Vacation Planning

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A New Year of Travel Trends

Happy New Year!  2017 is ramping up to be an exciting year of travel. So we thought we'd share stories about the hottest travel trends that are going to impact where - and how - you travel in the coming months and even years. What do we see in our crystal ball/ champagne glass?  

Whether you're planning family, 'bleisure' (business/leisure), solo, romantic or couple travels, gal or pal getaways, from the uber luxurious to the economical, 2017 travel will be all about:

  • Wellness and Adventure: Getting outdoors and being active, returning more healthy than when you left, doing something other than pounding pavement or cobblestones every day...  visitors have more and more new, healthy and adventurous (not necessarily dangerous!) ways to experience destinations.
  • Cuba: Travel to Cuba has changed forever now that relations with the US are normalizing. If you haven't already been, there are even more ways to explore one of the world's last restricted travel areas.
  • New Cruise Ships: Ocean or river, luxury or expedition, new cruise ships, with itineraries, designs, amenities, activities and celebrity entertainment or culinary partnerships that battle to outdo each other just keep on coming!  What WILL they do next on a ship? We'll keep you abreast of all the latest developments. If you're one of the last few people who still thinks cruising is about 'blue hair and buffets', you should take a look at the latest generation of cruise ships... and passengers.  There really is a cruise out there for every traveler.
  • Celebrations: Canada commemorates its 150th birthday in 2017, and it's also riding a wave at the top of nearly every 'best place to travel' list.  Did you know as many Americans travel to Canada every year as go to all of Europe?  And with the dollar and other considerations, it's never been a better year for vacationing close to home.  So throughout 2017, we're going to share some of our favorite stories about Canada to inspire your travels. 
  • Local and authentic: Local food, local artisans... everyone is looking for authentic, local production, creation, and consumption. There's a global awareness that we're all looking to be more connected with each other and the items we consume.  Products with provenance and people with passion and rejuvenated cities and neighbourhoods.  There's more and more of it out there to discover.
  • Connecting: Staying connected with those at home, and connecting with the people, Nature, and wildlife where you're traveling.
  • Customization:  It's never been easier to work with a travel expert to craft a trip of your dreams.  In the past, it may have been harder to tweak a trip to get exactly what you want, but a new age of crafting travel itineraries is upon us, at every price point.  If you're just saying 'yes' and dropping down your credit card, you're missing out.

We want to inspire your travel imagination in 2017... and then make those dreams come true!

So we're also introducing BestTrip.TV - an 'online travel TV station' with inspiring videos you can watch right here on our web site (click on BestTrip.TV on our home page).  We'll be sharing BestTrip.TV videos throughout the year.

Safe and memorable travels in 2017!

 

 

 

Go Glamping in Antarctica

Antarctica may be on your travel bucket list, but what if even the prospect of being one of the few people ever to set foot on the surreal, winter wilderness of the South Pole isn't enough to convince you to rough it?

Well, you don't have to. We've discovered a tour operator that takes only a dozen visitors at a time to what they call the 'real' Antarctica, inland from cruise shore excursions, all the way to the actual Geographic South Pole.

And they do it in style.  Inspired by luxury safaris of yesteryear complete with china, chefs, hampers and fine linens, White Desert creates an encampment of luxury pods that furnishes almost as unique an environment inside as outside.

Taking off from South Africa, it's a half-day's flight to the camp. While nothing to look at from the outside (and why would you want to when you're surrounded by scenic glaciers and ice waves?), the interior design would be at home in any luxury lodge. It's 'glamping' – that's 'glamour' meets 'camping'.

All photos: White Desert

The camp has six sleeping pods for two, equipped with a bed, desk, and wash/toilet area.

There are separate structures for showers, a kitchen, and lounge and dining areas, and your meals are catered by an award-winning chef.  With your comfort assured, it's time to explore.

Guests can choose from two, eight-day trips, and even an extraordinary, 'best day ever' single day to Antarctica and back. Expert polar guides help you discover the wonders of the immense 'white desert' continent through different excursions out from base camp. You may trek to a magnificent colony of 6,000 majestic Emperor Penguins, explore exhilarating ice formations and tunnels, go technical rock climbing, abseiling, kite-skiing, even take a trip to the actual Geographic South Pole and the science station nearby.  Imagine standing at the single place on earth where all points lead… only north!

Your actual footprints will be swept away by the snow, and the company ensures no ecological footprint will be left behind in this pristine environment either. The company's zero impact policy is complete: the camp is temporary, and re-created each season; all waste – including human – is removed; solar and wind power the camp; and even your flight emissions are offset through dedicated carbon projects around the world.

It's an Antarctic luxury 'safari' where you can have the world's rarest scenery, rushes of adrenaline, and stylish comfort, too.

Start Your Trip!

Snuggle in an Igloo in the Alps in Switzerland

Igloos aren't a central feature of Switzerland's picturesquely traditional alpine culture. Scenic, snow-capped mountains, check.  Sophisticated ski chalets, check. Meadows with dairy cattle, check.  The famous cheeses and milk chocolate they produce, check and check.

But a mountain in central Switzerland also has the unique atmosphere of high-design 'igloos' as part of its winter experience.

Stockhorn mountain towers seven thousand feet high, with a restaurant near the peak reached by cablecar, hiking trails, and views of the surrounding Alps and lakes below. On the shores of one of the lakes, an 'igloo village' springs up, just for the winter months: December through March.

Three thousand working hours of muscle power, snow plowing, balloons and enthusiasm go into the ice hotel/ 'iglus' as they call them.  Igloos are interconnected and themed, with elaborate, fantastical ice/snow carvings by international artists, and warmly rustic chic décor.

Up to 14 people can stay at the hotel – imagine booking the whole place for a group of friends or even a company retreat!

Nothing says 'team building'  or 'family fun' like an igloo building workshop. 

 But there's also the family igloo and even the romantic igloo.  Snuggling under the covers is bound to cement feelings of warmth.

Yes, that's a wedding proposal made out of ice. How romantic is that?

Cocktails at the bar, fondu dinners, mulled wine, mini film festivals, they'll all keep you warm indoors.

Outdoors, around Lake Hinterstocken, you can fill your days ice fishing, snow tubing, winter hiking and snowshoeing, playing hockey… or even relaxing and soaking up the winter sun in a lounge chair.

Stockhorn has half a dozen sister 'igloo-villages' throughout the country, so as long as the weather cooperates, you can add a night in an igloo to your winter trip to the Swiss Alps.

Start Your Trip!

 

 

Planning a Trip to the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are one of the most ecologically extraordinary places on the planet. The ecosystem that inspired Darwin – now a protected part of our world heritage - continues to fascinate. Free and fearless animals, different from any others found anywhere else in the world, awe visitors who make the journey to this remote destination.

If you're thinking about a trip to the Galapagos, here are some tips for your planning:

What makes the Galapagos Islands so special?

The Galapagos Islands are both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a World Biosphere reserve, the second largest in the world. Isolated and remote with a rich ecosystem, the archipelago is a living museum of natural history.

The pivotal moment came in 1835, when Charles Darwin visited the islands. What he discovered among the wildlife, related to - but very different from - any creatures found elsewhere, inspired his theory of evolution and the origin of species. Darwin's theories shocked the scientific world of the 19th century and put the Galapagos Islands on the map and on the lips of generations of curious nature lovers.

The Galapagos Islands have been described as one of the most unique, scientifically important, and biologically outstanding areas on earth.

Where are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are part of the South American country of Ecuador, but are hundreds of miles west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. They form an archipelago of volcanic islands on both sides of the Equator. Thirteen large islands, six lesser ones, more than 40 islets and their surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve.

How did they get their name?

The most symbolic creature of the islands is the extraordinary, giant Galapagos tortoise. Its magnificent shell reminded explorers of a British horse riding saddle, which in Spanish is called 'Galapagos'.

When should I go?

Because the Galapagos is so close to the equator, it's a sunny year round destination. The average year-round temperature is 24°C. (76°F) with a rainy season in the early months of the year.

North Americans are more familiar with a 'four season' life cycle of wildlife, but in the Galapagos Islands, there are natural wonders year round.

Here are some highlights of what you may experience at different times in the Galapagos Islands:

January

· Marine iguanas get a bright coloring to attract mates.

· Hatching of Giant tortoises' eggs.

February

· Greater flamingos start nesting.

· Penguins migrate to cooler waters.

March

· Frigate birds mating season starts.

· Perfect time for snorkeling.

April

· Rainy season comes to an end.

· Sea turtles, marine iguanas and land iguanas nesting.

May

· Waved albatross lay eggs.

· Blue-footed boobies begin their world-known courtship.

June

· Whale shark and humpback whale sightings possible

· Giant tortoises migrate to lowlands searching for good nesting-places.

July

· Start of sea lion breeding season.

· Lava lizards mating season.

August

· Frigatebird chicks are hatching.

· Sea lions give birth during this time.

September

· Galapagos penguins courtship

· A good month to see baby sea lions.

October

· Blue-footed booby chicks can be seen.

· Galapagos fur sea lions' mating season.

November

· Chance of seeing whale sharks

· Green sea turtle mating season starts.

· Great for swimming and snorkeling with baby sea lions.

December

· Start of the warmer season.

A trip to the Galapagos Islands to get up close to extraordinary wildlife in one of the world's remaining pristine environments is on many nature lovers' travel bucket lists. For many, it's not just a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but life changing.

Start your Trip!

If you are looking for something that is out of the ordinary, then this is it. The destinations you get to see in this vlog are not your regular old, archaeological sites that travel blogs are so fond of. They are extra-ordinary. They will earn you eternal bragging rights among you peers read more
Choosing your holiday destination is an art. Whether you will enjoy your holiday or not largely depends on your choice of hotel. read more
Visit the Ruins of Pompeii, Italy, one of the most popular attractions in the world

Visited by about 2.5 million annually, the Ruins of Pompeii is one of the most popular archeological sites in the world.

The town of Pompeii was said to have been founded in the 7th or 6th century BC by the Campanian Oscans, and was once a vibrant town that boasted of a complex water system, a gymnasium, amphitheater, and a port. It was at one time inhabited by 11,000 people. The town was buried in ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, killing its inhabitants. Letters written by Pliny the Younger who together with his uncle Pliny the Elder, witnessed the eruption and the devastation that followed, were proof of how Pompeii was left in ruins by the eruption. The town was abandoned, and nothing was heard of it until 1748 when explorers re-discovered Pompeii, and found the city almost intact. It was probably an eerie sight with skeletons frozen, objects littering its streets, and jars with food on it.  The best way to reach the Ruins of Pompeii is to take the train from Sorrento or Naples which runs regularly. The train trip takes about 30 - 40 minutes.

Before you even walk through the ruins, you must first visit the Antiquarium, just a few steps away from the entrance of the ruins. It showcases displays and artifacts found in the ruins. Now you are ready to tour the Ruins of Pompeii which features a walk through the Forum, Theaters, Amphitheater, Stabian Baths, the well-preserved House of Menander, House of the Vettii, House of the Faun, House of Marcus Lucretius, House of the Silver Wedding, House of the Gilded Cupids, House of the Tragic Poet, Streets of Tombs and the new excavation areas. Walking through the streets of Pompeii will provide you with a perspective on how life was during that time, and how it has impacted the history of Italy and the world beyond.

The Ruins of Pompeii entails a lot of walking under the heat of the sun, so do come prepared with lots of sun screen lotion, adequate water, and a hat. Visiting the Ruins of Pompeii must be in your bucket list. Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari. You Gotta Go Here! The tomb is an illustration of the culture of the Getae people, a subgroup of the Thracians that lived in the north of Hemus, and who were in constant contact with the Greeks and the Hyperborean world. read more
Malacca, Malaysia, a magnet for shoppers and foodies

There are so many reasons why the city of Malacca is fast becoming a top tourist destination in Malaysia. Aside from shopping and food, there are so many sights to visit, activities to experience, and its strategic location means it is just a few hours away from Singapore, and the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. It is perfect for a day trip, unless you fall in love with the city, and want to spend a few days more.

The capital of the state of Malacca, the city is pulsating with energy! Once a sleepy backwater city overshadowed by the major tourist destinations in Malaysia, it is fast becoming a tourist mecca especially when it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. It is inhabited by more than 500,000 people, and covers a total area of 117 square miles. Although Malacca has its own airport, the city can be accessed by train, bus or car from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It is only about 145 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, and 238 kilometers from Singapore.

The city has a number of attractions which must be visited including the Straits Chinese Jewelry Museum Malacca, Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum, Cheng Hoong Teng Temple, Red Square, Malacca Sultanate Palace, Menara Taming Sari, Villa Sentosa, Kampung Morten, Cheng Ho Cultural Museum, and the Architecture Museum of Malaysia. For shoppers and foodies alike, you must visit Jonker Street where you will find interesting shops and eateries. The street comes alive every weekend when it is transformed into a night market.  Shoppers will enjoy buying artwork, knickknacks, and trinkets at the Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall, Aeon store in Ayer Keroh, Raz Kashmir, and at Beyond Treasures. Foodies must try the city’s local delicacies including Asam Pedas, Ikan Bakar, Cencaluk, Sambal, and a number of curry dishes not found anywhere else.

The city of Malacca will keep you on your toes all day and night. It is a bustling city worth spending a few days at, or a day trip from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.  Make sure that you include the city in your itinerary if you plan to visit Southeast Asia soon! 

Bring the entire family to Guangzhou, China, and enjoy a Safari!

One of the major cities of China, Guangzhou is a great destination for families. One of the busiest trade and transport hubs of the country, it is a city that never sleeps! There is so much to enjoy in the city that caters to all ages including shopping, culinary experiences, parks, temples, museums, festivals, and so much more!

The capital of Guandong Province, Guangzhou is the third biggest city in China and is packed with more than 14 million inhabitants as of 2013. It is a sprawling city blessed by a humid subtropical climate, although monsoon rains is experienced from April to September. The Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, one of China’s busiest airports, is located about 28 kilometers from the downtown area. You can also reach the city by bus from various places in China, and by boat from Xiamen, Shanghai, Qingdao, Hong Kong, Macau, and Hainan Island.

The city has numerous attractions including the Guangzhou Opera House, The Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum, Chen Family Temple, Canton Tower, Huaisheng Mosque, Six Banyan Tree Temple & Flower Pagoda, and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The kids will enjoy the Chang Long International Circus, Chimelong Paradise, Chimelong Water Park, Changlong Tourist Resort, and the Guangzhou Crocodile Park. The highlight of your visit must be a visit to the Chimelong Xiangjiang Safari Park. It is the largest safari park in the world, and houses the most number of species. Covering a total are of 1,333,340 square meters, the park  is the home to more than 500 species including pandas, koalas, white tigers, elephants, salamanders, giraffes, and lions, just to name a few. Where else in the world can you find all these animals in just one park!

You do not have to travel to many places so your kids can enjoy being  up close and personal with a wide selection of animals. Take a trip to Guangzhou where you can enjoy a variety of activities as well. Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Welcome to the “End of the Word”, Ushuaia, Argentina

Dubbed as the city at the end of the world, Ushuaia is a lovely city located in the island of Tierra del Fuego, nestled between the Martial Mountains, the Beagle Channel, and the Bay. It is one of the most visited places in Argentina and rightfully so, aside from its numerous attractions, it is the perfect home base for winter sports, hiking, and a portal to Antarctica.

Ushuaia was once used as a penal colony, a missionary base, and the naval base of Argentina. Today it is a bustling city with more than 60,000 inhabitants. You would be surprised to know that thousands of tourists from all over the world visit the city, lured by its natural environment, geography, numerous attractions, and adventures to experience.  The quickest and best way to get to Ushuaia is by air travel. The Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas International Airport is served by three carriers from Argentina and Chile, and is only 4 kilometers from the heart of the city.

Because of its location, Ushuaia is a nature lover’s paradise. Most of the activities you can experience involves enjoying both the sea and the land. Adventures you can experience includes trekking and kayaking at Laguna Esmeralda, sailing on the Beagle Channel,  enjoying a Patagonia Adventure Explorer, canoeing or camping at Lago  Roca, spending a day or two at the Tierra del Fuego National Park, and be up close and personal with hundreds of penguins at the Isla Martillo also known as the Penguin Island.  You must also visit the Museo Maritimo y del Presidio de Ushuaia, Plaza Malvinas, Museo Yamana, and the Iglesia de la Merced.

Take a trip to Ushuaia, and when you get  back home you can proudly say, “I have been to the end of the world”! Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Visit the Deepest Fjord in the World: Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland is one of the most remote towns with the deepest fjord in the world. In such an isolated area, what adventures can you do? Is it even worth going to?

This place has about 450 inhabitants, all of which are natives and have been in this area in a very long time. If you have plans on staying in Ittoqqortoormiit, there is a seven-room guest house within the area. This is the only lodging in town. During winter, this place is dark, frozen, and in order to reach it, a helicopter needs to be chartered. Should you need to warm yourself up during your stay, there are hot springs in town where you can soak to your heart's content.

Ittoqqortoormiit is considered one of the best places to go sailing. It is also the best area to witness the magical display of the northern lights. During your stay, you can try your hand at dog sledding where you can have an opportunity to see the Polar Bears. Arctic wildlife are abundant in this area so expect to see arctic foxes, hares, musk oxen, wolves, and seals. Make sure you visit Cap Tobin, an old deserted village, and discover the reason why the townsfolk left that area. You can also witness amazing sunrises and sunsets here, visit archaeological sites, see icebergs and fjords, enjoy the mountain view, and watch the natives (Intuits) dance.

The way of living here may be quite different but it is through traveling to this place that you get to see a one-of-a-kind culture set in a beautiful place.

Experience the Old and New in Berlin, Germany

Berlin, the capital of Germany, is one of the sixteen states of Germany. It is located on the banks of River Spree and River Havel and has a temperate seasonal temperature. Because of the weather, greens thrive in this city with one third of it occupied by parks, gardens, forests, rivers, and lakes.

Berlin's economy is made up of high-tech firms and service centers. Industries like IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean technology, biotechnology, construction, and electronics thrive here. There are also numerous renowned universities, museums, orchestras, and entertainment centers within the city. Its picturesque views made it a popular setting for international films and festivals. Indeed, we can say that Berlin, Germany is a city of science, politics, media, and culture.

The old and the new blend perfectly well in Berlin. While it is a known destination to those who want to immerse themselves in culture and a long interesting history that dates back for centuries, the city is also known to those who want to enjoy nightlife, contemporary arts, and city living in general. Berlin, in fact, prides itself for being one of the top cities sought after for a high quality of living. Who wouldn't want to stay there anyway, right?

Experience the ease of city living mixed with a deeply rooted history in Germany's Berlin. Book a holiday with a travel agent today and get the best rates and itineraries!

How to avoid pickpockets in Barcelona

Are you traveling to Barcelona soon? Although Barcelona is a generally safe city, it cannot be denied that it has a pickpocket problem at hand. But, do not let that stop you from seeing and experiencing Barcelona because it is truly a beautiful city. What is a tourist to do then?

You might have already heard that Barcelona was named the “Pickpocket Capital of the World” with 6,000 thefts per day on visitors. These robberies targeting tourists often happen in La Rambla where tourists often leave their belongings unattended as they try to find their destination on their maps and guide books. With a scene like that, it is no wonder La Rambla has become a ground for a lot of pickpockets in Barcelona. So as not to be victimized by pickpocketing or bag snatching, there are some precautionary measures that tourists can make to protect themselves when visiting.

If you are visiting Barcelona with a companion or a group, one person should watch the luggage while the other companions figure out where they will be heading. Better yet, come prepared by having an itinerary and instructions on how to reach your destination ready. That way, you do not need to stand in the middle of La Rambla trying to figure out where to go and your things wide open for pickpockets to take.

You do not want to let a pickpocketing incident ruin your vacation in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Be a vigilant tourist! Come prepared and protect yourself from pickpockets.

Travellers get to inspect the dramatic and awe-inspiring night sky views of Hong Kong. Apparently, you will also have easy access to islands such as Green Island, Little Green Island, Kowloon Rock, Tsing Yi Island among others. read more
The Valley of the Kings The Valley of the Gates of the Kings is the name given to one of the most elaborate burial sites in the world. It is located to the west of River Nile, in the heart of the Theban Necropolis. The valley is made up of two segments - the East Valley where most of the royalty was buried and the West Valley. read more
Borobudur, An Indonesian Temple You Have To Visit It dates back to the 9th century. It was built during the reign of Sailendra Dynasty in the Indonesian region of Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Its name is Borobudur, one of the holiest shrines in Buddhism. read more
The Awe-Inspiring Contents of the Egyptian Museum The official name of the Egyptian Museum is 'The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities'. The museum is based in Cairo and houses over 120,000 items from the Egyptian antiquity. A representative sample of the antiques is on display while the rest of the items are locked away in strong rooms. read more
5 Cool Facts About Wodonga, Australia For those who love betting on horse races, the city has a horse racing club called the Wodonga & District Turf Club which schedules around seven race meetings a year including the Wodonga Cup meeting in November. read more
The Captivating St. Peter's Basilica The official name of the St. Peter's Basilica is 'The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican'. The church was built in the Late Renaissance architectural style within the Vatican City. In Catholicism, it is regarded as the holiest of all sites, and it is the greatest church in Christendom. read more
Residenza Cellini is More Than a Hotel How would you love to stay in a hotel that is close enough to the high fashion shopping district as well as tourist attractions such as Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps, and Quirinal Palace? Welcome to the Residenza Cellini, a hotel in Rome that can boast all the above aspects. read more
The Colosseum of Rome Also referred to as the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum is an elliptical amphitheater that was built by the Romans at around 72 AD under the command of Emperor Vespasian. read more
The Marvels of Cappadocia That Cappadocia has seen a lot of history is not in doubt. This is why it is one of the most traveled areas in Turkey. As a traveler, you will be well advised to explore the ancient town of Gerome, the fairy chimneys, the Babayan town, and Kaymakli underground city. read more
I am persuaded that Austria is the most beautiful country in Europe. Its ice covered mountains and sleek hotels make it a comfortable holiday destination. However, its selling point is its surreal natural sceneries. read more