Beyond the big attractions: Immerse yourself in your destination

The Irish will tell you that if you’ve only been to Dublin, you haven’t been to Ireland. The Emerald Isle might be an extreme example of this, with wide open green spaces all around outside of the main city. But there’s a lot of truth to the notion. Can you really claim to have seen Italy if you’ve only been to Rome? Japan if you’ve only been to Tokyo? Australia if you’ve only been to Sydney?

The idea of being more of a traveler than a tourist isn’t new. We’ve been promoting living as a local for years. It helps you get more of a feel for what life is really like in the destination you’re visiting rather than what the inside of the major tourist attractions is like. That’s not to say you should skip the major city in your destination. But combining it with the surrounding territory gives you a much fuller picture.

It’s also especially valuable in the COVID era, when privacy and personal space are luxuries. You can still see the attractions of the capital, but with an after-hours tour that enhances the experience and avoids the crowds. If you’ve seen the top attractions before, check out the hidden side of the city outside the main tourist zone, where real locals carry out age-old ways of life. Then spend a few days in the regional areas where locals go when they need a break from the city.

Those regional areas can open up a much more authentic and fulfilling experience. Think of how much better a trip to Florence is when it’s combined with time out in the Tuscan countryside. You can apply that same principle to practically any destination. Think Cape Town and the Cape Winelands, Buenos Aires and Mendoza, New York and the Hudson Valley. You get the idea.

There’s way too much beauty in the world, far too many things worth seeing, doing and learning, to limit yourself to part of a place. When in Rome, does as the Romans do: Get out of the city and see the rest of the country.

Where to Travel Before Winter Comes

Winter is coming. That’s not just relevant for the characters in “Game of Thrones.” After a summer spent rediscovering the great American road trip, we’re headed toward cold weather again. We’ve been keeping you up to date with openings and regulations in the Caribbean, and starting Oct. 15 visitors to Hawaii will be able to avoid a 14-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test and health declaration form. That will come in especially handy when the first snows fall. Meanwhile on the U.S. mainland, a lot of destinations will get a lot less pleasant to be outside in soon. These places are great to check out before winter arrives.

New York City

Sadly, it will be well into next spring before Broadway is back. But NYC is hardly “dead forever” as some have opined. Autumn in New York is so lovely there’s a jazz standard and a movie about it. Without international visitors, the businesses that depend on tourism could really use some income, and prices for accommodations are far below their typical highs. New York is still New York, and there are a million things to do. Be aware, though, that only visitors from certain states are allowed to travel to New York without a 14-day quarantine, so consult with your travel advisor — who can also set up private and behind-the-scenes touring — before planning a trip.

The Mountain West

The aspen trees are golden in Colorado and the Tetons. The Big Sky Country of Montana has a few more weeks before that sky is filled with snowflakes. The temperatures for hiking and biking are becoming much more bearable in the national parks. There’s one last chance to save the fresh air of the great outdoors before Old Man Winter creeps in and much of the wildlife goes into hibernation. Alaska’s Katmai National Park has already crowned a “Fat Bear Week” champion, so it’s only a matter of time before the Lower 48 bears start heading to their winter quarters.

New England

The fall foliage is always a sight to behold. This year there are far fewer cruise options since ships with more than 250 passengers are under a no-sail order. A car trip through the region going from one great boutique inn or wellness resort to the next is the relaxing getaway you need before settling in for a long winter. Again, be sure to plan your route with your travel advisor to ensure you’re following state-by-state travel advisories.

Lakeside

Wherever you live, you’re bound to be within a few hours of a lake. The fishing is just as tranquil and the calm of the water just as soothing as it was in summertime. Now there might even be a mist rising off the water in the mornings as the cool night air starts to warm. The leaves are changing colors and reflecting off the glassy surface of the water, making for a picture perfect scene as you kayak or paddle across, or just take the scene in from afar.

Why Travel Advisors Are More Important Than Ever

Do you know which countries—even states—you can travel to right now? Do you know what the requirements are? The list changes every week. It’s not fun to do, but think back to  March when countries first started shutting down borders. Thousands upon thousands of people had to scramble to get home with little or conflicting information. Those who booked with online travel agencies had an unbelievably difficult time getting a person on the phone and often got little help when they could talk to someone. If you were traveling during that time, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Those who worked with travel advisors not only got through to them, they most often found that their advisors were already working to rebook them and get them home safely. We advisors worked tirelessly with our partners to get refunds and future travel credits for our clients, and as restrictions stretched on for weeks and then months we helped them dream of future travels. We advised on booking early for next year as places fill up fast given the huge increase in demand and limited capacity.

We remain up to date on the ever-changing regulations, safety protocols and trends to enable socially distanced travel. It’s a lot of work, but it’s reflective of what we do. We are our experts in the field of travel and have relationships with partners on the ground all over the world. Our clients have a VIP experience wherever they go. Now that safety is the new luxury, it’s just another thing we’ve added to our repertoire. We work with the best of the best, and they help us make sure your experience is safe and enjoyable.

We don’t just handle the nitty-gritty details of getting you from Point A to Point B so you can focus on having a great time. We also craft indelible life moments you can’t find on the internet, and maybe couldn’t even find in your imagination. With the Virtuoso Wanderlist tool, we can help envision your next adventure or series of adventures and discover excursions you didn’t know existed. You might even find that there’s a destination you never would have thought about that matches your wish list. Dream with us. Plan with us. Let’s get back to creating the good kind of unforgettable experience. Reach Stefany at (917) 653-9346 and or stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com to get started.

The Safe Return of Cruising

If you’re a cruiser, you love cruising and probably already have one booked for 2021. If you’re not a cruiser, you might be thinking there are some deals to be had. To an extent, you’re right, but you shouldn’t wait too long to make your booking for next year. That’s because demand is sky-high (thanks to all those dedicated cruisers). With the CDC likely to extend its no-sail order for ships with more than 250 passengers through the end of the year, most lines aren’t restarting until 2021. And when they do start, they won’t be at 100% occupancy. So just like with premium hotels and tours, space will be limited and if you don’t book early you could end up waiting for a year or two.

During their time away, the cruise lines have been busy putting together panels of experts in infectious disease, public health, hospitality and maritime operations to ensure they can deliver safe and fun experiences on the high seas. The measures they’re implementing will begin before you even board the ship, with enhanced screening in the terminal before passengers board and negative COVID tests likely to be required. The traditional muster drills at the beginning of the cruise will be done electronically, either via app or in-cabin TV to avoid gathering in large crowds. Masks will be required in public areas, and extra space will be allotted for distancing in restaurants and at shows.

Cleaning protocols will be stringent, with every surface throughout the ship routinely sanitized. Even before the pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions introduced the industry’s first self-disinfecting fleet, powered by the ACT CleanCoat system that breaks down unwanted microbes via a photocatalytic process.

If you want to secure space but still not sure how you’ll feel about cruising next year, that’s OK. Cancellation policies are incredibly flexible, with most giving you until 48 or even 24 hours before sailing to change your mind without losing money. The cruise lines and your advisor want you to feel comfortable, not pressured. If you’re not sure what your schedule will look like next year—and let’s be honest, who among us is?—it’s easy to adjust your cruise dates without penalty, so long as there’s space.

Remember, that no-sail order applies only to ships with 250 or more passengers. Small ships, already a fantastic way to have a more intimate experience and get into smaller ports the big ships can’t even reach, can still sail. That means small ships such as those from UnCruise Adventures, SeaDream Yacht Club, Azamara and others are sailing, and adding some unique itineraries to their repertoires.

Cruises will be back and better than ever. The question is, will there be any space left by the time you book?

Dream Travel Destinations: Botswana, Africa

Is Africa one of your dream travel destinations? If so, Botswana should be on your list.

Seeing the animals from the water offers a different amazing vantage point. I did a land and boat safari in Chobe National Park when I was in Botswana and the highlight was seeing so many elephants playing in the water on the boat safari. The Okavango Delta is a great spot for a safari in a mokoro which is an adventure! Botswana can be paired with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and or South Africa.

Keep in mind, it is best to plan at least a year in advance for Africa as many of the top lodges fill up quickly as they are limited in space. When you are ready, I am excited to plan your African adventure! Email Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.

With passion and adventure,

Stefany