Author Archives: Ross Lockhart


Why Greece is the Perfect Family Getaway

greece_new You’ve wanted to go to Greece your whole life. The allure of those idyllic Greek islands surrounded by endless crystal-clear turquoise waters. The abundance of marble ruins scattered across the land, each with a tale of a mythical legend or a philosophical genius that would forever shape our civilization. Or maybe you simply want to over-indulge in a Mediterranean diet with fresh fruit, fish, vegetables and seasoned with virgin olive oil to nourish your appetite.   But you’re not just taking a holiday for you anymore.  You’ve got children, and maybe grandchildren, and nothing is better than exploring the world with those you love. Instead of doing another family vacation to a resort or a theme park, you want to take them somewhere exciting, vibrant in culture, rich in history and with jaw dropping scenery that will create memories to last for the rest of your lives. You already know the reasons why you want to go to Greece, but here is why it is also your next perfect getaway for the entire family. Fun for all ages Depending on your age, if you well into your golden years and planning a retirement vacation,  just starting a family, an adrenaline seeking teenager or an inquisitive pre-teen, your idea of ‘fun’ might be different than the next member of your family. Greece has a way of making everyone feel young again as each destination creates a sense of excitement. Whether it is standing in the shadow of the Acropolis, climbing a 17th century Venetian fortress, testing out your vocal abilities in a 2500 year old theatre or wandering the pirate-proof alleys of an idyllic Greek Isle before finding one of the many beaches that makes Greece so dreamy. We craft each journey to make sure our excursions are varied and interesting. When we explore a museum in the morning, we do gentle walking tour in the afternoon. The next day goes in a completely different direction and lets imaginations run wild while visiting an historic castle or set of ancient ruins. The point is to keep each day fresh, with a focus on the best of what there is to offer but never let the trip hit a dull moment. Guided tours aim to be equally informative and interactive, so that no eyes get glazed over in the process of learning. We enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, because we all know kids benefit with freedom that comes with fresh air. Easily accessible and comfortable For family tours, one key component of ensuring a comfortable journey is in simple details like spending at minimum 2 nights in the same hotel. No unpacking means more time to explore and less fuss. Less fuss is always good when travelling as a family. Hotels are always well appointed, close to the action but in a quieter part of the city. With a tour, someone else always takes care of the details, leaving you time to relax. We always use the highest of quality in transport, whether that is a large hydrofoil or ferry or an air-conditioned motor vehicle or a taxi. When it comes to the travelling between sites, none of the distances we travel in Greece are too great, all of the routes are incredibly scenic, so you won’t have worry about who’ll be first to ask ‘are we there yet?’ Memories that will last a lifetime The most important part of a family vacation is to have fun in a meaningful way. As you travel Greece in a smaller group sizes, you’ll find it to be a more rewarding experience that you’ll remember for years to come. In the Greek culture, family is the strongest bonds one will have and from the moment you touch down in Athens, locals will make you feel like you’re apart of their family. Greeks give a hearty and warm welcome to all ages, and our destinations are low in crime so that everyone feels safe to exploreWhether you are a first time explorer or a seasoned traveller, Greece has the ability to leave a mark on its visitors. Your memories of long days of laughter will be set with a backdrop of Mykonos’ sugar-cube houses. Your sense of awe will be awoken in marble ruins fit for the gods and you’ll be telling intriguing stories for years that could rival the legends of Hercules. You’ve known forever that you’ve wanted to go to Greece; why not share your sense of adventure with the whole family?


Experiencing Vietnam’s Culture to the Fullest

Vietnam is a country of contrasts. It is also a country that stimulates every single one of the senses. Fast-changing city skylines feel miles away from the breathtaking rural villages and timeless landscapes bursting with beauty.

The country’s pulse beats at a quick pace in the thriving metropolitan cities, complete with a never ending hum of moto­taxis and lingering scent of spicy street food stalls open from dawn until well after dusk. Just the opposite: the countryside encompasses an eternal pause that could define the word zen. Water­logged rice paddies stand still in the lines snaking through the valley floor between the karst mountains, as the sunset melts into a golden dream beyond the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay.

Once a country so divided and overwhelming news stations with stories only of unimaginable horrors, the current Vietnam is a complete dream to travellers. Rich in both modern and ancient history, culinarily gifted, boasting surreal landscapes and a nation filled with determined people who are incredibly generous friendly and generous. For a first timer, a trip to Vietnam can be sensory overload, so how can one experience Vietnam’s culture to the fullest? Here are three easy steps that will ensure you experience it all: Seek out the new and the old With a human history dating back 25,000 years, to say Vietnam has a varied culture is an understatement. Throughout its years, Vietnam has been invaded or occupied by the Chinese, the Mongols, the Dutch, the French, the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chams, to name a view. While historically a nomadic people, the hill tribes of Vietnam vary greatly as well. Even in the smallest of villages one can find several different tribes, each with its own customs. While traditional stilt houses remain intact and in use for some tribes, most of the cultures of these people are beginning to transition into a modern era in which they are more interactive with outsiders. Perhaps the mix of historical influences is best discovered with architecture. Easily found are Japanese pagodas, Imperial “Forbidden City” characteristics fit for the Chinese emperors, Hindu temples, neo­classical lines of a French colonial opera houses or European style balconies and cafes to a distinctly Vietnamese mix of all. Less ancient history takes one to tunnels where the Vietnamese escaped during the brutal war bombings. Everything took place beneath the soil: living, dying, weddings, and births. For the visits good for the soul, one can seek an abundance of religions. Roman Catholic churches brought by the French, delicate temples dedicated to Hinduism created by the Chams and 20th-century icons of the eye used in humanistic religions popularized by the mass following of dispossessed peasants. With a small group tour, the sensory overload of new and old is easily broken down to understand and appreciate both the large and grand sites and the small unexpected ones. Eat everything Ask the most seasoned of Vietnam travellers what their favourite part of Vietnam is and the food experience will likely be at the top. From the fresh fruit and fish markets, the outdoor street vendors with plastic chairs and hot soup, to the upscale restaurants with million-dollar views to sip rice wine from or the small cafe serving French baguettes, ­ there are plenty of options to choose from. Try to indulge in the pho (soup) and taste the difference between the Chinese-influenced variety in the North, the spicier take in the South, and the more complex soups with more herbal infusions in the coastal areas. You’ll be hard pressed to escape without testing a seafood dish and the coffee lovers will relish a cup perfected after being brought over in the early 1800s during the French colonial era. With a tour, your taste buds will have a variety like never before and each meal planned to show you the best flavours to represent the country. Learn from a local It’s no secret that those who live in a place know it better than any outsider can. With a small-guided group tour of Vietnam, you’ll be taken on a journey to explore both the old and the new. Guided visits to museums, world heritage sites, cities, national parks, rural villages and more. This makes it one of our top destinations for seniors or those looking for a richer cultural experience. Meals will be in local establishments, not hotel buffets, and with a small group you’ll be able to move easily within the at times chaotic cities. You’ll always be able to hear the guide, the pace will always be mindful of rest time that allows you to have some independent time to explore and soak up all the first-hand knowledge you’ll learn along the way. Take a tour of all the highlights of Vietnam to best experience its culture. Every one of your senses will thank you.

How To Plan The Perfect Retirement Vacation

For many, it is one of the most difficult questions to answer:  where do I go for my vacation post-retirement? After years of making your mark in the business world, the time has finally come to find a new focus. The unique opportunity arrives where you can design your own schedule, engage in new cultures, taste different cuisines, admire world wonders and discover another lifestyle that was far removed from your daily routine. Retirement is the perfect time to see the world. Whether it is the first vacation you take after retiring or one you take decades after leaving a post, it is invariably a difficult decision to make. Prior to booking, the amount of questions and concerns that can arise can cause a great deal of stress, so much so that all enjoyment and anticipation in the planning process for your vacation can be ruined. While some travellers prefer to go it alone, booking their own hotels, transportation and activities after hours of destination research and guidebooks, others see the value in relying on travel experts. Do you try out a small group travel tour for seniors or even go with some friends and family? With a professional preparing an itinerary that matches your interests, pairing you up with like-minded individuals who are keen to discover new cultures and explore foreign lands can be highly beneficial in getting a personalized and cultural experience. With so many options, variables and questions that can arise along the way, we decided to compile a quick guide to outline how you can start planning and preparing for the perfect retirement vacation:  

1. Where to go?

The deciding factor on where to go is centred mainly on personal preferences relating to interests and comfort levels. Do you like warm climates and cultural tours with a focus on historic sites? Perhaps exploring the Peloponnese, an area of Southern Greece brimming with fascinating ancient sites, ruins and relics of a bygone age. Or, perhaps you are more inclined to bask in breathtaking vistas and get active while on vacation? In which case, a tour of Patagonia with short hikes along some of South America’s most iconic trails is more likely to pique your interest. patagonia Spectacular Patagonia is a popular destination for the active traveller To keep the planning as simple as possible, why not make a list of your passions/interests and think about how you can incorporate them into a vacation of a lifetime? To name a few points of consideration: historical vs modern, art vs nature, museum visits vs first-hand observations, cities vs nature, wildlife vs culture.  Next, be realistic about how much exercise you want to do and, indeed, how much you will be able to do in your new environment. Remember that many European cities have cobblestone alleys that can only be explored by foot and sometimes the most remote nature reserves in the world can be explored by bus. The terrain you’ll be contending with is a big factor when it comes to choosing a destination, as is the weather – be mindful that hotter climes will take their toll on stamina and endurance. Be sure to consider your destination’s environment when making the final decision on where to go and consider how that might impact your mobility level. cobblestones_kinda Some European countries have terrain that can prove difficult Lastly, decide on a time of year that works with your schedule and what type of climate you’d like to find yourself escaping to. You may consider traveling somewhere warm like Central America during the colder seasons of your country of residence, while getaways in Central and Eastern Europe offer some wonderful sightseeing opportunities while escaping the summer heat. caribbean Central America and the Caribbean offer a great getaway for winter If there’s a specific activity or experience you’d like to enjoy, options might include bird watching in Brazil, photography in Asia, or an in-depth cultural tour that incorporates visits to tribal villages in Africa. Make a list which will at least narrow down the options. If you are travelling independently, you can use the list you compile as keywords to finding a destination that suits you. If you opt for a group tour, you will benefit from your representative’s expert knowledge relating to destinations, their sights, their accessibility, and, ultimately, their suitability for you.  

2. Where to stay?

The multitude of options when it comes to accommodation can be daunting:
  • Do you like to be in the centre of it all or farther afield, more remote and quiet?
  • Do you want five-star luxury, or would well-appointed three- and four-star hotels suffice?
  • Is it just somewhere to rest your head or part of the experience?
  • Where you stay is based heavily on where you go.
If you are booking independently, finding a place to stay will require a lot of research based on all your requirements and the information you can find online or elsewhere. Elements such as optional breakfast inclusion, wifi,, location options, past traveller experience, and so on. If booking a tour, however, accommodation is handled by professionals who have been to the area, who choose accommodation best suited for the type of traveller, and who base their decisions on feedback and recommendations from past clients.  

3. Do I need travel insurance?

While purchasing travel insurance is entirely a matter of personal choice, we  recommend it 100% of the time.   Start by finding out what you are already insured for. Some credit cards, medical plans and homeowners insurance have coverage that extends to travel -  but it’s crucial to read the fine print to ensure you are covered. Having medical insurance abroad is always a good idea. Thinking of accidents, illnesses and more extreme situations is certainly not the fun part of planning  vacation, but invariably it is better to be insured and not need it than face extortionate medical bills if the unforeseen were to happen. Optional insurance coverage would include things like baggage, trip interruption, cancellation, identity theft and political evacuation. You can buy insurance that covers just the basics with a few options, or a comprehensive insurance for every situation imaginable. Do your homework on what you are already covered for, and what you’d like to be covered for just in case.  If in doubt, ask a professional who sells insurance and consult your country’s travel advisories.  

4. Will my medical conditions be an issue?

If you haven’t travelled before, it is difficult to know how your body will react abroad and we’d suggest a tip of 21 days or less as your first vacation. Every day people travel around the globe with medical issues ranging from osteoarthritis, neurological ailments like mild Parkinson’s, to high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes, sleep apnea, and post-cancer treatments. If you have concerns, ask your doctor before you plan your trip whether it is safe for you to travel, and if you get the go-ahead, ensure you bring all your medications with you. Always pack your medications or medical equipment in your carry on, with a few extra doses as availability to prescriptions varies in foreign countries.  

5. What else do I need to know?

Be warned that the perfect retirement vacation often leads to further wanderlust! The more you discover, the longer your list of places to discover becomes. Small-group-travel tours often attract lifelong learners who have led successful careers and are keen to learn about the world around them. This is often true because the smaller groups offer a more personalized and richer cultural experience that you simply won’t find anywhere else. While planning your perfect vacation destination, don’t be surprised if you happen across several more spots that will undoubtedly number among your inevitable next journeys abroad.

Top 3 Travel Destinations For Seniors

It’s a big wide world out there and sometimes the hardest part of taking a trip is deciding where to go. As a lifelong learner, you know you want to travel somewhere with history and learn about a culture that is completely foreign to your own. As someone with a sense of adventure, you’ll want to be active and adventurous, with awe-inspiring nature and fascinating historical site within easy reach. And, most importantly, now enjoying your golden ears, you’ll want to do it comfortably.  Wake up in a clean, cozy room, sample sumptuous local delicacies and have  plenty of time to explore each destination in depth with ample time to recharge between excursions.   With the world at your feet and a near-limitless number of destinations from which to choose, we wanted to make one decision a little easier for you – where to go. We asked our well-travelled clients and senior industry travel professionals about the recommended top travel destinations for seniors. Here are the top three destinations that are consistently top rated: Classical Greece and the Greek Islands greece A civilization that changed the course of history to represent the way of life we know. While recently receiving more bad press than good for economic factors, Greece is nonetheless the founder of democracy, the inventor of the Olympics, home to some of the most idyllic islands in the world, and so much more. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere that inspired generations of artists, philosophers and pioneers with its mythology and be inspired by sites of antiquity dripping with historical significance. Taste the extraordinary flavours of the Mediterranean, brimming with fresh products and family recipes perfected over generations. Discover endless blue horizons as you and your group set sail to your very own Greek Island, away from the crowds.  Marvel at a tapestry of modern wonders weaved with mediaeval charms in each uniquely quaint city and village. Greece is a naturally diverse country with soaring mountains in the north and gorgeous white-sand beaches in the south. It is so much more than just a backdrop to some of the most romantic island getaways.   Greece is an easy destination to get to and a hard place to forget. Spring and fall are the perfect times to visit Greece as the weather is still warm, yet the country sees fewer crowds. Brazil, Chile and Argentina chile Mixing eco-tourism with dynamic and transforming cities, exploring Brazil, Argentina and Chile gives a wide look at life in South America. As the location of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Rio is once again in the spotlight as the city and country upgraded services making travel more comfortable. In Brazil, begin your tour in the Amazon, the world’s largest river and most diverse eco-system. Moving south, you’ll encounter a purpose-built capital more reminiscent of the 1960s than the modern day, before escaping to a far-flung ranch with more birds than people.  Stand in awe beneath Rio’s towering Christ the Redeemer statue that stands watch over the great city, before experiencing the gentle mist from the waterfall platforms that are so close that they almost touch the world-renowned Iguacu Falls. The hustle, bustle and colour of Buenos Aires, the so-called Paris of South America, is truly a sight to behold, and the Swiss-inspired  villages set deep in the lake- and mountain-regions of the Andes are sure to astound. Patagonia will pull at your heartstrings as you tour the pampas, glaciers and mountain ranges that make its beauty famous. Set route for the end of the world, where you’ll cruise the Beagle Channel with its teeming birdlife and breathtaking snow-capped peaks. To warm your fingers and whet your appetite, fly to one of the world’s premier wine regions, Mendoza, where you’ll fall in love with more than the Malbec before crossing the Andes on a series of hairpin switchbacks and finishing in the colonial city of Santiago. Vietnam and Cambodia cambodia Cruise the natural beauty of Halong Bay with emerald green waters, interspersed with over 1,600 scattered islands, each with limestone cliffs rising dramatically out of the waters. Get lost in the eight-and-a-half-century-old Angkor Wat. Criss-cross the maze of temples, overgrown with banyan trees, massive in size and sprawling an area that needs to be seen to be believed. Experience the dazzle of Hanoi, complete with elegant pagodas, interesting museums and local puppet shows. Imagine a culture influenced by the civilizations of China and India as well as the colonial rule of Britain and France; an area with dense jungles, exotic animals, peaceful rivers, and the Mekong Delta with its fertile plains providing a feast of fruits for filling up to your heart’s desire. Planning the perfect retirement vacation starts with selecting a compelling location, rich with cultural experiences and memories to cherish for years to come. Now the only question is, what are you waiting for?