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5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
28 Sep 2017 09:10 AM
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People have lots of emotions when that last child leaves the nest. And not all of them are bad, by the way.

Many people find a lot of advantages in the Empty Nester lifestyle. In fact theres more freedom to come and go, more time to do the things they enjoy, and often, more money to spend on guilty pleasures and postponed plans like bucket-list travels.

If you’re an empty nester who has put off personal dreams for the needs of your kids, there’s something you should know.

Now is the perfect time to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.

Here are five reasons why it’s going to be better than you ever imagined, now that you’re on your own.

You Choose Your Own Travel Priorities

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

If you’re used to taking trips with your kids, you are probably used to skipping the galleries and museums that tug at your soul because you know your kids won’t enjoy them.

You probably pretended you weren’t really interested in that botanical garden anyway, just to avoid a squabble.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, all that’s about to change.

Want to spend a day Toledo, Spain admiring the Cathedral and Synagogue followed by a sipping Sangria at a sidewalk café? Does your dream tour of Spain include hours spent wandering the Prado Museum.

Exploring the fascinating grounds of the Granada Alhambra, free from the mutters of “Can we leave now?”

If you’re an empty nester traveler, that dream is your reality. You can visit every single World War II memorial and battlefield that captures your interest without constantly worrying that your children are bored.

And if you’re doing the Big Three (Paris, London, and Rome), you can check off all those bucket-list sights you’ve only ever read about until now.

Think of the places you can visit; Notre Dame, the Louvre, Sacre Coeur, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, the British Museum, the Tate, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Navona (the list goes on and on).

You’ve got all the time in the world to see things your way.

In fact, the travel advantages start before you even leave home. Imagine being able to choose an itinerary based around the cities and countries you and your partner really want to see.

If you’d rather skip the more traditional European hotspots in favor of a deep dive into the glorious countryside of the British Isles, it’s your choice.

You shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about skipping the tourist attractions if you want.

Enjoy the Most Unusual and Delectable International Cuisine

 

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Let’s face it, traveling, especially internationally, with kids often means looking for restaurants that serve boring American cuisine like burgers and chicken nuggets.

You may even find yourself lunching at McDonald’s when your kids turn up their noses at that charming fish and chips place on the Thames you want to try. That’s a tragedy when you’ve waited for years for your dream trip to Europe.

Traveling without kids, however, means you don’t have to account for their picky appetites. You can enjoy long, leisurely meals in true Italian style, as course after course—the primo, the secondo, the contorno, and the dolce—arrives at your table.

If you’re lucky enough to find a tour of a lovely Tuscan winery or sample a sip at a Munich biergarten—all the better. When you’re an empty nester, the sky is the limit when it comes to enjoying international cuisine.

Of course, you can’t overlook the sheer pleasure of waking up early and launching your day with nothing but a croissant and coffee.

Children need three squares a day, but you’re free to eat what you want when you want. And if that’s a bite on the go so you don’t miss a moment exploring, there’s no one to whimper, “I’m hungry.”

Best of all, perhaps, is that you can order even the most unusual dishes—think morcilla (blood sausage) in Spain, escargot (snails) in France, or gerookte paling (smoked eel) in Holland, for example. No one at the table will pull a face and call you weird.

Just one more reason it’s not so bad to travel without your kids.

Slow or Fast, the Pace of Your Tour Is up to You

5 Reasons Europe Is Best When You’re an Empty Nester

Remember what is was like taking your children to the zoo? They could dawdle for hours at the monkey enclosure laughing at their antics, but they’d rush right by the exotic birds you love to watch without even a passing glance.

They were in charge of the pace.

As an empty nester in Europe, however, nothing is further from the truth. Imagine you’re on a guided tour of European capitals on the day you’re exploring Berlin. In just one day, you might—

  • Visit the Reichstag and marvel at the huge glass dome.
  • Walk through the Brandenburg Gate.
  • Take your picture at Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Explore the bombed tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
  • Meander through the Kurfurstendamm and do a little shopping
  • Tour the Jewish Museum and the Topography of Terror—or any of Berlin’s amazing museums.
  • Enjoy a romantic dinner at the Restaurant Hof Zwei or other swanky inn.

There’s no space in that itinerary for dawdling or naps, something you have to consider traveling with kids.

And when that romantic dinner runs late in the night? Well, there’s no curfew for empty nesters. You can even go dancing in the moonlight when you’re done if it catches your fancy.

Your Schedule Is More Flexible Without School to Consider

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Empty nesters aren’t bound by the rigid schedules of children in school, when the only acceptable times to travel are winter break and summer vacation. Which are not the best times for visiting Europe, truth be told.

Of course, you could take two weeks in summer to visit Italy with the kids, but you’d have hot weather, large crowds, and higher airfare. You might even squeeze in a trip to London over Christmas break, if you don’t mind cold, wet weather and a crush of holiday shoppers.

Europe is really at its finest when most children are in school.

Springtime in Paris is the stuff of Hollywood love stories and Frank Sinatra songs. The cherry blossoms explode over the Ile de la Cite and the magnificent chestnut groves along the Champs Elysees erupt with sweetly scented flowers.

Holland is especially colorful at Tulip Time in April and early May, when the fields are bursting with colorful flowers.

And there’s nothing like autumn in Tuscany with its magnificent colors and fabulous weather. It’s the season of festivals and celebrating the harvest.

Truffles and porcini mushrooms, lush sweet grapes, and rich black olives and fresh-pressed oil are abundant in fall, making it the best time to visit for gastronomes.

When you’re an empty nester on vacation, you don’t have to miss a thing and you can stay as long as you like.

Even a three-week grand tour of the Heart of Europe® is possible.

You Can Spend More Money on Yourself for a Change

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Be honest, when you travel with kids, about 90% of your vacation budget is consumed on keeping them happy. Theme park tickets, silly souvenirs, and $6 sodas add up fast when you go to Disneyland.

As an empty nester, however, you can spoil yourself for a change.

Treat yourself to an opera in Vienna at the Vienna State Opera House followed by a luxurious dinner with fine wine and a sumptuous slice of sachertorte slathered in chocolate ganache.

Buy that one-of-a-kind Murano glass sculpture you can set on your mantle at home to remind you forever of your dream tour of Europe.

Take in the cabaret in Paris, a flamenco dance in Spain, a fado performance in Portugal or a theater production in London.

If you’re on a guided tour, go ahead and book that optional excursion to visit the Linderhof Palace in Bavaria or enjoy a Tyrolean Show. Marvel over the crown jewels in the Tower of London, glide along in a riverboat cruise on the Seine, or listen to a fascinating explanations of Pompeii.

Buy yourself something fabulous from a fashion house on the Rue Saint Honore or the Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris. Have your portrait drawn at the Tuileries outside the Louvre. Purchase a painting from a sidewalk artist or gallery.

Indulge your interests and, visit a vineyard, tour a sherry bodega, or learn how Waterford Crystal is made.

Treat your European tour like the once-in-a-lifetime adventure it is and enjoy every minute with yourself as the star. That’s something only an empty nester can do.

Final Thoughts…

Europe is always a marvelous place to travel, with or without your family.

But empty nesters have the advantage. You can make it the trip you’ve always imagined and see everything you’ve always wanted to see. And you’ll have lovely memories to share with your kids once you get home (and maybe even a box of exquisite chocolates, too).

If you’re ready to plan your empty-nester European tour of a lifetime, get in touch today. Why not spend Paris in spring next year?

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
25 Sep 2017 11:58 AM
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Ever wish you could go backpacking through Europe without the backpacking part? It’s possible to see the most magnificent places throughout the Old Continent with transportation and lodgings provided—all you have to do is go!

Here is the ideal itinerary for 22 days in Europe to see the ultimate sights:

 

Day 1: There’s nothing like that first sight of Europe as you come through the clouds during your descent.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

The moment you’ve been waiting for for months and months has finally arrived! Your international flight to Europe is about to touch down in Holland.

But let’s talk about preparing for this moment. Make sure to pack the appropriate clothing, shoes, electronics, toiletries, etc., before heading to Europe for three weeks. Travel insurance is always a good idea. Your tour operator will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have before heading out on your European extravaganza!

 

Day 2: Travel through Holland’s charming countryside, most of which is at or below sea-level.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Your first full day in Europe begins with a drive through the Dutch Lowlands. Because the majority of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level, you will see many dikes, canals, and windmills throughout the idyllic landscape.

Your stay in Holland will introduce you to the Dutch “gezelligheid,” a kind, convivial, comfortable feeling, which you will experience in the days ahead.

 

Day 3: Take a deep-dive into Dutch life during your day-trip to Delft.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

It’s all about the canals, cafes, and ceramics during your day-trip to Delft! As you walk through the picturesque streets, medieval architecture is everywhere you look. Corner cafes offering Dutch pancakes lure you in with their sweet scents. Be sure to stop and admire the charming canals that wind their way through the city.

In any store you go in, you’re all but sure to find the famous blue Delftware pottery. Pick some up for your dining room at home to always remember your time spent in Delft.

 

Day 4: “Lunching” Belgian-style includes sampling their world-famous waffles.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Head to Antwerp, Belgium today. Arrive in Antwerp for a full day of very different activities. On the way, sYou may want to stop atby the Margraten American Military Cemetery for an important and, which is an incredibly important and emotional experience. The graves of over 8,000 American servicemen from World War II are here. Pay your respects to the men who fought for liberty and justice for all.

 

Day 5: Glide through Germany aboard a pleasure boat on the Rhine River.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Willkommen in Deutschland! Welcome to Germany! And what a welcome indeed—you’ll board a boat to ride down the Rhine River. Your voyage takes you by quaint villages, medieval fortresses, and hillside vineyards known for their distinctive wines.

The village of Heidelberg and its castle exude the spirit of Germany. Explore the Old Town and be transported back in time to the days of knights and squires.

 

Day 6: Feel as if you’ve entered a fairytale in romantic Rothenberg.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Nothing can compare to the romantic hamlet of Rothenberg. This Medieval village seriously looks like it is straight out of a story book. Walk the cobblestone streets, hear the sounds of the bell tower, and stop in the many shops, including Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf where it’s Christmas year-round.

The Medieval Criminal Museum is a must. Learn about the different devices of torture and tools of punishment from more draconian times before lightening things up as you travel on the Romantic Road (one of the Top 10 Road Trips in Europe!).

 

Day 7: You can’t leave Germany without observing Oktoberfest!

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Even if you aren’t in Germany at the end of September (when Oktoberfest is celebrated), you can still enjoy the experience of drinking German beer and eating schnitzel to your heart’s content. The Hofbräuhaus is a one of a kind beer hall where the celebration of Oktoberfest goes on all year long. Be sure to try the traditional foods and hoppy beers during your visit.

 

Day 8: Austria’s Innsbruck ignites inspiration with its incredible mountain vistas.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Austria’s Innsbruck is one of those European cities you will fall in love with. The Imperial City (as it’s known) has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, has great skiing, and is an architectural beauty thanks to Maximilian I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1493 to 1519.

Be sure to check out the Bavarian Palace or Tyrolean Show and Dinner to get immersed in Innsbruck’s culture.

 

Day 9: Experience a subtropical climate while traipsing through the Dolomites.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

On the other side of the Alps lies Italy, a country full of history, culture, and good food (and wine!). In the north lies Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. Amidst the Dolomites, its sheltered location gives the area a subtropical climate rich in vegetation, including oleander bushes, olive groves, fruit trees, and grapevines.

Stroll along the lakefront and stop in the various shops and cafes for tasty treats. Gelato (Italian ice cream) is a wonderful way to cool off on a warm summer’s day.

 

Day 10: Venture around the Venetian canals, appreciating architecture along the way.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Italy’s city on the water has so much more to offer than just gondola rides. While those are fun and an absolute must while visiting, there is also St. Mark’s Square that includes St. Mark’s Basilica and the Clock Tower that can be explored on foot. Venice is a vibrant city with many restaurants, stores, and churches welcoming you to stop and admire their architecture.

A special Venetian Dinner can be arranged in a small courtyard, complete with wine and dessert! You don’t want to miss out on all that Venice has to offer.

 

Day 11: Cruise through the charming countryside of Italy en route to Rome.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

While today is primarily a “travel day,” no time is wasted as you wander through the hillside of Italy. Vineyards and olive groves sprawl across the tranquil landscape. Your journey takes you on the Autostrada del Sol (Highway of the Sun).

Consider during your trip the excitement that is to be had in Rome. What foods do you want to try? What wine do you want to sample? What historical landmark are you just dying to see?

 

Day 12: When in Rome, there’s more to see than just the Colosseum (although that’s a must!).

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Ah, Roma. The city is full of hustle and bustle while at the same time being incredibly ancient and historical. So many sites are waiting to be seen here. The Colosseum, of course, is a must. The Pantheon dates back to the 2nd Century AD, and while it used to be a temple, these days it serves as a church. And no trip to Rome would be complete without a stop by Trevi Fountain to make a wish.

The Vatican and Sistine Chapel are also essentials when in Rome. Be sure to check out Michelangelo’s famous art on the ceiling of the church.

 

Day 13: Roam through Italy’s capital city in search of authentic, delicious dishes.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Today is yours in Rome. If there are any sites you’ve yet to see, take time to go by them today. Another option? Eat and drink your heart out—well, not literally, but hey, you’re on vacation!

Try popular Roman dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all’amatriciana. Or sip a cappuccino at the Spanish Steps. And you can never go wrong with trying any of Italy’s wines.

 

Day 14: Time to take a picture of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Be honest, you know you want to get a picture that looks like you are holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. While a bit cheesy, it’s a must if you’re in Italy!

After a stop there, head into Florence in the heart of Tuscany. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the various piazzas (town squares) complete with countless sculptures and architectural masterpieces. Shopping is fantastic in Florence—markets full of leather goods and jewelry at Ponte Vecchio Bridge never disappoint.

 

Day 15: Lovely Lake Lugano is lush with lavish and luxurious lifestyles.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Can you believe there are palm trees just across the Swiss border? At Lake Lugano, you can take a picture with both palm trees and mountains in the background. The town of Lugano is known for its international banking and tourist industry. The affluent vacation here during their summer holiday.

Architecturally, the town is Italian, but is within Swiss borders. You’ll enjoy walking through the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent” on your first day in Switzerland.

 

Day 16: Lucerne offers memorable mountain views and spectacular shopping.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Surrounding Lucerne and its lake of the same name are many mountains, including the mighty Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Pilatus. But if the breathtaking views aren’t enough to make Lucerne a must on your European “bucket list,” perhaps the shopping and swiss chocolate will take it to the next level.

Swiss lace, watches, and wood-carved music boxes are all superb souvenirs to take home to loved ones (or keep for yourself!). But what must be enjoyed in the here-and-now is the delectable Swiss-chocolate. Grab a cup of hot chocolate (better than Swiss-Miss, I promise!) while you gaze at the gorgeous mountain-filled horizon.

 

Day 17: Say “bonjour” to Beaune, a medieval town in France’s Burgundy wine region.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

For your first day in France, spend some time in Beaune, a well-preserved medieval town in the French countryside. Burgundy is famous for its wines, which you can taste during an independent dinner.

During the day, you will enjoy visiting the Hospices Museum. Once a hospital during the 15th Century, these buildings now house items used in the hospital during the Middle Ages as well as a collection of furniture, paintings, pottery, and tapestries.

 

Day 18: Paris holds the key to an amazing history, visible in its art, architecture, and many museums.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

If there was ever a city to see, it’s Paris. The romance, the architecture, the art—the City of Light has it all. And an amazing place to see the whole city? Montmartre. On top of the hill sits Sacre-Couer Basilica, meaning Church of the Sacred Heart. If you look away from the church, you have a fabulous view of the entire city.

Choose to have dinner Parisian-style in a French bistro. Indulge in French wines, savory meals, and decadent desserts.

 

Day 19: Capture the many highlights of the “City of Light.”

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

One of the best ways to get up close and personal with Paris is a scenic Seine River Cruise. The Seine is renowned for being incredibly romantic—many movies have filmed famous scenes along its banks.

On the cruise, you’ll see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and many other famous historical sites. Be sure to stop in the Louvre for Classical artwork or Musee de Orsay for more modern pieces, like those of Claude Monet.

 

Day 20: Travel through the Tunnel to your last city on this tour—London.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Can you believe you’re already headed to your final city of the tour? The weeks have just flown. Take the “Tunnel” train, which goes under the English Channel, from Paris to London in less than three hours.

Once there, hit all of the famous London landmarks such as Big Ben, Hyde Park, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. London is a fantastic mix of the old and new.

 

Day 21: Hop aboard a double-decker bus to go wherever your heart desires.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

Today is your day to explore London as you’d like. Maybe you’re into shopping and are just dying to go to Harrod’s for floors and floors of stores! Or perhaps you’re enthralled by the idea of seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Piccadilly Square has a “Times Square” feel to it if you’re more into exciting nightlife.

However you choose to spend your day, be sure to soak in every second as its your last full day in Europe.

 

Day 22: Farewell to Europe—what a joyful journey.

22 Days in Europe: The Ultimate Sights

After a roaring trip through Europe, it’s time to embark on a plane towards home. Relive your trip on your flight with all of the pictures you took. Make sure to journal about your experience so that you’ll never forget it. Postcards make for great souvenirs—they forever capture the spectacular sights you saw and can easily be picked up in the airport.

 

Ready to pack your bags?

Can you see yourself experiencing the excitement of Europe? Get in touch today to start planning the trip of a lifetime.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
29 Aug 2017 06:44 AM
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Unless you are a Scandinavia-enthusiast, chances are you probably don’t know a whole lot about the northern European countries that gave us vikings, Thor, and lots of amazing fish dishes. But just because these countries aren’t showcased the same way that the United Kingdom, France, and Germany are doesn’t mean you should write them off.

The Scandinavian countries provide beautiful scenes that look like they are straight out of the movie Frozen (without having to hear that song 1,000 times during your trip!). And using a guided tour to see them is definitely the best way to travel the Nordic countries. In fact, here are 10 reasons why:

 

1. Researching all of the best places to visit (like Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen House) takes too much time on your own.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

If you’ve never been to Scandinavia, chances are you aren’t too familiar with its history or the best sights to see. An escorted tour ensures you see all of the important monuments, castles, museums, etc., without having to take the time to do the research yourself.

Take the Hans Christian Andersen House in Odense, Denmark, for example. Many of his stories have inspired pop culture hits today such as The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Snow Queen (read up on them all here). You should definitely visit if you’re traveling through Scandinavia, but without a tour operator, you might not even have known it existed.

Everyone has heard of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, but have you ever heard of Gamla Stan? Literally meaning “Old Town,” Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century and is the birthplace of Stockholm. Walking down the ancient cobblestoned streets feels like you’ve been transported back in time. The colorful buildings lining the roads and water add to the quaint and tranquil atmosphere of this medieval town.

While you may have thought to visit Stockholm, you might not have known about the charming suburb of Gamla Stan. Thanks to guided tours, missing out on beautiful and unique destinations is never a problem.

 

2. Travel through all of the Scandinavian countries and then some.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Imagine planning a trip to a European country. You want to make sure that wherever you go you will see the best of the best, right? Now imagine you are planning on visiting more than just one country. How about more than two? Three?

With a guided tour, not only will you see all the significant spots of Scandinavia, you can also see most of Northern Europe. In fact, it’s entirely possible to see a total of seven countries during your tour of Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Remember that trip you were planning yourself? Do you think you’d be able to cover seven different countries, seeing all that you want to in efficient amount of time? Don’t worry! The expert tour operators will handle all of that for you. All you need to do is pack your bags, hop on a plane, and enjoy Northern Europe!

 

3. Or if you’re pressed for time, stick solely to Scandinavia.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Life is busy. It’s hard to commit to over a week of travel, let alone two! But life is also short. It’s important to live it to the fullest, which means getting away and embarking on eye-opening adventures. And while seeing the majority of Northern Europe is a possibility, it’s not necessarily for everyone.

Can’t commit to being away for more than two weeks, but still want to see the heart of Northern Europe? By dropping the Baltic countries, you can still see all of the superb sights Scandinavia has to offer in only 12 days. This way, you won’t feel rushed while touring all four countries, but will still be home in less than two weeks.

 

4. Enjoy authentic, but tasty, meals all throughout your tour.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Let’s be honest—the best part about any vacation is taking a vacation from your healthy diet. You’re splurging on traveling to Europe, why not splurge on your calories for the trip too? And great news for the foodies—most of your meals are included on a guided tour!

Your tour company chooses hotels that serve daily breakfasts, usually buffet style (foodies rejoice!), that include a selection of breads, fruits, cold cuts, cereals, and more. Lunch is usually on your own, which is a fantastic time to explore the local cuisine for a smaller price than a dinner.

Speaking of dinner, while most are included with your tour, there are optional dinner excursions you can easily add on that also enhance the cultural experience. There could be no better way to immerse yourself in the Scandinavian experience than with a Viking Dinner. Enjoy an authentic, multi-course feast from the Iron Age, when Vikings ruled the seas. Food is prepared with spices that would have been brought to the Nordic countries during that time period, and each diner gets a glass of mead with their meal.

 

5. Nordic country-hopping is no problem when you’re on a guided tour!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Crossing the North Sea might seem daunting if you’ve never been before—should you fly across or take a boat? If a boat, what ferry system should you use?

Plus English is not the native language of any of the countries you will be visiting, and while it is commonly spoken globally, is it really worth the risk to find a cabbie who has no idea where you want to go?

Let your tour service take care of all of your transportation needs (including airport transfers)! That way, you know you are using a safe and reliable service while abroad to travel through Scandinavia and the Baltics.

 

6. Don’t let the different languages hold you back from the beauty of Scandinavia and the Baltics!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

There’s a great possibility that if you travel Scandinavia on your own, you could find yourself in a restaurant where all you hear is this. While we all love the Swedish Chef, it might make for a better dining experience if you know exactly what it is you are ordering.

If traveling with a tour company, however, your tour operator will have planned to visit destinations with English-speakers, but if a situation arises where the local language is needed, your tour operator will help navigate any language barriers. It would be a shame to miss out on something spectacular simply because neither you nor anyone you are traveling knows the Nordic languages.

 

7. If you are spending a lot of time and money on a trip, shouldn’t you let the professionals help?

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Let’s face it—traveling to Europe isn’t the same as a domestic trip. You are spending a lot of time and money on your tour of Scandinavia, so shouldn’t you invest wisely and hire the professionals?

Using a guided tour gives you the best value for your time abroad. Tour guides are professionals; they do this for a living. They will ensure you have the trip of a lifetime! How so? Your tour operator will know the history of a particular area, the best places to visit, and how to efficiently navigate the countries.

Don’t risk it—book a guided tour and protect your memories of a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.

 

8. Feel safe traveling through Northern Europe in a group setting.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

That age-old adage, “safety in numbers,” has stuck around for a reason. Pickpockets, thieves, and others of the like are more inclined to prey on the lone traveler or those traveling in pairs. With a group, there’s a greater chance of the perpetrator being caught or seen before they can even act.

The other good news? With a tour operator, there’s less of a chance that you’ll even be in an area where these sorts of crimes occur. Your tour company will choose reputable hotels in safe areas. If you were to book a hotel on your own, could you truly know that it was the “best” place to stay without ever having been there?

 

9. Ensure access to historical Scandinavian sites and monuments.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

What could be worse than reaching the museum or monument you’ve most wanted to see and finding out they are about to close or they are too full to allow you in?

Tour groups reserve their spots way in advance to ensure admission to popular attractions—and they dedicate enough time in the schedule for travelers to fully appreciate them. Your tour operator may even be able to get you into these places before or after regular visiting hours for a private viewing! Wouldn’t that be amazing for the fascinating Viking Museum on the Bygdoy Peninsula of Oslo or the marvelous Skansen Open Air Museum in Stockholm!

 

10. Need any help at all? You’ve got it!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Even the most prepared traveler can’t keep errant baggageman from losing their luggage. Should that catastrophe (because let’s face it, lost luggage is a catastrophe) happen to you on a guided tour, you are not alone.

Tour companies give you comfort because you know that if anything goes wrong, you’ve got someone on your side working to fix it. They are full of helpful travel tips and recommended travel insurance coverage for those just-in-case moments. For any need (lost luggage, forgotten toiletry, etc.), simply reach out to your tour operator and they will assist you in making things right! Traveling on your own means having to solve these problems—alone. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone in your corner?

 

Redo att gå? (That’s “Ready to go?” in Swedish!)

If you are ready to broaden your horizons and travel the Nordic and Baltic countries of Europe, be sure to click here to get in touch with us today.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
10 Aug 2017 05:50 AM
13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

If we’re being honest, does anyone really need a reason to visit Europe? Of course not! But just in case you’re curious, one of the many reasons that make the Old Continent so special is how easy it is to country-hop!

Once there, you can see so many of Europe’s diverse and noteworthy countries within a single trip! Truly, it’s possible, and not only possible, but incredibly enjoyable.

Here’s the perfect itinerary for an unforgettable tour of seven European countries in just 13 days:

 

Guten Morgen, Deutschland! Good Morning, Germany!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Finally, after months of waiting, planning, and anticipating, you’ve made it to Europe for the first time—phew! And your first country to see? Germany!

After an easy navigation through Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport (most of the employees know English and can point you in the right direction), it’s time to travel through the tranquil German countryside. Journey southwards to Schriesheim, a small town just north of Heidelberg, and where you will be staying the night.

As you settle in, you may appreciate the definition of the German “Gemuetlichkeit,” which expresses the feeling of comfort, coziness, and leisure you will experience in the days ahead.

Once your things are settled, set out for an afternoon of sightseeing in nearby Heidelberg, famous for its university, castle, and Old Town.

The romantic remains of Heidelberg Castle sit atop a hill, overlooking the city below. In the last 800 years or so, the grand structure was beaten, battered, and bruised, both by man and by nature.

Although many different invaders did their part in destroying the castle, the beginning of its ruined fate began in 1537 when the top floor was struck by a lightning bolt. Just a little over two hundred years later: a lightning bolt would strike the castle again, this time sealing its fate.

Despite its unfortunate circumstances, the castle remains one of the most visited archaeological sites north of the Alps and is truly a sight to behold.

 

Roam the romantic streets of Rothenburg, a town straight out of a story book.

Ever wished you could travel to the past? Well, although you can’t actually visit the 1500s, there’s still a way to feel like you have. Medieval Rothenburg brings the past to the present with its timber-framed houses and fanciful shop fronts; the whole village feels like a fairy tale.

Take time to explore the cobblestone streets, winding your way to Town Hall. There, climb the bell tower for a bird’s eye view of the quaint hamlet. Or, for a more circular view of the town, walk along its borders, atop the city walls.

While Rothenburg’s architecture alone is a sight to see, it’s worth mentioning a couple of sights indoors. The Medieval Criminal Museum exhibits excruciating torture instruments, such as thumb screws, dunking cages, iron maidens, and the ultimate executioner’s axe.

If you’re looking for a lighter point of interest, try Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf where it’s Christmas all year long. Classic German Christmas ornaments, figurines, and other assorted decorations can be bought here to enjoy for holidays to come.

End your day by traveling the Romantic Road to Adelsreid and partake in a well-earned libation while listening to the whimsical accordion.

 

You can’t leave Germany without an Oktoberfest experience!

Munich, the capital of the state of Bavaria, embodies the essence of Germany.

Meander through Munich’s Marienplatz, a pedestrian-only zone, where historical and modern architecture are cleverly combined. The spectacular Rathaus, or town hall, towers over the square. The Glockenspiel clock tower enchants visitors with its 43 bells and melodious music. Shops and restaurants adorn the square for a truly leisurely time.

Before departing from Germany, lunch at the Hofbrauhaus, which boasts an Oktoberfest experience year-round. Even for those who have not acquired a taste for beer, the traditional and festive atmosphere is a treat for all!

Although your time in Germany is about to end, you’ll be back for a final day before your trip is over.

 

Bask in the beauty of the Austrian Alps.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

It’s a new day in a new country: Austria. While you may know Austria best from a certain musical, no movie can do the beauty of this country and its breathtaking mountains justice. You must see it for yourself!

The alpine town of Innsbruck, most famous for hosting the Winter Olympics twice, provides a stunning setting for your first full day in Austria.

The capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck sits amongst the awe-inspiring alps and is bisected by the Inn River. No matter where you look, each direction has a worthwhile view.

No time in the Alps would be complete without a little yodeling. And who doesn’t love a good ol’ dinner and a show? Eat a quintessential Austrian meal of weiner schnitzel (pork) served with french fries and apple strudel; however, the real treat that follows your meal is the Tyrolean show. Delight in Tyrolean folk music, traditional dance, and expert yodeling to cap off your evening.

 

Sip Italian vino while viewing Verona.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

As Monty Python once famously said: “And now for something completely different.” Italy begins a new chapter in your European journey.

Move away from the cool Alps to the subtropical climate of Lake Garda. Due to the unusually warm temperatures for such a high altitude, vegetation flourishes around the water, including citrus trees, olive groves, and grapevines.

Wander around the lakeside or mill through the charming local shops. If it’s a particularly hot day (or even if it’s not!), you might enjoy some refreshing gelato as you stroll beside the stunning lake.

Continue your Italian travels to Verona, William Shakespeare’s setting for his star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. It’s time to indulge in a glass of Italian wine while having your dinner al fresco (that’s outdoors).

Glide through the city of Venice by gondola.

 

When you’re this close to Venice, you have to visit!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

The city, completely built on waterways, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Grab a gondola and glide around the narrow water channels, under bridges, or to a coffee shop for café.

While famous for its waterways, Venice is also known for its glass and art of glassblowing. Marvel at the skill by artisans or maybe find a souvenir made of Venetian glass to remember your time visiting.

A typical Venetian dinner concludes your evening with your choice of either a crisp white or smooth red wine.

 

See the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent” in Switzerland.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Can you imagine both snow-capped mountains and palm trees being within eyeshot? Known as the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent,” at Lake Lugano in Switzerland, you can actually see both. At such a scenic stop, why not have some lunch and soak it all in?

St. Gotthard Tunnel (a whopping 11 miles long!) takes you from the Italian side of Switzerland to the German side. Lake Lucerne and its surrounding towns await on the other side as well.

The monstrous tops of Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Pilatus look down from above, providing a beautiful backdrop for some pictures. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s tasty treats!

 

Sample Swiss chocolate and shop for souvenirs in Lucerne.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

The city of Lucerne may sit at the bottom of Pilatus, but it can hold its own against the towering mountain. Impressive bridges cross over the Reuss River, the most famous of which is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge).

See the wall of Old Town where eight watchtowers still remain or visit the Lion Monument, a stone carving that commemorates Swiss soldiers, who defended Louis XVI during the French Revolution, but lost their lives.

Sightseeing isn’t all there is to do in Lucerne: Shopping thrives here too! Delicate lace, luxurious watches, and wood-carved music boxes are just a few of the items that can be purchased amongst the various stores. But the real treat to buy while in Lucerne is decadent Swiss chocolate.

What’s the point of a vacation if you can’t indulge just a little?

 

Soak in stunning scenery as you travel from Switzerland into the Wine Region of France.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Time for the fifth country during your first European travels! Leave behind the Swiss Alps for the French countryside. Here you will travel through rolling hills, enchanting villages, and lush vineyards.

France’s wine region of Burgundy overflows with dry “Pinot Noir” red and “Chardonnay” white grapes. Why not sample a glass of your choice with lunch?

Stunning views grab your attention, whisking you to another time and place where life was more simple and relaxing. Enjoy the rest of your trip to Troyes before a big day in Paris tomorrow.

 

From the art to the architecture to the wine—Paris will leave a lasting impression.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

What isn’t there to do and see when visiting Paris? Love art? See ancient and Renaissance works in the Louvre. Or perhaps you’re more of an Impressionist fan? The Musee d’Orsay features the best of the best (Monet is a particular favorite), along with other modern works.

The city’s architecture doesn’t disappoint. From the Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, there are impressive historical structures wherever you look.

Maybe you’re most excited to wine and dine in the City of Light. That’s understandable. French patisseries lure you in as you walk by with their sweet aromas of decadent desserts and flaky croissants.

Don’t forget to grab a glass of sparkling wine: Champagne pairs well with chocolate-anything.

 

Antwerp offers the best of Belgian foods and culture.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Time spent in Belgium is short and sweet—make that very sweet: Belgian waffles and chocolates await! Antwerp is the second-largest city in Belgium (behind only Brussels). Here you may hear people speaking Flemish, which is similar to Dutch.

Saunter around the Grand Square, peek in and out of shops, or simply grab a bench and take in the sights and people to fully embrace the Belgian culture. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Belgium, you will certainly appreciate it.

Traverse across the border into The Netherlands, or Holland. The entirety of the western side of Holland lies below sea level, which is why there are so many of the famous dikes, canals, and bridges.

Windmills are also frequently seen throughout the country, traditionally used to grind up tradeable goods. These days, modern windmills provide wind power for The Netherlands. Rest up for Amsterdam!

 

The best way to see Amsterdam is by boat!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Did you know that Amsterdam has more than 60 miles of canals? That’s a lot of area that can be covered by boat. What a relaxing way to see a city!

Amsterdam is built upon a dam on the river Amstel, hence its name. Although it has been around since the middle ages, Amsterdam has become a must-see travel spot in just the past couple of years. Dutch art, such as pieces by Rembrandt (the most famous of which is The Night Watch), can be found in the Rijksmuseum, which opened in the late 19th Century.

Don’t miss out on the amazing shopping available in Amsterdam! Vintage and high fashion boutiques make up “The Nine Streets.” Or if those really aren’t your styles, perhaps you’d be more interested in the Bijenkorf department store, which is sure to have something for everyone. The Kalverstraat offers both fashion and a variety of Dutch souvenirs.

Should fashion not be your cup of tea, per se, you may enjoy the Bloemenmarkt or Floating Flower Market, the only one in the world. Holland’s famous tulips will be there along with many other floral favorites.

 

Finish your journey along the Rhine River.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

After a wondrous journey through the heart of Europe, it’s time to once again visit Germany for the final day. This time, see Deutchland by boat on the Rhine River. As you look out over the water and onto land, you’ll see endearing villages, medieval fortresses, and hillside vineyards as you pass by.

One of your final sights to see: Loreley Rock. Legend has it that a fair maiden’s bewitching chant caused a boatmen to crash into the side of the rock. While that won’t be your fate on this voyage, it’s always fun to appreciate the local folklore.

Get your last glimpse of Germany in the festive wine village of Rüdesheim, your final hotel destination for this trip.

 

Ready to go?

Are you ready to travel through the Heart of Europe? Get in touch to start planning your first (or maybe fifth?!) European adventure.

First Trip to Europe? 9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
03 Jul 2017 07:03 AM
europe-tour-smart-money

What are your European vacation goals? Maybe you’re setting out to see centuries-old architecture, like the Notre Dame cathedral. Or perhaps you’re a history buff and want to see monumental memorials in person.

Whatever brings you to Europe, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: It’s always a good idea to spend your money wisely!

Planning your first trip to Europe can seem daunting. You want to make sure you get everything packed into your trip (and packed into your luggage!), but you also want to make sure you get the best value for your money.

Perhaps you think an escorted tour breaks the bank, but actually, it’s the perfect option for your first trip overseas! Here are nine smart-money reasons why you should book an escorted tour:

 

1. It’s not every day that you travel to Europe—make sure you get the most bang for your buck!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Look, it’s a serious commitment to get to Europe — not at all like hopping a flight to Disneyland or embarking on a cruise. Shouldn’t you savor every minute of your time there? And that’s why an escorted tour makes sense.

Think about it: You’d never tackle a complex home repair — say a leak in your water heater, for example — without consulting a professional. Or even if you would, chances are good it would take you hours and hours and the end result wouldn’t be nearly as good as if you’d consulted a professional right away.

It’s the same thing with European travel. Sure, you could read about some interesting places to go, and honestly, you should do a little research. But if you’ve never been to Europe, wouldn’t it be better to leave the details to the pros? DIY solutions have their place, but your first trip to Europe isn’t really one of them.

An experienced travel operator makes sure nothing is wasted — not your time and not your money.

 

2. If time is money, don’t spend yours planning an itinerary — let the experts handle it!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Let’s face the facts: Vacations cost money. They also cost you time — time to book, time to plan, time to pack, time to travel. Well, if time truly is money, you could end up spending a whole lot of it just planning your trip.

That’s where escorted tours come in. When you take a trip designed and organized by professionals, you ensure the very best value you can get. Imagine an expert taking you around, giving the best insight into your destinations and making sure you don’t waste time on tourist-y things or inauthentic experiences. You’ll see the most important sights in each place you visit!

 

3. Eat smart - don’t save calories, but do save money!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Who wants to watch what they eat on vacation? C’mon, indulge a little! But don’t let your wallet suffer for it. With an escorted tour, the majority of your meals are included with the total price, meaning you aren’t going to pay a fortune for a meal every time you eat. Best of all, your tour guide knows the quality restaurants in every city you visit—you’ll get a great meal and a great value (and avoid the overpriced tourist traps, too).

Imagine sitting along a Venetian canal mid-morning, sipping caffé on the terrace of a coffee shop, soaking in the golden sunrays. How can you find that paradise? Simply ask your tour manager: Which way to pure, caffeinated bliss?

 

4. Dine and stay at the highest quality establishments, but at the lowest prices.

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Wouldn’t it be lovely to stay at a four-star hotel for a three-star price? By booking an escorted tour, awesome deals like that are at your fingertips. Often, escorted tour operators have relationships with quality hotels in the cities they visit and are able to get much better rates on accommodations than you could get on your own.

How can you trust that a company is able to provide such a bargain? Try looking at their mission statement or “About” page on their website.

 

5. All of your transportation needs are taken care of!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

What can be the biggest hassle while traveling abroad? The answer is easily transportation. Telling a cabbie where to go in Germany is not so easy if you know no German. And navigating the train and subway systems can be intimidating, even for experienced travelers.

With an escorted tour service, you can forget dealing with taxis and subways to get to dozens of must-see places or taking trains to get to many-miles-away destinations. All transportation is included in your tour cost and is usually well below the rates available to the general public. Plus, you’ll get door-to-door transportation without the hassle of getting to a train station. Don’t stress over how you are going to get to the remote Stonehenge—let your tour operator get you there instead!

 

6. The early bird gets the worm—and can even save money, too!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Tour groups often get discounted prices, and even early entry to museums and other points of interest. They can also get into exhibits or sites that may not be available without an advance reservation. In some cases, escorted tour participants may get in before opening or after closing to allow time to explore with less crowds.

Imagine a guided tour of Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s exquisite ceiling frescoes or a glimpse inside St. Peter’s Basilica and the breathtaking Pieta. This type of access is hard to get without advance planning and an expert guide — but those lifetime experiences make the difference between a “nice” vacation and a truly spectacular one.

 

7. Take advantage of professional assistance should something come up.

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Was your flight delayed? Did your luggage not make it over? Let the professionals help you! Dealing with unforeseen circumstances is difficult when you have never traveled to a foreign country before. It can seem impossible if there are language barriers, but your tour operator can help smooth over any difficulties.

Your tour company will also recommend travel insurance providers for additional assistance and to protect you against unforeseen situations. It’s extremely reassuring to know you’re not alone when you’re traveling abroad.

 

8. When you have a tour operator, fear not!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Your tour operator typically has insights into the best airfares and connections and can arrange your airline tickets for you. This also saves you time at the airport looking for transfers to your hotel, because in most cases, if your tour operator handles your airline reservations, they will be there right at the airport to greet you so you get started on your vacation right away.

 

9. Get a tip on — well, tips!

First Trip to Europe?  9 Smart-Money Reasons to Choose an Escorted European Tour

Save on all those little incidentals that can eat up your vacation budget. In an escorted tour, your tips for hotels, restaurants, even luggage handling are included in your package. You only need to worry about tips for your tour manager and driver (see FAQs for tipping guidelines). This makes life a heck of a lot easier for those who are not particularly math-minded!

 

The more you know...

When it is all set and done, you will be happy that you chose an escorted tour of Europe. Not only will you meet new people, feel safe in a group, and learn extensive information about your destinations, you will also know that every penny spent was spent wisely.

Ready to get a jump start on planning your European vacation? Get in touch today! And if you’re not quite sure, but want to know more, just request a brochure and learn everything you ever wanted to know about planning a tour of Europe.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
06 Jun 2017 09:52 AM
europe-traveler-book-advance

Arranging the European vacation of a lifetime doesn’t just happen two weeks before you depart.

It can take months to get all the details in order and properly prepare for your trip.

In fact, the best time to start planning your trip to Europe is up to a year before you take your trip.

Why? Here are 10 surprising reasons to book ahead:

 

1. Get the best possible discounts by booking your tour up to 17 months in advance.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

It’s no secret that if you wait until the last minute to purchase a tour to Europe, you’ll probably not get any early booking savings. In order to avoid steep costs for your international flights, buy the tour with air several months in advance.

While research shows that domestic flights are best priced around 54 days in prior to departure, for foreign flights, the earlier you reserve your seats the better.

Generally, international flights are available for booking 11 months in advance, and escorted trips can be booked up to 17 months in advance which means in June, you can schedule your trip through October of the following year.

If you are already planning to travel in 2018 then why not lock in your price, getting the best deal in the process?  And when you want us to take care of your flight just book the tour with air inclusive and we will take care of finding the best flight that will match up with your escorted Europe trip. We always offer the best prices to those clients who book the earliest.

 

2. Plan your Pre- and Post-Tour Extensions when and where you want.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

By booking escorted Europe tours months prior to your trip, you have a better choice of extensions.

European travel is incredibly popular, especially during the summer months. With a little advance planning, you can create great extensions — maybe even stop over in a city you’ve always wanted to explore for a few days after the tour is complete.

Popular extension cities like London are perfect for a short visit before or after your tour—but it takes time to do the additional planning.

Wouldn’t you love to see more of Big Ben or the Tower of London after your British Isles tour? That’s the beauty of planning your escorted Europe tour booking months in advance - with a little advance planning, you can see even more places on your bucket list.

3. Avoid sitting in the dreaded center seat at all costs.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Let’s be honest for a second: no one likes the center seat.

At some point during your transatlantic flight, you are both the “disrupted” and “disruptee.” Doesn’t it always happen that when you’ve just reached the best part of your book, the person at the window needs to stretch their legs? Or perhaps when you need to do the same, the passenger on the aisle has reached REM sleep?

Avoid the center seat dilemma by booking in advance. Then the only problem will be deciding between more leg room on the aisle or getting to see beautiful landscapes from the window!

 

4. Ensure your spot on the tour of your dreams.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Not only do seats on a plane fill up quickly, so do spots on a tour. Why wait, risking that the tour you’ve always dreamed of will be sold out? And if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, you won’t want to compromise with your second or third choice.

If you book ahead, you are virtually guaranteed to get a spot on the tour and departure date that works best for you.

Check out our 2018 tour dates to see what’s available.

 

5. Get your ducks in a row before you go.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

There are lots of details involved in international travel—give yourself plenty of time so there’s no last-minute stress.

For example: Your passport. Do you have one? If not, you’ll need a couple of months between applying for it and receiving it.

If you already have a passport, double-check that it’s valid at least six months from the date of your return flight or you’ll need a new one.

How’s your luggage situation? If it’s been awhile since you took a long trip, you may want to shop around for a new set of luggage with a good quality carry-on bag meeting today’s FAA regulations. Planning ahead means you can wait for a good sale!

Pick up a guide book and do some research about the places you are visiting. Make a list of the things you absolutely want to see while you’re in Europe.

Finally, go over your packing list to make sure you have everything you need for stress-free international travel—don’t forget comfortable walking shoes.

Talk with your cell phone service provider about international plans to save you expensive minutes. Buy outlet adapters so that you can charge digital cameras, cell phones, laptops, and other electronics.

 

6. Learn a few foreign phrases and enhance your experience.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Learning simple words and phrases may come in handy while traveling abroad. For instance, you may want to grab a taxi back to your hotel after a night at the Vienna Opera House.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know a few German phrases for tourists?

A little foreign language also makes for a great conversation starter when getting to know your fellow tour mates. Exchange the phrases you acquired before the trip with others, picking up some new conversation starters for your language rolodex. When in Rome, as they say!

 

7. Pick a time of year that best suits your schedule and best suits the weather.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Vacations provide an escape from our busy, busy lives—and sometimes, it’s hard to find two or three weeks to spend on yourself unless you plan many months in advance.

And of course, once you find your vacation sweet spot, you want to make sure the weather will be pleasant in your dream destination. A trip to Spain and Portugal, for instance, would be a completely different experience in October than in July.

The smart thing about reserving your tour well in advance is that you can see your favorite cities when they are at their best.

Haven’t you heard? You’ll love Paris in the springtime. And for that matter, London and Rome aren’t half-bad, either.

 

8. Organizing a trip abroad can be time consuming - take time to plan around everyday life!

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

Life never stops, it never slows down. Summer months are full of vacations, weddings, sporting events, and more. As you move into fall, holiday activities pack your schedule, and before you know it, it’s a new year.

Arranging your European tour a year in advance lets you work vacation-planning around all of life’s activities.

Take time between school events, sports activities, business trips - you name it - to research all the sights you want to see and foods you’d love to try.

 

9. The kids are back in school, so you have more time to focus on your dream trip.

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

September is back-to-school season for your children and grand kids. And that means you have a little more to spend on yourself and planning your bucket-list tour of Europe.

And if you’re planning a family adventure together, you’ll have everyone’s school schedule for the following year so you’ll know the best times to book.

 

10. And finally, planning a trip to Europe is just plain exciting! Why wait to get started?

10 Surprising Reasons Why Savvy Europe Travelers Book Their Tour a Year in Advance

The joy of a lifetime adventure to Europe goes beyond just the day you climb on the plane until the day you return to home base—the whole planning process before you go is packed with anticipation and excitement.

Who doesn’t love having something to look forward to? (And the sooner you book, the more time you have to dream about your journey and plan for each bucket-list experience you’ll check off your list.)

See yourself in Europe next year? Contact us today to get the planning process started.

Announcing 3 New Europe Tours for 2018

Posted by Editor3
05 Jun 2017 05:50 PM
three-new-tours-for-20183

We are pleased to bring you three new Europe tours for the coming year:

16-DAY  SCANDINAVIA & BALTIC HIGHLIGHTS

• Includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

• Departs June 14

• Featuring Tour Manager Richard Munning

12-DAY  SCANDINAVIA HIGHLIGHTS

• Includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland

• Departs June 14

• Featuring Tour Manager Richard Munning

18-DAY  HOLLAND & FRANCE FAVORITES

(Also known as "Best of Our West Europe" Tour)

• Includes Rotterdam, Delft, Zeeland, Bruges, Rouen, Bayeux, Normandy, Chenonceaux Castle,  Bordeaux, Lourdes, Carcassonne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Pont du Gard, Avignon, Cannes, Nice and Paris

• Departs September 28

• Featuring Tour Manager Ron Lazet

For itineraries and prices, see our website www.ImageTours.com.

We have already announced the Tour Managers for these new tours. Ron Lazet will be leading the Best of Our West tour and Richard Munning will be leading both of our new Scandinavia tours. We are announcing Ron and Richard now so that if you’ve had either of them on a past tour and would like to travel with either again on a different tour, you now have that opportunity.

 

Special Introductory Pricing for 2018 Tours . . . Book by 7/15/17 !

Posted by Editor
01 Jun 2017 10:05 AM
Our 2018 Europe Tours are now open for booking ... with Special Pricing until July 15!

So if you are thinking of traveling to Europe next year, now is a great time to make your reservation.  All scheduled departure dates are available.

To request an Image Tours Europe brochure with 2018 dates and prices from over 100 U.S. cities, call your travel agent, or click on the green Request Your Free Brochure button above.

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Fall Europe Tours Mean Lower Prices

Posted by Editor
02 May 2017 12:49 PM
Seasoned Europe travelers know that fall is one of the best times to visit Europe because the airfare is lower, crowds are thinner, and temperatures are milder compared to the summer peak season. Plus, if you time it right, there is the splendor of the fall colors. September or October Europe tours are still available. Hurry though as these departures are filling fast, especially September. Request your FREE 76-page Europe brochure today!

rhine-river-katz-castle-istockphoto-com

Five European Villages You’ll Fall in Love With

Posted by Editor3
25 Apr 2017 09:48 AM
When travelers first think of a trip to Europe, it’s the large cities such as Rome, Paris, and London that are usually at the top of their wish list to see.  But for many who have been to the Old World, it’s the time spent in the smaller villages that they remember most fondly.  Villages are intimate places … easy to explore and ripe with opportunities to mingle with the locals.

Here are five European villages you are sure to fall in love with:

1. Innsbruck, Austria

15 Reasons to Visit the British Isles This Year

The Alps dominate the landscape in this winter sports village.  The mountains are so close it seems as if you can reach out and touch them.  Hiking is naturally a popular activity in Innsbruck and it’s just a short stroll across the Inn River to the foot of the Alps.  The Winter Olympics were held here in 1964 and 1976 and a ride to the top of the Ski Jump Tower offers a breathtaking panorama.

Innsbruck was the seat of royalty beginning in the late 1400s and that is reflected in the architecture of its many beautiful landmarks.  The most notable is the “Golden Roof” balcony in the village’s quaint historic section, built by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I for viewing festivals and other events in the square below.   The roof of the balcony consists of over 2000 golden tiles.  Whether it’s for natural wonders or man-made beauty, Innsbruck is always a traveler favorite.

 

2. Verona, Italy

15 Reasons to Visit the British Isles This Year

Made famous as the backdrop for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, this medieval village sits in northern Italy to the west of Venice.  Although the lead characters in the tragedy are fictional, there is a 14th century residence that claims to be the home of Juliet, complete with a stone balcony where eternal love was declared.  A bronze statue of Juliet rests in the court yard and touching it is said to bring you luck in finding your true love.

The most impressive landmark in Verona is its first-century Roman arena.  The architecture is similar to the Colosseum in Rome and originally this outdoor venue held 30,000 people.  The arena is still used today for opera performances and in recent years for rock and pop concerts.   Much of the seating inside has been modernized, but some of the ancient stone seating is still used for events.

 

3. Riva del Garda, Italy

15 Reasons to Visit the British Isles This Year

To visit Riva is to experience a slice of Italian heaven.  Riva is an historic resort village that sits on the northern end of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake.  The panoramic views as you approach the lake are some of the most stunning in all of Europe.  Garda is a long and narrow lake formed by glaciers and the sight of the mountains rising out of its turquoise-colored water creates a dramatic sense of awe.

The pedestrian areas along the harbored waterfront are lovely to stroll and gelato (ice cream) shops beckon when you need a rest.  There is also a beach and park for relaxing.  The “Torre Apponale” bell tower, old city gates, and narrow meandering streets attest to Riva’s medieval history.  You may also detect some Austrian influence in the architecture as the village belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918 at the end of World War I.   Other resorts in Italy may get more buzz, but it would be difficult to find a more picturesque setting than Riva del Garda.

 

4. Volendam, The Netherlands

15 Reasons to Visit the British Isles This Year

Volendam is a small fishing village offering a large sampling of Dutch culture.  Here, you can still see locals dressed in traditional clothing from head (lace for the ladies and fisherman caps for the men) to toe (wooden shoes).  Walking along the tiny harbor, you can see an amusing variety of boats on the water.  If you continue along the harbor street, you may find yourself walking between two rows of small homes where neighbors compete for the tidiest entrance and window displays.

Along the water, there are shops that sell the pretty blue and white Delft pottery as well as many other souvenirs. There is also a cheese shop where you can watch a video on how the cheese is made.  Friendly cafés invite you in for coffee and Dutch apple pie, while street vendors offer delicacies from the sea such as smoked paling (eel) and raw herring.   Also be sure to try Dutch pancakes or poffertjes (mini pancakes).

 

5. Rothenburg, Germany

15 Reasons to Visit the British Isles This Year

Walking into this Bavarian village is like stepping into a fairy tale.  With its timbered houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and wall surrounding the town, Rothenburg’s medieval atmosphere will make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time.  This charming village of just over 11,000 people is situated on the Romantic Road in the south central part of Germany.

There’s so much to explore here.  Climb to the top of the town hall bell tower for a bird’s eye view of the village or stroll the foot path atop the village wall.  For a refreshment, stop by a bakery to sample some strudel or sip apple cider from a street vendor in the town square.  As you might imagine, there are many interesting shops to check out such as Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf, a sprawling, year-round Christmas shop.  There are also several unusual museums including a Medieval Crime Museum, History Museum with Town Dungeon, and Doll and Toy Museum.  You’re certain to find the village of Rothenburg a magical place with a little something for everyone!

 

If this is the year you want to start looking at a trip to Europe, request our FREE 84-page Europe Tour brochure today.

 

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