by Stacey Goodale
Let’s face it— when most of us think of a Disney vacation we think long lines, overcrowded and hot parks, screaming kids and character meet and greets with Mickey, Minnie and lots of princesses.
What you probably don’t think is an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, private tour at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding for a behind the scenes peek at pandas in their natural habitats, or glamping in style in a luxury tent in Yellowstone.
Yet, these are just a few of the unique offerings that Disney has with their Adventures by Disney vacations that will keep you away from the long lines and crowded parks and have your kids screaming with excitement instead.
These 5-star vacations provide culturally immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that prove all vacations are not created equal. What makes an Adventures by Disney trip unique is the care and attention that is put into every aspect of your vacation from the moment you start.
Each Adventures by Disney trip includes 2 Adventure Guides, along with local experts, that ensure that you and your family become a part of the story. These guides give you a sense of connection to the people, culture and traditions of your destination. During an Adventures By Disney vacation, you don’t just see the sights, you participate in local traditions and activities. You can greet buddhist monks at an traditional “alms gathering” rite or paint boomerangs with the aboriginal Tjapukai tribe in Australia.
Each trip offers both guided time and time to tour on your own, as well as separate activities for kids and adults. Everything from your hotels and luggage, to your transportation and admissions is taken care of so that you can focus on the experience rather than the travel details. Because these trips carry the weight of the Disney name, you’ll bypass lines, have unique and unexpected experiences and personal attention that other small group tours can’t offer you.
Adventures by Disney has tours within to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, as well as Europe river and ocean cruises. Take an African safari to see the Big 5, hike to Machu Picchu in Peru, dive into the refreshing waters of the Aegean, or mush your sled across the snow with an Iditarod dog sled tour. With Disney constantly adding destinations, your sure to find one that is right for you.
Don’t have children or just want to get away on your own? Adventures by Disney offers adult-only itineraries to many of their destinations.
Right now Disney is offering a Book Early and Save for 2019 promotion. Contact Stacey Goodale for more information on how you can book one of these exceptional vacation adventures!
Destination weddings offer this unique opportunity to gather everyone who matters most to you and spend quality time on a once in a lifetime vacation. Jamaica is a popular destination wedding spot because it offers a myriad of fun activities and unforgettable experiences. We tried to put together the top 10 list of things to do, but we struggled to even cull the list down from 20! So, we landed on 12!
There are just untold opportunities to learn about Jamaica’s rich and vibrant culture, and to meet some of the friendliest people in the world. So, if you’ve decided on Jamaica for your destination wedding, consider these memorable Destination wedding group adventures.
1. Tour the Luminous Lagoon: Located in Trelawny, Jamaica, the luminous lagoon is one of the most brilliant in the world, and home to millions of dinoflagellates. These microscopic organisms give an eerie glow at night, outlining objects in the water. Take your guests on the 45 minute tour, and let them jump out in the water and swim with their bodies surrounded by the luminous green glow. They will never forget it!
2. Hike the Blue Mountains: Observe nature at its finest, taste the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee, stop for lunch and enjoy breathtaking mountain views and magnificent waterfalls.
3. Explore the Green Grotto Caves: Explore the pristine waters flowing from depths of the Green Grotto Caves on the Northern Coast of Jamaica.
by Stacey Goodale
One of the biggest benefits of using a travel agent is industry-insider knowledge including knowing the real scoop on resorts and hotels in the hottest destinations. Armed with this information, and often first-hand experience at these properties through educational trips, a travel agent is able to make recommendations about which resorts or hotels best fit you and your family.
In 2017, according to the Knot, more than 45% of couples overspent their wedding budgets by an average of more than $7,300. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area the average cost for a traditional wedding that same year was more than $39,000. And New York? Foggeddaboudit! The average cost there was $76,944.
These costs for traditional weddings and the potential for savings with a destination wedding are part of the reason that destination weddings have become increasingly appealing. Mexico and the Caribbean are among the most sought after locations due to the prevalence of all-inclusive resorts in these areas. But Hawaii is also among the favorites.
Some of your savings come from combining the wedding and honeymoon, but you also save a great deal on decorations because nature does most of that work for you by providing amazing backdrops and scenery. It doesn't hurt either that many resorts have complimentary wedding packages and discounted or complimentary receptions depending on your group size and your travel agent's knowledge and negotiation abilities.
If you're considering a destination wedding, contact Enlighten Excursions' Certified Honeymoon and Destination Wedding specialists today!
Be it the vibrancy of the music scene in New Orleans, the diversity of cuisine, or the ever popular Wine and Food Festival, the Big Easy is easy to love.
Although, the city is bustling with visitors year round, you will generally find the largest crowds from February to May when the major festivals tend to occur. Hurricane Season, from June to November, offers some bargain hotel rooms, but from June to August you can also count on sizzling heat & stifling humidity. September to November offers bargains and milder temperatures but watch the weather reports.
Our favorite time to visit New Orleans is late April. You will typically find sunny days and steamy nights to add to the delightful adventure of strolling the city.
You may also get the added bonus of experiencing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Enlighten Excursions just added a new link to the Passport section on our trip information page.
If, like me, you geek out about great new resources you’re going to love this new online tool that answers the title question: Do you need a visa to go there?
Actually, for all those questions that we explorers have about visa requirements when traveling from country to country, or with foreign travel companions, we can now consult Passport Index an awesome online resource.
Let’s face it, Visa regulations are not always straightforward and every individual’s situation can be different and sometimes confusing. Passport Index tools can assist you in understanding what type of visa preparation you’ll need to embark upon in order to minimize your travel surprises.
If your dream vacation involves soft white or golden sand caressing your toes, crystal blue temperate water and state of the art resorts, then Koh Samui is worth visiting. Touting a vast variety of beaches and resorts, you can vacation your way in Koh Samui. From romantic secluded villas to boutique wellness resorts like Absolute Sanctuary, to deluxe resorts offering dining, shopping, and nightlife entertainment like Anantara Lawana resort and spa, Koh Samui’s resorts are diverse. Santiburi Beach Resort & Spa, Sea Dance Resort and Sawadee Sea View are also good value options for romantic getaways. Enjoy the warm breeze and the culture of Thailand at the location that best suits your budget and needs.
The destination offers exotic tourist attractions such as the Big Buddha Temple on a small northeastern Koh Samui Island. The 40 foot high golden statue of Big Buddha rests atop the shrine which has amazing views from its platform. Numerous visitors and devotees visit year round and is one of the most famous landmarks of Koh Samui.
Additionally, Angthong National Marine Park is a marvelous place to explore natural caves, magnificent rock formations and stunning blue lagoons. The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo are two other attractions to consider as you explore Koh Samui. From bird shows to tiger shows you will find entertainment here. The Samui Aquarium also houses various sea marvels like giant catfish and sharks. You may also find yourself mesmerized by the majestic leopards, parrots, sea hawks and hornbills.
If you’re seeking an interesting learning experience combined with a little adventure, you might consider a visit to the Samui Snake farm. The Snake farm houses reptiles of various origins and sizes. Watch as snakes weave and writhe in the arms of snake wranglers. The shows are fascinating and highly informative. You never know when you might need to draw on the understanding you will gain here of reptilian defensive postures.
Koh Samui, Thailand is a beautiful, hospitable, place to visit and a great alternative to the ever popular Phuket, Thailand beach vacation.
If you want to explore more of Thailand on this vacation, you may want to start with Bangkok and Chiang Mai before retreating to your Koh Samui beach paradise. Either way, consider adding #KohSamui #Thailand to your #MustExploreList!
My best advice is to plan ahead and take reasonable precautions wherever you choose to celebrate your honeymoon or nuptials.
That said, there are a number of beautiful and romantic US locales for that dream wedding or honeymoon. One of my favorite US wedding and honeymoon settings is the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
Last week we discussed traveling to Washington, DC in the spring and taking in the beautiful cherry blossoms. But Japan is one of the best places in the world to see cherry blossoms in April. In Tokyo and Kyoto there are literally millions of cherry trees.
If you visit Tokyo in late March or early April you will generally find comfortable day time temperatures and, you will be treated to any number of blossom parties held in public parks, like, Ueno Onshi, Chidorigafuchi, or Asukayama Park. The blossoms also beam along the Meguro and Sumida Rivers.
Be aware that the Japanese celebrate Golden week at the end of April-- usually from about April 29th through May 4th, 5th, or 6th. Many Japanese workers take paid time off during this period to celebrate a series of holidays including, Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children’s Day and Constitution Memorial Day. This is an extremely popular time for the Japanese to travel.
Conventional wisdom says to avoid traveling to Japan at all during this time due to lack of transportation and hotel inventory and higher prices. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret, Tokyo is often the exception. Because a large number of Tokyo residents tend to travel to rural areas or out of the country, the city is relatively quiet at this time. Generally restaurants, public museums and most stores stay open on public holidays, so sightseeing should be pleasurable. Though, I can’t guarantee that getting beyond Tokyo on the bullet train will be a breeze during golden week.
Regardless of when you go, just know that spring is warm and welcoming in Tokyo. And, I always recommend booking your tours or accommodations as far in advance as possible.
Japan’s highest mountain, the active volcano Mount Fuji can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day. Those aspiring to hike the mountain should plan a trip for July or August.
Reminiscent of the renowned Eiffel Tower visitors are treated to a 360 degree panoramic view of the city from The Tokyo Tower, a communications and observation tower which is open every day. In recent years the Tokyo Tower has played second to the Tokyo Skytree.
The Tokyo Skytree is the world’s tallest tower and provides awe-inspiring views of the city towards Mount Fuji. If you have the time, you won’t regret squeezing them both in.
Another enchanting site in Tokyo is the Sensoji Temple an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. Beautiful in the daylight or illuminated at night, this is Tokyo's oldest and one of its most important temples.
I also recommend you add 21_21 Design Sight to your tour of Tokyo. This museum of experimental design created by Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake and constructed by premier Japanese architect Tadao Ando features innovative artists like Naoto Fukasawa and Frank Gehr.
Tokyo’s unique districts are fairly simple to explore via its efficient public transportation system. And trust me, from sushi to onsens, and shopping to karaoke, your inner adventurer will want to do some independent exploring.
Some popular districts to check out include Shibuya, Akihabara and Ginza. Akihabara attracts computer and technology lovers, while Shibuya and Ginza are popular shopping areas. Browse elegant boutiques and art galleries, people watch in the cafes, get the latest gadgets, and sleuth out rare and popular comic books. Personal confession time: no trip to Tokyo would be complete for me without a visit to a karaoke spot. Shibuya has a number of fun places for karaoke.
Music lovers should check out the happenings in the Shimokitazawa neighborhood, just a few blocks outside of Shibuya.
For more unique experiences visit one of Tokyo’s onsens--bath houses famed for healing and rejuvenation, take a tour of a sake brewery, or get tickets to a sumo wrestling match.
Tokyo cuisine will intrigue you. Of course my foodies will want to try the soba noodles, tempura and sushi prepared by master sushi chefs. Even if you don’t like sushi, you may just change your mind on this trip. Adventurers may want to try anything from blowfish and locusts to octopus ice cream. The Tsukiji fish market-- the largest wholesale fish market in the world, is a great place to sample sushi.
Tokyo is an ancient city teaming with modern innovation and cutting edge design. There are awesome opportunities to be immersed in the culture, people watch, explore, and just have a great time. It's definitely time to add Tokyo to your #MustExploreList