By Daniela Harrison
Don’t despair! There’s still time to plan an amazing summer vacation.
The holidays were busy, then we shuffled around a few snow piles and now it’s almost spring. Wow; time sure flies, and suddenly you realize that summer vacation is right around the corner and you don’t have any plans. Don’t panic – there’s still time.
As travel professionals and savvy travelers know, we’re at the tail end of wave season. This means many cruise lines have specific offers for 2017 travel. You can take advantage of some amazing amenities, air specials and single-supplement waivers. Most of these deals are good until Feb. 28 or March 31, so there’s still time to take advantage of great deals – if you’re not too picky about your cabin location.
Many land-tour suppliers offer early booking discounts if you pay your trip in full by Feb. 28. Savings can range from 5 percent to 15 percent of the total trip cost, which is some nice cash in your pocket to spend during your trip.
Prefer to have a trip custom-tailored? No problem at all – in fact, you can rake in the most savings. Travel consultants like myself have access to a huge selection of products. We can pick and choose the best fit for your experience and look for specials that fit those requirements. Many hotels offer free nights with a minimum stay or other amenities that will save you big bucks. While most travel consultants charge a planning fee, the overall savings usually way surpass the cost.
Now for the burning questions: Where should you go, and what should you do once you get there?
Summer is prime time to visit Europe. Mediterranean cruises are big, with many options to choose from. If a trip along the French Riviera doesn’t sound good, consider the Greek islands or a European river cruise or barge trip. The British Isles have been popular, and so have the Baltic regions – and don’t forget about Iceland circumnavigations.
These cruises really are tremendous experiences. In addition to the entertainment on board, you have a wide assortment of shore excursions – anything from art, architecture, cooking classes, hot-air balloon rides, kayaking, mountain biking, and snorkeling to walking tours and VIP events like concerts in Vienna or an after-hour visit to the Hermitage. With so many choices, it’s hard to decide what to do.
Prefer to stay on land? How about a behind-the-scenes visit to the Vienna Riding School, a tour of the catacombs beneath Paris, yoga on a rooftop with unobstructed views of the Eiffel Tower, or breakfast in the Vatican or the Accademia? Ever wondered about a Flamenco lesson in Madrid or a cooking lesson with a Michelin four- or five-star chef? The choices are endless and can be tailored to your individual interests. All you have to do is ask.
A new popular request is a combination of a weeklong ocean cruise followed by a few days on your own in your favorite city, capped off by either a river cruise or a land tour through multiple countries. You can take advantage of some nice combo savings and cross off a few trips from your bucket list all at once. Plus you’re saving money on the flight alone.
Don’t want to head abroad this year? Look for an amazing adventure right here in the continental U.S. Consider urban destinations like Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City; otherwise, a tour of the national parks, a drive down the California coast, and a weekend in Seattle offer a versatile portfolio of activities. From museums to foodie and wine tours, from art classes to concerts in the park, and from Broadway shows to music festivals to a spa weekend at the healing vortexes in Sedona, America offers something for the whole family to choose from.
Dude ranches have been in high demand, as have glamping lodges in the mountains of Montana. Choose your activity level and discover the country on foot, by bicycle, by horse, by car, by bus, by boat, by helicopter or plane – whatever speed is right for you.
Got points to use? Perfect! Work with your travel professional for recommendations on how to fill in the holes where points aren’t applicable. Make sure to include at least one dinner reservation at the must-visit restaurant at your destination. And definitely ask about some private tour options to give your trip that special something you’ll remember for life!
Finally, wherever you choose to go and whatever you choose to do this summer, remember to insure your trips. Experiences this magical deserve to be protected!
Daniela has been a Travel Consultant since June 2010. She works for Avenues of the World Travel, Flagstaff Ariz. 86004. For more information please contact Daniela at 800.230.3322 or Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com. For travel inspiration please visit www.avenuesoftheworld.com.