Category Archives: international travel

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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Deadline Looms to Sign Up for 16th Annual Global Scavenger Hunt Contest to Crown ‘World’s Greatest Travelers’

Global Scavenger Hunt “Lazy Monday” team of Kathryn & Eric of California race to complete the scavenge challenge at the archeological wonder, Petra, Jordan. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

LOS ANGELES, USA – Only a few spots remain for adventurous Indiana Jones-types and intrepid Nellie Bly hopefuls willing to compete in the Super Bowl of travel adventures that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers and hands them a free trip around the world winner-take-all first place prize.  
 
All you have to do is circle the globe and visit ten secret countries in the one-of-a-kind travel adventure while out-doing, out-thrilling and out-traveling a worthy collection of international travelers participating in the 2020 event.

Serious travelers are a competitive breed, from: “How many countries have you been to?” and “We’ve been there, did you do…?” to watching TV’s Amazing Race saying, “I could do that!” Well now they can with a trip, trophy and title on the line, not to mention a free trip around the world to defend their crowns in 2021. 

The 16th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition aims to return the romance of travel while testing the travel IQ of the most travel savvy of globetrotters. They will complete a series of highly participatory, authentic and challenging cultural site-doing scavenges in ten secret countries over a 23-day circumnavigation between April 17th and May 9th, 2020. Trusting strangers in strange lands is required!

Last call interested travelers need to apply online at GlobalScavengerHunt.com as the deadline nears.

“The Global Scavenger Hunt covers a lot of extraordinary travel bases,” says author and Event Director William Chalmers, “Taking our blind date with the world is a 21st century version of spinning a globe and throwing out your finger. Maybe that’s why we’ve been called the ‘Super Bowl of Travel,’ the ‘Olympics of Travel’, and one writer even called our annual travel adventure the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’. I liked that one!”

The reviews for the annual world travel championship are in too: Conde Nast Traveler calls The Global Scavenger Hunt, “the best trip to take…”;  Frommer’s lists it as one of “best adrenaline adventures…” in the world; Outside magazine bills it as, “One of the most amazing trips in the world…”; and National Geographic says that the event is, “…like Survivor, The Amazing Race and the Eco-Challenge all rolled into one except with much more cultural interaction.” 

The 23-day around the world event is limited to 15 teams of two with the $25,000 per team entry fee including: all international airfare, first class hotels, 40% of meals and special event-sponsored travel gear. Single travelers are welcome to apply; and all travelers will be interviewed for suitability. Contact GreatEscape Adventures at +1.310.281.7809 or apply online at GlobalScavengerHunt.com.

See our series on doing the 15th Annual Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com.

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Country Walkers Offers Responsible Travel Itineraries That Support Conservation, Charitable Projects

Porto, a delightfully walkable city in northern Portugal, is featured on Country Walkers’ Porto-Lisbon tour which also supports “Farming for the Future” initiative © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Williston, VT –By 2030, 1.8 billion people – about 20 percent of the global population – are predicted to be tourists traveling the world. As the demand for global travel increases, consumers are faced with numerous decisions on how to make their trips more sustainable, including where to go, what to pack and how to get there. Country Walkers, a leading provider of walking adventures and a leader in responsible tourism for decades, offers travelers the opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable world through preserving indigenous cultures, supporting local economies, conserving wildlife and protecting the environment. 

“At Country Walkers, we are committed to a healthier planet and to giving back to the destinations we explore,” said Timo Shaw, President of Country Walkers. “Sustainability is one of our core values, from staying in locally owned and operated hotels whenever possible and seeking out environmentally and socially responsible accommodations, to our ardent support of the Slow Food movement in order to preserve culinary traditions and support biodiversity. As a result, those who travel with us contribute to a more sustainable world as well.” 

To further support special conservation and charitable projects in communities and habitats worldwide, Country Walkers created The Travelers Fund, which makes a donation on behalf of every traveler who books a specific tour. More than half of Country Walkers’ tours are associated with an initiative, including:

Mountain Rescue at Club Alpino Italiano (Country Walkers tour: Italy: The Amalfi Coast & Capri). Safety comes first on the Amalfi Coast with a donation to the local mountain rescue team, which primarily relies on volunteers and donations to obtain and maintain equipment for rapid emergency response for visitors and locals.

Wildlife Conservation in the Rocky Mountains (Country Walkers tours: Montana: Glacier National Park and Wyoming: Grand Teton & Yellowstone[KG1] ). The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative seeks to re-connect segments of land that have been separated by development, allowing animals to safely move from region to region on wildlife-friendly highway overpasses. Contributions are used towards constructing one of these wildlife structures.

Therapeutic Travel for Cancer Survivors in Quebec (Country Walkers tour: Quebec: Quebec City & the Saguenay Fjord). Country Walkers supports the Fondation Sur La Pointe des Pieds (“On the Tip of the Toes”), which provides young people ages 14 to 29 living with cancer with an opportunity to regain their sense of well-being through therapeutic adventure expeditions.

Assisting Pilgrims on Camino de Santiago (Country Walkers tour: Spain: Classic Camino de Santiago). The Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago coordinates a vast national network of hostels, volunteers, parishes, churches and shelters in an effort to keep more than 200,000 pilgrims safe, healthy and informed as they walk the Camino de Santiago.  

Clean Water in Zambia (Country Walkers tour: Zambia Safari: Exclusive Camps & Bush Walks). In Africa, currently 345 million people live without access to clean drinking water. Together with local partners in Zambia at Charity Begins Home, Country Walkers supports the “Commit to Clean Water” Fund, an initiative that seeks to transform rural communities by drilling wells into deep aquifers and pumping potable water to the surface.

Maintaining the Long Trail in Vermont (Country Walkers tour: Vermont: Fall Foliage). A highlight of the tour is walking along one of the most spectacular portions of the legendary 270-mile Long Trail, the nation’s first long-distance hiking trail. Country Walkers supports the Green Mountain Club, the stewards of this “footpath through the wilderness,” who also promote conservation of and education about Vermont’s mountains and rural land.

Advocacy for Small Businesses in Palermo (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Sicily). Country Walkers supports the nonprofit Addiopizzo movement, a grassroots coalition of over 850 shopkeepers aimed at squashing corruption in Sicily and educating locals about ethical business practices.

Conserving a Historic Chapel in Monterosso (Country Walkers tour: Italy: Portofino & Cinque Terre[KG2] ). In 2013, severe landslides destroyed the grounds of the historic Convento dei Cappuccini chapel and monastery. “Let’s Rebuild Monterosso’s Paradise” raises funds for the restoration, a cost far beyond the modest means of the town or diocese.

Cornwall Coastal Preservation (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cornwall Coast). The South West Coast Path Association advocates for improvements to more than 630 miles of this historic coastal trail system. As maintenance is costly, donations from Country Walkers on behalf of guests help maintain these paths that are heavily utilized on the tour.

Farming for the Future (Country Walkers tours: Portugal: Sintra, Óbidos & the Coast and Portugal: Porto to Lisbon). The Herdade do Freio do Meio farm applies principles of sustainability within the context of the Portuguese montado, a traditional pastoral agricultural system in which reducing reliance on fossil fuels and marketing regionally to provide fresh foods and minimize transport costs are key policies. The farm processes and sells many products on site, providing training and employment for locals.

Campobello Whale Rescue Team (Country Walkers tour: New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy & Campobello Island). Created by Mackie Green, the same captain who offers a whale watching excursion and boat transfers on the Country Walkers tour, the team is trained to dive and rescue whales trapped in fish netting. Donations support equipment and training.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Country Walkers tour: England: The Cotswolds). Stretching over 790 square miles, the Cotswolds is the largest recognized Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England due to its breathtaking scenery and rolling hills. Country Walkers supports efforts to keep the area well-preserved on behalf of every Cotswolds guest.

For more information on The Travelers Fund and Country Walkers’ sustainable travel initiatives, visit www.countrywalkers.com/sustainable-travel/ or call 800-234-6900.

For more than 40 years, Country Walkers has provided active, experiential, and stunning travel experiences on five continents. Based in Williston, Vt., the company’s specialized adventures and insider access bring the beating heart of a destination to life with well-crafted itineraries for Guided Walking and Self-Guided Walking. All walking trips highlight local cuisine, authentic accommodations, and immersive cultural experiences. Country Walkers is recognized as one of the leading providers of Walking Adventures worldwide, having garnered countless awards including National Geographic Traveler’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards.

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Backyard Travel Offers Cambodia With Kids Tour – Adventures In Siem Reap

Backyard Travel, a boutique private tour operator specializing in tours around Asia, introduced a new family-friendly adventure through magical Siem Reap.

Bangkok, Thailand – Backyard Travel, a boutique private tour operator specializing in tours around Asia, introduced a new family-friendly adventure through magical Siem Reap.

The seven-day Cambodia with Kids tour introduces young explorers and their families to the wonders of ancient Khmer civilization, and the bucolic landscapes that surround Siem Reap.

The journey begins at Angkor Wat, where a private tour gives kids a close-up view of its elaborate Hindu carvings and lets them explore its hidden chambers and halls. Angkor expeditions continue with a walking temple trek that loops around Angkor Thom and the iconic Bayon Temple, with stops at the Terrace of the Elephants and the Pool of Ablutions.

Adventures continue outside of Angkor, with a cycling tour through rice-paddy countryside and a trip to the Tonle Sap lake for lunch in a local stilt house. In Banteay Chhmar, families get to experience village life with a homestay, and learn traditional rice farming, fishing and beekeeping.

On return to Siem Reap, families can enjoy some free time to rest or explore, or choose an optional activity such as zip lining, horse riding, or quad-bike riding. The tour ends on an acrobatic note with a performance by Phare, The Cambodia Circus. 

“Siem Reap is a perfect destination for families,” says Backyard Travel General Manager Trystan Trestchenkoff, “It’s got exciting ancient history, hands-on cultural activities and a whole host of experiences that specifically cater to younger travelers. Pair this with Backyard Travel’s years of experience creating dedicated family tours and you’ve got an unforgettable trip for guests of all ages.

For more information about Backyard Travel, www.backyardtravel.com

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Luxury Gold’s ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Journey to Nepal and Bhutan; Discount for Booking by Dec. 18

Luxury Gold guests can take a gentle hike to the Taskshang Monastery in Bhutan

With its ancient cultures, mountainous backdrops, and oasis of tranquility, Nepal and Bhutan each hold a wealth of centuries-old stupas and temples. Recently described as a “once in a lifetime journey” by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and AFAR Magazine ambassador, Luxury Gold’s Magnificent Nepal and Bhutan journey is nothing short of an “A-list” bucket-list experience ifor travelers seeking authenticity, exploration and cultural immersion.

“I was met with this sort of awe each moment of my journey with Luxury Gold, as our Traveling Concierge kept my journal occupied, and my camera at the ready,” said AFAR Magazine ambassador, Ryan Neal Cordwell, in his recent USTOA blog. “It isn’t only the absorption of undiluted insight, but the ability to participate interactively, that stamps this page of the world with gold.”

Luxury Gold’s dedicated and knowledgeable Traveling Concierges, VIP treatment, delectable dining, and immersive, local experiences bring together the true beauty of this enchanting region.

Just a few exceptional highlights of Luxury Gold’s culturally enriching 10-day journey to Nepal and Bhutan: 

As a VIP experience in Kathmandu, meet with the monks of Boudhanath stupa for a private puja (blessing) ceremony. Hear traditional chanting, drumming and tales of the monks lives inside the temple. You’ll be cherished by this visit by being blessed by the monks. Later, meet a local pottery craftsman who will explain the traditions and processes of their works, before guiding you to try for yourself. 

While in Paro, choose a private traditional mask dance and cultural show or learn about the passion the Bhutanese have for the national sport of archery, attending a range to interact with the locals. You can also join a gentle hike to Taktshang Monastery known as the Tiger’s Nest

In Thimphu, you’re invited into the home of a local family for a delicious home-cooked meal of typical regional fare. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, dedicated to world peace, along with Tasichho Dzong, known as the fortress of the glorious religion. Visit the bustling market, an opportunity to mix with the locals. 

In Punakha, stay at the luxurious Dhensa Boutique Resort, which sits in lush Punakha Valley and offers spectacular views. Visit the winter residence of the monk body that is also the capital of Bhutan – Punakha Dzong and can walk to Chimi Lhakhang temple and admire the magnificent views over the Losesa Valley. 

At the Dochula Pass, participate in a prayer flag hoisting ceremony, an integral part of Bhutanese landscape. It is believed that when prayer flags flutter, they carry a blessing to everyone around. 

Luxury Gold is bringing back the golden era of travel with the launch of their worldwide collection by offering a 10% Early Payment Discount if you book and pay in full by December 18, 2019.

For reservations, contact your local Travel Advisor, call 1-888-428-1503, or visit www.luxurygold.com.

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Luxury Gold Features Discounts on Air, Tours for Early Bookings to Europe and Beyond

Tour the sun-kissed vineyards of Tuscany on Luxury Gold’s Ultimate Italy journey.

From now until Nov. 8, Luxury Gold is offering exclusive air offers on journeys to Europe and Egypt and receive $150 off per person on economy, $200 off per person on premium economy and $300 off per person on business class with American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia. These are valid for departure periods from now to May 31, 2020, and Sept. 1, 2020 to Nov. 15, 2020. 

In addition to the air offer, guests can receive a 10% Early Payment Discount on trips to Europe if they book and pay in full by December 18, 2019.

Now is the perfect time for travelers to get the best deals possible with the biggest choice of journeys and departure dates.

On Luxury Gold’s journeys to Europe and Egypt, travelers will open their minds to the luxuries of exceptional Michelin-star dining, VIP experiences, small group travel and top-notch hotels. From dining at critically acclaimed restaurants, to meeting important locals, to going behind-the-scenes to iconic sites and much more, Luxury Gold offers enriching and authentic experiences in small groups. 

Travelers can explore Europe and Egypt in exquisite luxury on these journeys and more:

Ultimate Italy (12-days): Travelers will delve into the marvelous country of Italy on this classic and romantic journey. In the Eternal City of Rome, guests will have VIP access to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel with an expert guide to marvel at the timeless Papal art collection. In Tuscany, guests will delight in a tasting of rare Super Tuscan wines in the underground cellar of Machiavelli’s home before enjoying a light Farm-to-Table lunch. In Venice, they’ll discover the secrets of the Venetian Republic on a private evening tour of the Doge’s Palace with a local expert. Along the way at the Isle of Capri, they’ll take in exclusive views of the Gulf of Naples from the privileged perch of Michelin-starred Mammà, enjoy a private cruise around the island to see its hidden coves and grottos, and admire the famous Faraglioni Rocks from the gardens of Caesar Augustus. For an immersive experience, guests will meet Marta at her artisanal workshop in Perugia, to discover the medieval tradition of loom-weaving and how it is being preserved by the TreadRight Foundation grant.

New Journey – Elegance of the Pharaohs (10 days):Guests will begin this extraordinary journey to this enchanting land of the Pharaohs in Cairo at the luxurious Mena House Hotel with guaranteed Pyramid-view rooms. They will join an expert Egyptologist and venture inside the Great Pyramids and admire the mysterious Great Sphinx. Guests will also explore the renowned Egyptian Museum with its ancient treasures including priceless artifacts from the Tomb of Tutankhamun. The adventure continues with guests traveling onwards to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luxor to embark on a five-day cruise on the most luxurious ship on the Nile, the River Tosca with its beautifully appointed all-suite rooms. They will unwind with an onboard gala reception and dinner. They will also enjoy exclusive VIP Experiences including a visit the Temple of Luxor after it has been closed to the public. One of the Journey Highlights includes traveling to a Nubian village and meeting a local family in their traditional dwelling where they will demonstrate regional bread-making process. They will follow in the footsteps of Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill as they experience a colonial English-style high tea at Aswan’s Old Cataract Hotel’s terrace during sunset

Harmony of Central Europe (13 days): Take a journey into the past, with our showcase of the grandest and most opulent cities of old Europe. From Prague to Budapest, guests will marvel at the spirit of former empires and regal grandeur. They’ll walk in the footsteps of six-year-old Mozart at an after-hours visit to the baroque Schönbrunn Palace, indulge with dinner at one of Vienna’s amazing Michelin-starred restaurants, and enjoy a private sparkling wine cruise on the glittering River Danube. Along the way, guests will witness a private recital of Chopin’s classic works, taste fine wines and stay in stately hotels. On select Chairman’s Collection departure dates guests will have the pleasure of meeting a descendant of the famous Habsburgs, Princess Anita Von Hohenberg at her home– the beautiful Artstetten Castle. Princess Anita will talk to them about her fascinating life and heritage over an exclusive sparkling wine reception.  

For reservations, call your local travel advisor or visit www.luxurygoldvacations.com.

As global leaders in luxury travel with expertise accumulated over nearly 100 years, Luxury Gold epitomizes extraordinary exploration to some of the world’s most spectacular destinations. To find out more, visit www.luxurygoldvacations.com.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, The TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. Founded by Brett Tollman, Chief Executive, TTC, to date TreadRight has supported more than 40 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. To learn more about our past and current work at TreadRight, visit TreadRight.org.

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Wildland Adventures: 6 Tips to Responsibly Travel to Cherished Destinations Being Loved to Death

Venice is one of the world’s cherished places being loved to death by tourists. Rather than being part of the problem of overcrowding in Venice, Wildland Adventures recommends, take the ferry to the small fishing town of Rovinj, where you are welcomed by locals who take you around in a traditional Batana fishing boat. (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

SEATTLE, WA – Certain places on our planet are getting loved to death. Why and what should responsible travelers do about it? 
 
Not long ago, international travel was the purview of the rich and worldly. Today, however, the middle class enthusiastically travels the globe with bucket lists that concentrate attention on the most popular places in the world (and rightly so). Unfortunately, the byproduct of this increase in travel means that If the original character of these places is not in jeopardy now, it soon will be.
 
Kurt Kutay is founder and president of Wildland Adventures, a travel company that for over 30 years has created opportunities for guests to experience destinations from the inside out. Utilizing the Wild Style of travel, Wildland trips build lasting intercultural, interpersonal and environmental bonds. By impressing sincerity, compassion and understanding at each step of the journey, the aim is to enhance rather than exploit the place and people we’ve come to visit. To this end, Kurt offers 6 Ways to Travel Responsibly in an Age of Over-Tourism.
 
1. Manage Your Expectations and Emotions
As with much of life, aligning expectations with reality is half of the road to happiness. Planning travel is no different in this regard, as you anticipate what you will experience. If we allow preconceived notions of the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu – without crowds — drive our desire to travel halfway around the world to experience these iconic destinations first hand, we may indeed leave disappointed.
 
The proper research will help you to align expectations with reality. Ask many questions, but ask the right questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Most importantly, stay open to the experience before you. It is unknown what lies ahead and that is the magic of travel. Be diligent in letting go of preconceived expectations, they are persistent. Refuse to let them as well as annoyances like crowds distract you from what drew you there in the first place. That’s when the true joy of discovery flows — no matter what it looks like.
 
2. Find a Local Connection
Hire a passionate, local guide help to deepen the travel experience while avoiding the ‘group think’ impact of large tour groups. A good local guide can help skirt the crowds at popular sites and even introduce less-known sites for a unique perspective.
 
For example, a good guide will take you to the Taj Mahal twice, once to get in line before it opens and later in the afternoon before it closes to experience variable lighting. Kutay remembers his last visit, “Instead of passing through the main gates twice, our local guide took us to the Mehatab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) across the Yamuna River, far from the tourist hordes, where we stood arm-in-arm, standing alone and moved to tears by the beautiful silhouette.”
 
3. Rethink Your Bucket List
Discover wonders of the world beyond UNESCO’s at-risk sites or the favorite ports of call of the cruise industry. Instead of the crowded hilltop towns of Tuscany, try the hills of the Istrian peninsula of Slovenia and Croatia. Rather than being part of the problem of overcrowding in Venice, take the ferry to the small fishing town of Rovinj, where you are welcomed by locals who take you around in a traditional Batana fishing boat.
 
4. Timing Is Everything — Spend Time at the Right Place
Plan your day at famous sites carefully and be sure to get the latest information as local conditions and regulations change constantly. The best plan is familiar the world over. In Croatia, plan to tour Dubrovnik before cruise ship passengers disembark, in Cambodia visit Siem Reap before tour buses disgorge, and in Peru arrive at Machu Picchu before the daily trains do. When you finally are where you’ve dreamt of being, follow slow travel principles and linger longer, but in fewer places.
 
5. Pay to Play
A great many worthwhile experiences cost more. Whether a part of a private and exclusive event or of a carefully managed ecotour that limits the number of visitors, the extra dollars spent help to protect fragile habitats and visitor experiences.
 
In Africa, this may look like tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda for which there are limited permits. To protect the experience in some locales for years to come, some safaris are very exclusive and conducted in a private nature reserve like Timbavati in Greater Kruger N.P. In Tanzania, the remote camps of Katavi and Mahale require bush flights to access some of the wildest places on the planet.
 
In South America, the fragile cultural patrimony of the Inca Trail in Peru and delicate balance of nature in the Galapagos Islands are carefully managed by limited permits and fees that control access and provide a source of revenue for critical conservation programs. Advance planning is required to enjoy the privilege of being among the few where limited numbers of permits are allotted.
 
6. Consider Where You Stay
Your choice of accommodations is one of the most important considerations in minimizing impact on the local environs while maximizing the benefits you bring to the local community. Many hotels, camps, ecolodges, yachts and expedition ships are rated for their level of sustainability. They are rated on energy sources, recycling, waste management, water conservation, food sourcing, and other sustainability-focused initiatives. In addition, many are actively involved in nature and wildlife conservation and in educating guests about ecosystems and biodiversity. These accommodations are deeply connected and committed to indigenous culture and the well-being of local communities. The highest rated ecolodges and camps are safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage while delivering the most meaningful guest experiences.
 
Traveling Responsibly Isn’t About Staying Home

The Center for Responsible Tourism asserts that traveling responsibly “…is about managing travel and destinations in an environmentally and culturally responsible way and designing tourism programs and individual trips carefully to provide travelers with the experience they seek, while leaving a positive footprint on their destination.” Destinations are always changing and we have many choices to make when we travel, “but the important thing is to be mindful of our impact on the people and places that give us so much and help others to do the same…and to keep traveling,” says Kutay.
 
For more information on Wildland Adventures’ worldwide offerings, availability and reservations, call 1-800-345-4453 or email info@wildland.com. Visit http://www.wildland.com/.

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Applications Being Accepted for 16th Annual Global Scavenger Hunt, Around-the-World Mystery Tour, Set for April 17-May 9, 2020

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

SANTA ROSA, USA –The 16th annual edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt, known among travel cognoscenti as the world travel championship, is set to take place over 23-days between April 17 and May 9, 2020, is now accepting applications for entry. Eager Indiana Jones-types of adventurers and curious travelers wanting to test their travel IQ against other travelers in an extraordinary around-the-world travel adventure competition that crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers, can apply at GlobalScavengerHunt.com

“Competitions, trophies and titles provide inspiration,” says Event Director William Chalmers, “We want the best international travelers to participate. The 2020 event will find out if travel writers and bloggers know the world as well as they claim to; whether social media influencers and travel agents can go beyond their staged selfies and glossy brochures; and whether some of the world’s ‘most traveled people’ and Amazing Race wannabe’s actually have any real-world travel skills. Winning our event is the ultimate test and proof.” 

The 2020 event will pit 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, like: 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. Trusting strangers in strange lands will be their focus as they circle the globe for three weeks. The event has touched foot in 85 countries to date.

The title of The World’s Greatest Travelers and free trip around the world to defend their titles in the 2021 event await the travelers worthy enough to win the 16th edition of the world travel championship.    

Event participation is open but limited; the $25,000 per team entry fee includes all international airfare, First Class hotels, 40% of meals, and special event travel gear. All travelers are interviewed for suitability and single travelers are welcome to apply. For additional information please visit GlobalScavengerHunt.com, or contact GreatEscape Adventures Inc., at +1.310.281.7809. (CST#2071053-40)

See Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’ and more features on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt at goingplacesfarandnear.com

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London Tour Operator Evan Evans’ Family Friendly Offerings Include Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Royal Windsor Steam Express & Castle Tour

On Evan Evans’ Royal Windsor Steam Express with Castle Tour, travel from Waterloo to Windsor in style onboard the Mayflower, a beautifully restored traditional British steam train from the golden age of rail travel.

LONDON – Evan Evans, one of London’s oldest and largest tour operators, takes the pressure out of where to go and what to do when vacationing with family in London with such magical offerings as a walking tour of Harry Potter film locations, and a trip on the Royal Windsor Steam Express with Castle Tour, traveling  from Waterloo to Windsor in style onboard the Mayflower, a beautifully restored traditional British steam train from the golden age of rail travel. 

A bit of magical realism can be fun for the whole family when you follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous wizard on the enchanting 3-hour Harry Potter Film Locations Walking Tour of London. The magic starts at Westminster tube station and then it’s on to the real-life locations that provided the inspiration for some of the most iconic locations in the wizarding world of the Harry Potter film series.  Visit exciting locations from the film series, including Diagon Alley, Platform 9 3/4s, and discover the inspiration behind the sites, as our expert guide brings the magic to life.  The tour includes Evans Evans’ personal headsets which guarantee a more immersive and intimate experience. Tours start at $25 for children/seniors and $33.75 for adults. 

The Royal Windsor Steam Express with Castle Tour rolls out the red carpet to royalty.  Travel from Waterloo to Windsor in style onboard the Mayflower, a beautifully restored traditional British steam train from the golden age of rail travel. Relax on this fantastic steam train to Windsor and let the romance of steam travel whisk you away to a town steeped in royal heritage.  Windsor Castle is set within 13 acres and boasts more than 1,000 impressive rooms.  Founded in the 11th Century by William the Conqueror, you’ll learn about how Windsor Castle has withstood siege, been used for official entertaining as a royal court by King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and as a home to 39 monarchs, including the UK’s reigning Queen Elizabeth II who enjoys many of her private weekends at the Castle. Unravel the spectacular history of Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world. Enjoy visits to the magnificent State Apartments, Semi-State Rooms, Grand Reception Room, Queen Mary’s Doll House, and beautiful St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in May 2018. Depending on the day and time of your visit, you might be lucky to witness the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. The ceremony sees the guards marching through Windsor town and into the castle for the guard change.  Tours start at $80 for children and $92.50 for adults. In April 2020, families can take the steam train to Windsor and visit the famous LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort on the new Royal Windsor Steam Express with LEGOLAND’ tour. With over 55 rides, live shows and attractions set over 150 acres of parkland plus a fully LEGO themed hotel on site, the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort is a family destination that is not to be missed! 

You can discover over a thousand years of history at England’s most beautiful medieval castles and also visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare and the historic city of Oxford on our Warwick Castle, Shakespeare’s England, Oxford & The Cotswolds tour. Set against the River Avon within 64 acres of landscaped parkland, Warwick Castle once belonged to the most powerful man in England, The Earl of Warwick. This action-packed family attraction has a full program of entertainment throughout the year, such as meeting with figures of Warwick’s historic inhabitants inside the state rooms, including Countess Daisy, young Winston Churchill and many more. Go for a walk on the ramparts and up to the top of the mound where you’ll get a breath-taking view of the castle and grounds. You can also relax in the peacock garden by the Conservatory with the gentle sound of a water fountain and live peacocks walking around you. For a unique history lesson, you can view a trebuchet (a medieval catapult) that fires a rock across the grounds of the Castle. In Stratford-upon-Avon, you’ll visit the 16th-century half-timbered house where Shakespeare was born in 1564 and grew up. Families will enjoy a fascinating insight into tales of his family life and admire rare artefacts on displays from the Shakespeare Trust’s world-class collections. On the tour’s final stop, explore ‘The City of Dreaming Spires,’ and the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford. You’ll enjoy a walking tour with our expert guide, and maybe spot filming locations shot for countless movies and TV series over the years, including the Harry Potter film seriesTour options start at $77.50 per person.

Evan Evans is one of the longest-established and largest sightseeing companies in London, operating since 1933. The company offers a range of tours of Britain, from majestic palaces and castles and quaint country villages to the historic cities of Bath, Oxford and Canterbury.

For more information and reservations, visit www.evanevanstours.com
or call Evan Evans at (0)20-795-0177.

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