Ahead of each change in the seasons my family gathers round the table, each with a list in hand. From the grownups down to the eight year old – everyone gets a chance to share. This is part of our travel ritual. Where are we going? What will we see? What’s the year’s newest travel trend we’re longing to give a go?
A Disney destination of some form Invariably makes the list. Beyond that though, I’m often surprised by the ideas brought – literally – to the table. When I had the chance to chat with an industry insider about 2015 travel trends, I couldn’t pass that up.
This summer I’m going to have the coolest ideas!
John Golicz is the brilliant mind behind the Travel & Adventure Show Series. Open to travelers – and those who aspire to be – the shows attract over 130,000 people annually as the largest series of travel shows in the United States. As founder and CEO of Connecticut-based Unicomm, John has put together a team that creates hands-on experiences that educate and inspire travelers expand their boundaries, helping them to plan, book and take trips that enrich their lives in ways that only travel can.
After thirty minutes with John my list grew exponentially. Here are some of the new places I added and what John had to say about them.
A perfect ‘Starter’ destination for families who are looking to delve into the Asian travel experience. Being that Taiwan is an island, getting around is an easy task. A 2-hour train ride can take you from a vibrant city with a slightly ‘Western’ feel to a pastoral village that is a step back in time. Taiwan is a paradise for adventurous Foodies. Both modern and steeped in tradition at the same time, it’s gives a sense of the China experience with better air quality and fewer adjustments.
For the outdoorsy types and shutterbugs the stunning natural wonders make Iceland a must see. Glaciers, volcanoes, and don’t forget the Northern Lights – there is just so much to see here. Not only easy on the eyes, it’s also easier on the budget. The Swedish Krona (as of the writing of this post) is around 1 for every 12 cents in US dollars. That will buy the adventurous eater quite a bit of Hákarl (cured shark meat – the national dish of Iceland.)
Less traveled and cheaper than Costa Rica, Nicaragua boasts beautiful beaches, modern hotels, and epic surfing – not many ankle busters here. Into adventure travel? This is where you want to be. Hiking to a volcano? Um… okay. They’ve got enough of those to for you to do nothing but. If you want to experience all that Nicaragua has to offer – BEFORE everybody and their Aunt Millie catches on – do it soon! (check out this great piece on 15 things to in Nicaragua do penned by Nomadic Matt)
I love how John put this, “Istanbul is the crossroads of the world…” In all honesty Turkey has been on my list for years – even before the White House Travel Blogger’s Summit where Turkish Airlines hosted an amazing event and invited us to visit. Living in Spain I was always enamored of the Moorish influences abundant in the the architecture. Istanbul is like a living classroom where culture, food, and history literally come to life. Walk through the market an discover spices that ensnare the senses. Visit a museum that houses artifacts that date back to the birth of civilization . Sip coffee that is as much a cultural event as it is a morning pick-me-up. Plus, what Disney-loving kid doesn’t want to play Aladdin?
I didn’t really need John to tell me this one. We spoke a week after I got back from Ireland. Always a great place to take the family, Ireland – and much of Europe – are now even more family-friendly with the strength of the dollar. My last visit was in 2010 when the Euro was strong enough to leave the old bank account bruised. This go around the dollar bounced back and opened up even more options. A seven day rental car was less than $200, allowing us to get lost in the most magical of places.
Beyond the destinations John had some great tips for traveling with your family, and even the extended family.
Let The Kids Do The Planning
John allows each of his kids to plan an entire day of the trip. The rest of the family can tag along, or go do their own thing. The idea is to give each child the opportunity to do something they’re excited about rather than keeping everyone on one rigid itinerary. As a result John and family have toured the sewers of Paris and the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Turns out both were very interesting places – who knew?
Go For The Villa
A recent trip to the Dominican Republic brought John, his wife and kids, siblings and their brood, parents and a slew of mulch-generational family members together. How do you manage the needs, likes, and … well… dislikes, of a group that size?
Get. The. Villa.
Having a home-base that everyone can have their own space in, come back to on their schedule, and generally just go with the flow does wonders for traveling with different age groups. Renting a big house may sound pricy, but when you split the bill it can be more manageable – and less expensive – than multiple hotel rooms. My family are big fans of the vacation rental.
Let The Local Be Your Guide
I’ll just put this out there, I have never been a fan of guided tours. In fact I rather loathe them. Something about being herded like cattle into and out of points of interest makes me get the willies. Not to mention it can make you a target for everything from jacked-up prices to petty criminals. John has a different point of view. Arrange a private tour guide. Skip the guide with the flag and microphone and get an intimate look at both the famed attractions and local favorites with an expert who actually lives there. Many times students serve as tour guides to earn a bit more, some tours are guided experts on the history, food, or culture of the city you’re visiting. There are even resources out there that will match you with a local guide who can tailor the tour just for you.
I can’t wait for our next gathering. With a list like this at least ONE of my trips is sure to make the cut.
Want more expert tips from travel insiders? Check out John’s latest venture; 1000TravelTips.com.