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2020 Travel Bucket List
As the CEO of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, I am surrounded by travel temptations on a daily basis. Last year I managed to tick off a few experiences on my TTC 2019 bucket list. I headed to the incredible Ashford Castle in Ireland with Luxury Gold, accompanied by my two young sons and husband. We still can’t decide what the best part was – staying in an 800-year old castle, the falconry experience, walking in the woods with giant Irish wolf hounds or the incredible service from the wonderful team – we truly loved it all.
We also traveled to Croatia and Montenegro in the autumn and were blessed with blue skies and a warm 26 degrees every day. We found the gems of Kotor and Dubrovnik to be much quieter than during the summer months. There is a lot to be said about traveling in the secret season.
I’m no less excited to plan my 2020 trips. From Seville to Jordan, my inner wanderlust is keen to explore in the new year. Below are my top 10 experiences I am adding to my list.
1. Learn to flamenco in Seville
In Seville you’ll find the Cristina Heeren Foundation. This private dance school is dedicated to promoting the conservation of flamenco and supports young enthusiasts from all over the world. You’ll get to try the choreography for yourself with a dance lesson, before taking your front row seats for a professional performance in an authentic setting.
Do it on: Insight Vacations' Best of Spain and Portugal
2. Meet the women of the Iraq Al-Amir Cooperative & overnight in Wadi Rum
In Wadi Rum, dine with locals under the stars at Sun City Camp, where you will overnight in the desert. On this same trip, visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-op. Supported by the TreadRight Foundation, the organization provides training and work opportunities for women in the region, as part of our Make Travel Personal initiative. Learn more about how it is changing lives, as you engage in handicraft activities.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Jordan Experience
3. Have tea with a Scottish Baronet
Meet the fascinating Sir Ludovic Shaw-Stewart for Scottish high tea at his coastal estate, Ardgowan Castle. You’ll learn more about the history of the area and of the Shaw-Stewart family, from the Scottish Baronet himself.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Best of Ireland and Scotland<
4. Stand face-to-face with the Crazy Horse Memorial
America’s West has always intrigued me, with its vast land and unique culture. I’d recommend visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is dedicated to all Native Americans. This exclusive experience takes you up the sculpture, where you’ll stand face to face with the world’s largest mountain carving.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Grand Journey of America’s West
5. Taste the unique flavours of Anatolia
An inspiring experience, in Turkey enjoy the unique flavors of Anatolia at Uçhisar Kadineli Restaurant. The establishment not only provides delicious local foods but employment for the women of the village. It also supports our pledge to Make Travel Matter.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Treasures of Turkey
6. Test your hurling skills
As the mother of two young boys, sports are a key element to any vacation. They would truly love to learn more about Ireland’s national sport, hurling, and of course have a go for themselves.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Country Roads of Ireland
7. Explore Monument Valley with a Navajo guide
See Mother Nature at its finest in the American Southwest. Hear about Navajo heritage from your guide, as you explore the beauty of Monument Valley and its iconic vistas in an open-air vehicle.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Enchanting Canyonlands
8. Take a private trip around Glacier National Park
With a love for the mountains, how could Canada not be one of my favorite countries? In Glacier National Park board a traditional Red Jammer and cruise along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. A truly immersive experience you’ll view Logan Pass the park’s wild interior and Lake McDonald.
Do it on: Insight Vacations’ Canadian Rockies and Pacific Coast
9. Meet a local oyster farmer
Wherever I go, I like to make sure I indulge on the local flavors. In Croatia you’ll stop at a shellfish farm and meet Tomislav, a local oyster farmer. Learn about the cultivation and harvest of oysters before enjoying a delicious Sea-to-Table tasting of shellfish, accompanied by a glass of wine.
Do it on: Insight Vacations' Country Roads of Croatia
10. Explore the Vatican Museums, the VIP way
A truly exceptional experience, explore the Vatican Museums in VIP style. Head there early morning with a Local Expert and be guided through the museum’s art collection. Venture inside St.Peter’s Basilica, see Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and enjoy a private viewing of Bramante Staircase.
Do it on: Insight Vacations' Grand Italy & Sicily
Interested in booking or learning about other destinations? Contact your AAA Travel Consultant » today and ask about an Insight Vacation.
Reprinted from Insight Vacations with permission
The Magic of Ireland
A small but mighty country, Ireland is rich in culture with its wild landscapes and hearty culinary delights. From enjoying a pot of Irish stew to exploring Ireland’s lush lands and regal castles, you will connect with your Gaelic Roots. On Insight Vacation’s remarkable journeys to Ireland, you are invited to meet and interact with locals and explore various establishments that offer authenticity as well as good old-fashioned fun.
Play Ireland’s ancient sport: While visiting Kilkenny, you can delve into Ireland’s 3,000-year-old sport of hurling on 12-day Country Roads of Ireland trip. You’ll get the chance to meet a hurling player right on the field, who will show you the skills it takes to play the world’s fastest field game.
Find hidden gems, savor Irish home-cooking: On Insight’s 7-day Focus on Ireland trip, you’ll see hidden delights of Killarney on a traditional horse-drawn jaunting car ride. Later, you can enjoy Irish home cooking in kitchens of chef John Sheehan. Join John and his wife Freda for drinks and personal insight into classic Irish recipes that are loved throughout the world.
Live a fairy tale at Ashford Castle: An exquisite and historical hotel awaits you in the countryside as a lone piper escorts you over the drawbridge to the majestic Ashford Castle. On Insight’s 8-day Irish Elegance trip, you’ll lodge in superior and romantic surroundings that offers both relaxation and comfort.
Join us on a 2020 escorted journey as we venture to some of the most iconic and remarkable destinations in Europe & beyond. As an Insight traveler, you’ll enjoy an altogether deeper, more enriching experience; not just meeting local people, but joining them for unique opportunities to share their stories, passions, customs and expertise. We’ll take you to places that you otherwise wouldn’t get to if you traveled independently. Contact your AAA Travel Consultant today to book one of these magical trips to Ireland.
A Millennial Went on a Group Tour...
I am your typical millennial - between the ages of 24-35 and, according to recent studies, the generation who takes the most trips during a given calendar year. By June of this year, I’ve already taken two major trips and I'm here to tell you about my most recent one: a small group tour to Cinque Terre. You might not think of "millennial" and "group tour" as going together, but I'll give you 4 reasons why this group tour is perfect for this generation.
The itinerary was full, with both scripted and unscripted adventures. We traveled by bike, boat, kayak, foot and train. Some of the best pictures, and opportunities to take in the views were from locations I would have never EVER been able to discover on my own.
In Lucca, we spent half our day on bikes, coasting on top of the ancient Roman City’s wall which stretches 4.2 km around the inner city. Biking the Levanto-Framura path was my favorite, which takes you for a ride through tunnels of century old rail lines. The Ligurian Sea on your left is filled with glimpses of surfers, and on your right, rolling hills filled with lemon trees, stunning castles and beautiful old colorful villages.
Zipping up and down the elevated steep roads, your senses become filled with scents of lavender and the sea. Throughout the trip we hiked over 15 km, only just a portion of the Cinque Terre trails. The tops of these mountains lead to impeccable views of thousands of acres of olive trees and the vibrant coastal scenery that this region is highly known for.
Nothing compares to authentic Italian food. Just the food alone makes the trip worthwhile. The simplest ingredients make some of the best and traditionally known dishes. Inland we dined on mainly meat-focused cuisines like Pasta Bolognese and Tordelli, fresh pasta filled with pork and beef and topped with a meat sauce.
Closer to the coast our menu incorporated more seafood: Spaghetti Alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams), Gnocchi ai Gamberi (dumpling potato pasta with shrimp) and my favorite, Pasta Fagioli e Patate al Pesto (pasta, green beans and potatoes with pesto). I often snacked on a typical delicacy- calamari that was probably caught fresh that morning. It’s served up in paper cones and filled with both rings and tentacles!
For dessert, of course I had gelato at least once a day. Though there are many flavors to try, my favorite is pistachio and I chose a new spot every time to compare the goodness.
The most memorable part of my trip would have to be our local guide, Vinny. He wasn’t just a ‘tour guide’, but he made us all feel at ease and at home. I was able to practice on him the little bit of Italian I had learned growing up.
I often forgot he was our local guide and not just another friend I made on the trip. He was there to give us the insider's perspective on everything we saw or did, allowing us to experience everything like a local instead of a tourist.
I made the most incredible memories and friendships on this trip. Club Adventures, the small tour operator of this trip- keeps group sizes small - no more than 16 people. Within just a few days you know everyone on a first name basis. I knew none of these people prior to this trip but many of them have become new friends. We all shared a love of travel and exploring new destinations.
The first and final nights we shared dinner together, both a welcoming and farewell evening. Our adventures were all geared towards our group and experiencing these moments together were the ice breakers. We liked traveling together so much that a few of us have already booked our next Club Adventures tour to Greece next year!
If this sounds like the type of trip you'd like to take, whether it's to Italy, or Costa Rica; Japan or the National Parks, contact a AAA Travel Consultant and ask about a Club Adventures tour.
Sail Away to Paris and Normandy
Imagine setting sail in Paris aboard a luxurious river cruise ship and being pampered as you visit historic sites, soak in unparalleled beauty, and explore picture-perfect villages.
Pack Your Bags Like a Pro
Most people who love to travel, hate to pack (and unpack...ugghhhhh).