Who remembers watching Robin Leach host Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and dreaming of a life filled with “champagne wishes and caviar dreams”? I might be dating myself just a bit with that reference, but I can picture myself—and I’m sure you can too—having a vacation that is the height of luxury. Go ahead, take a minute and think about your luxury vacation. For me, that is a spacious hotel suite decorated with elegant furnishings that immediately tells my mind to relax, food that is so delicious I would have to call it “cuisine” rather than “dinner,” and amazing, breathtaking experiences that provide memories to last me a lifetime.
Luxury travel is an experience. Generally, when we think of luxury travel, there are 4 main areas that set apart the superior:
* Service: Attentive, anticipating your every need and want. Always someone available to help with utmost courtesy and respect. Butler services, available on some cruise lines and fine hotels, can take care of any detail for you such as packing and unpacking, and coordinating dining and entertainment reservations.
* Accommodations: Luxurious linens. Lots of space. Beautiful furnishings. Spa-like bathrooms. Incredible views.
* Dining: Creative menus. Options that range from multi-course gourmet meals to breakfast in bed to late-night snacks.
* Experiences: From yoga and fitness to adventure sports. From authentic experiences with locals to front-row seats at the event-of-the-century. Luxury travel gives you the opportunity to customize your vacation with high-quality specially-curated activities and experiences—giving you those memories to last a lifetime.
You’re picturing your luxury vacation right now, aren’t you? Globe Travel can help you find the vacation you’re dreaming of—with all the elements of luxury that you’re imagining, and even more that you haven’t even thought of yet. It will truly be the vacation of a lifetime.
Once in a Decade Trip: Oberammergau
Every decade, the village of Oberammergau in Germany’s Bavaria puts on quite a spectacle. The people of the town come together for 5 months out of the year to present the Passion Play, a drama focused on the final days of the life of Jesus Christ, ending with his crucifixion. The only people involved are all residents of the village. In fact, about half the village of 5,000 participates, because it takes about 2,000 people to put on the show.
By Nancy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3869325
This is more than just a play; it is an event. Performed in an outdoor theatre, it runs approximately 5 hours, generally in the afternoon and evening, with a meal break. Everyone involved in the production, from actors to musicians to stage techs, are residents of the village of Oberammergau. It’s been said that men start growing their beards a year in advance.
Oberammergau hosts about half a million visitors every decade when they come to see the Passion Play. The production draws people from across the globe, generally coming with organized tours that handle everything, including tickets to the show and overnight accommodations. The once-a-decade performance is important for Oberammergau economically.
Oberammergau is a charming village that is more than just the Passion Play. It is also well known for its tradition of woodcarving.
If you’re interested in this very unique trip opportunity, the next Passion Play will be in 2020. And trips are booking up. If you think you want to go in 2020, don’t wait much longer to plan your trip—or you might not go until 2030. There are escorted land tours, as well as river cruises, that include the Passion Play. Globe Travel can help you find the perfect trip to enjoy this once-in-a-decade experience.
I’ve been to Oberammergau before—and I have an adorable, detailed carved wooden angel as a memento—but I haven’t seen the Passion Play. Time to cross another trip off my bucket list!
Money Matters: Traveling Internationally
Understanding local currency and managing your money is a cultural experience when you travel internationally. It doesn’t need to be stressful, though. Here’s my general rule of thumb: use credit cards for purchases and your ATM card for local cash. Make sure you have let your card owners know that you will be traveling internationally.
Here are a few more tips to help you with money matters in other countries.
When you’re traveling internationally, you can save a lot or spend too much just in converting your US dollars into local currency. One of the ways you can save money on your vacation is to get local currency through a bank ATM in your destination country. This will generally get you a better exchange rate than you might get at a non-bank ATM or by converting US dollars at a currency exchange counter. Check with your home bank to make sure you understand how to use your ATM card internationally and the fees associated with that.
Know Your Currency
This might sound crazy, but make sure you know the currency used in your destination country. For example, not all countries in the European Union use the Euro. You also might be surprised that the US dollar is legal currency—or even widely accepted currency—in some countries and you don’t need to exchange your dollars at all.
Using Your Credit Card
Make sure you know if credit cards are widely used in the country you are traveling to. Using your credit card is another good way to save money because you will get one of the best exchange rates. You will probably have to pay your credit card a fee, though, for exchanging the currency. Typically, it’s about 3%. If you have time, shop around; you can find credit cards that offer no fees for international purchases. As with your ATM card, make sure you understand how to use it internationally. Some countries require you to use chip-and-PIN cards, so you might need to make sure you know your credit card PIN before you leave.
US Cash, Traveler’s Checks, and Ordering Local Currency in Advance
These are three things that you probably don’t need—unless you are going to a place with few ATMs. Take some US dollars (you’ll need it at the US airport), but don’t take lots of cash and plan to convert it when you arrive in your destination country. It just becomes something you’ll worry about losing. Traveler’s checks? They made a lot of sense a few decades ago before ATMs became ubiquitous, but they don’t bring a lot of advantages now. As long as your arrival airport has an ATM, you don’t need local currency in advance. The only reason you might need to arrive in a country with local cash on hand is if the airport doesn’t have an ATM or a currency exchange counter and you need cash for cab fare to your hotel.
I hope these tips save you a little bit of money in currency conversion fees and make your international trip a little bit less stressful!
My New Favorite Caribbean Island
One of the most fascinating travel destinations for Americans is Cuba, a country that has long been inaccessible for most Americans. For many, it is the closest we might get to time travel, seeing and understanding more about a country that hasn’t seen as much change since the 1950s as the US has. All only 90 miles from our own shore.
There is so much to experience and appreciate about Cuba: the delicious food, the captivating music, the learning that comes from gaining a new perspective, and the warmth and friendliness of the Cuban people. Most experts agree that if you want to go to Cuba, now is the time to go, as the country embarks on what is likely to be an era of unprecedented change.
I went to Cuba last year on a cultural immersion experience. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. On one hand, Cuba is culturally different, and the ability to see things from a different perspective was very enriching for me. From their dual currency system to their medical system, I felt like I learned a lot about Cuban culture and people. On the other hand, watching kids play soccer in a town square or seeing parents laughing with their children reinforced that people are people the world over and we really aren’t that different after all.
The US has some strict regulations for visiting Cuba. Travel to Cuba is permitted only under one of 12 categories. For me, that was the concept of people-to-people travel, or “support for the Cuban people.” That meant that I got to spend a lot of time interacting with Cuban people. Furthermore, there are financial restrictions for Americans so that our money does not support the Cuban military.
Details and Recommendations
The easiest way to ensure you stay within the US regulations is to travel with a group that understands the regulations and plans itineraries that comply with them. There are two main ways to do this:
1. Cruise: The number of cruise lines stopping in Cuba has grown tremendously. There are cruises that dock overnight in Havana and give you a taste of Cuba. Or there are cruises like the one I did that offer a more in-depth cultural experience by stopping in multiple ports all around the island, giving you a chance to see much more of the country. Cruises generally originate in the US.
2. Escorted land tour: Joining a land tour offers a rich cultural experience because you have the services of a dedicated tour director who escorts you throughout the trip and gives you insight into Cuban history and culture. You also benefit from being on the ground 24/7 in Cuba, not only doing people-to-people activities, but also eating all of your meals in Cuba and staying in Cuban hotels. Escorted land tours generally require you to fly into Cuba to meet the tour group.
The cruise line or tour company you travel with takes care of all documentation to comply with US law, and also helps you secure your Cuban visa and the necessary medical insurance required by Cuba.
How long: There is so much to see and love about Cuba. Plan on a week to get a good cultural experience. If you only want a quick trip, try a cruise that overnights in Havana. And then go back again when you have more time!
Don’t Miss: a ride in a classic American car; black beans and rice; learning about cigars and rum; local dance, music, and art performances/lessons; a Havana cabaret
Contact: Globe Travel at 434-296-0171 or email@example.com to help you find the right Cuban adventure for your interests!
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