Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Did you see on my social channels that Tuesday was National Plan For Vacation Day? Yes, it’s an official thing, and as I posted on LinkedIn there are some interesting stats about attitudes relating to travel in 2021:
69% of people see a change in scenery as a top travel priority in 2021, and 55% prioritize seeing destinations on their bucket list (AKA Wanderlist). These stats are from the Institute for Applied Positive Research.
How do you feel? Are you thinking about a vacation later this year and waiting to start the planning process? The time to plan is now especially if you’re hoping for a vacation in the US in peak travel season. As soon as travel beyond our borders reopens in earnest, there will be a flood of interest and bookings. Luckily, I’m here to help you navigate the waters!
I hope you enjoyed this January’s newsletters filled with inspiration about what’s new in travel! We covered:
- How you can create your Wanderlist.
- How a wellness vacation will help you reset and recharge.
- Two new ocean cruise lines and a variety of options for vacationing on or near the water.
- An innovative new program for exploring your heritage.
This final week of the month, we’ll be talking about travel styles – some of which will may be new to you. Do you know your travel style?
Read on for the scoop…
What’s a travel style?
A travel style is a preferred way of traveling. There’s no right or wrong travel style – it’s all good! I find that people tend to have a comfort zone travel style.
Here are some thought-provoking questions to ask yourself:
- How comfortable am I with navigating in a foreign place on my own?
- How social are am I/my family members and/or travel partners?
- Do I like to be on or near the water?
- Do I prefer that the majority of my itinerary be planned in advance or would I rather to figure it out as I travel?
- How do I feel when something unexpected (in a not so good way) happens during a vacation?
- Have my opinions on these choices changed over time and if so why?
Despite your preferences, I encourage you to try out different travel styles to appreciate the differences.
FIT = Fully Independent Travel
Fully Independent Travel (or FIT) is for people who prefer to explore by themselves on an individual itinerary either through their own DIY process or working with a travel advisor like me.
What FIT travelers prefer is the ability to explore on their own through a custom designed itinerary at their own pace. Think a week in Rome where you visit a new museum or historical site each day, maybe take an organized tour or two, and eat at different dining venues of your choice. There is always the option of changing up the itinerary as you go.
A main challenge with FIT is that navigating in a new destination is placed squarely on the traveler. They are on their own when using mass transportation or driving on foreign roads in a rental car. For some people, this a fun and part of the adventure; for others it’s stressful.
Another consideration with FIT is these trips can end up being more expensive than expected when you add everything up at the end. Working with a travel advisor is very helpful with planning an FIT trip from a cost perspective (we will work hard to find you the best value for your money). Also, we have connections and insider access. And if you run into a snag, we serve as back up support for when you need it.
When you hear the term escorted tour, you might think of a coach bus packed with tourists wearing binoculars and floral shirts 😊. In reality, escorted tours come in a variety of different styles including size, level of luxury, amount of flexibility, and focus.
As a professional travel advisor, I work with some top-notch escorted tour companies. They treat my clients like VIPs, and our close working relationship makes a big difference in my client’s overall experience.
For example, I work closely G Adventures who allow my clients to “book your bubble” and fill a tour with their social or family group. Their tour guides are well-trained locals who ensure a high level of cultural immersion.
Luxury Gold is geared to travelers looking for a 5-star escorted tour experience. Their guests stay in the finest hotels, have the benefit of a concierge level benefits, and offer special experiences like private, off-hours tours.
Escorted tours can be ideal for families, couples, and solo travelers. I highly recommend considering this option when planning a trip to an unfamiliar destination. Like everything else in travel, there are many choices, but you can rely on me to help you choose the best for you.
Note – if you’re a solo traveler, there are travel suppliers that won’t charge you a large single supplement. Solo travel is becoming increasingly popular, and the options are growing!
In my newsletter two weeks ago, I reviewed the different types of cruises and explained how varied the options are. If you missed it, here’s the link: https://hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/vacation-on-and-near-the-water/
If you’ve never taken a cruise vacation (ocean, river, expedition, yacht) and are interested in the experience when the ships are sailing again, I highly recommend a few lines to first time cruisers.
One of those cruise lines was in the news last week. Azamara was sold by Royal Caribbean International to a private equity firm. I think this news is good, because Azamara was rather lost under the big umbrella that’s RCI. In fact, just Monday they announced that they are adding another smaller ship to their fleet, which will make four ships with a capacity under 700 passengers.
Azamara is a fantastic option for first-time ocean cruisers. What sets them apart is their focus on the destination and the longer time spent in each port. The onboard environment is “country club casual” so still a lovely floating hotel. Added bonus – there’s a high level of inclusions so you don’t feel nickel and dimed at every turn.
Note: Do you feel closer to being able to answer the question, “Do you know your travel style?” or have a clear-cut preferred way to travel? Or does a combination appeal to you now that you have more information? Follow my Facebook page (or Instagram) this week for more travel style inspiration: www.facebook.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting.
If after reading this newsletter you’re wondering if a combination of FIT, escorted tour, and/or cruise, can be arranged, the answer is yes! Covering the wide variety of options is a newsletter of its own. A couple of interesting examples are below.
I work with a program called Monograms which allows you to travel FIT, independently, but with expert in-destination support. You have a local host who provides expert guidance and allows you to maximize very moment of your vacation. Whether you’re in Chile or France, getting lost or walking in circles won’t drag you down.
Another example of a combination travel style is a cruise or train trip with a pre- or post-experience. I’m very intrigued by a new train experience in the western USA from Rocky Mountaineer, which until now offered only Canadian train experiences. This is NOT an Amtrak car. Rocky Mountaineers offers glass domed cars with varying levels of service. Launching in August 2021, the Rockies to the Red Rocks route takes you from Denver to Moab (or vice versa) over 3, 5, or 7 nights. Check out this brief video: https://www.rockymountaineer.com/train-routes/rockies-red-rocks. This combo experience is perfect when added to an FIT US National Park vacation. I’ll help you piece it all together!
Inspired? I hope this newsletter has helped you better understand the question, “Do you know your travel style?” If you’re ready to learn more about vacations that fit your travel style, here’s the direct link to my calendar to schedule a chat: https://calendly.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting/45min
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: There are two Hidden Gem tips this week! (1) Flying anywhere will require a Real ID (an enhanced driver’s license/passport/passport card) starting October 1st, 2021. Reach out to me if you have questions about this new requirement. (2) Reminder: here’s the link to the new CDC rules for all airline passengers arriving into the US from outside of the country effective January, 26, 2021. Details here http://bit.ly/CDC012621.
Wishing you and your family continued good health,