It’s a big world out there, and while every country has something unique to offer, political situations or natural disasters can put destinations out of commission for a while. Fortunately, these wonderful places are making a comeback.
The land of the pharaohs was not safe for several years in the wake of the political upheaval of the 2011 Arab Spring. Thankfully, major tour operators have returned, bringing travelers to such world treasures as the pyramids of Giza, the temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and cruising the Nile. Egypt tourism surged more than 40 percent in the first half of this year, signaling that a place so full of history the Romans considered it ancient, is retaking its rightful place on the world stage.
Fears of ISIL presence near Turkey’s southern border coupled with a bombing at the Istanbul airport and coup attempt in the summer of 2016 made Turkey a no-go. Things have settled down, and now travelers are safe to take in the beauty of the Bosporus and the Hagia Sophia in the Turkish capital, as well as explore the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. Istanbul served as the capital of three empires and contains an immense amount of cultural heritage.
Travel to Cuba was all the rage in 2015 when the Obama administration thawed relations with and eased restrictions on the island just 90 miles off the tip of Florida. Things changed when the Trump administration reversed some of those policies and when the State Department issued a travel advisory concerning alleged attacks on embassy personnel. This year, however, Cuba travel is up 40 percent over 2017 as uncertainty has dissipated.
After the devastation of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria last year, several islands that had their lifeblood industry, tourism, decimated are back open for business. Many resorts in Puerto Rico have reopened, as have some in the British Virgin Islands and St Barth’s.
St. Martin’s top resorts will be open in time for the holidays, as will Anguilla’s. As word trickles out slowly, there are great deals to be had at places that are normally filled months in advance. The region needs travelers to help in its recovery, so it’s a win-win situation.
It’s not quite the same as Christmas in July, but you can give yourself the gift of peace of mind by booking your festive season travel now. If you have a specific resort or destination in mind, you might be surprised to find how tight space is already for the period around Christmas and New Year’s. You can’t exactly go on vacation and leave a couple of your kids behind because you couldn’t get another room. So do yourself a favor and start planning as soon as possible.
People who stayed at resorts over the festive season last winter got first dibs on booking that space for the upcoming season. Perhaps they had such a good time, they invited more of their family members to join them this year and have already had their rooms secured for months. If the winters are cold in your neck of the woods, you can rest assured that your neighbors will be flocking in droves to sunny resorts in Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
If your crew still can’t get its act together for a few months, your travel advisor will be up to date on which resorts have last-minute space. But don’t leave things up to chance! You’ll be much happier and less stressed if you take the initiative now. If you’re waiting until the weather turns, you could find yourself left out in the cold.
If you’re out of luck on land or prefer hitting the high seas, a cruise could be your answer. Again, though, you need to act quickly, especially if you’re bringing the whole family and need multiple cabins. Virtuoso-preferred partners offer some great itineraries to celebrate in style.
If all else fails, think outside the box. There’s a whole other hemisphere where it’s warm when we’re cold. South America, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, they all have nice weather as one year turns into the next.
It’s not especially warm in Europe’s heartland, though the jet stream does keep things milder than many parts of the U.S., but a river cruise can let you catch the end of the beautiful Christmas markets along the Rhine and Danube. If you haven’t seen a European Christmas market before, they are a sight to behold. Plus, there’s plenty of mulled wine to help you keep warm, there are great Christmas dinners served on the river and you can ring in the new year a few hours ahead of your friends.
No matter what you end up picking, don’t wait until it’s too late and you no longer have your choice of options. There will be plenty of scrambling trying to track down those last-minute gifts. Getting started with your holiday travel plans now could end up as the best gift you and family receive.