Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
There can be nothing more full of hope and promise for the future in this holiday season for a traveler than a gift that speaks to that wanderlust. The holiday spirit is manifesting differently this year, but nonetheless splendorous.
And travel companies offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals which can make that bucket list that much less costly but still as valuable. There are so many that you should just check the websites of travel companies, tour operators, hospitality companies you are interested in, but here are some examples:
&Beyond is offering 20% discount on its series of ‘7 Wonders in 7 Days’ itineraries designed to offer a longer stay in one destination with less travel time for travel dates through Dec. 15, 2021. Each itinerary includes conservation and community experiences as a way to do good while travelling. The discount will apply to a selection of itineraries across Africa and South Americaon inquiries made on Cyber Monday (Nov. 30) only. https://www.andbeyond.com/cyber-monday/
G Adventures is offering up to 21% off select worldwide tours (like Costa Rica, Iceland, Peru), $1 upfront deposits and 21% off My Own Room (gaadventures.com, 800-280-5214).
REI (which I love for clothing and specialized equipment, especially when they offer sales) is also an adventure travel company, and is offering 10 percent off 2021 private departures booked by Nov. 23. For groups of four or more, the cost per person is actually the same as our regular trips. Call for an estimate: 877-326-0470, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurtigruten’s Black Friday sale offers savings up to 50% off pp, and book with discounted deposit of $500 pp. Hurtigruten operates premium expedition cruises on small, purpose-built, hybrid ships designed specifically to sail in remote waters and reduce carbon footprint to Alaska, Antarctica, the Caribbean & Central America, Greenland, Iceland, North America, the Northwest Passage, Norway, South America, and Svalbard (Hurtigruten.com, 888-412-2590)
The White Elephant Resorts portfolio, including Jared Coffin House, The Cottages, The Wauwinet, White Elephant, and the Boat Basin in Nantucket, and newly opened White Elephant Palm Beach in Florida (debuted November 4), will offer 20% off the best available rate on bookings made from Black Friday through Cyber Monday for travel through Dec. 31, 2121. (www.whiteelephantresorts.com/ Booking code: Cyber)
Island Outpost properties in Jamaica, Strawberry Hill and The Caves, is offering 30% off bookings (minimum two nights) made from Black Friday through Cyber Monday (for travel January 4-December 19, 2021, with holiday blackouts).
The Setting Inn, Napa Valley will offer 30% off all three-night bookings made from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, including $100 credit at Bottega Napa Valley restaurant and $100 transportation credit with Beau Wine Tours for travel Nov. 27, 2020-March 31, 2021.
The Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort & Spa will offer 21% off all two-night bookings made from Black Friday through December 1, 2020 for travel through April 30, 2021. The Meritage Collection will also donate $21 per stay to the First Responders Children’s Foundation to support the families of first responders. https://meritagecollection.com/specials/black-friday-offer
Gift the gift of genealogy: start tracing roots for a future trip to discover heritage. Ancestry.com is offering 20% discount on gift memberships (through Nov. 25). Then, trace your family story on genealogy tours, created in collaboration with Ancestry, where each trip includes an AncestryDNA® kit and pre-trip family history review and a genealogist from AncestryProGenealogists® accompanies your tour group to answer questions about your heritage. (https://www.goaheadtours.com/travel-styles/heritage-tours, 800-590-1161; check Black Friday deals).
Heritage tours are a whole genre. Here’s another: Dromoland Castle, a 16th century castle-turned-hotel set in the countryside of County Clare, Ireland is offering a new genealogy package for families looking to trace their Irish roots. After filling out their family history, the in-house genealogist, Lorna Maloney, will host a private 45-minute Zoom call to give a genealogy review, then prepares the full results along with next steps on familial connections or travel suggestions. This can take place over Zoom or, ideally, at the Castle over tea and scones. The genealogy package starts at £220 for the Zoom conference, and nightly rates at the hotel start at $367 per night, double occupancy. (dromoland.ie)
The South Africa-based adventure, ecotourism and safari company, &beyond, is offering a slew of travel gifts that don’t require travel, including virtual experiences such as three-hour safaris; private, one-on-one sessions with conservation and marine experts; a virtual, interactive birding masterclass with leading birding specialists; virtual cooking masterclasses; a safari-themed children’s party; virtual session with certified nature and forest meditation therapy guide; yoga sessions; a virtual tango lesson; authentic African handicrafts and luxury accessories; or give a voucher for future travel (www.andbeyond.com/magazine/10-gifts-that-dont-require-travel/, andbeyondsafarishopping.com/)
Travel Gifts that Give Back
Many major travel companies that adhere to the principles of sustainability and responsible travel also are deliberate about giving back to communities and conserving heritage and resources. Among them Pure Adventures, Overseas Adventure Travel (Grand Circle Foundation, www.oattravel.com/oat-difference/grand-circle-foundation), Butterfield & Robinson, Austin Adventures (Wheels of Change) and Wildland Adventures (just acquired by Austin Adventures, which has Travelers Conservation Trust, www.tct.global) and The Travel Corporation (ttc.com), which is a family of 40 travel and hospitality companies.
TTC’s charitable foundation, TreadRight, is using holiday gift giving to benefit its project partners and sustainable initiatives around the world – artisans and conservation projects hard-hit by the collapse of international travel. TreadRight is bringing these artisans to you:
Butterfield & Robinson also has a foundation that supports conservation and cultural projects (https://www.butterfield.com/about/we-give-back/) as well as an B&R Artisan Marketplace promotes the small businesses and independent artists that you would otherwise encounter on trips (https://www.butterfield.com/br-artisan-marketplace/)
Give the Gift That Keeps Giving
Travel is a gift that keeps giving, living inside with memories and life-enhancing, life-changing experiences, with developing a global citizen value system, and forging bonds among family and friends. A way to immortalize those memorable travel experiences and family events is to create a photo book (the entire process online). MilkBooks.com, a New Zealand-based company, produces superb quality photo books and albums, offering great value, excellent customer service with online chats or by phone, and timely delivery (you need about 2-3 weeks), and offers discounts for first-timers.
The gift of travel is the gift of together, of time, of memory, of life-changing, life-enhancing experience, of new perspectives and new awareness – of self, of others, of our place in the world and time itself. It is the gift that keeps giving.
Travel destinations and providers get into the holiday
spirit with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and special deals and make it easy to
package The Gift of Travel.
Hotels in national parks are in such high demand they rarely offer discounts…but they do during Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Xanterra Travel Collection’s annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale features up to 40 percent off hotels in Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Zion and Yellowstone. Also on sale: tickets on the historic Grand Canyon Railway, luxury hotels (The Broadmoor and Sea Island), Windstar Cruises, VBT Bicycling Vacations and Country Walkers. Details: www.xanterra.com/Thankful.
Whole countries are on sale: Ireland is promoting special offers of its
partners including Great Value Vacations, The Irish
Tourism Group, Brendan Vacations, CIE Tours, Railtours IIreland, Tenon Tours,
Authentic Vacations and Insight.
More than 20 hotels, resorts and villas in Saint Lucia are offering significant Cyber Monday booking specials (up to 60% off!) on luxury resorts, family-friendly accommodations, private villas, hotels overlooking the iconic Piton mountains, beachfront accommodations, and more. Most of these limited-time specials are available for booking starting on Cyber Monday and several are offering these deals to “early birds” who wish to book before then. (www.stlucia.org/specials/cyber-monday-specials for details)
Perillo Tours and resorts like Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont, as well as chains like Hilton all have special timely offers.
Even themeparks like LegoLand California Resort is discounting its various pass offerings starting at 12 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29 through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, exclusively through its website.
Basically, anything that
you have been thinking about, fantasizing about, anything on your bucket list,
check out the company’s website to see whether there are holiday specials.
Many tour operators, including Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold and other sister companies of The Travel Corporation (ttc.com) are offering enticing discounts for early bookings and many travel entities – hotels and resorts, cruiselines, tour companies, spas (Spafinder), ski resorts (think about gifting ski passes like EpicPass, Ikon Pass or Liftopia) and cruiselines (cruisecompete.com is a good source) – have gift card programs and are offering special discounts for the holidays.. Some have gift registries where multiple gift-givers can contribute.
Liftopia’s annual Cyber Monday sale begins Nov. 26 at 5 pm PT through Dec. 3 at 9 pm PT. Give the gift of ski this holiday, or simply use this opportunity to snag the best deals of the season by purchasing lift tickets online and in advance. Purchase a Liftopia Gift Card and get a bonus credit up to 25% (spend $100-$199, get a $15 bonus gift card; spend $200-$299, get a $40 bonus gift card; spend $300 or more, get a $75 bonus gift card). Purchase at www.liftopia.com.
Many of the grandest Historic Hotels of America members, each one distinct with deep connections to place, offer gift cards – like Wentworth by the Sea, NH; Omni Grove Park Inn, Mission Inn & Spa (the list goes on and on) – just inquire. To see members, visit historichotels.org and its European counterpart, Historic Hotels of Europe, www.historichotelsofeurope.com.
Sebasco, a fabulous
resort on the mid-Maine coast that manages to be rustic and luxurious at the
same time is offering a deal where if you purchase a$150 Sebasco Gift Card by December 13, you get a $25
gift card for free or for a $500
gift card, a $100 bonus gift card free (sebasco.com, 877-636-0085).
These are just examples. The key here is that if there is a destination, a cruise, a resort you want to “gift” to your loved one, just ask if a program is available. Check expiration dates and how the gift card can be used.
Trips That Make a Difference
Often, just showing up is a way of sustaining, revitalizing communities with tourism supplanting obsolete extractive and exploitative economic pursuits. Many travel programs and tour companies are now designed to sustain the environment and heritage of local communities, hire locally, donate a portion of the tour costs to benefit local communities (building schools, creating water projects) and even are organized around opportunities for travelers to participate in local life or projects.
Pure Adventures (pure-adventures.com), a boutique biking and hiking tour operator offering private, custom, independent and guided travel in Europe, Asia, South and North America, as a member of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund, contributes a portion of the trip fee to support conservation efforts around the world. (Check out this year’s projects)
Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), which is part
of Boston-based Grand Circle Corporation’s family of travel companies, supports
the nonprofit Grand Circle Foundation established in 1992 by owners Alan and
Harriet Lewis to support communities in which Grand Circle works and travels,
including some 300 humanitarian, cultural, and educational endeavors worldwide,
among them, 100 schools in 50 countries. The Foundation is an entity of
the Lewis Family Foundation, which has pledged or donated more than $169 million
since 1981 (www.oattravel.com).
Off Season Adventures (offseasonadventures.com, 619-971-0823), a Hoboken-NJ based tour company which is specifically organized to support local communities.
There is a whole category of “sustainable travel” companies and projects that not only structure their travel programs with social responsibility in mind, but leverage the power of travel and tourism to improve the lives of people and their environment. Many are represented by Center for Responsible Travel (responsibletravel.org), Global Sustainable Tourism Council (gstcouncil.org), Earthcheck (earthcheck.org), the Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org) and Sustainable Travel International (sustainabletravel.org).
The very act of traveling benefits communities by spurring an
economy that sustains culture, heritage, the environment, community, and forges
a mutual understanding that can translate into foreign policy.
But for those who want to go even beyond to improve conditions
for people, there is a category of travel, Voluntourism, that
organizes travel to a destination to volunteer for good purpose – whether it is
participating in scientific research, working to save a species from extinction
or save the planet, or helping disadvantaged communities, or rebuilding after
some disaster, as in Puerto Rico.
launched philanthropic-focused itineraries in Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa to
give guests a first-hand look at its core ethos of caring for
the land, wildlife, and people. The activities range from
adopting an elephant at the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Kenya to
participating in local school conservation lessons in Tanzania to visiting the
Grootbos Green Futures College in Cape Town, an organization that provides
educational training to unemployed young adults in the city (www.andBeyond.com)
Earthwatch Expeditions enable you to join
scientists in the field as they research urgent environmental issues, in places
that would otherwise be closed to visitors. Expeditions address wildlife and
ecosystems, climate change, archaeology and culture, and ocean health, for example,
researching lions and their prey in Kenya, rewilding the Scottish Highlands and
studying orcas in Iceland. (800-776-0188, 978-461-0081, www.earthwatch.org),
Sierra Club arranges around 90 affordable volunteer trips each
year through its Sierra Club Volunteer Vacations to engage in
hands-on conservation work like building and maintaining trails, removing
invasive plants and assisting on archaeological digs. For example: park
maintenance in Hells Canyon, Idaho (with transportation by jet-boat up the
Snake River Canyon), forestry service at the New York Botanical Garden (a
50-acre urban old-growth forest) and native-bird habitat restoration on the Big
Island of Hawaii (with hiking in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park). (https://content.sierraclub.org/outings/volunteer-vacations)
Adventure Life incorporates voluntourism
into some of its trips. For example, on its trip to Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Volcano,
travelers lend a hand with reforestation efforts, painting interpretive signs
and performing trail maintenance; a trip to Costa Rica’s Pacuare Reserve for
whitewater rafting also includes two nights with biologists for research at an
important nesting ground for leatherback turtles; a cruise to the Antarctic
Peninsula enables travelers to take part in citizen science projects aboard the
Village Experience expanded upon its
fair-trade retail shop (which supports local craftsmen) to create an ambitious
program that brings travelers into their villages, creating another stream of
But don’t expect that because you are volunteering your services
the trips are cheap, sometimes you pay for the privilege of doing good and your
fees help support the mission.
On the other hand, during the holiday season, many of the operators
offer substantial discounts for early bookings.
For example, Lindblad
Expeditions-National Geographic has a new Alaska Family Offer,
where with discounts for up to two children 22 and under traveling with two
full paying adults on select 2020 Alaska departures: save 50% departing in May
and August and save 25% departing in June and July. Also, there is Free Air for Adults from Seattle to
Alaska for booking select 2020 Alaska departures by Dec. 31, 2019. .
There is a whole category of experiential trips that not only
enrich and inspire and make the world a better place, but support important
institutions like National Geographic, the Smithsonian (which also offer
student and family programs); Outward Bound, Road Scholar, Sierra Club (sierraclub.org), just a few examples.
Through the National Geographic Global Explorers Program, kids and teens learn to develop the skills and curiosity of an explorer while working alongside our certified field instructors -observing the behavior of blue-footed boobies, painting watercolors using glacier ice, or filling a field journal with wildlife sketches of all kinds (www.nationalgeographic.com/expeditions). Traveling with National Geographic helps further the work of its scientists, explorers, and educators around the world (natgeo.com/giveback).
wedded to the idea of a material gift? There are umptium possibilities for the
travel-bound, especially where some special-interest or activity that requires
special gear or equipment is involved like skiing, biking, hiking, scuba diving
or safariing is involved.
You can purchase some needed gear while also supporting the cause. For example, go to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s trail shop for all-new Great American Rail-Trail jerseys, gift memberships and trail guidebooks and help realize the dream of an a nation connected by rail trails (railstotrails.org).
are big on the list for travelers, with size and functionality among the key
criteria. Some of the new smaller, mirrorless cameras have as much functionality
as the larger digital SLR and use interchangeable lenses but tend to be fairly
costly (in the $1000 range). What I look
for when purchasing a camera for travel: decent digital zoom, ISO range, image
stabilization, video capability, battery life, how fast the camera focuses and
shoots and WiFi capability.
For something like a safari, you would need a good DSLR with great lenses to cover the various focal lengths, but for, say, a biking or hiking trip, that is, what can I wear around my neck, shoot with one hand while riding a bicycle that gives excellent quality images, image stabilization, decent zoom lens, auto focus, is fast and responsive on/off/shoot, and is reasonably priced. I have found the Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS70 to be ideal for this kind of travel (offered at $100 off, $298, at B&H), Panasonic Lumix DMC AZ100 (now on sale at B&H; B&H consistently has best inventory, prices, and holiday specials, plus excellent customer service, delivery and return policies, www.bhphotovideo.com, 800.606.6969, 212.444.6615).
experts at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo also recommended: Canon PowerShot G1 X
Mark III (24.2 megapixel; 3x zoom, 24-072mm, ISO 100-25600); Canon PowerShot G5
X Mark II (20.1 megapixel, 5x zoom,
24-120mm f 1.8 lens, Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III (24.2 megapixel, 3x zoom,
24-72 mm); Nikon Z 50,s Nikon’s first DX-format mirrorless camera.
20.9 megapixels, ISO 100-51200, which uses interchangeable lenses; Olympus OM-D
E-M5 Mark III features dustproof, splashproof, freezeproof construction in a
compact and lightweight body.
and GoPro-style cameras are also great gifts, as well as new accessories (like
attachable lenses) that enhance the excellent photo capability of smartphones
to give them more of the functionality of a camera.
getting your traveler a waterproof camera for those adventures into the
rainforest, snorkeling, whitewater rafting and such.
Gift giving can support important institutions at the same time. Many of the great museums and institutions of the world offer some of the most interesting, innovative and creative items in their gift shops and you can support their endeavor by shopping online or through catalogs (check out holiday specials): the Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org), the American Museum of Natural History (www.amnh.org), the Art Institute of Chicago (855-301-9612), Smithsonian (Smithsonianmag.com). The Nassau County Museum of Art and New-York Historical Society usually have special items oriented around major exhibitions (www.nyhistory.org), to list just a few.
and aquariums and special attractions are fantastic to shop at, especially for
kids: The Palm Beach Zoo (www.palmbeachzoo.org), for example, has
eco-friendly items. There are also Adopt-an-Animal programs. The Bronx Zoo has
similar programs and an online store (www.bronxzoostore.com). And you don’t have to
visit the Kennedy Space Center, to get space-related items (www.thespaceshop.com),
though visiting offers incomparable experiences. You might also consider
gifting special experiences, like Zookeeper for a Day or an Overnight Campout
at a Museum.
Another gift idea is to purchase family memberships in these entities, which gives a sense of “ownership” and encourages multiple or multi-day visits as well as giving access to benefits. Just call or go online to your favorite museum, zoo, aquarium, preserve, historic site or attraction. Often the memberships give you broad access like the Smithsonian Institution, Sierra Club (they produce a catalog of trips), National Trust for Historic Preservation (savingplaces.org)and its sister organization Historic Hotels of America (www.historichotels.org), Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Parks & Trail NY, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
Darn Tough: Made in
America socks for just about every purpose, that comes with a lifetime
guarantee and the benefits of Marino wool (no odor; when hot, it wicks away
moisture, when cold, it keeps you warm). Socks tailored to hiking, running,
endurance, skiing, biking, hunting, work and lifestyle. Founded by Ric Cabot in
2004, a third-generation sock maker, the company operates out of Cabot Hosiery
Mills, in the Sock Capital of the World, Northfield, Vermont. Colorful, a great
stocking stuffer. (www.darntough.com).
Lowa Boots, a
Connecticut based company that is in partnership with a German company founded
in 1923, is famous for four-season specialized outdoor footwear for hiking,
backpacking, mountaineering and walking, as well as everyday use. Available at
Paragon, REI, Zappos and 450 independent specialty stores as well as online (www.lowaboots.com).
Ecco Outdoors creates
ergonomic footwear that have their own version of natural motion, unique to
each foot. The shoes are produced in factories in China, Vietnam, Indonesia,
Thailand, and Portugal and sold in 90 countries from over 2,200 ECCO shops and
more than 14,000 sales points. (www.eccousa.com).
For the hardcore adventurer, consider the Bivystick, a recently launched two-way satellite
communication device that works with your smartphone with a flexible data plan,
and offers the benefits of a GPS unit and satellite two-way communicator to
send messages, track/share location information, access GPS maps, get updated
forecasts an d notify EMS in the event of an emergency when otherwise off the
grid. The company also produces Bivy, a software application that identifies
the details, location and full path of tens of thousands of trails, waterways
and climbing routes. (www.bivy.com).