Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is a Wellness Vacation for You?

 Traveling to take a break from the daily grind is not a new idea.   Due to our busy lives today and the constant presence of social media it is sometimes hard to focus just on yourself.  This is where wellness travel comes in.  Whether you travel with a small group or if you prefer to travel solo, a wellness trip will give you the opportunity for some serious "me" time.  Regardless of whether you want to maintain your healthy routine associated with wellness living or take a break from the stress of daily life, a wellness vacation can be a tonic for the mind, body, and spirit.



Wellness Travel Trends 
Recently, wellness travel has started to trend becoming popular with people of all ages and from all walks of life across the globe.  This type of traveler seeks destinations that include new health experiences that go above and beyond a spa treatment. The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness tourism "as journeys made by tourists who seek to improve or maintain their well being during or as a result of their trip." And, this type of travel experience is popular with an estimated 17 million travelers identifying themselves as being "healthy and wellbeing" focused; and with a surprising 40% of those interested in wellness traveling regularly.



What to Expect 

For many folks, the first thing they think of when considering a wellness vacation is a spa treatment, bland meals, lots of restrictions, and luxurious accommodations.  Wellness travel has come a long way from that!   As the popularity of wellness travel grew so did the variety of activities available to travelers seeking this type of travel experience.  The key to a successful wellness vacation is to find the right balance of wellness activities and Tours of Distinction has curated a new wellness retreat that does just that.

  
Elements of wellness travel provide authentic experiences that put you first helping you feel refreshed and energized.  Imagine taking a hike to look for exotic wildlife, practicing yoga on a deserted beach, meditating at sunset, and fresh farm to table meals that tantalize your taste buds, these are all elements of a wellness vacation.  


Wellness travel is about rejuvenating and finding balance in your life.  You might learn about a healthier way of eating, collect new recipes, or be inspired by hiking, paddle boarding, biking or yoga.  You might even shed a few pounds, although wellness travel is more about the reduction of stress and your overall mental and physical health than it is about losing weight.




The Galapagos Retreat with TOD

Tours of Distinction has made planning a wellness trip easy with the development of a new tour to Ecuador and the fabled Galapagos Islands called the Galapagos Island Retreat that is perfect for small group travel whether you are traveling with friends, as a couple or flying solo.  




The Galapagos Retreat will host no more than 18 people for eight days, from September 23-September 30, 2019, and include fourteen meals.  This journey begins in the cosmopolitan city of Quito, Ecuador, home to the Basilica del Voto Nacional, the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the world.  For the next five days, the group will explore five Galapagos Islands, practice yoga on the beach, learn about the unique wildlife that makes these islands their home, snorkel, swim, paddleboard and enjoy healthy and fresh local cuisine.  





This tour also offers complimentary airport transfers within 50 miles of the departure airport, a Tours of Distinction Tour Director,  and a certified Yoga Instructor.  All gratuities for the Tour Director, Nature Guides and Drivers are included in addition to Galapagos Park entrance fees and all excursions per the detailed itinerary.



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Five Top Places for Solo Female Travel

One of the most common reasons why women don't travel is because they worry about traveling alone, even in regard to group travel.   There are worries about being bored and safety.  All this is changing according to Google.  Searches for solo travel for women is on the rise and has hit an all-time peak of 100 million Google searches this year.  The Travel Industry Association said that 32 million women travel alone each year. And, tour operators like Tours of Distinction have seen an uptick in requests for women traveling solo and for group travel that is solo travel-friendly.  




Traveling solo is a way to unwind and to immerse yourself in another way of life without having to think about anyone but yourself.   This type of travel can be rewarding because it gives you complete and utter freedom, there is no compromise and no debating with others; it is essentially being selfish without it being a bad thing!  As a solo traveler, you are apt to be more open to talking and connecting with people living in the destination that you are visiting.  Just think of all the amazing people you can meet and learn from as a solo traveler.



The Wander Woman's Index reviews some of the best places for solo female travel on a variety of factors in order to rank and assess what destinations are best suited for solo travel for women.  Some of the factors that were considered include safety, women's rights, culture, scenery, adventure, and culinary options, all factors women claimed were important to them.  The following are five highly rated destinations for solo women travelers.

Japan





Japan was the highest scoring country on the Wander Woman Index list not only because of its' incredible scenery but also because it has a very low crime rate.  There is so much to do and see in Japan from exploring fast-paced cities to meditating in serene Buddhist temples.

France




The destination that ranked second on the Wander Woman's list was France because of its high score on women's rights and amazing culture.  TOD is offering a cruise on the Hidden Canals of the Loire Valley that is solo travel-friendly.  This tour allows travelers to leave the group and cycle along historic canals.  Paris is another favorite in France.  It is an extremely walkable city that is ideal for women to explore on their own. The TOD tour offers a day and a half on your own in Paris before setting out for the Loire Valley, making this a great solo travel option.  For tour details click here.

Spain



Spain ranks third on this list because it ranks high for its culture, amazing art, and culinary scene. Tours of Distinction's Spain History to Heart is a solo friendly tour that offers plenty of time to explore this legendary country on your own.  Barcelona is fairly simple to navigate, the food is excellent, and the cultural attractions are amazing.  For tour details, click here.

Italy




It is not a surprise that Italy comes in at number four on this list. Rome is on the bucket list for so many travelers including solo women travelers. Italy ranks high not only in its culture but on its world-renowned artwork found throughout the country.  Italians tend to speak English and are warm and friendly people making it easy for solo women travelers to socialize.  Tuscany also ranks high with solo women travelers.  This destination has been popularized by books such as "Return to Glow: A Pilgrimage of Transformation in Italy."  TOD's Sailing the Western Mediterranean stops in Italy, Spain, and France that allows solo travelers to check off all three of these destinations.  A real plus on a cruise for solo women travelers is that they enjoy the convenience of an itinerary and secure accommodation and the fact that they only have to unpack once. For tour details click here.

Iceland




According to internet searches, Iceland is ranked high by many solo travelers because it is not only considered safe but also friendly.  Iceland ranks high for an abundance of natural wonders from glaciers and volcanoes to pools of bubbling mud to the surreal Blue Lagoon.  The capital city is easy to navigate with a myriad of interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants. A favorite time for solo travel is in the summer when there is almost 24 hours of daylight.  TOD Iceland Inspired tour offers a variety of solo-friendly options to explore this fascinating destination on your own. For details click here.





Solo travel gives you as much as you put into it. Be confident, be well prepared and be safe - use your street smarts. And, always remember, a smile can go a long way in helping you meet like-minded travelers and locals that make your destination of choice their home.  Tours of Distinction is happy to help you choose the right destination and help you customize your solo friendly tour. For more information, click here.

Travel Tip Tuesday - Five Great Gifts for Travelers

The holiday season is in full swing this month, which means it is officially the time to start looking for the perfect present for people on your gift list!  If you have travelers on your shopping list, we have a few ideas of handy travel items to consider that they will actually use!  We are suggesting gift ideas that Tours of Distinction Staff have found invaluable over our many years of travel. So whether you head out to a National Park or explore the temples of Thailand, you will find the suggested travel gear below worth your consideration.  All of the suggested gift items are below $50 and many below $20.


Travel Gear Gift Ideas

Shawls 

A shawl wrap always comes in handy on the road. It packs easy on a carry on and will keep you warm on the plane when the air conditioning is cranked up to high.  A silk shawl dresses up a casual outfit for the evening and will keep you modest by covering your bare shoulders and arms when visiting temples or churches overseas. Shawls come in a wide variety of fabrics from pure cashmere and 100% cotton or silk to a luxurious blend of all three. Best of all they are lightweight.  Keep the climate of the destination you are traveling to in mind when choosing the weight and fabric of the shawl you decide to bring.




Speakeasy Scarves


If you want to carry money and your passport and you don't want anyone to know what you are carrying, then check out secret pocket travel scarves.  These scarves have a self-locking zippered pocket that is perfect for stowing your passport, credit cards, and cash. They come in a variety of fabrics and weights to suit the climate of your destination.  Some scarves actually include cooling options for the spring and summer!



Travel Tooth Brush Sanitizer

Yes, there is such a thing!  Have you ever thought that your toothbrush could be a haven for bacteria, well it is!  A toothbrush sanitizer using UV light kills 99.9 percent of the germs on your toothbrush making it a must-have item when traveling out of the country especially if you are rinsing your brush off in tap water in a new country.  Violife VIO200B is a travel-sized ultraviolet toothbrush sanitizer that also doubles as a toothbrush holder. It is compact and has just one button that activates the device.  The device also has an automatic shut off after the seven-minute sterilization process stops. To view on Amazon click here.  It works with both manual and most electronic toothbrush heads.




Turn Your iPhone into a DSLR Camera


There are so many airline restrictions these days about carry on luggage it sometimes discourages travelers that like to take pictures from bringing their digital camera and all the gear that comes with it on board. No worries, check out the Universal Professional HD Camera Lens Kit made for iPhone X/8/8 plus/7/6s by Techno.  This little gadget is a two in one tiny clip-on detachable HD lens for mobile phones and iPads.  It has a macro lens that takes pictures of tiny objects with clearly defined details.  Best of all it is also a wide angle lens that is perfect for taking images of groups of people, buildings and landscapes.  It attaches easily to an iPhone and other devices and the clip is strong and well made.  This lens has gotten rave reviews from Amazon customers. For more details and pricing ($17.99) can be found by clicking here.



Mini Portable Power Bank

If you travel with your cell phone and take a lot of images on the road, it is always prudent to carry a portable power bank to help recharge your phone.  There is nothing worse than watching your phone's battery power die and missing out on some of the travel photos you want to take.  Our advice is to bring along an Anker Astro E1 5200mAh Ultra-compact portable charger that is the size of a candy bar!  This compact charger delivers a charge speed of up to two amps which is four times faster than charging with a computer's USB port.  It will add two full charges on an iPhone 7 or 6s and at least one full charge to a 7 Plus, Galaxy 57, Nexus five and other smartphones.  It is 3.8 x1.7 x 0.9 inches and weighs 4.2 ounces and fits in a pocket or purse easily.  It recharges in about 5 hours and comes with an 18-month warranty.  For pricing ($15.99) and to order click here.