The past 20 months have certainly taught us that travel is a precious gift and privilege we can’t take for granted but I have also realized that my desire – even urge – to travel has never been stronger. I also firmly believe that COVID-19 is here to stay, it will eventually transition from a pandemic to being endemic, but it is absolutely possible to coexist with the virus (governments working together on a unified approach would certainly be helpful but the advent of Omicron has yet again shown that every country, or sometimes even region is determined to put their own random measures in place, so this remains wishful thinking on my part).
In fact, this summer we have gradually resumed our operations – first domestically in Australia and the US but then also in Egypt, Iceland as well as a number of favorite European destinations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Croatia, Switzerland, the UK and more. Whilst operations have never been more complex and we’ve had to adjust and pivot along the way, we now have the living proof that our well-thought-out and carefully planned protocols are working and we are back to doing what we love and do best: deliver amazing holiday experiences for our guests. And without wanting to state the obvious, in this ‘brave new world’ going guided is THE best way to travel.
Throughout the pandemic I have also made a concerted effort to focus on what I can control and on the positives. Even on the darkest days, it is possible to turn Covid lemons into lemonade.
One such example is our family trip to the Galapagos Islands this autumn. In a normal year, I’d be busy supporting our team in Australia and New Zealand with launch events at that time, but Covid transformed this into an opportunity to cross the Galapagos Islands off my personal bucket list (it had been on there for some 20 years!) what was even better, to experience it with my family.
Not only did we have an amazing time experiencing the incredible wildlife and being really far away from civilization (when was the last time you didn’t have WiFi for several days, and apart from our small group of 20 on the yacht didn’t see another human, nor a building, nor a road nor a car?), it also highlighted the power and importance of travel in a profound way. How invigorated, enriched and alive you feel when you see, taste, hear, smell and touch a new destination. How travel really can be a force for good if you see how the Galapagos Islands masterfully manage conservation and tourism. It also highlighted how difficult the absence of tourism had been for the local Galapagueños.
Coming back from our family vacation made me even more determined than ever to see these difficult times through and to work towards bringing the joy of travel to thousands of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold guests again in the near future.
It also made me dream of more travel! Working for The Travel Corporation one is really spoilt for choice with hundreds of experiential journeys that connect you authentically to the places and people you visit, but here are my top 3:
Insight Vacations’ Wonder Women – Venice and the Croatian Coast
We launched our Wonder Women series a few years ago and this year we’ve taken it up a notch! This trip is designed by women, for women and is anchored in sustainable travel principles. The Croatia journey includes several new #MakeTravelMatter Experiences designed to uplift local women in their communities and ensure Insight’s travels are used as a force for good while supporting the United Nations’ Global Goals. Even better on one of our departures Celine Cousteau, our TreadRight Ambassador will join part of the tour. View her comments below.
One of the Make Travel Matter® Experiences I’m most excited about is meeting the industrious women of the Tara Community Centre. Through its income the Tara Center has built a small community Center that is used by the Tara Citizens’ Association, a collective of mostly older women, many of whom were refugees. There the women produce handicrafts which have giving them a much-needed financial and psychological boost. The staff educate their visitors about local traditions and share their personal story of the village with great passion from personal knowledge and experience.
The Tara Center advances UN Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities & Communities.
Luxury Gold’s Ultimate Southern France
Luxury Gold journeys are the epitome of luxurious small group travel, a vast array of included choice activities and the most incredible food. Even better, on all tours you’re able to enjoy all these things with your dedicated Traveling Concierge who will look after all the details and also curate your trip for a truly personal and exceptional holiday.
Picking just one Luxury Gold trip is therefore near impossible but given our Ultimate Southern France tour is new, I’m most excited about it!
When I’m having a tough day, I picture myself enjoying the French icons of Avignon, Provence including the famous Pont d’Avignon, the impressive city walls and the Papal Palace. To get here our guests enjoy a chauffeured drive in a Citroen 2CV through the hilly countryside passing fields of Lavender.
Of course, a Luxury Gold tour isn’t complete without exceptional dining. On this journey we visit the acclaimed winery, Domaine de la Citadelle, for a tour of its grounds and a picnic lunch of Provencal favorites paired with local wine.
Feeling tired after all these marvels? Settle into the Hotel d’Europe at the heart of Avignon, moments away from the entrance to the ancient city walls. Set in a 16th century building, the rooms are elegantly designed with classic comfort in mind.
Uniworld’s Generations Family Cruise – Venice & the Gems of Northern Italy
After our trip to the Galapagos Islands this year, which was such a fun filled family time together, I’m including a family trip on my #TTCTop3 list.
Northern Italy has a special place in my heart. Not only did I study there, I also love its people, places and culinary delights.
Uniworld’s Generations cruise is the perfect opportunity to share culturally and historically significant experiences with my two sons who are at the perfect age to enjoy all that Venice and Northern Italy have to offer.
I know my youngest will love a visit to Doge’s Palace. With mystery at every turn, artistic majesty cloaking the walls, and a dusty dungeon straight from a fairy tale—Doge’s Palace is, in a word, spectacular.