Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

The Safest Countries for Solo Women Travelers - Plus Other Top Tips
Never before have more women been traveling solo! Singletons of all ages and stages in life: never-been-married, divorced, widowed… all kinds of women are deciding not to wait to be paired up or until a friend can be a travel companion to embark on dream journeys.

They’re making plans to travel now. Does that sound like you? If so, you’re part of one of the top travel trends, and the great news is that the world has never been more accessible to solo travelers, especially solo women travelers.

Here are three of the most burning questions women often ask before committing to travel on their own, and my tips for solo travel:

1. Is it safe?

Let’s face it – everyone’s daily commute has risks. But the idea of traveling alone in an unfamiliar location makes many savvy women newly thoughtful about their personal safety.

To help you decide where you might want to try solo travel, here are the results of a recent study that ranked three dozen popular tourist countries for their safety for solo women travelers. 
 
The ranking was based on seven measurements about things like the percentage of women in a country who report experiencing violence, who feel safe walking home or at night, of how a society feels about domestic violence or violence against women, and the strength of local laws protecting women. The data came from organizations like the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank.

Only one of the countries that made the top ten list of the safest destinations for solo women travelers was outside of Europe.

Ireland topped the safe list with a score of 7.88/10, with Austria, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland rounding out the top five.

The only non-European nation that made the top 10 was Canada, which ranked 8th, with Spain and Portugal ranked slightly higher and the Netherlands and Poland completing the top 10. One other non-European nation, Japan, barely missed the top 10, coming in at 11th in the rankings.

Tip for Staying Safe:
Also, don’t forget the old mantra “There’s safety in numbers.” Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to travel alone – group travel is a great way to travel solo – and stay safe.

2. Is it more expensive?

Travel often prices trips for ‘double occupancy.’ That is: two people to a room. And that can put solo travelers at a financial disadvantage. If you don’t want or don’t have anyone to share with, it can leave you on the hook for double the price.

Well, the good news is that more and more travel companies are catering to the solo travel crowd. Some serve only singletons or even single women, with no ‘single surcharge’ at all; they’ve negotiated prices for accommodations that don’t penalize their solo women travelers. Others specialize in singletons and pair up solos who are willing to share a room to save.

Other tour companies and cruise lines offer occasional solo travel specials, where they waive the single traveler surcharge. These are terrific deals that give you the full experience without having to share! 


Tip for Maximizing your Solo Travel Budget:
Your expert travel advisor can help you take advantage of solo travel specials whether it’s an ocean or river cruise or a small- or full-sized group land tour that interests you.

More and more travel companies are catering to solo travelers, especially women. There are some companies that serve only women solo travelers! And many, many others who make special accommodations, packages, and pricing arrangements for women seizing the day and hitting the road on their own.

3. Is it worth it?

Solo travel can seem like a lot of effort. But if you’re craving travel, finding the optimal way to travel solo is your dream come true.

And the good news is that solo travel doesn’t have to mean you’re on your own.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Solo Travel:
I mentioned group travel already. Groups provide not just extra safety and an expert local tour guide who knows the lay of the land to make you feel completely secure. The local group tour leader can give you the best local knowledge for you to spend your free time, so you have a built-in support system and source of information.

Groups also people to socialize with, and if you’re a bit intimidated by the idea of a large group, take heart! Tour groups can range from a full coach of 40 people to as small as half a dozen people. You have a wide range of options for the number of people you’ll be sharing your journey with.

Plus, working with a qualified travel advisor means there’s always someone with the full details of your travel plans at home who’s in your corner – and able to help sort out any glitch that may happen while you’re on your solo travel journey.
 

Start your Solo Trip!

 
 
Images: Getty
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Your First Decision to Travel Solo: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
11/11 is Single's Day, highlighting the solo lifestyle that applies to more and more uncoupled people. The decision to travel solo is among the biggest decisions a singleton makes.

This year will mark the first time many people decide to travel solo. They'll be deciding whether they should stay home or go it alone.


Janice Waugh of Solo Travelers explains why more and more people are taking the solo travel plunge:

It’s true that the trend for solo travel has been growing over the past decade. But, with the last year of restricted travel, it seems that people are less inclined to wait for every detail to be aligned. That includes the detail of having a travel partner. Instead, they are deciding to travel solo!

Booking.com's research indicates that “solo travel is likely to gather even greater momentum as people’s desire to travel will nudge them to take the plunge to travel on their own in 2021”. Their “data pre-pandemic saw only 17%* of travelers were planning a trip on their own, while 30% now say they will be planning a solo trip in the future”.

Tour companies say it’s true: They are seeing more people booking solo trips than in the past and there a several reasons why.

Do any of these scenarios describe you?

  •    The freedom to travel has become more precious. Before the pandemic, it seemed that you could be more patient and wait for the right time to travel. We have learned that this is just not the case. Many people are refusing to wait and making travel plans whether they have to go solo or not.

  •    We've had too much time with a partner. This is not a criticism of relationships, just a reality for many people. Couples can spend too much time together and with lockdowns and the like, this has happened. A solo trip by one or both parties can reset and refresh a relationship.

  •    The pandemic has had a financial impact. This has affected people in different ways. In our most recent reader survey some said they have done better during the pandemic and some worse.

  •    If the pandemic negatively affected your travel friends more than you, they may not be able to take a planned trip, which sends you off solo or not at all.

  •    If the pandemic hurt your travel fund more than that of your friends, you may still want to travel but not as luxuriously as your friends which, again, takes you on your own course to travel alone.

  •    On the flip side, you may be after that big ticket trip that others just don't prioritize the same way, which leaves you with the solo travel decision once again.

  •    We're not willing to put off that big trip any longer. Some solos have been pacing themselves over the past few years, taking trips when the price/destination/friends combination was right. Now, that trip of a lifetime has become a priority and, solo or not, they're going to take it.

  •    Time alone is more natural than it was. With stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, people have become more comfortable with their own company. Taking their sense of adventure out into the world solo now seems very normal.

  •    Financial priorities have changed. For some, the plan to travel solo was always in the offing. But that was the problem. It was in the offing. After living through a year when they couldn't spend as much, financial priorities have changed and moved travel – solo travel – higher on the list.

The decision to travel solo is, for some, a big one. For others, it's just the logical step given their personality, circumstances, or desires.

Whether your decision to travel solo is easy or difficult, your trusted travel advisor can help match your solo travel wishes, budget, and desired level of support and company, with trips with low or no singles supplements so you can get the most out of your decision to venture into the world solo.

#StartYourSoloTrip!







Christmas in July On A Holiday Do-Over River Cruise
If this year’s altered holiday celebrations left you wistful and nostalgic for full-bore Christmas festivities, there’s a river cruise that gives you a chance for a re-do.

Christmas in July on the Danube comes without snow – but it does come with plenty of seasonal cheer on Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresea.

 
On two sailings in July, the Maria Theresea will have her halls decked out in full holiday splendor as she sails between Passau, Germany and Budapest, Hungary, calling in popular Christmas destinations like Vienna, Linz, and Bratislava. 
 
You’ll even have the opportunity for an excursion to magical Salzburg, the location of the iconic holiday movie The Sound of Music.
 
In addition to elegant festive trimmings, Uniworld has planned a program of events to re-live the holidays. 

 
The region’s famous Christmas markets will be re-created on board for you to stock up on the souvenirs and holiday treats. Guests can also experience Christmas cheer during gingerbread house decorating and ornament making workshops. Uniworld says holiday movies will be playing on the in-room entertainment systems, and Santa himself will make a summer trip from the North Pole to the Maria Theresea for photos that may be the best holiday card ever. And who wouldn’t get into the Christmas ‘spirit’ during a holiday cocktail class? 
 
The ship’s chefs will be crafting menus of holiday cuisine, and you’ll be toasting your brilliance at your seasonal do-over with summer versions of winter favorites, like frozen hot chocolate and chilled egg nog.
 
You’ll feel transported not just to some of the favorite ports of call on a Danube river cruise, but also back to the holidays. 
 
It’s an inspired way for families to re-live the best of the holidays in Europe, together aboard one of the most beloved river cruise ships on the Danube.

 
Uniworld’s Christmas in July sailings coincide with school holidays and also feature the cruise line’s Generations Program, with savings and exclusive activities for kids as well as dedicated Family Hosts. We assume the Family Hosts will have plenty of fun things for the kids to do so the grownups can linger during festive cocktail making classes, just for starters!
 
Family singletons may also be able to take advantage of Uniworld zero supplement offers so they can join the whole family for this European river cruise do-over of the holidays, too.
 

 

#ChristmasInJuly

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Uniworld.


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March 8th is a day dedicated to uplifting women all over the world. 

The Travel Corporation (TTC), is a family of travel companies including Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Trafalgar, Contiki and others.

TTC took the opportunity of International Women’s Day to highlight its commitment to a world enriched by travel empowering women, and women empowering travel.

At a Trailblazing Women in Travel event, the companies recognized achievements of their own female team members, their foundation, TreadRight’s, Ambassadors, women partners in the travel industry, as well as spotlighting the local women’s initiatives TTC supports in the communities their tours visit across the globe.
 
The company’s TreadRight Foundation has supported more than 50 sustainable tourism projects in nearly 300 communities worldwide. Some of these projects provide economic empowerment such as the women’s weaving collectives that TTC guests visit in Peru and Italy where guests have the opportunity to purchase these handmade artisan products.

TreadRight also supports the acclaimed social enterprise ME to WE by offering ME to WE’s culturally immersive trip extensions with several TTC companies to Kenya, India, and Ecuador – tours which support women’s economic empowerment. For example, guests can learn the art of beading from local ‘mamas’ in Kenya and purchase their jewelry so that the women can earn a sustainable income.

The CEO and co-founder of ME to WE, Roxanne Joyal, works with TTC and its TreadRight foundation to unleash the positive effects of travel and personal engagement with the world around us. The social enterprise empowers people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices, including purchasing items made by indigenous women artisans, and taking ‘purposeful’ trips including those offered in conjunction by TTC’s TreadRight Foundation. 
 
TTC also highlighted the work and philosophy of its TreadRight Foundation’s “People” ambassador, Canadian indigenous dancer, activist and storyteller Sarain Fox.

Fox approaches travel and travel storytelling through the lens of the experiences of indigenous people. Initially, she struggled to reconcile her love for travel with an awareness, “that many people have shown up in other countries without permission”, with disastrous results for the lands and culture of original inhabitants.

“I like to say indigenous people are the world’s first tour guides,” Fox quipped, “We’re always saying, ‘Here, let me show you the good stuff’.”

Instead of taking her welcome for granted when she travels the world now, Fox asks for permission from local communities to be present as a way of being mindful and conscious of other peoples.

For International Women’s Day, TreadRight has released a new video with Fox encouraging us all to pledge to travel responsibly.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE with Fox describing the simple actions we can all take to contribute to responsible travel. 
 
With International Women’s Day sharing the same week as World Wildlife Day, it was the perfect time for TreadRight to introduce a new ambassador for “Wildlife” – another talented, change-maker woman in travel, Ami Vitale.


You may not recognize Vitale’s name, but you likely know her work. Ami Vitale is an award-winning National Geographic photographer and filmmaker. Her images of human conflict, Nature and the power of humanity around the world have become era-defining. Vitale’s path to wildlife advocacy can be traced in her photography, and one story in particular stands out. She was the photographer who captured the story of the world’s last white rhinos in Africa, eventually sharing in images the heartbreaking story of the death of the very last one, surrounded by mourning gamekeepers.

The Travel Corporation works with other trailblazing women in travel including Patricia Schultz, the author of New York Times best sellers beginning with “1,000 Places To See Before You Die”, who is also Trafalgar’s Global Brand Ambassador, successful travel vlogger and honorary Contiki Ambassador Nadine Sykora, as well as female leadership in the company’s founding family, in all its companies and partner organizations in local destinations where TTC operates.
 
(Left to right at TTC's International Women's Day Trailblazing Women in Travel event: Sarain Fox, Ami Vitale, Patricia Schultz, Nadine Sykora, Roxanne Joyal)

The company recognized and celebrated all these women in travel’s shared belief in the power of people coming together to improve the world, in supporting women through travel and women in travel, “When you prop up women in places you visit, it sustains the community and provides a future for them… and for the guests to return to have that community experience,” says one TTC woman executive.
 
And they don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk through their work that approaches the same goal from different angles.

New Tours that Empower Women

TTC’s International Womens’ Day celebrations included the announcement that Insight Vacations is launching its first women-only journeys to India designed and run by women. The new itineraries include immersive learning opportunities, wellness experiences and authentic dining while featuring the power of tourism on women’s economic empowerment in local communities. 
 
International Women’s Day comes once a year, but our travel choices can support women and their communities all year round.

 

Start your Trip!


Video courtesy of the TreadRight Foundation. Images courtesy of The Travel Corporation.
 
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New Wellness Cultural Journeys from Abercrombie & Kent Enrich Mind, Body, Spirit
Run and train like a warrior with the Maasai or hike to a vantage point high above Machu Picchu.

Feed your spirit with inspiration at a home for underprivileged girls in India, or a silent alms ceremony in Luang Prabang, and feed your body with healing, Ayurvedic herbs in India, or fresh local produce at a cooking demonstration on Krabey Island. 

Re-orient your mind through guided meditation with a local teacher at Kuang Si Falls, or learn about the meaning of tribal beading traditions in Kenya.

Now you can take your commitment to your wellbeing and desire for authentic experiences in global cultures to another level. Luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent has debuted wellness-inspired journeys that immerse travelers in the local traditions of some of the world's most influential wellness cultures and practices, and provide uplifting visits to philanthropic projects where tourism directly supports local wellbeing.

Groups are limited to only 18 participants, and the pace is slower, with experiences and travel over 9- 13 days to allow you to stretch your mind, body and spirit, and linger in the deeply personal experiences. You'll stay in wellness-focused deluxe hotels, boutique lodges and luxuriously-appointed camps in one-of-a-kind locations. 


The first A&K wellness cultural journeys depart in Fall 2019, and explore the rich cultural traditions of bucket-list destinations Kenya, India, South-East Asia, and Peru. Imagine how enriched you'll feel after these journeys:

Wellness India: Ancient Traditions & Inspiring Icons
Explore India’s rich spiritual heritage, from the temples dedicated to Shiva and Lord Vishnu to the Taj Mahal. Participate in a guided meditation and bike ride through the countryside in Udaipur. Privately consult with an Ayurvedic doctor during a leisurely stay at Amanbagh. Explore the countryside of Rajasthan visiting local artisans. Visit an A&K Philanthropy-supported residential school for young girls. Spend two nights in the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi, where you stay in a former palace on the banks of the sacred Ganges, and take an evening boat ride to experience the pitru tarpana, a moving ceremony that honors the memory of a loved one.
 
Wellness Southeast Asia: Timeless Rituals of Indochina
You won't have to chose among your favorite Southeast Asian country, as the wellness traditions of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are all part of this journey. Take part in inspirational ceremonies such as a baci ceremony in Luang Prabang and tak bat, a silent food offering to local monks. Witness sunrise at Angkor Wat.  Luxuriate on a private tropical island at the new Six Senses Krabey Island. Enjoy a Khmer cooking class, spa treatment or sunset cruise. Discover the difference that clean water makes during a visit to a remote village, where A&K Philanthropy is building wells.

 
Wellness Kenya: Cultures & Wildlife
Discover tribal traditions and learn about conservation efforts on an active safari in the Masai Mara and Tsavo National Park. Hike through the cloud forests of the lush Chyulu Hills and learn about traditional warrior training from the Maasai, and wonder at game drives and your mythical surroundings during sunrise and sunset yoga. Gain a new perspective on giving back at an A&K Philanthropy-supported school and see how sustainable tourism is providing safe drinking water.
 
Wellness Peru: Spirit of the Incas
From the Sacred Valley and Cusco, discover local traditions in remote mountainside villages and working farms. Learn about a traditional Amazonian medicine, and hand-feed llamas and alpacas. Kayak in a secluded lagoon 12,464 feet above sea level and hike up to a birds-eye view of Machu Picchu. Overnight at the only property located on the ancient Incan site to explore the sanctuary at sunrise. Have your coca-leaf fortune read by a shaman.
 

Start your Trip!

 
 


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Learn to Haka on the All Blacks' Rugby Team's Home Ground
It's one of the most famous – and fearsome – pre-game rituals in the world. One that you can now learn for yourself in one of the world's most storied stadiums.

Any global sports fan has heard of New Zealand's fabled All Blacks rugby team. The All Blacks are not just heroes of the country's national sport; in spite of New Zealand's tiny size, the All Blacks are considered the greatest team in global rugby history. They are consistently ranked at the top of the sport, and have won the Rugby World Cup more than any other team in the world.

(Photo: Kai Schworer. All other Photos: Eden Park)

The All Blacks' distinctive black uniforms with only the national silver fern symbol are already intimidating: the team resembles an aggressive black swarm on the rugby field. Then imagine an entire team of robust, black-clad rugby players screaming and stomping wildly, working themselves into a fierce, unbeatable tour de force on the rugby field.

For the sporting superstitious, part of the All Blacks' success comes from the spectacular haka that the team performs before every match. The ancient Maori dance serves the same purpose for the All Blacks as it did for the New Zealand indigenous warriors on the battlefield. The ferocious postures and vocalizations that challenge opponents prepare the players physically and mentally, and unite them in a focused team frenzy.
 
The All Blacks' pre-game Haka tradition is as anticipated every game as their winning rugby form. It's ancient Maori for: Bring. It. On.


Now when you visit Auckland you can step on the hallowed grounds of the All Blacks' home stadium, get a behind the scenes tour of Eden Park, and learn to tap into your inner Maori warrior with a haka group – right on the green where the All Blacks play.


A Maori warrior in traditional garb is your guide of the home team's changing rooms and other off-camera spaces, your tour of great sporting moments for the All Blacks and Eden Park over the last century and more, and finally, onto the actual playing turf itself.

You'll join an authentic haka group and experience the power of the haka up close as it's performed on an All Blacks' game day. And you'll even have the opportunity to channel your inner Maori warrior during an interactive haka-learning workshop, and have your photo taken with traditional Maori warriors.


Whether or not you – or anyone in your group - are sports or rugby fans, the Haka in the Park program at the All Blacks' Eden Park in Auckland is a one-of-a-kind way to get up close and even participate yourself in the drama and history of authentic New Zealand Maori culture.

 

Start your Trip!  


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It's a global buzzword and cultural phenomenon. And today, more and more of us are in need of Denmark's signature recipe for happiness: 'hygge'.


Danish 'hygge' (pronounced 'HOOG-uh') is sweeping the world – everyone wants in on Denmark's famously convivial way of life. The Danish are the happiest people on the planet – even during the long, dark days of winter - and it's all about hygge.

So much so, hygge has actually been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status. It might be the world's first UNESCO World Heritage… feeling.

But translating hygge – and living it - aren't so simple. A hug? Mindfulness? Cozy?

Hygge is often referred to in design, with tips for creating rooms with 'hygge'. It's been said the Danish buy more candles per capita than anyone else on the planet. Add snuggly wool throws. Nature-inspired materials. A crackling fire. Comfort foods. And the simple pleasures of good company and togetherness.

All things that mean more to us than ever.

BestTrip was in Copenhagen at the height of a hot summer on a pre-cruise weekend before boarding our Seabourn cruise… and with Copenhagen Urban Adventures, we discovered 'hygge' isn't just something you find indoors in winter. It happens year round, indoors and outdoors, with people, spaces and activities you love.

Hygge has caught on as a catchphrase with its appeal as an antidote to the ails of the modern world. Travel to Denmark, and you'll discover not only the scenics that stand out in Scandinavian style. Danish food and drink, obsession with cycling and life balance… a concept that's been around for a couple of hundred years has new and more powerful relevance in a busy, connected-yet-impersonal, disengaged and over-programmed world.

Hygge might be the very best souvenir from Denmark of all: once you learn how to capture hygge like we did from Mie at Copenhagen Urban Adventures, you'll be able to recreate that feeling home with you and implement its practice into your and your family's life.

Start your Trip!


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5 Tips to Make a Cruise the Perfect Family Vacation

If you're trying to come up with the perfect family vacation for the holidays, time to think about cruising.

Whether you are new to cruising or a seasoned sailing family, here are 5 tips to ensure every member of the family has a fun, memorable… and relaxing holiday.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host and cruise expert, BestTrip.TV

1. Location, location, location.

Pick your family cruise destination first, and make sure every family member will have something to be excited about. A cruise is one of the best ways to introduce the family to Europe, to reach exotic destinations like the Galapagos, or see the world closer to home. (Top image: Families in awe of the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska on a Regent Seven Seas Cruise. Watch the video!)

Can you drive to a major cruise port? Ships embark from cruise ports along all coasts of North America, from Montreal, out the St. Lawrence and down the East Coast, southern ports in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, and up the West Coast from San Diego all the way to Vancouver. From these home-grown ports, cruising families can enjoy Canada and New England cruises, Bahamas/Caribbean/ Panama canal cruises, Mexico and Western Caribbean cruises, Pacific Northwest and Alaska cruises (like the Regent Seven Seas Cruise to Alaska pictured, top), and West Coast/ Baja, South America and even Hawaii cruises.

If you drive to the port where your ship round-trips, a family can save a lot on flights… and use those savings on their family cruise vacation to upgrade a stateroom category, treat yourselves to more shore excursions, even take other members of the family along too and make it an extended family get together.

2. Find the perfect cruise ship match.

Mega-ship or small ship? It depends on your family, and a good travel advisor will consult with you to find your perfect family cruise. There are enormous cruise ships that are destinations in themselves, floating theme park resorts. And for some families, they are perfect holiday destinations, with more round-the-clock adventures, activities, pools, sports, dining and entertainment than the family can even experience in a week or 10-day cruise. With social clubs for kids of all ages right through to the sedate activities many grandparents enjoy, these ships are crowd pleasers.

(Waterslides on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas)

But they are not the only options. If the kids in your family don't need non-stop activities, if you are more interested in authentic destination experiences, medium and smaller-sized ships including expedition and luxury ships - even river cruise ships - might be the best fit for your family. Smaller ships and expedition ships may not have the whirlwind of activities and entertainment of the biggest ships, but they can dock in more out-of-the-way places, and the atmosphere on board is quieter for families who make their own fun.

3. Book and pre-pay for as much as possible.

Your travel advisor can help match you to your best cruise options that have the best value for the best type of cruise experience for your family. That may involve packaged, pre-paid or included things like tips, drinks packages, shore excursions, even flights. Generally speaking, pre-paying gives you the best value for money. As an added bonus, you'll worry less about tracking your vacation spending budget while you are on holiday – and be more likely to avoid going over-budget.

Pre-booking ensures you'll also be able to enjoy a ship board experience on your first preference of day and time. Spa appointments and specialty restaurants can book up before guests even board the ship. So pre-book parents' date night or someone's birthday or anniversary dinner before you board.

The same advice goes for shore excursions. If there's an experience at a port of call that's the highlight of the family cruise vacation, booking that zip line adventure, wildlife tour, catamaran or cooking class ahead will ensure you avoid disappointment.

(Beach day on Holland America Line's private island in the Bahamas)

4. Give kids some independence – and give parents a break.

One piece of advice parents regularly come back to thank me for is that I recommend families take walkie-talkies. One could be for the parents, the other for older (tween/teen) kids. This gives kids the run of the ship to enjoy their own interests, and still be in contact with parents. Or divided between different family groupings so there's maximum freedom to break into smaller family groups and also easily check in, plan meeting places, get together for a swim, lunch, or another whole-group activity…

Pre-paid drinks packages also enable kids to serve themselves without tracking down an adult or running up a surprise tab.

Since cruise ships are self-contained, they are among the safest family travel destinations for families to enjoy their own interests in the same space. Nothing says 'vacation' like parents lounging by the pool knowing the kids are safe and having a great time on their own.

5. Look into and take advantage of on board services.

This is part of the essential cruise match-making process your travel advisor can help you with. Cruise lines are innovators in keeping kids entertained. They've developed partnerships with kids' favorite characters and movies. And many offer clubs and daycare for kids of all ages – some even for babes-in-arms that make cruises great 'babymoon' destinations. So even if your kids aren't old enough to enjoy the ship's activities on their own, ask what options are for kids of all ages.

It's a great way to change up the pace for every member of the family, from time spent with different members in different experiences.

Cruises make some of the best family vacations that provide lifelong memories and maximum family time. Parents only have to pack and unpack once while the family gets to enjoy multiple destinations and vacation experiences together. With these tips, your next family cruise vacation will be your best holiday together yet!

Start your Trip!


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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!

2016 is Sailing off into the Sunset...

And here at Walnut Grove Travel, we're looking back on some of our best, most inspiring travel stories of the past year... AND bringing you some fresh ideas to start your travels off right in 2017.

Thank you for being part of our community of travel lovers this year. We wish you a very Happy New Year 2017, and whether you travel on business, for pleasure, on your own, with colleagues, family, friends, or that special someone, we hope you have many exciting and memorable journeys ahead!(Top Photo: BestTrip.TV in Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Intrepid Travel is doubling its family-themed tours for 2017 with 48 itineraries tailored to families in two new styles of travel, Comfort and Active Family.

The decision to launch more than 20 tours comes as a result of the increasing demand for multi-generational travel. Intrepid Travel has also experienced significant demand for its teen trips, designed for ages 12 and up, inspiring the launch of teen trekking itineraries in Peru and Nepal, among other destinations.

“Intrepid Travel’s kid-friendly tours shake up the typical family vacation, offering a sense of adventure suited for all generations,” says Leigh Barnes, North America director for Intrepid Travel. “By significantly increasing our Family tours for 2017, we hope to be the go-to operator for family adventure travel.”

Ideal for meeting like-minded families, Intrepid Travel’s family-only adventures offer action-packed experiences steering off the beaten track, away from ball pits and buffets. Transforming travel into a form of education, the tours encourage families to use the world as their textbook by immersing into the destination and culture. With an average group size of 12, travelers can hop aboard local transportation, eat at family-run restaurants and kick back in home-stay accommodations. Family-friendly tours with 2017 departures offer one-of-a-kind experiences including:

  • Act like Mowgli in search for Shere Khan and other Bengal tigers for a true “Jungle Book” experience on the Comfort Northern India Family Holiday.
  • Visit Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park, recognized by World Animal Protection for its protection of elephant welfare, on the Thailand Family Holiday.
  • Punt along the waterways of the Okavango Delta’s vibrant ecosystem by traditional canoe, greeting grunting hippos on the Namibia & Botswana Family Adventure.
  • Take on life as a local Gozitan shepherd for the day, tending to animals, cutting corn, making ‘gbejniet’ cheese and preparing lunch with the host family during the Malta and Gozo Family Holiday.

Start your Trip!

A version of this article previously appeared in TravelPress.com

Our 'Plan a Cruise Month' Smorgasbord of Offers

Mark it on your calendar. October is 'Plan a Cruise Month'. 

This is the time of year when the world's top cruise lines introduce some of their best offers of the year.

And with the nights getting chillier, thoughts of getting away this winter to the Caribbean's turquoise waters, exotic Polynesia, or fun loving Australia leap to mind.  Or an expedition of a lifetime to South America or Galapagos. And there's always Europe and the elegant Mediterranean in the spring.

There's a smorgasbord of cruise offers available right now, so if you were thinking of a romantic escape, a family or multi-generation holiday, an expedition cruise of a lifetime, even an employee incentive trip or a group getaway with your club, here's our round up of some of the best offers available.

Start your Trip!

Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí The Vall de Boi landscape is characterized with the high peaks of Beciberri/Punta Alta massif of the Pyrenees. The scenery is decorated by woodlands and meadows that are interrupted by idyllic mountain villages. read more
Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) you gotta go here Pont du Gard, translated as Gard Bridge is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses Gardon River in Vers-Pont-du-Gard, Gard Department. The bridge is part of the larger 31 miles long Nimes Aqueduct that was built by the Romans to carry water from the spring of Uzes to the Nemauses Roman Colony. Due to the hilly terrain, a part of the aqueduct was built underground, navigating a circuitous route up to the crossing of the gorge of Gardon. Here is where a bridge was required. read more
Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves you gotta go here The Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves is located in Bahia and Espirito Santo States of Brazil. The reserve is made up of 8 protected areas occupying an area of 112,000 hectares. In terms of biodiversity, the Atlantic Forest in Brazil is the richest in the world. It hosts the highest number of endemic species in the world. read more

 

Viking river cruises.

See Europe in ways you never thought possible. 

Spend less time getting there and more time being there 

Call Robert Q Byron today and speak to one of our Viking experts 

 

Top 5 Safari Adventures in Tanzania For jungle safaris, no country in the world comes in close contention for the top spot with the East Africa Community that comprises of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Of these 5 countries, Tanzania is an important member, mostly because of its long coastline, diverse wildlife and stable political environment. Below is a list of the top ranked safari adventures in Tanzania. read more
Things to do when on an adventure tour in Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort In Canada's British Columbia province on the Pacific coast lies some of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world. The Whistler Mountain is one such mountain as it is part of the Fitzsimmons Range of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. read more
5 cool facts about St. Moritz St. Moritz is a resort town located in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. The town is a municipality in the tourist friendly district of Maloja in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The town's southern tip offers the scenic views of the highest summit in the Eastern Alps, the Piz Bernina. Below are a few cool facts about the towns that a tourist to the town would be interested to know. read more
10 interesting facts about the Fjords of Norway Wikipedia defines a Fjord as 'a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion.' The beautiful inlets of Norway are more than a tourist attraction. They are the biblical 'Garden of Eden' reincarnated. Their beauty is so surreal that you feel like you are dreaming instead of actually seeing them. If you have never been there, perhaps the facts below will help you make a decision. read more
What's a Safari like in Kenya? Did you know that 'Safari' is a Swahili word that is loosely translated as 'Journey' in English? Did you also know that Swahili is the National language of the Republic of Kenya? Sit back and let me regale you with anecdotes of how Safari is like in Kenya. read more
Where to find the best Martini in Las Vegas Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. From mega casinos to golf courses to museums and high-end hotel; Las Vegas has for more than 30 years been at the helm of the nightlife scene. It is therefore no wonder that the best of the martini cocktails are served here. Below are the best martini cocktails spots in Las Vegas. read more
Hawaii for first-timers: how to choose an island Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America. It is entirely made up of a series of islands spread over a 2400 kilometer stretch on the Polynesia Archipelago in Central Pacific Ocean. Among the most popular island with vacationers include; Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui and the island of Hawaiʻi. The Island of Hawai'i is the largest and most populous. Hawaii is a great place to vacation. Its entire Islands are ideal for the average holiday maker but each boasts a specialty. Below are some tips that can help you choose the Island to visit. read more
 Going on a scenic cruise of Bayou Black on Cajun Man’s Swamp Cruise Particularly, the Bayou Black is one of the most haunted waterway in Louisiana. It is a 66-mile river that stretches from from Texas all the way to Louisiana. It is a Tributary of the Twelvemile Bayou and feeds into the Cross Bayou. Cross Bayou drains into the world popular Red River that forms a large percentage of the waters of River Mississippi. read more
Experience a peaceful, tranquil sunset on a evening cruise in St Maarten The Caribbean is widely popular for its tropical weather, but nothing can quite prepare you for the alluring beauty of the St. Maarten sinking sun. read more