Category Archives: international travel

TRIPS by Culture Trip Launches New Immersive, Experiential Tours with Special Deals, Discounts

Experience rural life in Vietnam and cycle through rice fields to experience farm life first hand with TRIPS by Culture © Laini Miranda/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

TRIPS by Culture Trip launched in September to offer multi-day small-group adventures with itineraries that combine immersive activities and distinctive places to stay, and experiences for the young at heart, the off-the-beaten path enthusiast, the culturally curious and those with the belief that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.  Behind TRIPS by Culture Trip is Culture Trip itself – the travel website and app for booking hand-picked places to stay, unique travel experiences and now also small-group adventures.

To kick off the new year, Culture Trip is also offering special deals and discounts now through January 31, 2022 including a $100 Culture Trip voucher when you book with TRIPS by Culture Trip; a $50 Culture Trip voucher when you spend $200 on a hotel; and a $20 Culture Trip voucher when you spend $100 on an experience. T&Cs apply.

TRIPS by Culture Trip offers over 30 itineraries in some of the world’s most captivating and off-the-grid places across the world.  TRIPS range from four to 13 days, welcoming up to 18 travelers aged 25 and over who can join solo or with friends. With a focus beyond mass-market offerings, TRIPS itineraries often avoid areas of over tourism and aim to put local people at the center; the team is dedicated to avoiding unethical activities or wildlife interactions that aren’t in the best interest of the animals.

“With everyone looking for that vacation or escape in 2022, here are some trips that many will never experience in their lifetime because, well, they didn’t know they could.”  Check these out:

●      Stay with a Bedouin Family in Jordan & sleep under the stars in the Valley of the Moon

Wild camping under the stars and staying with a Bedouin family in the breathtaking Wadi Rum — also known as the Valley of the Moon and as filming location for Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker — is an unforgettable experience. On this trip, travelers also learn how to make Arabic coffee, cook a traditional meal with local Bedouins, milk camels and help shepherds herd their goats in the sunrise. Treks through rust-colored mountains, street food tours in Amman, and visits to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra through a back door to avoid the crowds are also part of this itinerary. 9-day trip from $2,599*      per person

●      Explore Casablanca’s design with a local architect & stargaze with an astrologer

Before exploring the tangerine dunes of the Sahara’s Erg Chebbi, bedding down in a desert camp in a Berber-style tent with a canopy of twinkling stars above, and stargazing in the desert with local astrologer Astro Hamid, travelers get to explore Casablanca’s diverse and historically significant architecture together with a local architect. 13-day trip from $2,809*      per person

●  Experience rural life in Vietnam & cook with a gastronomy artisan

A trip to Mai Chau is unforgettable — a lush valley lined with rice paddies between forested mountains, inhabited by several ethnic groups in the Hoa Binh province. Here, the group will cycle through rice fields to a White Thai village to experience farm life first hand — including collecting food for buffalos and feeding them, while learning about the history and culture of the White Thai ethnic group, named after their white clothes. The trip also takes travelers to Hue where they will get to learn about the flavors and techniques behind the local cuisine through a market visit and cooking class with gastronomy artisan Ms. Huy12-day trip from $1,609* per person

●  Immerse yourself into Sri Lankan wildlife and culture & learn the ancient dances

This epic 12-day ‘Treasure Island’ adventure avoids the usual tourist areas for a glimpse of real Sri Lankan culture. Travelers get to visit a quieter, lesser-known side of Yala National Park — reducing the impact on the wildlife and environment. The park has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world with plenty of elephants, monkeys, and crocodiles. Equally memorable will be seeing herds of wild elephants in Minneriya National Park, visiting a rural village school to learn about Sri Lankan education, and attending a dancing school in Lankathilaka, where a generational dancing master will teach the ancient art of dance in his own backyard. 12-day trip from $2,039* per person

● Learn taiko drumming and aikido & witness sumo wrestling training in Japan

As part of the ‘Japan Rising’ 12-day journey through the land of the rising sun, travelers get to learn from a local aikido expert this Japanese martial art that involves breathing, stretching and self-defense techniques. They also can witness sumo wrestling training to learn about the centuries old history of this traditional sport, and test their rhythm over a taiko drum — played in traditional performing arts and festivals in Japan — with a local expert instructor. 12-day trip from $4,239* per person

Naturally, TRIPS by Culture Trip has an extremely flexible and generous cancellation plan in place should Covid restrictions change your plans      , including rebooking for free up to 48 hours before departure and if TRIPS by Culture Trip cannot change your booking dates, they will refund the booking.  

To learn more and book TRIPS by Culture Trip, visit culturetrip.com/trips or call 678-967-4965.  

* Prices include the Local Insider; activities; accommodation based on two people sharing, with single occupancy available with a supplement; transport throughout the trip and a range of meals

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VISITED Travel App Helps Travelers Keep Track of Where They’ve Been, Where to Go

Got the travel bug? The travel app VISITED can help you keep track and plan where to go next. Is Venice on the list? © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

The mobile app development company, Arriving in High Heels Corporation, based in Toronto, Canada (arrivinginhighheels.com) has launched three new features in its VISITED travel app that are specifically designed to motivate travelers to find new experiences and help the travel industry recover from the stay-at-home coronavirus pandemic.

“People are ready to travel again and VISITED is ready to get them excited about new opportunities and destinations,” Founder and CEO Anna Kayfitz said,  No other travel app has these three features.

The new features are Inspiration, Lists, and City Maps. Together they highlight those places not necessarily popular but worth a trip, as well as well-known tourist attractions. They allow travelers to swipe photos of famous and not so famous places to add to their own picture database of destinations they have experienced or want to visit. VISITED has over 1.2 million users.

For individual travelers, the VISITED Inspiration feature tracks personal travel stats, such as percentage of the world visited, number of countries and cities visited, as well as regions on a personal wish-list. The List feature names capitals of the world, wonders of the world, and art museums. Museums and other attractions are constantly added to provide even greater options to choose from. The City Maps feature is invaluable in planning upcoming itineraries.

The app enables travelers to keep personal stats on the number of countries visited, percentage  of the world or country seen by region, how you rank against other world travelers, number of cities visited, percentage of the world that you WANT to see vs. where you are in your travel journey.

For the travel industry, the VISITED app’s features present a sponsoring opportunity for hospitality related companies, “because we know where the users have been and where they want to go,” Kayfitz said. “This is also an opportunity to showcase travel products and destinations without losing the focus of the user.”

She is looking forward to seeing a resurgence in travel. “In the meantime, users can start planning their trips with VISITED, discovering places to go, things to do, and sites to see domestically and internationally.”

Kayfritz is the founder of Arriving In High Heels, a mobile app company, which she started 2014 and incorporated in 2017 converted it to a corporation. The company, now known as Arriving in High Heels Corporation, and has 3 apps including Visited, to help keep track of your travels;  X-Walk Fitness app, a Nordic walking app that tracks progress and lists the top 25 famous hikes and Pay-off Debt app that helps people get out of debt faster.

All her app ideas came from a personal need for them, Kayfitz said.

The idea for Visited, for example, “started while I was flying back from South Africa with my husband (then boyfriend, Brian). I would use a little notebook and make a list of all the countries I visited and places I still wanted to visit. When I could not remember a few smaller islands such as Curacao, I became frustrated and spent the enter long haul flight trying to remember the islands we had visited. Brian had mentioned there has to be an app for that. When we could not find one, Brian, who is an app developer decided to make one for me for my personal use. We launched it in iOS only. When we started seeing downloads coming in, we knew we had something. So, we slowly began working on it to make it the app it is today. We currently have 1.2 million plus users and are growing.

“My travel industry experience did not really impact the development of the app. I was always into travel. My parents would always visit new places while I was growing up and that started my interest in travel. When I had the chance at 18 to go abroad with a friend, we went on a tour to London, Paris, Rome, and that’s when the travel bug bit me.”

The Visited app, she said, “has opened my eyes to new destinations especially with the inspiration section of the app. Gathering the hundreds of photos that are currently in the app, it made me realize how much more of the world there is to see. It has also motivated me to check off even more countries I want to visit.”

Prior to developing Visited, she said, “I would discover new places by browsing the web, travel brochures, reading magazines and even talking to other travelers while abroad. I kept track of my travels and things I wanted to see in a journal. I hate to write, so it was just a simple continuing list or a drawn map of all the places I have visited. I used to love to check off top destinations, lists found in magazines, blogs to see what percentage I have seen. This is what we hoped to capture in our app. We also added the top 10 countries to visit based on where you live to inspire people to travel to easy to reach/popular destinations.”

The app doesn’t replace guidebooks, she maintained. “It is a complimentary app to these books. Guidebooks offer a way into a destination with detailed explanations, and insightful information while we offer a macro approach to travel to simply tick off places you want   to travel or have already visited.

“As an analyst I always start by asking the questions of why and so what? Since Visited was designed for my personal use at the beginning, I wanted the app to answer the following questions:

  • How many countries have I seen?
  • Many of our copy-cat competitor apps show you what percentage of the world you have seen. However, what use is that? I do not want to visit every country in the world although for some that may be their goal. However, I wanted to know what percentage of the world I WANT to visit and what percentage I have seen. So, we have included the metric that answers those two questions.
  • We also added the top 10 locations for people to visit from their home country. This allows users to discover easily accessible countries. This was done to inspire additional travel. For example, if Canada is their home country, Canadians will find plenty to see in destinations easy to visit in Canada. This answers the question what sites can I visit in my home country?
  • We also have a rank of how you compare to other international travelers.
  • We now allow users to count the UK as 4 countries vs 1, so., we now have the options for you to select it as 4 or 1. This will help answer the question how I count the number of countries I have visited.

“The app is designed to show your progress and to inspire you to complete your journeys.”

As to who the Visited app can benefit, she says, “Anyone that likes to travel regardless of their style of travel. They can be a once-a-year family trip traveler, a backpacker or someone who has rented an RV to visit every state. They will all benefit from using our app to keep track of their trips and get inspired to visit new locations. We find that it is a good reminder of all the places that you have been to, to make yourself feel better especially during the coronavirus pandemic. That is why we added the list feature that lets you check of all the art museums, world wonders, and other lists to help keep up travel moral during the pandemic.”

Users can use the app to share their trips, by clicking an icon that pops up with all the different ways you can share – text, email, print, download as PDF, as well as via social media you have installed such as WhatsApp, Instagram.

Visited now has 1.2 plus million users. XWalk and Pay Off Debt are niche apps that were launched in the past 2 years; the number of users has been growing.

Travel apps have taken off with people getting back to traveling once again. According to Sensor Travel Apps 2021 report, U.S. Travel Apps surpassed 85 million downloads, growing 128%.

How to use Visited:

  • Download the app for free via App Store or Google Play Store
  • Sign up – with email – (email is required because this is a unique identifier to keep track of the data that the user has select that way if they change phones, they will always be able to get back to the selection).
  • Input where you live, countries visited and countries you wish to visit
  • The map will display the selections. You can then click on each country to see additional information such as regions and cities, and input notes for that destination.
  • If you click on cities (Paid Feature) you can select different cities by tapping on the country.
  • You can see on the) dashboard the top countries you visited, how you rank against other international travelers as well as the top 10 countries that are most visited from the country you live in.
  • You can swipe to see photos of places and add them to your wish or been list.
  • You can click on experiences and see the different lists such as capitals of the world, art museums or world wonders, etc. In addition, you can also see the percentage of the world you have visited. You can also tap on experiences (such as hiking, skiing) and can select all the countries you have been to and doing that activity. For example, if you select: Canada, the US, and Switzerland for skiing it will display the 3 countries where you skied. You can also select where you want to ski.

The app can be downloaded for free on iOS from the App Store and on Android from Google (due to copy-cats, the app is called Visited with the blue world icon and a yellow pin).

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Germany Extends Commemoration of 1,700 Years of Jewish Life Through July 2022

Munich: The new main synagogue in the Jewish center © Getty Images / FooTToo

In December 2021, 1,700 flags were raised to commemorate 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. “Auf das Leben!” German for: “To life!” (l’chaim). This Jewish toast can be read on these flags, flying high in state parliaments, synagogues, churches, universities, museums, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and many more public places.

A series of celebrations, exhibitions, events and commemorations throughout Germany, the festival year #2021JLID is being extended until July 31, 2022.

The campaign is an initiative of the association “321-2021: 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany,” taking a stance against anti-Semitism in Germany.

The history of Jews in Germany dates back to the year 321 when the Roman Emperor Constantine issued an edict that marked the earliest evidence of Jewish life in Germany. The story of the edict is quite fascinating since it was born out of a profane need: the city council of Cologne had to repair a damaged bridge but lacked the financial means. A Jew named Isaac offered monetary assistance but required a professional position in the city council to do so. Emperor Constantine granted the ensuing request for permission, resulting in the first firmly written evidence of Jewish life in Europe, North of the Alps.

Despite a varied history and the unspeakable crimes against humanity of the Nazi regime during the Shoa, Jews resettled in Germany following World War II. Today, more than 200,000 people have made their home in about 100 Jewish Communities across the country. They contributed greatly to the development of Germany in the arts, philosophy, science, medicine and economic landscape, and became an inseparable part of our society.

Places of Jewish heritage can be found throughout the country: the Rykestrasse Synagogue in Berlin, the Synagogues in CologneErfurtFrankfurt, LeipzigUlmBayreuthAugsburg, the Jewish Cemetery ‘Heiliger Sand’ in Worms, the ShUM Sites on the Rhine, the “document” at the Neupfarrplatz in Regensburg, the timber-framed synagogue in Celle, the New Synagogue in Dresden and the Ohel Jakob Synagogue in Munich are just some examples.

The anniversary year conveys aspects about Jewish culture, traditions and customs and sends a clear message against anti- Semitism. Events are organized nationwide under the name #2021JLID – Jewish Life in Germany, including concerts, virtual exhibitions, music, podcasts, video projects, theater, and films.

The Shared History Project was initiated by the Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin (LBI) and supported by #2021JLID – Jüdisches Leben in Deutschland e.V. with funding from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI).

A joint initiative between the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Catholic, Protestant churches and other groups provides cultural and historical exhibitions about Jewish life and faith in the country as well as commemorations, postage stamps, and the production of a Jewish food guide.The wide-ranging activities – almost 1,500 overall – both in analog and digital form, have one goal in common: to strike a balance between past, present, and future.

The events throughout the year 2021 brought a sense of new confidence to light, allowing many Jews to show their culture and customs in the streets of Germany, resulting in an experience of togetherness between Jews and non-Jews.

The federal government has followed requests and decided that the festival year #2021JLID will be extended until July 31, 2022. For the project partners whose events could not take place in the planned form due to the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. with an audience or with guests from abroad), this provides the opportunity to carry out the events after all. The “Jewish Traveler” e-brochure highlights 65 cities and towns with special travel tips and contact details of Jewish organizations and institutions.

A collection of resources on Jewish Life in Germany today provides current and upcoming radio programs, links to activities of government and public institutions, as well as state, city, and local authorities.

Dresden: synagogue (C) Adobe Stock / tagstiles.com

The following calendar provides insight into a variety of celebrations honoring Jewish culture in Germany.

Augsburg, Bavaria: The Jewish Museum in Augsburg shows two exhibitions reflecting on Jewish life in the city. The exhibition “Jews through the Eyes of Others” (until September 4, 2022) questions clichés, prejudices, exaggerations, generalizations, and categorizations and asks the question: what role do Jewish museums play in perpetuating such projections?

The exhibition “The End of the Testimony” (until June 5, 2022) focuses on memories of contemporary witnesses, and the question of how to maintain statements of oral history for the next generations. It shows written testimonies and video interviews of contemporary witnesses and focuses on the question of how we want to deal with this legacy in the future.

Bayreuth, Bavaria: “Jewish Life in Bayreuth” program includes lectures within the established series “Bayreuth City Talks”, workshops, a weekly series in the local newspaper in cooperation with the Nordbayerischer Kurier, an app, and more.

Bamberg, Bavaria: Exhibition, “Medieval mikvah in Bamberg.” In the area of​​ the new “Quartier an der Stadtmauer” in the middle of Bamberg is a medieval mikvah (mikveh) – a Jewish ritual bath – from the first third of the 15th century as well as a baroque house from the 18th century, for which Jewish residents are proven. In order to convey Jewish life in historical times, a small documentation center was developed at the authentic site of the mikvah. It is the oldest still visible monument of the Jewish community in Bamberg.

Berlin: SHARED HISTORY Conference on 1,700 Years of Jewish Life in German-speaking Lands” (video recordings available). The Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin (LBI) is marking the occasion of 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany by launching its “Shared History Project.” As the name suggests, the lives of Jews have always been tightly interwoven with the history of the regions and countries where they lived. But to what extent can we truly speak of shared experiences during the past 17 centuries in Central Europe? What forms have the social, economic, and scientific exchange between the Jewish minority and Christian majority taken? These questions will be highlighted from several perspectives.

The New Synagogue which opened in 1866 is today the home of the Centrum Judaicum, which sees itself as a link between the past and the future. It serves as a site of research and documentation and brings Berlin’s vibrant Jewish history to life. The exhibitions “Under the wedding sky – weddings in Jewish Berlin” and “Telling Jewish Berlin. Mine, yours, ours?” (until June 12, 2022) unfold a mosaic of stories, experiences, and emotions, revolving around individual perspectives and personal relationships.

The 28th Jewish Film Festival Berlin | Brandenburg (JFBB), the largest Jewish film festival in Germany, will take place this year from June 14 to June 19, 2022, in numerous venues in Berlin and Potsdam. The JFBB program aims to enliven political and historical debates, counter anti-Semitism, narrate Jewish themes beyond stereotypes, and offer points of contact for the audience. On the program are feature films, documentaries, retrospectives, international films of all genres, high-end TV series, (contemporary witness) talks, and panel discussions.

Büren-Wewelsburg, North Rhine-Westphalia: Guided tour, “An insight into the history of Jewish life in the Paderborn region.” The former Hochstift Paderborn has a fascinating Jewish history. During a tour of the historical museum of the Paderborn monastery as well as the Wewelsburg memorial and memorial site 1933–1945, the varied history can be rediscovered.

Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia: Exhibition, “SHALOM COLOGNE – discover Jewish life in Cologne, participate and set an example.” SHALOM COLOGNE is an innovative educational program that encourages to deal creatively and digitally with Jewish culture. The SHALOM-BOX contains more than 50 suggestions in the form of worksheets, videos, teaching ideas, links and hands-on tools. For the XXL poster, everyone is invited to send in selfies and pictures to create a strong motif for tolerance and respect. The big SHALOM CHALLENGE calls for artistic contributions dealing with Jewish culture.

Project: “Jewish Cologne – on the right bank of the Rhine.” Two centuries of Jewish history are closely connected to the Jewish cemetery in Cologne-Deutz. It forms the bridge between the Middle Ages and the modern age, and is also the link to Cologne on the right bank of the Rhine, the “Schäl Sick”. The project “Jewish Cologne-rechtsrheinisch” uses digital media to make history visible behind weathered inscriptions.

Dresden, Saxony: The exhibit “Rethinking City History: Perspectives on Jewish Stories and Present Lifes” (until March 31, 2022) retraces the complex Jewish life in the capital of Saxony. Until today, objects of the Jewish past can be found in living rooms, basements, or garages, finding a new place within the exhibition. Guided tours, a blog series and a YouTube video provide a deeper insight into the project.

Franconia: The anniversary is especially significant in Franconia since Jewish culture thrived in the region for almost 1,000 years. Jewish scholars, Franconian-Jewish dialects, foundations, synagogues, and more than 100 Jewish cemeteries had a significant impact on all aspects of life. This ended abruptly with the almost complete annihilation of the Jewish population during the Third Reich. Today, there are again Jewish communities in Franconia, as well as important institutions, including the Jewish Museum Franconia in Fürth, the “Museum Shalom Europa” in Würzburg, and the “Fränkische Schweiz Museum” in Tüchersfeld. Guided tours offered in many towns also invite visitors to explore the history and present state of Jewish culture.

Frankfurt, Hesse: The Jewish Museum Frankfurt is showing “Our Courage – Jews in Europe 1945-48” (until January 18, 2022). The exhibition is the first project of its kind to present the diversity of Jewish experience in the early post-war period from a pan-European, transnational perspective. The program is available for download here.

Hamburg: Movie: “Talmud Torah School Hamburg 2005-2015.” A video project with students connects the past and the future in the former Hamburg Talmud Torah school.

Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate: Dialogue, City Tour, App: “Digital stumbling block memorial routes.” In the Koblenz app, three commemorative routes can be explored which remind of former Jewish citizens, leading to stumbling blocks laid for them throughout the city.

Munich, Bavaria: Exhibition, “The Joys of Yiddish.” A roof frieze by the conceptual artist Mel Bochner at the Haus der Kunst in Munich reflects the Jewish language and the past. His work is shaped by reflections on the relationship between language and image. Born in Pittsburgh in 1940, Bochner grew up in a traditional Jewish family. The word-chain on the roof frieze of the Haus der Kunst in Munich consists of colloquial terms from Yiddish.

Nuremberg, Bavaria: Concerts, “World music and Klezmer in the Villa Leon.” Villa Leon is known for its world music and klezmer concerts. The series “World Music and Klezmer in the Villa Leon” presents the once only instrumental wedding music for Jews from Eastern Europe. The Villa Leon offers the oldest existing series of klezmer music in Germany. In addition, numerous associations or individuals organize their own concerts in respective areas.

Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate: Publication, Audio: “Jewish life in Trier.” Alongside Cologne and Mainz, the city of Trier was the earliest place on German territory where Jews settled. The long history of the Jewish community in Trier is reflected in the collections of the city. The library, for example, has the largest collection of Hebrew and Aramaic binding fragments in all of Germany. In the festival year # 2021JLID – 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany, a series of tours, exhibitions, readings and lectures will take place in Trier dedicated to the diversity of Jewish life. Topics include civil courage, and the story of the photographer Hilde Hubbuch. The Scientific Library of the City of Trier is dedicating episodes of the podcast series “Veni, vidi, audivi” to the city’s Jewish history.

More information at German National Tourist Office, New York, NY 10018, 212-661-7175, www.germany.travel.



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Grab a BOGO Deal from TRIPS by Culture Trip During Holiday Sale

Vietnam is one of the destinations offered by Culture Trip © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

TRIPS by Culture Trip is offering a BOGO deal from Nov. 22-Dec. 3, 2021: book a spot on one of their trips and bring someone along for free to places like Scotland, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Italy, Nepal and 20 more destinations.

Travel must take place before May 31, 2022 (the Iceland itinerary in Jan. 2022 is excluded).  All trips available are on a first booked, first served basis. Space is limited and certain conditions apply.

TRIPS by Culture Trip are unique small-group adventures that help people experience extraordinary destinations in unexpected ways, together with other culturally curious travelers. Curated by travel experts and led by Local Insiders, the multi-day adventures offer itineraries that combine immersive activities, hyper-local experiences and unique places to stay. Thoughtfully planned with ample free time to unwind or explore, the itineraries offer the right balance of exploration, action, and relaxation.
 
Some of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are part of TRIPS by Culture Trip and can be enjoyed with this Black Friday deal:

Welcome to the Jungle: Exploring Northern Thailand
10-day trip from $1,599* per person; based on departures 20 February and 14 April 2022
Watch the sunrise over the highest mountain in Thailand and feed elephants in a sanctuary during this 10-day adventure. Take in Chiang Mai, Pai and the Doi Inthanon National Park and float through a 5,466 ft. cave and watch the sunset over the scenic Pai Canyon. In between jungle trekking and waterfall swims, enjoy a slice of slow living at a geothermal hot springs and savor local Thai delicacies. This off-the-beaten-track journey will showcase an authentic side of the former Lanna Kingdom.

From the Amalfi Coast to Puglia: the Complete Southern Italy Tour
10-day trip from $2,029* per person; based on departures 2 April and 7 May 2022
Discover cliff top villages, secluded beaches and authentic Italian cuisine on this journey across southern Italy. Sample street food in Naples, cruise along the Amalfi Coast on a private boat tour, uncover the secrets of Altamura bread at Il Frantoio and explore the ancient hilltop town of Matera, featured in the latest James Bond movieRound off the trip by relaxing on the secluded beaches of Polignano a Mare and explore the Salento peninsula.

Riches and Ruins: Wine, Dine and Step Back in Time in Rural Georgia
9-day trip from $1,369* per person; based on departures 5 May 2022
Whether hiking in the Caucasus Mountains or whipping up a feast from a farmer’s market, this nine-day journey yields an immersive Georgian experience. Begin in the Old Quarter of Tbilisi and visit UNESCO World Heritage sites at nearby Mtskheta. See the ancient wine-making – and drinking – before exploring Lagodekhi National Park. The spectacular Truso Gorge, a hike up to Gergeti Church and a ramble beyond remote Juta village showcase the best of the High Caucasus. 

La Vida Local in Mexico City
5-day trip from $1,209* per person; based on departures 10 February, 17 March and 14 April 2022
Climb ancient temples in Teotihuacán, watch lucha libre wrestlers in action and toss back mezcal shots on a five-day trip to Mexico City. Stay at the artsy Cadillac Hotel near Roma, before hitting the streets on a walking tour of the Condesa district. Enjoy sizzling meat tacos in Roma, visit Frida Kahlo’s house, then sing with the mariachis floating along the Xochimilco canals.
 
TRIPS by Culture Trip offers over 30 itineraries in some of the world’s most captivating and off-the-grid places, with new itineraries added regularly. TRIPS range from four to 13 days, welcoming a maximum of up to 18 travelers aged 25 and over who can join solo or with friends. With a focus beyond mass-market offerings, the itineraries often put local people at the center and avoid areas of over-tourism as well as unethical activities or wildlife interactions that aren’t in the best interest of the animals.
 
TRIPS by Culture Trip offers its Ultimate COVID Booking Guarantee, so if COVID regulations change a customer’s plans, they can rebook for free (valid for bookings made by Nov. 30, 2021 for travel before Feb. 28, 2022). For bookings outside these dates, no change or cancellation fees are imposed and customers can get a full refund should they need to postpone or cancel a trip up to 30 days prior to departure. All trips have COVID safety measures in place.

Full terms and conditions can be found at:  https://theculturetrip.com/bookable/booking-terms-and-conditions/

To book a TRIPS by Culture Trip Black Friday deal visit culturetrip.com/trips or contact tripssupport@theculturetrip.com or +1 (678) 967-4965

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EF Go Ahead Tours Discounts Bucket List Worthy Trips this Holiday Season

Solo travelers get a holiday discount on EF Go Ahead Tours:  Get 16% off Portugal for Solo Travelers © Eric Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

EF Go Ahead Tours, a leading provider of immersive, small group travel, is running its Black Friday sale through Nov. 26 offering steep 2021 discounts on 2022 and 2023 “bucket list” itineraries, likely the lowest these future tours will ever be, with prices locked in and flexible payment plans available. Get up to $600 off per person /$1,200 off per couple — with many of the most in-demand itineraries discounted by 20% or more.

From Nov. 12-18: A focus on UK & Ireland:  Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland 15% off / $500 off, discounted at $2,779; A Week in Ireland: Dublin, Cork & Galway 27% off / $600 off, discounted at $1,599; Highlights of England, Scotland & Ireland 15% off / $500 off, discounted at $2,819.

From Nov. 19-25: Bucket List Worthy to Iceland, Egypt Kenya, Costa Rica, Galapagos such as Egypt & the Nile 20% off / $600 off, discounted at $2,399; A Week in Egypt: Giza, Nile River Cruise & Cairo 19% off / $500 off, discounted at $2,159; Kenya Wildlife Safari 4/8/22 departure. 13% off / $600 off, discounted at $3,919.

Black Friday: Nov. 26: “Special Lightning Deals!” with the best of what’s left! Plus up to $600 off on worldwide tours plus a doorbuster on Black Friday day!

Traveling solo within group travel is discounted too. Get an extra $100 off for private rooms on top of the sales, which could equate to a free single room.  Just one of many examples of a bucket list solo trip: Portugal for Solo Travelers 16% off / $500 off, discounted at $2,539.

Let EF Go Ahead experts navigate travel and health & safety guidelinesand plan with fully refundable trips with no change fees Only $99 down secures a spot when you enroll in AutoPay. Book before November 30th and if you have to change plans, receive a refund of all money paid for that tour, including the deposit, through February 1, 2022. Change tour date or destination without a rebooking fee up until the Final Payment Date. EF offers Covid Care Promise, a comprehensive offering that supports travelers, at no additional expense through unforeseen on-tour quarantines or hospitalizations. 

EF Go Ahead Tours, 800, 590-1161, www.goaheadtours.com

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G Adventures Offers Up to 30% Off More than 500 Tours During Biggest Sale of the Year

Tour the dunes from atop a camel for an authentic way to experience the Sahara, explore high-walled kasbahs and wander the labyrinthine alleys of Fès and Marrakech on G Adventures Morocco Kasbahs and Desert trip and get 20% off when booking during the holiday sale © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

G Adventures is offering up to 30 percent off on more than 500 tours departing before October 31, 2022 with its biggest sale of the year, from November 10 through December 3, 2021. With the launch of the Cyber Sale, the small group adventure operator and community tourism pioneer is rewarding travelers who are eager to get back out there with discounts on more than 500 itineraries across the company’s selection of Active, Classic, Active, Marine, Family, Local Living and 18-to-30-Somethings travel styles.

Tours that are on sale and depart before March 31, 2022 offer travelers up to 30 percent off, with additional departures before October 31, 2022 featuring savings of up to 20 percent off the original price. 

Ben Perlo, managing director for G Adventures in the US and Latin America, says the sale provides an added incentive for travelers at a time when the conditions are just right for booking for holiday travel and beyond. 

“Our most recent consumer research panel* tells us that 72 percent of respondents plan to take an international vacation by mid-2022 but of those people only 44 percent have actually booked, so there’s still a lot of pent-up demand that is yet to be realized.

“This year’s Cyber Sale has some of the biggest discounts we’ve ever offered, giving people the added incentive they need to book. And with our flexible Book with Confidence policy still in place, allowing travelers to cancel and rebook their tour with no added cost, plus our Vaccinated-Only and Travel Ready tour options, travelers can feel confident about their next vacation knowing that we have their health and safety top of mind,” says Perlo.

Also, here’s a pro tip: with supply chains being strained worldwide, why not bypass the mail system and stuff your loved one’s stocking with the gift of travel? No need to hit refresh on a tracking number, and givers and recipients alike will feel good knowing that each G Adventures trip helps support local communities that rely on tourism. 

Departures and options are subject to availability, and travelers are encouraged to take advantage of the deals as soon as they go live to secure their desired trip option and departure date. Sample itineraries in this year’s Cyber Sale** include:

  • Machu Picchu Adventure – This eight-day Classic style adventure starts and ends in Lima and offers all of the access, culture and can’t-miss sights in a short amount of time. Explore Cusco and the surrounding hills, take the train up to Machu Picchu, wander through markets and museums and immerse yourself in cultures past and present. This tour starts at USD $979pp** (30% off the regular starting price of $1399pp). 
  • Colombia Express –  Save 30% on this action-packed nine-day Classic trip that starts in Bogota and ends in Cartagena. Tour beaches, coffee regions, and metropolitan cities, check out the resurgence of culture, art, and food in Bogotá and Medellín, dive deep into the Caribbean vibe in Cartagena, and enjoy the Latin-Caribbean fusion of the local cuisine. Pricing starts at USD $1434pp (that is 30% off the regular starting price of $2049pp).
  • Costa Rica Active Adventure – Starting and ending in San Jose, this 13-day Active style trip packs in the adventure with biking, trekking, kayaking, ziplining and horseback riding. After landing in San José, embark on four days of exploration around Monteverde and Arenal Volcano. Raft down the mighty Pacuare River before crossing over to our remote rainforest lodge, surrounded on all sides by the thick, enveloping jungle. Travelers end the journey by heading down to the beach at Puerto Viejo. Pricing starts at USD $1439pp (that is 20% off the regular starting price of $1799pp).
  • Morocco Kasbahs and Desert – Starting in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech, this short-but-sweet eight-day Classic tour offers up a great combination of Morocco’s must-see highlights and a little free time for travelers to explore on their own. Tour the dunes from atop a camel for an authentic way to experience the Sahara, explore high-walled kasbahs and wander the labyrinthine alleys of Fès and Marrakech. Sale pricing starts at just USD $679pp (that is 20% off the regular starting price of $849pp).

For more information or to book, visit www.gadventures.com/cyber-sale/

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Global Scavenger Hunt Returns for 2022; Applications to Join now Being Accepted

Team Lazy Monday, Eric & Kathryn Verwillow of California, who would go on to win second place in the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt, dash out of Petra, Jordan on to their next challenge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

After a COVID-enforced two-year hiatus, the Global Scavenger Hunt is back in 2022 – an around-the-world travel adventure to crown the “World’s Greatest Travelers.”

Unlike the Amazing Race (which was inspired by the Global Scavenger Hunt), The Global Scavenger Hunt isn’t a race, but rather a contest to amass the most points by doing scavenges designed to immerse you into local culture, heritage and environment of the places you visit.

In the course of 23 days, the teams of two travel to 10 countries, not knowing your next destination until your team is given instructions to get to the airport. You have to figure out how to get around without the benefit of GPS, smartphones or computer. Paper maps are allowed, but asking locals for directions is preferred.

Trusting strangers in strange lands is the shibboleth, as the intrepid travelers circle the globe (which is why you can’t use your own GPS or smartphone). The event has touched down in 85 countries to date.

“We’re thrilled about the growing momentum for travel and are feeling so positive and excited about it, that we have scheduled the takeoff dates for our Spring 2022 event: Wheels up April 22 thru May 14,” writes Event Director Bill Chalmers, who calls himself the “ringmaster.”

“Our last event in 2019 was fully subscribed, and we are currently reserving spots for our 2022 adventure while holding on to our 2019 price structure on all deposits made before December 10th this year.”

(Full disclosure: I was on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt.)

The event, which will be the 16th Global Scavengee Hunt, pits savvy international travelers against each other by taking them on A Blind Date with the World, visiting ten secret destinations without any prior preparation, and then have them unravel a constant blitz of highly authentic, participatory and challenging culturally-oriented scavenges along the way.

For example: meditating with monks, training elephants, taking flamenco lessons, cooking local dishes with local chefs, searching out Lost Cities, cracking sacred temple mysteries, joining in local celebrations and learning local languages enough to decipher their scavenger hunt clues. 

The Global Scavenger Hunt is limited to a small group of world travelers. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply (you will be paired up for a team).

For additional information visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc., at +1.310.281.7809.

See our coverage of our experience on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com

Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’ 

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Black Friday Travel Sales Underway for EF Go Ahead Tours; Up to $600 Off 2022/23 Trips

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. Take advantage of EF Tours “Black Friday” travel deals to score $600 off a bucket-list trip to Iceland © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Black Friday travel deals are already underway at EF Go Ahead Tours. From October 26 to November 26,  EF Go Ahead Tours, a leading provider of immersive, small group travel, is launching four weeks of discounted departures to every corner of the world. With up to $600 off — and some itineraries discounted by 20% or more — now is the ideal time to book a tour, as current bookings indicate 2022 will be a gangbusters year for international travel.  The deals effectively mean 2022 and 2023 trips are available at discounted 2021 prices — the lowest they are likely to be — with experts who handle all the details and the complexities of traveling in the COVID-age taken care of for you. 

WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS:

Each week will have a theme with up to $600 per traveler/$1,200 off per couple on select itineraries:

  • Week 1: Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 Get first dibs on great deals around the world. Sign up  to get Early Access to Black Friday deals with tours through 2023. In demand trips will sell out, so this is your chance to book early and save!
  • Week 2 Nov. 5-11: Save up to $600 per traveler/$1,200 per couple on Italy & Greece
  • Week 3: Nov. 12-18: Save up to $600/$1,200 per couple on UK & Ireland
  • Week 4: Nov. 19-25: Save up to $600/$1,200 per couple on Bucket List (Iceland, Egypt, Kenya, Costa Rica, Galapagos and more)  
  • Black Friday: Nov. 26: “Special Lightning Deals!” with the best of what’s left!Plus up to $600 off on worldwide tours plus a doorbuster on Black Friday day!

*Specific itineraries per week available upon request 

ALL MONTH LONG:

Each week EF will have a surprise “Lightning Deal” with an extra discount and incentive.

Solo within group travel is on the rise and EF Go Ahead Tours welcomes this travel style. Every week will include an extra $100 off for private rooms on top of the sales, which could equate to a free single room.

AN UNPARALLELED TRAVEL PARTNER:

Fully Refundable Trips with No Change Fees. Book & Rebook with Confidence.

  • Only $99 down secures a spot when you enroll in AutoPay. Interest-free payments aren’t due until 60 days after booking.  Book before November 30th and if you have to change plans, receive a refund of all money paid for that tour, including the deposit, through February 1, 2022. Change tour date or destination without a rebooking fee up until the Final Payment Date.

Let EF Go Ahead Travel Experts Navigate Health & Safety Guidelines:

  • EF offers COVID Care Promise, a comprehensive offering that supports travelers, at no additional expense through unforeseen on-tour quarantines or hospitalizations. 
  • EF’s 24/7 Safety and Incidence Team operates worldwide to inform country- and region-specific approaches to travel based on evolving CDC and WHO guidelines.

EF Go Ahead Tours offers 175 guided tours as well as can customize a private tour; if you bring a group, you travel for free.

EF Go Ahead Tours,  Cambridge, MA 02141, 800-590-1161, https://www.goaheadtours.com/

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US Tour Operators Bring Travelers to World’s Happiest Places

Soaking in the Blue Lagoon. Iceland scored second to Finland in the United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report for 2021. US Tour Operators Association member  Great Value Vacations offers Iceland Escape: Golden Circle & Whale Watching  package © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Who can’t use a little extra happiness now?

Tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) offer itineraries to destinations around the world, including the top five countries from the United Nations’ annual World Happiness Report for 2021.

Each year, happiness is measured by the United Nations through a complex process, integrating metrics such as social support, life expectancy, income per capita, and more. In 2021, the top five countries were Finland in first place, followed by Iceland in second place, then Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

“Our tour operator members always make travelers smile, by handling all the logistics, ensuring peace of mind through trip protection and guaranteed accommodations, while offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences that travelers might not find on their own,”said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. 

What is more, travelers who experience what makes these places score so high in happiness bring these ideas back home.

Here is a sampling of itineraries for clients who want to visit the top five happiness countries with some of the most smile-inducing operators around.

  1. Finland – The Northern Lights of Finland with Collette takes travelers on a hunt for the elusive North Lights in Finland, with a culture and history tour of Helsinki, three nights in rugged Lapland, a reindeer safari, and dog sledding. Accommodations include stays in a glass igloo in the wilderness and a Finnish log cabin.  Departures are available between November 2021 and March 2022 for seven nights, starting at $3,199 per person.
  1. Iceland – Iceland Escape: Golden Circle & Whale Watching with Great Value Vacations is a four-night trip that includes whale watching at sea, a full day tour of the beautiful Golden Circle, and an excursion to the renowned Fontana Baths to bathe in mineral-rich geothermal waters. Departures are available throughout 2021 and 2022 starting at $1,388 per person.
  1. Denmark – Denmark Self-Drive: Copenhagen, Roskilde, Odense & Arhus with Goway Travel is perfect for independent travelers who want to travel at their own pace on an eight-day self-drive tour. The itinerary takes guests through Copenhagen’s museums, the zoo in Odense, and Europe’s Capital of Culture, Arhus. Departures are available throughout 2021 and 2022 starting at $1,307 per person.
  1. Switzerland – The Best of Switzerland with Globus is a vacation out of a storybook, with fresh Alpine air, Swiss chocolates, chalet-dotted hillsides, and lush green farmland. Guests will enjoy an eight-day trip beginning and ending in Zürich with stops at Lake Como, Lake Geneva, and more. Departures are available to book between 2021 – 2023 starting at $2,699 per person.
  1. Netherlands – Grand tour of the Netherlands with Audley Travel explores the Netherlands for ten days with bicycle tours, visits to the famous windmills, a sunset canal cruise through Amsterdam, and a pottery class at Delftware pottery. Departures are available throughout 2021 and 2022 starting at $5,455 per person.

Find all itineraries offered by USTOA tour operators at www.ustoa.travelstride.com

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

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Women Travel the World With USTOA Tour Operators

smarTours’ seven-day, women-only tour through Iceland takes travelers through Reykjavik and Vik, with opportunities to see the Northern Lights and Iceland’s famous waterfalls
© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK –In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is highlighting women-focused itineraries offered by its tour operator members. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Ireland, Japan to Chile, each program offers small group, immersive experiences that allow guests to pursue a passion or check a box on their bucket list.

“USTOA tour operators have a collection of itineraries created by women, for women, that are packed with hands-on adventures and singular experiences. Each vacation provides much more than a traditional getaway, with opportunities to explore a new destination with like-minded travelers,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA.

The collection of small group, women-only trips in 2020 include:

Incredible Iceland with Northern Lights – smarTours’ seven-day, women-only tour through Iceland takes travelers through Reykjavik and Vik, with opportunities to see the Northern Lights, Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss Waterfalls, and more. Departure is available on October 29 starting at $2,399 per person.

Authentic Ladies Tee Time – Authentic Vacations offers a nine-day tour of Ireland’s five-star golf courses, designed for a private group of women who are interested in golfing the Emerald Isle’s lush landscape, experiencing fine dining, and relaxing at spas. Private group tours are available starting at $3,248 per person.

Japan Zen – The Art of Simple Living – Perillo’s Learning Journeys’ 11-day women’s journey  explores Japanese culture in Tokyo and Kyoto, where guests will attend meditation sessions, stay in a traditional ryokan inn, and participate in sake tastings and cooking classes.Departure is available on May 31 starting at $5,475 per person.

Chile with Patagonia – SITA World Tours’ six-day, women-only adventure through Chile and Patagonia takes guests to Chile’s wine country in Casablanca and Curacavi and a day in Torres del Paine National Park, with trip extensions available to Easter Island and Buenos Aires. Departure is available on November 12 starting at 3,810 per person.

In addition to better access to attractions, activities and lodgings, a benefit of traveling with a well-established tour operator is the additional layer of safety and security and ability to respond to changing situations at the destination.

Find all the itineraries offered by USTOA tour operators at https://ustoa.stridetravel.com/

Representing nearly $19 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow 9.8 million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.  As a voice for the tour operator industry for more than 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents.

For more information on USTOA, visit www.ustoa.com, call 212-599-6599, or email information@ustoa.com.

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