Digital DetoxWith so many distractions on a day-to-day basis -- 24/7 access to e-mails and smart phones, for one -- even when we?re traveling, we?re rarely really "off." In order to gain the most from your vacation in 2012 and release the stress built up from 2011, try vacations that are a bit off-the-radar and can help you truly unplug.
For some people, a cozy bed and breakfast in Vermont
or a secluded Caribbean island villa retreat
might be the answer -- and spotty cell reception doesn?t hurt either! You may think resorts would be off-limits in terms of "unplugging" but the key is finding the right one for you.
The Red Mountain Resort & Spa
in St. George Utah is a great example of a hotel that understands that relaxation means something different to everyone. They offer yoga, meditation, life coaching, wellness workshops and spa treatments but also more adventurous options like rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking.
Experiential CruisingAlthough mondo party cruises still have their place -- Atlantis once again is selling out the Largest Gay Cruise in History
-- smaller, more intimate experiential cruises are making a big comeback, especially river cruises. Renovated vessels offer modern, luxurious amenities and personalized service along intriguing itineraries (like the Amazon
) with stops at ports that simply cannot host the larger cruise ships. AMA Waterways
is a goodie, with primarily European routes and amenities for well-traveled guests like regional cuisine and guided port stops included in the fare. For true adventure seekers, Lindblad Expeditions
partners with National Geographic to travelers an opportunity to explore some of the world?s most remote and fascinating places, from Antarctica to the Galapagos.
As a bonus, cruising happens to be one of the best (and cheapest) ways to experience a few different locations during one vacation. Whether it be two neighboring cities, or perhaps even two different countries, the Caribbean, the Baltics, the Mediterranean or Asia
are all options. If you think you can navigate the geography on your own, you could also rent a car from your first point and stop along the way at unplanned cities and attractions. If you?re in London, try visiting a few of the smaller UK cities like the charming Cotswold region or Brighton
; in the US start in Portland
and drive along the Northwest ridge to visit Seattle and perhaps even Vancouver within the same itinerary.
Consider Emerging Destinations
Think outside the box here: traditional destinations like the Caribbean and major cities like Paris
and Rome are still among the top choices for many travelers, but 2012 is definitely also the year to expand your horizons.
, travelers should visit Croatia
. The destination has it all from beautiful beaches along the Dalmatian Coast, historical sites, and great nightlife. Singapore, Beirut
, South Africa
are also destinations that should be on everyone?s list next year.
Immersion ConversionTo realize better value, travelers are converting standard vacations into something unexpected by immersing themselves within the local culture. There?s always a temptation to follow "form" itineraries for destinations -- or just see the sights, eat the highlights, and drink it all in at night -- but we?re finding that travelers want more from their vacations. A skill, a stronger memory, something tangible, and are even staying in destinations longer to have a true "local" experience.
If you?re traveling as part of a tour group, opt for specialized tour companies
such as Abercrombie & Kent
who will plan individualize excursions and experiences like an elephant safari, learning to cook true Indian fare from a local expert, or glimpsing into your future during an exclusive astrology training consultation using the destination?s ancient methods. Travelers have also been known to take cheese-making classes in Italy, learn how to string a Persian rug in Turkey and study the art of pastry in France.
Travel Agent Revival Okay, as an agent
at American Express Travel, maybe I'm tooting my own horn here, but some people are resistant to using us because they think it will be more expensive, or they won?t enjoy a personalized vacation -- but this is most definitely a myth! In fact, using a travel agent is a great way to get the most value from your vacation. And given the uptick in my own clients, consumers are catching on. Agencies have access to deals and rates that wouldn?t be possible for consumers to find elsewhere. Plus, we have relationships with hotels, cruises and tour companies that can help score upgrades or amenities on your vacation. Just choose one who ?gets you? and understands your needs and customize from there.For more travel ideas or to book a trip, give Curtis Kowalski a call at 617-868-2600 ext. 46810 or visit AmexTravel.com