Category Archives: Uncategorized

Global Travel Experiences Celebrating International Women’s Day

Embark on a transformative Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler

Celebrated globally this Friday on March 8th, International Women’s Day inspires people around the world to recognize the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women. As the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, the travel and hospitality industry is seeing an influx of female-focused experiences and trips, in addition to more hotels and destinations appealing to female travelers by making every woman feel encouraged and inspired while traveling. In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s some destinations encouraging women to go outside their comfort zone, intriguing new female-only trips, and destinations making a difference by investing in women.

Build Confidence and Learn a New Skill at Las Catalinas in Costa Rica

Travel encourages people to go beyond their comfort zone. Engaging in new experiences and pursuits builds confidence, independence, and opens new horizons. Located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the car-free, seaside town of Las Catalinas is a destination that is ideal for female travelers whether traveling solo or with other women looking to embrace change, go beyond the ordinary and try something new. Access to Las Catalinas is easy with several non-stop, direct flights from cities including Miami, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto and more. Once in town, the self-discovery begins in a welcoming, pedestrian-friendly hardscape that embraces nature – a place that is perfect for learning a new skill or activity with an array of pursuits and activities ideal for a restorative getaway. 

Beach Town Travel, the preferred travel agency in Las Catalinas, can curate an unforgettable stay focusing on soft to extreme adventure ideal for women looking to get outside of their comfort zone. For solo guests or two friends or family traveling together, the stylish boutique Santarena Hotel is in the heart of town offering a convenient base camp in the center of it all. For women traveling in a bigger group, Beach Town Travel can arrange villa accommodations in the Las Catalinas Collection with over 100 lodging accommodations across their three lodging types: BarandaBon Vivant and 229 Las Catalinas. Take advantage of the current 4th night free promotion at both Santarena Hotel and Las Catalinas Collection or any of their other special offers. For the adventurous at heart, guests can learn a new activity and take surfing lessons, horseback riding at La Estancia, scuba diving, mountain biking, paddle boarding or kayaking with Pura Vida Ride, trail running through the tropical dry forest and more. Gather with other like-minded women for meditations, visualizations, forest bathing or take a sound healing journey, yoga class, organic cooking class, ice bath therapy, cold plunge or other wellness-focused activities at Center of Joy, the town’s wellness center. 

The conscious town of Las Catalinas is Costa Rica’s newest desirable beach town inspired by New Urbanist philosophy. The car-free, highly walkable town includes several inns and intimate hotels, shops, restaurants, retail, day spas, pedestrian streets, parks, plazas, and recreational facilities, all located between two of Costa Rica’s loveliest Pacific beaches and 1,000 acres of protected tropical dry forest, which are interlaced with extensive hiking and biking trails. Within the town, the walkable public spaces are interwoven with nature, and the architecture emphasizes indoor-outdoor living and scenic views. Cars are refreshingly absent. For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.

Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler

Embark on a transformative Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler, where curated experiences promise to immerse participants in the untamed beauty of the land of fire and ice. From savoring culinary delights in Reykjavik to rejuvenating at the Sky Lagoon, travelers delve into steaming hot springs and ancient glaciers, culminating in a journey of a lifetime. Guided explorations of Thingvellir National Park, black lava beaches, and private ice climbs reveal the mysteries of Iceland’s landscapes, while retreats at Umi Hotel offer spa experiences amidst breathtaking vistas. From steaming hot springs to ancient glaciers, this exclusive women-only adventure promises an immersive experience in the enchanting landscapes of Iceland.

Naya Traveler extends an invitation for women to experience the extraordinary, where every moment is curated for a lifetime of memories. With rates starting at $1200USD per person per day, inclusive of accommodations, private transfers, and personal local guides, this extraordinary adventure awaits, best experienced between September and early April for a chance to witness the captivating aurora borealis.

Founded in 2016, Naya Traveler offers tailor-made experiential journeys to a curated selection of destinations steeped in ancient traditions and customs. Rooted in first-hand expertise and intimate knowledge, Naya Traveler’s highly personalized itineraries focus on exclusive insider experiences that bring back purpose and value to travel and provide a unique space to discover a destination through the eyes and knowledge of those who know it best. Naya Traveler works with an exceptional group of local hosts and expert guides in each destination, ranging from historians and artists to ethnographers and chefs—all of whom will guide travelers through the threads of a destination’s rich cultural tapestry. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com. 

Ananda in the Himalayas empowers women through the Ananda Spa Foundation

The Ananda Spa Foundation (ASF) was created by award-winning, world-renowned wellness retreat, Ananda in the Himalayas in northern India. The foundation is committed to giving back to the community and promoting women’s empowerment through education and training. By providing women with the tools they need to succeed, the foundation can help create a more inclusive and diverse workforce and make a positive impact on society. ASF is committed to providing a better future for the underprivileged girls of India with the objective of empowering women from lower socio-economic groups. In Uttarakhand, women are the working members of the family and thus the financial backbone of their communities. In support of this cause, Ananda has established India’s first private not-for-profit academy providing fully sponsored training and education for underprivileged women in the field of spa therapy.

The mission of the foundation is to empower women from the community by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to build successful careers in the spa industry. Students receive top-notch training and education in spa therapy, ensuring that they are well-equipped to succeed in this exciting field. Upon completion of the program, the students will be guaranteed job opportunities in reputable hotels and spas, giving them the chance to support their families and live fulfilling lives. Through this initiative, Ananda in the Himalayas has transformed the lives of many girls in the community. For more information, visit here.

Ananda in the Himalayas is a world-renowned holistic wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills in North India, overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh and river Ganges. Located in the former Palace Estate of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal, the retreat spans 100 acres of lush grounds and gardens and surrounded by forested hillside. As the birthplace of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation, this spiritual destination embodies and facilitates wellness and enlightenment. The philosophy of Ananda revolves around Ayurveda, holistic wellness, yoga, meditation, emotional healing, spiritual awareness, and healthy cuisine. The heart of Ananda lies in its 25,000 square foot wellness center, offering beautifully designed therapy rooms with nature views, open-air yoga and meditation pavilions, an outdoor pool, a physiotherapy center, gymnasium, and a comprehensive range of Ayurvedic and international therapies for holistic cleansing of the body, mind, and soul. For more information, visit www.anandaspa.com. 

Bettoja Hotels in Rome Offers Special Women’s Day Package

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Bettoja Hotels is offering a special offer for all stays from March 8th – 10th, 2024 in the Eternal City for a minimum of two people. Book any type of room at the Hotel Mediterraneo or the Hotel Massimo d’Azeglio and guests will receive a 15% discount including breakfast.

For those who wish to taste our Chefs specialties (specializing in Piedmontese cuisine) at the Ristorante Massimo d’Azeglio, guests can enjoy a Mimosa Cocktail with a dedicated menu  created for International Women ‘s Day on March 8th.

Spanning five generations, family-owned and operated Bettoja Hotels’ hotels (Hotel Mediterraneo, Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio, Hotel Atlantico) are located right in the heart of Rome. Within walking distance from historic landmarks including the Colosseum, Opera House, Forum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, the three hotels are the ideal basecamp for embarking on the ultimate Roman holiday. The Stazione Termini, convenient for train excursions to Florence or Naples, is also just a few blocks away. For information, contact [email protected] or www.bettojahotels.it.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com/travel

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

EF Go Ahead Tours Opens Bookings Through 2026 Giving Travelers Unprecedented Lead Time to Plan, Budget Future Travel at Today’s Prices

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon): EF Go Ahead Tours’ Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City are two new ways to see Asia through 2026. The company is offering 2025 and 2026 tours as today’s prices, with ability to pay in installments © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BOSTON — As guided group travel continues to soar in popularity, EF Go Ahead Tours (GAT), a premier provider of culturally immersive and education-based group tours, responds as the first operator to open bookings to all of its tour destinations through 2026. It is the largest and most diverse collection of itineraries to open 35 months in advance. By offering such generous lead time, travelers will realize incredible value by booking future travel at today’s prices. And for ultimate flexibility, EF Go Ahead offers a $99 down AutoPay with payments in manageable monthly installments, one of the few credit and interest-free payment plans in today’s economy.

2023 was an extraordinary year for guided group travel, with all indicators pointing to even stronger future demand through 2025. Based on sales in the last quarter, EF Go Ahead has seen bookings into late 2025 increase by almost 30% compared to 2024 bookings in the same time period last year.  Lead time isn’t the only benefit at EF Go Ahead Tours. The company is also expanding its tour offerings in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, focusing on less-traveled, expertly-vetted gems aimed at embedding travelers into local culture, gastronomy, and traditions.

“It’s not just where people want to go, it’s how they want to travel that defines the future of our industry,” says Heidi Durflinger, President, EF Go Ahead Tours. “People want connection and meaning, so they are choosing guided group travel for these transformative moments. By launching more departure dates than ever before to all of our destinations through 2026 (at 2024 prices), we are enabling travelers to plan for the experiences they desire at a tremendous value.”

EF Go Ahead data supports emerging trends for 2024 travel and beyond:

  • Travelers Are Going Guided for Planning-Intensive Destinations: Based on EF Go Ahead Tours’ recent (November 2023) bookings, trips to both Asia and Africa – two highly desired but not easily accessed destinations—were up 70% in sales compared to November 2022. Looking at the first half of 2024, Thailand and Japan departures are both up 57% compared to the same time in 2023, further underscoring travelers want to access these destinations in a guided group experience. Highlights of Southern Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket & Krabi and Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City are two new ways to see Asia through 2026.
  • More Meaningful, Deeper Dives into Culture, Food, and History are on the Rise: In the last few months, bookings for longer tours continue to see a big increase compared to the same time last year, with a 110% increase in tours lasting more than 16 days. Itineraries with a longer “Grand Tour” lens showcase the many advantages of modern group travel with 12+ days of travel. While these tours are increasingly popular in Asia, Grand Tour of Costa Rica: From the Caribbean to the Pacific is an exciting new itinerary that strikes the perfect balance of gastronomy and adventure and The Greek Ionian Islands: Kefalonia & Corfu with Nafplio & the Athens Riviera Extension offers an insider’s look at the less traveled parts of the Greek Isles.
  • More Opportunities to Connect Through Travel Drives Social Tourism & Solo Tours:  The end of 2023 saw a soaring rate of 380% more solo travelers embarking on solo-only group tours than the previous fall.  EF Go Ahead continues to strengthen its commitment to the “travel solo, but never alone” style bringing its unparalleled collection of solo-only tours up to 18 offerings in 2023.
  • “Peak Season” is Now All Seasons: While “hot” seasons like summer will always be popular in Europe, other seasons are growing at a rapid rate—even to destinations like Italy! “Shoulder Season” and off-season—Oct-April—offers less crowds and temperate weather with more access to local charm. In Oct-Dec. of 2023, EF Go Ahead Tours departed 30% more travelers to Italy than during the same period for 2022. Future shoulder season travel to other parts of the world like Asia, Australia, Latin America & Africa are also on the rise.

Value Oriented: All Reward, No Risk.  
Booking future trips with EF Go Ahead is a win-win. Travelers lock in today’s costs for future travel and through EF Go Ahead’s AutoPay, travelers benefit from one of the few credit and interest-free payment plans available in the current economy. Flexible, fee-free options allow changes to dates and destinations up to the Tour Finalization Date.

Travelers can visit www.goaheadtours.com for more information and to see all available trips. Check out destinations on EF Go Ahead Tours’ Instagram and Facebook.

EF Go Ahead Tours offers more than 175 guided trips across six continents. Each carefully planned, expertly led tour makes it easy for curious travelers of all ages to get to the heart of a destination. With a maximum group size well below the industry average, each trip has the perfect balance of planned sightseeing and free time to explore. EF Go Ahead Tours is a part of EF Education First, the world’s largest international education company that was founded in 1965. With a mission of opening the world through education, EF Education First has 612 offices and schools in 50 countries.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com/travel

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

Priceline: The Costs of Traveling To Watch April’s Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, North America will witness a spectacular celestial event — a total solar eclipse. Priceline is recommending booking travel arrangements well in advance in key locations in the path of totality to ensure the best experience. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On April 8, 2024, North America will witness a spectacular celestial event — a total solar eclipse. This rare phenomenon occurs when the Moon completely obscures the Sun, casting a shadow over Earth and briefly turning day into twilight. 

To help you experience this awe-inspiring event, Priceline, an online travel agency, is providing information about traveling to key locations within the path of totality. Priceline gathered average hotel, flight, and rental car costs for the Eclipse weekend in various U.S. cities.

Priceline is recommending booking travel arrangements well in advance to ensure the best experience.

The Costs of Traveling To Watch The Total Solar Eclipse, According to Priceline:

Total Solar Eclipse Weekend (Saturday, April 6 – Tuesday, April 9)/ Booking Period: 11/19-1/19/2023

Airfare (Average Cost R/T)Hotel (Average Cost Per Night)Rental Car (Average Daily Rate) 
San Antonio, TX:$797$255$128
Austin, TX:$644$294$126
Dallas, TX:$408$216$116
Indianapolis, IN:$506$248$76
Cleveland, OH:$456$204$97
Buffalo, NY:$845$329$105
Shreveport, LA:$450$122$43

Insights from The Total Solar Eclipse 2024 Data, According to Priceline: 

  • Variability in Accommodation Costs: There’s a significant variation in hotel prices across different cities, with some like Buffalo ($329/night) and Austin ($294/night) on the higher end and others like Shreveport, LA ($122/night) more affordable. This indicates a diverse range of accommodation options for eclipse travelers.
    • Premium Pricing in Prime Viewing Locations: Cities like Buffalo, NY, and San Antonio, TX, which presumably offer prime viewing spots for the eclipse, have notably higher travel costs. This suggests a premium pricing trend in locations considered ideal for eclipse viewing.
    • Economic Opportunity for Varied Destinations: Cities like Dallas, TX, and Indianapolis, IN, with relatively lower costs, might emerge as popular alternatives for eclipse watchers, indicating an opportunity for these cities to attract tourists priced out of more expensive locations.
    • Surge in Road Travel to Eclipse Locations: The demand for rental cars, especially in cities with higher daily rates, suggests that many eclipse enthusiasts might be planning road trips,

Insights Comparing Travel Period 2024 To The Same Period in 2023, According to Priceline:  

  • Eclipse-Driven Demand Surge: The total solar eclipse is creating a significant spike in travel demand, evidenced by over 2000% more searches for flights to Indianapolis and 8000% more for Buffalo hotels compared to the same period in 2023.
    • Differential Pricing Trends: Cities like Austin are experiencing dramatic price fluctuations concerning the eclipse, with airfares more than doubling during the event but then decreasing by 30% afterward, indicating dynamic pricing strategies in response to event-driven demand.
    • Varied Travel Costs Across Cities: The eclipse impacts travel costs differently across cities, with some like San Antonio and Buffalo seeing high airfares and hotel rates, while others like Shreveport offer more budget-friendly options.
    • Rental Car Demand Peak: There’s a noticeable trend of increased rental car demand in eclipse viewing areas, with a 1500% increase in searches for rental cars in Cleveland, highlighting the preference for road travel to view the eclipse.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com/travel

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeaturesTwitter: @TravelFeatures 

Japan’s Top Chefs Unite to Support Earthquake Victims in Ishikawa Prefecture

The “Hokuriku Charity Restaurant” continues to elevate their efforts to aid locals in need who are recovering in the aftermath of the recent earthquake that impacted areas within the Ishikawa Prefecture. The charity initiative is led by chefs from celebrated eateries  Makinonci and Remref in Kanazawa, and also includes members from various renowned restaurants in the Hokuriku area, including the one-Michelin Star French restaurant, L’Atelier de NOTO and top Japanese eatery Ipponsugi Kawashima.

The celebrated chefs within the initiative take turns traveling through the areas that have been most heavily impacted, with a mission to provide meals to the local communities as they face the long road to recovery. Setting up local kitchens onsite, the chefs dish out hot, delicious meals at a pace of 700-800 per day in some areas in line with their fierce solidarity and loyalty to their regions.

Although Noto-based chef members from Bossom and Villa Della were personally, extremely affected by the extreme damage, they prefer to focus on the greater good and are actively cooking and feeding those in need.

Though meals are flowing, many supplies are still in need so the initiative is also seeking donations to help locals rebuild their lives.

The group launched in 2016, in effort to assist communities in need that faced devastation from the earthquakes in Kumamoto and will continue their initiatives of support throughout this recovery period.

For more information, visit  https://www.instagram.com/p/C1y5zylJRpd/ and for info on Ishikawa Tourism, visit www.ishikawatravel.jp.en

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com/travel

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures

Leading Tour Companies Have Short-Term Sale on Bucket-List Itineraries

Fes, Morocco: Select itineraries from global guided vacation company, Trafalgar, are 15-20% off through February 15, 2024.Travelers can save 20% on top itineraries such as the 10-day Best of Morocco itinerary with visits to Casablanca, Marrakesh and Fes. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Intrepid travelers looking to save big on 2024 bucket-list travel need look no further than tour companies Trafalgar, Contiki, Costsaver, Insight Vacations and Brendan Vacations. These travel brands are offering discounts on itineraries across the world, from Italy to New Zealand to Morocco, but only for a few weeks.

Contiki: Contiki, the social travel company for 18-35 year olds is offering epic savings on a variety of trips. Travelers can get a taste of cobblestone streets and delicious cuisine with the staple European Explorer at 25% off or witness exotic wildlife from penguins to hippos and wildebeests on the new Sea, Safari, South Africa at 15% off. Anyone looking to do some island hopping in the new year can save 20% on the Thai Island Hoping East itinerary or set out on a USA Road Trip and save 20%. The Big Social Sale is available on a selection of itineraries through Jan. 31, 2024.

Brendan Vacations: Celtic travel expert, Brendan Vacations is offering guests up to 20% off all guided trips for 2024 including the Best of Scotlandand Iconic Ireland and Ashford Castle itineraries. Travelers interested in independent, fully customizable itineraries can save $200 off pp on Self Drive and Locally Hosted Rail experiences, and $250 off pp Private Chauffeur and Lux Self Drive experiences. The Brendan Vacations sale runs through February 15, 2024.

Trafalgar: Select itineraries from global guided vacation company, Trafalgar, are 15-20% off through February 15, 2024. Travelers can save 20% on top itineraries such as the 10-day Best of Morocco itinerary with visits to Casablanca, Fes and Marrakesh. Or Western Discovery, a new itinerary for 2024 that travels across California, Nevada and Arizona over the course of two weeks with visits to the Grand Canyon, Balboa Park, Yosemite National Park, Monterey and more.

Insight Vacations: Premium tour company Insight Vacations is offering 15-20% off select itineraries across the globe through February 15, 2024. Travelers can save 20% and spend two weeks exploring the stunning architecture and rich culture of Hungary, Austria and Poland on Highlights of Eastern Europe. Or save 18% off on Italian Intermezzo and venture throughout Italy from Milan to Rome with stops in the lakes district, Venice, Florence and more.

Costsaver: Travelers can make the most of their adventure Costsaver, the tour company that allows travelers to tailor their travel experience to suit their travel needs. The brand is offering 15-20% off select itineraries across the globe through February 15, 2024. Save 20% off Highlights of Scandinavia and explore the beauty and history of the North in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Or check out and save 20% on Best of Colorado a new itinerary for 2024 that ventures to Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver, Vail, Colorado Springs and more.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com/travel

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

Road Scholar Kicks off 50th Anniversary with ‘Great Global Giveaway’ Contest

Road Scholar, the nonprofit that is a world leader in educational travel for older adults, is having an early kick-off of their 50th anniversary celebration with a contest called the “Great Global Giveaway.”Seven lucky winners will win one of seven educational adventures to seven continents, complete with airfare for two people – among them, a trip to Banff, Canada © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Boston, Mass. — Road Scholar, the nonprofit that is a world leader in educational travel for older adults, is having an early kick-off of their 50th anniversary celebration with a contest called the “Great Global Giveaway.” Seven lucky winners will win one of seven educational adventures to seven continents, complete with airfare for two people. These seven trips, like all the programs Road Scholar offers, will have an emphasis on learning about the destination the winners are visiting through educational content and immersive experiences.

The seven winners will be drawn from a list of all or Road Scholar’s subscribers, including those already on their mailing list and anyone who signs up in 2024. To enter, starting January 1, 2024, and continuing throughout the year, anyone who’s not already on the Road Scholar mailing list can sign up at www.roadscholar.org/enter. Subscribers can also earn extra chances to win by referring friends who aren’t already on Road Scholar’s mailing list online at www.roadscholar.org/friend. Each friend referral provides another chance to win.

The Great Global Giveaway culminates in January 2025 when the winners will find a golden ticket on page 50 of Road Scholar’s January catalog. Winners will also be notified directly by phone or email so they’re sure not to miss the good news. The seven trips include:

  • Africa | African Safari: A Close-up on Wildlife
  • Antarctica | “Land Ho!” Icebergs and Penguins in Otherworldly Antarctica
  • Asia | The People of the Mekong: Vietnam, Cambodia and Angkor Wat
  • Australia | Discover a Land Down Under: Melbourne, Adelaide & Sydney
  • Europe | French Art Voyage: Paris, the Rhône and the French Riviera
  • North America | The Best of the Grand Tetons to Banff: Iconic National Parks
  • South America | South American Odyssey: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu & More

“With more people than ever wanting to find meaningful experiences by studying abroad, we couldn’t think of a better way to stir excitement than to give away trips to all seven continents,” said Maeve Hartney, Chief Program Officer of Road Scholar. “The Great Global Giveaway celebrates our 50th anniversary in 2025 and our legacy of helping older adults find the joy of learning and exploration with friends old and new. Road Scholar has always been about active learning and fostering a love for adventure, and the Great Global Giveaway embodies that spirit,” she said. 

In addition to the Great Global Giveaway, Road Scholar wants to hear the stories of its participants over the last half-century. “For nearly 50 years, six million Road Scholar participants have experienced the joys of learning and travelling with us,” said Hartney. “We’re gathering 50 of the most heart-warming, poignant, charming and funny stories from the Road Scholar community.” Past Road Scholar travelers are encouraged to share a story about their travels with Road Scholar have impacted them at www.roadscholar.org/story

For more information about Road Scholar’s Great Global Giveaway, visit www.roadscholar.org/enter.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, not-for-profit Road Scholar is one of the world’s largest and most innovative creators of experiential learning opportunities. Founded in 1975 as Elderhostel and rebranding as Road Scholar in 2010, the tour company serves 80,000-100,000 lifelong learners annually. Programs combine travel and education to provide experiential learning opportunities featuring an extraordinary range of topics, formats and locations in more than 100 countries and throughout the United States. Alongside renowned experts, participants experience in-depth and behind-the-scenes learning opportunities by land and by sea on educational travel adventures designed for boomers and beyond. Road Scholar is a diverse community of knowledge seekers and explorers, united in the belief that lifelong learning is a vital part of overall wellbeing. For more information, visit www.roadscholar.org.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/KarenBRubin

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

Early Bird Registration for TD Five Boro Bike Tour Jan. 3-13

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is largest charity ride in the world, with some 32,000 who thrill to bike 40 miles of New York City streets turned into car-free bike lanes while supporting Bike New York’s mission to transform the city through cycling © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Registration is opening Jan. 3 for early bird fees for Bike New York’s Five Boro Bike Tour taking place May 5, 2024. Regular fees go into effect Jan. 14.

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is largest charity ride in the world, with some 32,000 who thrill to bike 40 miles of New York City streets turned into car-free bike lanes while supporting Bike New York’s mission to transform the city through cycling.

Standard (Adult & Youth) Early Bird Pricing:

Standard registration for adults and youths costs $134 (plus processing fees), $29 of which is a tax-deductible charitable donation to Bike New York to help fund free bike education, advocacy, and community outreach programming. Standard registration includes:

  • Rider Identification Kit (helmet cover, bib & bike plate) – this is your key to enter and participate in the Tour
  • Snacks and entertainment at rest areas along the route
  • Fully supported route with additional water stops
  • Access to free bike repair along the route provided by Trek
  • Access to SAG (Support and Gear) vehicles
  • Entry to the Finish Festival on Staten Island
  • Special edition finisher medal
  • Digital finisher certificate

Note: Early bird pricing ends at 11:59PM on Saturday, January 13.

Standard pricing, effective Sunday, January 14: $139.00

Bike New York Member Early Bird Pricing:

Bike New York Members get early bird pricing too: $134 (plus processing fees), $29 of which is a tax-deductible charitable donation to Bike New York to help fund free bike education, advocacy, and community outreach programming.

If you aren’t a Member yet, you may purchase a membership during registration.

Bike New York Member registration includes:

  • All standard registration perks
  • Guaranteed placement in Wave 1 Standard wave
  • All the other benefits of being a Bike New Yorker!

Note: Early bird pricing ends at 11:59PM on Saturday, January 13.

Member pricing, effective Sunday, January 14: $139

VIP (Adult & Youth)

VIP registration for adults and youths costs $400 (plus processing fees), $84 of which is a tax-deductible charitable donation to Bike New York to help fund free bike education, advocacy, and community outreach programming. VIP registration includes:

  • All standard registration perks
  • Guaranteed placement in the first start wave
  • Choice of two limited-edition TD Five Boro Bike Tour jerseys produced by Primal Wear
  • Custom, limited-edition Tour-branded Manhattan Portage bag
  • Breakfast and entertainment at the Start
  • Timed climb over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge
  • Access to exclusive VIP lounge and gourmet lunch at the Finish Festival

Charity

The cost of charity registration depends on your selected charity. Charity registration includes:

  • All standard registration perks
  • Guaranteed placement in the first start wave
  • Breakfast at the Start
  • Lunch at the Finish Festival
  • The satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped further the cause of Bike New York and your chosen charity
  • Whatever other perks are offered by your selected charity

To get started, visit https://bikenewyork.enmotive.com/users/login

More information at https://www.bike.nyc/, [email protected]

See:

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS: TD FIVE BORO BIKE TOUR RETURNS TO 40 CAR-LESS MILES OF NYC STREETS WITH 32,000 RIDERS

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

GeoCultura Unveils New Lineup of Tours for Curious Travelers for 2024

GeoCultura’s Irelands Wild Atlantic Way Tour traces the route to the Cliffs of Moher.

With the promise of new beginnings and a new year, GeoCultura has unveiled its fascinating lineup of expert-led small-group tours for the curious traveler in 2024. Offering discovery and immersion, these tours promise an enriching exploration of the world’s most fascinating landscapes, guided by experts in local geology, history, and culture, while staying in deluxe accommodations and centuries-old inns and experiencing culinary handpicked restaurants. 

Treasures of Southern England: London, Bath, and the Jurassic Coast Embark on a character-packed journey through Southern England’s most striking places with the Treasures of Southern England tour. Uncover the layers of history in Bath, wander the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle at Avebury Ring, and explore the fossil-rich Jurassic Coast. Peek behind the scenes of historic abbeys and cathedrals. Dates: May 6 – May 11, and September 15 – September 20. (Treasures of Southern England: London , Bath and the Jurassic Coast)

Journey to the Misty Isle: Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye Immerse yourself in the legends, landscapes, and rich history of Scotland on this exhilarating tour. Travel from Edinburgh to Inverness, then over the sea to the enchanting Isle of Skye.  Explore dramatic lochs and whisky distilleries. Live the stories and traditions of Scotland in the company of local guides. Dates: April 29 – May 5 and August 8 – August 14. (Journey to the Misty Isle: Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye) 

Scotland and the Isle of Skye: Landscapes and Photography Tour is geared for photography enthusiasts to capture the incredible mountains, lochs, and coastlines of the Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands. Join award-winning professional photographer Alex Hare on a small group tour, where, you’ll gain technical and creative tips, tailored to all skill levels, and learn the ‘read’ the landscapes. Dates: Sept 17- Sept 23 (Scotland and the Isle of Skye: Landscapes and Photography Tour) 

Irelands Wild Atlantic Way Tour is a captivating seven-day journey along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, tracing the route from Galway Bay to the Cliffs of Moher. Delve into the rich tapestry of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, guided by experts who unravel the deep-time origins of West Ireland. Explore renowned landmarks, traverse the geopark’s highest peaks, and sail to an Iron Age fort on the Aran Islands. The Wild Honey Inn in the Burren Geopark offers a Michelin-starred experience but as the Chef Patron says: “where the service is proper, whilst having a relaxed and unfussy feel, and what’s on your plate depends on the seasons. Over four days, discover the geopark’s geological and cultural evolution, visiting landmarks like Dun Aonghasa, Poulnabrone Dolmen, and the iconic Cliffs of Moher. September 1-7, 2024 (Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

GeoCultura’s small group tours range from two nights and three days to six nights and seven days, and every tour is filled with stories that show how the earth, the land, and the people connect to bring us to where we are today. GeoCultura offers this new and exciting approach with trips to explore the world’s most important landscapes and geology and to hear fascinating stories linking them to local history. The tours have the benefit of being led by expert earth scientists working together with local historians and regional tourist guides. The aim is to immerse participants in the local culture and its origins, as well as enjoying the local cuisine. The tours provide an irresistible combination of awe-inspiring scenery, great company, and superb guides.

 GeoCultura can also customize fully guided, partially guided, or self-guided trips with just friends, family, or colleagues. 

Additional information can be found at www.geoculturaworld.com, Call: +44 2081 451011 or +1 713 400 6326.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/KarenBRubin

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

Kanazawa Japan: Center for Ski Spa, Gold Leaf Art

Kanazawa, which means “gold marsh,” has long been hailed as the pinnacle of gold leaf production dating back centuries. Tiffany & Company Japan, in partnership with the World Monuments Foundation continues their journey to foster preservation of Kanazawa’s celebrated gold leaf art scene

Japan’s Kanazawa region has the distinction of being both a center for Ski Spa, as well as ancient gold leaf art.

The Ski Spa concept is red hot in Japan’s Kanazawa region with travelers from around the world hitting the slopes and the thermal soothing waters for well deserved relaxation and healing properties. This region in the southern part of Ishikawa is defined by its geothermal hot springs, renowned for their healing powers that are said to improve digestion, skin conditions and muscle pain. Ski resorts on the outskirts of Kanazawa have become wildly popular not only due to their proximity to this artful, culturally immersive city but also due to the impressive hybrid experience of thrilling skiing plus soothing spa relaxation in incredibly unique settings. Notable areas include:

*Hakusan Ichirino Ski Resort: The largest slope in Ishikawa with easy access from Kanazawa, equipped with ski school and full rentals, traditional style ryokan for overnights and a selection of onsen baths for public or private usage including Japanese cypress bathing room and stone open-air hot spring, soothing scenario after a full day of skiing or snowboarding. The gondola ride is a special highlight, providing a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding mountains

*Kawachisenjo Onsen Kanazawa Seymour Resort: 3 lifts suitable for intermediate and advanced levels, 2395 ft of vertical range and 7 trails plus onsen baths avvailable for public or private usage.

Tiffany & Co. Japan partners with World Monuments Foundation to Foster Kanazawa’s Gold Leaf Art

Kanazawa is also a center for arts

Tiffany & Company Japan, in partnership with the World Monuments Foundation continues their journey to foster preservation of Kanazawa’s celebrated gold leaf art scene with a fresh 3 year initiative that focuses on maintaining the art and passing it on to future generations. The iconic brand proudly launched the “Kanazawa Entsuke Gold Leaf Manufacturing” training program for craftsman with a view to passing this intricate technique on to the next generation of artisans. The average age of celebrated craftsman is 70, hence the overarching goal to focus on preservation and education to emerging younger artisans.

Kanazawa, whose translation means “gold marsh” has long been hailed as the pinnacle of gold leaf production dating back centuries. Today, artisans continue to create exquisite blends that are highly labor intensive, using only the finest material and locally sourced materials. The Ensuke technique refers to framed pieces that are derived from a special gold-beating process to transform the leaf to wafer-thin paper sheets that are down to 1/10th of a millimeter. The painstakingly arduous process of maintaining them intact is an art unto itself, and the sheets are then either bound together for books or used as exquisite décor for lacquerware, statues and shrines.

Tiffany & Co.’s new initiative is centered around the preservation of this traditional craft as was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2020. Together in partnership with Kanazawa City, the Ishikawa Prefecture, the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Kanazawa Gold Leaf Traditional Techniques Production Society, 8 hand-selected skilled trainees who have gone through rigorous apprenticeship will continue to be guided.

The Tiffany Foundation has long been an avid supporter of WMF’s projects in Japan centered around restoration and preservation of traditional techniques that carry its heritage stories forward.

For more information Ishikawa’s tourism opportunities, visit https://www.ishikawatravel.jp/en/

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/KarenBRubin

Twitter: @TravelFeatures 

First Phase of 34-Mile Adirondack Rail Trail Completed

Construction on the first phase of the Adirondack Rail Trail, 10 miles of what will be a 34-mile, multi-use recreational corridor for outdoor adventurers between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, has been completed © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Construction on the first phase of the Adirondack Rail Trail, 10 miles of what will be a 34-mile, multi-use recreational corridor for outdoor adventurers between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, has been completed, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced.

The first of three construction phases converted the former railbed along the Lake Placid to Saranac Lake segment of the corridor into a world-class shared-use path that when complete, will be open all year, free of charge, for hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobile enthusiasts. 

To protect public safety, access to the Lake Placid to Saranac Lake segment was restricted during active construction. The public is now allowed in this segment of the corridor; snowmobile access through the entire 34-mile Adirondack Rail Trail begins on Dec. 10, 2023.

“The Adirondacks provide some of the most beautiful natural landscapes and resources in the world alongside scenic communities ready to welcome visitors,” Governor Hochul said“Today’s milestone is a step towards realizing the vision of the Adirondack Rail Trail and I look forward to the project’s ongoing progress that will bring year-round enjoyment to Rail Trail users and boost local economies.”

Upon completion of all three phases of construction, the Adirondack Rail Trail will connect the communities of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. The route will provide visitors with the opportunity to enjoy the unique charm and amenities of each community while providing access to miles of breathtaking trails, numerous campsites and abundant waterways in the Forest Preserve lands adjacent to the corridor. Along the Rail Trail, interpretive signage will help visitors learn about the history of the railway, cultures of adjacent communities and surrounding lands and waters.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Office of General Services (OGS) awarded Kubricky Construction Corp. of Wilton, Saratoga County, the $7.9-million contract for the first phase of construction. The contract is funded by NY Works, with an additional $225,000 supported by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund for construction oversight and inspections. The first phase of construction began at Station Street in Lake Placid, just west of the Lake Placid Depot, and ended just past the Saranac Lake Depot near the intersection of Cedar Street and Route 86, totaling 9.9 miles. In October, DEC announced a Request for Information (RFI) to submit ideas and plans for use and public access to the historic Saranac Lake Depot building on the Adirondack Rail Trail in the village of Saranac Lake. DEC is reviewing submissions before issuing a formal Request for Proposals. The RFI closed to public submissions on Nov. 3, 2023.

“The Adirondack Rail Trail is well on its way to becoming a prime destination in the Adirondacks, connecting New Yorkers to nature and attracting visitors to the region’s wide-ranging, multi-seasonal opportunities for recreation,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Today’s milestone marks the completion of the first phase of the Rail Trail’s construction and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the sustained efforts of the State, federal, Indian Nation, and local partners working together advance this regional asset from concept to reality.”

The initial phase of construction also included work on expanded parking options in Tupper Lake and the removal of additional rails around the Saranac Lake Depot. Construction of the second phase of the trail, including the Saranac Lake to Floodwood segment, began in 2023 and will pause for the winter. This phase is expected to be completed in late 2024. The final phase of construction from Floodwood to Tupper Lake is expected to begin in 2024, pause for winter and conclude in 2025. The Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake trail segments were open to interim recreation throughout the first phase of construction. OGS will continue to oversee trail design and construction throughout all three phases.

The project is part of DEC’s strategic investments through the Adventure NY Initiative to enhance public access to State lands and facilities and connect people with nature and the outdoors. The trail is designed to be accessible by people of all abilities to the maximum extent practicable. Most of the trail surface will consist of compacted crushed stone. The trail will be paved in select areas within the village of Saranac Lake and on small sections of trail over bridges. 

Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said,“The OGS team is proud to have worked in partnership with the DEC and DOT to fulfill Governor Hochul’s commitment to creating a recreational rail trail that would allow residents and visitors to experience the scenic Adirondacks and its local communities with ease. As we celebrate the completion of the trail’s first phase today, we also stand committed to fully realizing the Governor’s vision of a world-class, multiple-use, year-round, and accessible trail connecting Lake Placid to Tupper Lake.”

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The New York State Department of Transportation is proud of the role we played in the beginning phases of construction on the Adirondack Rail Trail, clearing old tracks and laying the foundation for a new chapter of recreation in the Adirondack Park. This multi-purpose trail will allow residents and tourists alike to enjoy the natural beauty and majesty of the Adirondacks year-round in a sustainable way. Thank you to Governor Hochul and our partners at DEC and OGS for supporting this project from the beginning and for the work that went into making this first phase of the Adirondack Rail Trail a reality.”

“Completion of the first phase of the Adirondack Rail Trail is welcome news for our region. Investments and enhancements such as this are crucial to helping our region continue to develop,” State Senator Dan Stec said. “Once all three phases are completed, the trail will be a vital part of the North Country economy and provide another unique outdoor recreational activity for residents and visitors alike.”

“The Adirondack Rail Trail is a testament to New York’s commitment in showcasing how we can maintain the pristine character of our natural environmental resources while developing the capacity of them to serve as world class outdoor recreational assets,” Assemblymember Matthew Simpson said. “With the Stage 1 now complete, the reality of this vision coming to fruition is cause for true celebration. I applaud Governor Hochul and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos for their ongoing support of this project and offer a tip of the cap to the men and women who had a hand in the physical construction of this great project.”

Work to transform the trail started in October 2020 when the State Department of Transportation (DOT) worked to remove rail infrastructure from the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment of the corridor. In March 2022, DEC and DOT announced the transfer of jurisdiction to DEC, marking the formal completion of the rail removal phase and the start of the formal trail design and construction phase. With the transfer of jurisdiction, DEC assumed management of public safety and recreational activities, as well as maintenance, along this segment of the corridor. 

Upon completion of construction, DEC will assume day-to-day management of the trail, working closely with stakeholders and municipalities. Up-to-date information on corridor conditions, phases of construction, guidance on interim recreation, and a public use map are available on DEC’s Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor webpage. Additional details about the 2020 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan Amendment/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement are also available on DEC’s website.

More information at https://www.dec.ny.gov/places/adirondack-rail-trail.

For more travel features, visit:

goingplacesfarandnear.com

Going Places @ theisland360.com

goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com

moralcompasstravel.info

www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin

travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/

goingplacesfarandnear.tumblr.com/

instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near/

instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/

‘Like’ us on facebook.com/KarenBRubin

Twitter: @TravelFeatures