Europe Edition – Top Client Experiences 💯

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! I first want to say how tragic the sudden burning of historic Lahaina on the island of Maui, Hawaii is. As the news unfolded last week, I was brought back to my time there personally as well as many of my clients. We all made priceless memories in Maui. My heart goes out to the many affected locals who lost everything. If you’re in a position to donate to a vetted charity, I encourage you to do so.

This week, I had an extended conversation with someone who was interested in learning what it’s like to be a travel advisor and business owner. I thought that a recent Conde Nast Traveler article put it well, “The reason people turn to travel agents, aside from having a helping hand during any travel chaos, is also to tap into the travel agent’s first-hand knowledge of destinations, and their industry partnerships, which often lead to perks such as hotel upgrades, ideal airplane seats, and experiences that can’t be found on a search engine.” We also upgrade the travel experience in ways that DIY travel bookers can’t access. That’s not to say DIY isn’t a good way to go if you enjoy planning vacations, but for special trips that are on a premium to luxury scale, a good travel advisor opens doors the individual can’t access. If you’d like to learn more information on this topic, feel free to email me to set up a chat.

With so many clients traveling this summer, I continue to share some favorite experiences from their trips. Read on for the scoop…


Kayaking or sailing on a yacht in the gorgeous Algarve area of southern Portugal is a sure hit with my clients. For example, the Caves of Benagil are considered one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal. Your guides point out the best spots for photos, and there’s a stop at a lovely beach. On yacht tours, you’ll enjoy food and drink while you relax and take in the shoreline.

If you’re more of a land lover, Portugal offers some fantastic hiking and cycling tours for all ability levels.

Portugal is an ideal destination for clients who love Europe and have been to many of the major cities. It’s easily combinable with Spain too.

💎Hidden Gem Tip: If you know generally when you can travel next year, think ahead and begin the planning process this fall for next spring and summer. You’ll get the best pricing and availability by booking early than when everyone else is. Yes, travel in 2024 is expected to be at high levels once again. While your family is together this summer, discuss where everyone wants to travel and what schedules look like. You’ll be glad you did.


France will be a busy place next year with the Olympics in late July – early August in Paris. Consider venturing beyond. I was just in the south of France this past spring (Provence, Nice, St. Tropez, Eze, etc.), and it’s a gorgeous vacation. Clients this summer enjoyed e-biking in the Loire Valley where they were on a guided tour with expert guides. Here’s one day in their tour:

Enjoy a hearty breakfast before cycling along the Cher River, taking in the sights and sounds of one of the Loire’s principal tributaries, as we journey to the most famous of the Loire Valley châteaux: the unforgettable Château de Chenonceau. Spanning the Cher River, Chenonceau features vast gardens, galleries, magnificent fireplaces, 16th-century Flemish tapestries, and paintings by Rubens and Rigaud. Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers were among the six women who reigned here, each of whom added personal touches to the elaborately decorated château, so much so that it became known as the Château of Six Women. After a guided visit of Chenonceau, you’ll enjoy an exceptional French picnic lunch.


No trip to Italy is complete without an amazing culinary experience. Cooking classes, market tours, wine tasting, truffle hunting, or even a few days at a cooking school are unforgettable. I help you find the right experience for you.

This cooking class was a big hit with a family of four who brought their new skills home with them:

Carbonara might be the most famous Roman pasta, but Rome has gifted the world another three delights: Cacio e Pepe, Amatriciana, and Gricia. Each is bold, delicious, and characterful, reflecting the very nature of Roman culture. They are simple in nature but difficult to master, combining a mixture of pecorino cheese, guanciale (pork cheek), tomatoes, and eggs. That’s why you’ve selected this cooking class – so you can learn how to perfect each one.

Begin your culinary experience at the farmer’s market you will hand-select your ingredients. Then, proceed to the cooking school where you will be greeted with Prosecco and light fare. Once your meal is complete, buon appetito!

Wishing you and your family unforgettable adventures,


Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration: or Instagram:

Make your own Wanderlist for 2023! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you. Check it out here:  

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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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