What was the best birthday present you ever received? 🎁

Happy Thursday and “blogaversary” to this weekly newsletter 🎊!!  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I love writing it for you.  It has certainly kept my spirits up this year. 

I’m a believer in celebrating our milestones in life – are you?  Without stopping to reflect, take stock, and be thankful in a meaningful way, life just seems to whiz by like the landscape out the window of an express train.   

“Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”    Nelson Mandela

One of the best birthday presents I ever received was a milestone birthday weekend at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami.  It came at a time when I desperately needed a luxury wellness getaway but didn’t have a lot of free time.  I recall that birthday far more than others! 

Were you inspired by last week’s newsletter in which I shared a list of 38 amazing ways you can celebrate milestones around the world?

This week I prompt you to consider the milestones that your friends and family have coming up in the years ahead – 2021 and beyond.  Below are 8 milestone categories to celebrate, especially through an amazing, unforgettable experience like a trip…


I’m all about a birthday trip and much prefer an experience over something that fits in a box.  There are many creative ways you can celebrate as last week’s newsletter outlined.  How about surprising the birthday girl/guy with the destination?  All they need to know before departure is the basics like the dates and how to pack.  I guarantee that they won’t forget that birthday!!

Many resorts and hotels will arrange exclusive experiences for my clients.  For example, here’s an idea for gin lovers:  London is synonymous with gin. In the style of a small Victorian gin-palace, the Ginstitute introduces the history of this spirit that spans back nearly one thousand years.  Meet the “ginstructor” for a tutored lesson in tasting and nosing the various botanicals and create your own personal gin. 

2 – Anniveraries

When I think of anniversaries, it’s wedding anniversaries come to mind first.  In fact, I often have clients who want to celebrate their milestone years of being together through an extra-special trip. 

Vow renewal in Thailand is a well-known experience for couples.  But how about spending an unforgettable night observing Thailand’s majestic elephants from your own Jungle Bubble?  A Jungle Bubble is perched on a deck above the forest and its transparency allows uninterrupted views of the elephants and starlit sky.  So romantic and unique!


Honeymoons are only one way unions are celebrated through travel.  Destination weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and later babymoons are now popular.  Fun fact – I had a destination wedding, and it was amazing albeit with a lot of careful planning considerations. 

I spent two weeks in Hawaii for my honeymoon and remember the trip as fondly as my wedding! Once travel returns, I expect many new couples will want to book a dream getaway filled with adventurous experiences as well as time alone.  Itineraries can include a safari, an iconic city deep dive, or an interest-based trip like scuba diving. 

Virtuoso perks and upgrades can make all the difference in elevating a trip. And what better time to access those amenities than your once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon?


There’s a saying that you only have 21 summers until your children are grown and flown, so all graduations are well worth celebrating.  Traveling as a family and experiencing a new destination together has so many benefits, as I mention frequently in this blog. 

If you’re looking for a unique experience that doesn’t involve a passport, review my newsletter earlier this year about ranches in the USA.  You don’t have to rough it, and there are fun experiences for everyone, not just outdoor enthusiasts.  Here’s the link:  https://hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/north-american-ranch-guide/

Thinking out of the box and matching destinations with interests is what I love to do when working with clients!


Family reunions are a less obvious milestone category to celebrate! They can be celebrated in a variety of ways with the most typical being a gathering at a member’s home.  At these events, families can discuss a heritage trip as an offshoot of the larger reunion and gauge interest. 

Heritage trips are a huge travel trend!  My partners at Kensington Tours have forged a newly created partnership with Ancestry to design custom heritage journeys for my clients with a certified genealogist as a guide.  New and exciting!  More to come on this offering. 


Clients close to or at retirement age work with me to create their Wanderlist, or travel bucket list, for their post-retirement years.  They appreciate that the early retirement years are perfect for seeing the places in the world that they’ve always wanted to experience. 

From common requests like a tour of Italy to upcoming destinations like Antarctica, I curate itineraries and travel plans to match the dreams of my clients.  We discuss travel styles and options that often people haven’t considered or understood entirely. 


Typically, the late December holidays are the busiest time of the year to travel (we call it “festive”) with peak prices and limited availability.  Booking well in advance and with a travel advisor with access is key to not being disappointed.

If you aren’t tied to a school holiday schedule, I recommend traveling during “shoulder season” which varies by destination.  Shoulder season is between low and high season when the weather is favorable with fewer crowds.  For example, October is a cooler and quieter time than summer to visit Spain and much of Europe, and you may have the Columbus Day holiday weekend for that extra day off. 


Celebrating good friendships, a return to good health after an illness, or any meaningful life change are fantastic reasons to make a special trip.  Did you read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert? Following a significant life change, she traveled to three amazing destinations (Italy, India, and Indonesia – Bali) to reset her life. 

For me, a very meaningful milestone will be when travel abroad returns in earnest. At the top of my list is Scotland and specifically a trip on the elegant Belmond Royal Scotsman train through the Highlands.  One evening, we’ll be joined by an astronomer in Cairngorms, home to the most northernly Dark Sky Park in the world, to see and learn about the celestial skies with maximum clarity! 

So what do you think – are you inspired by the 8 milestone categories to celebrate? Are you ready to start brainstorming on your next celebration for when travel returns?  These types of trips require advance planning so you really can’t start the process too soon – let’s talk!

💎 Hidden Gem Tip & Freebie alert:  To celebrate November as gratitude month, if you’re interested in an amazing, highly curated luxury travel magazine in print form that you can’t buy yourself (or gift to someone as it’s only available through Virtuoso travel advisors), email me.  Virtuoso Life is an incredible resource!  Here’s a link to the digital version for September entitled, 2021 Travel Planner:  Where To Go Next  https://bit.ly/3isKuJZ

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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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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