and our host advised us to watch their site as they will soon be announcing plans for visiting during the 2024 Solar Eclipse! On that note, the article below discusses the benefits of planning vacations far in advance. Here's to the Future!
"It's exciting to think that some of the best moments of our lives have not yet happened."
Does that quote resonate with you? If so, I'd like to suggest that it's never too early to plan ahead. It's hard to believe, but bookings are already being accepted for travel in 2022! Why would one make a reservation so far in advance? Here are a few reasons:
It's my hope that this list provides food for thought - and it would be my pleasure to be of service to you as you plan ahead.
Virtuoso Travel Week On Tour - Los Angeles
We are back home after a few days in Los Angeles at Virtuoso's Travel Week on Tour, during which nearly 150 professional Travel Advisors met with 80+ travel suppliers, in a "speed-dating" format - followed up by a day of professional development (with a good measure of fun in the mix.)
One of the questions I frequently am asked is "Are there any good deals out there?" So fresh from meeting with so many suppliers, many of whom are currently offering promotions, here you are!
(Photo above: You may not know that I'm not the only family member in the travel industry; my son, Ben, is a First Officer with Republic Air!)
I'm writing this as the sun sets on St. Patrick's Day. Having lived in Chicago most of my life, St. Patrick's day in Southern California is comparatively low-key. But if you've harbored a hankering to visit Ireland, this is a great time to plan - one of my partners has a great air-included promotion for trips to Ireland - but this trip must be booked by March 19th. My wish for you is well stated in this Irish Blessing: May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door! How Can A Travel Advisor Help You?
Earlier this week I was speaking with a colleague who mentioned that they and their spouse would really, really like to travel - but just could not find the time to plan. "That's why you hire someone like me!" I said - and it's true! Lack of time to plan, or getting "drinking from the firehose" overwhelm by the plethora of options available online which may lead to inability to make a decision - these are great reasons to work with a professional travel advisor when planning your travel. But there are other reasons as well...
A TRAVEL STORY
I have clients currently in Barcelona. When they contacted me several months back to help plan their trip, after the initial consultation conversation, I reached out to my network of trusted suppliers and put together a proposal including flights and hotels. When I sent it for first review, their first assumption was that the price quoted was per passenger - but it was actually for two. (They were very happy!)
Fast forward to earlier this week, as they left for Spain. I was monitoring their flight, and they texted just as I learned their flight was delayed. At first it seemed they might make their connection, but once airborne it was clear that the delay would prevent this. Before they landed I had contacted the travel supplier and identified possible alternate routing, and had learned that the airline had prospectively re-routed them for the same flight, next day. I had alerted their travel insurance carrier regarding the delay, and had information for booking a hotel for the night (and was standing by to make that booking.) Once they were in the terminal and had settled on their revised travel itinerary, I contacted the company scheduled to pick them up in Barcelona, and rescheduled their ride for the next day, and then contacted their hotel directly to ensure that their room would not be cancelled and, in fact, would be available when they did arrive the next morning.
My lovely clients took the weather-related delays in stride, and enjoyed their "bonus day" in New York before heading out to Barcelona - to get in the spirit of Spain they attended a Miro exhibit (and caught a glimpse of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade.) When I remarked on their turning lemons into lemonade, they responded "Lemons + Vodka = Limoncello!"
Today they posted a lovely video depicting a live band and dancers, in a weekly event held in front of the cathedral just after Sunday Mass, to celebrate the Catalan Culture and independence movement. They are looking forward to a wonderful working holiday.
Things happen - for all manner of reasons - and when they do, isn't it nice to have someone behind the scenes to help you work things out?
Later this week I'm headed to LA for my first conference at Virtuoso, the consortia that my agency partnered with in January - conferences such as this provide a great vehicle for me to learn about what's new in the travel industry and to network with colleagues and suppliers - with the end result that I'm better positioned to provide great service to my clients. I've linked below my agent profile with Virtuoso - whether for personal or group travel, please let me know how I can help you create your next travel experience!