Which of your personal trips have been your favorite? And why were those trips your favorite?
Was it related to who you were traveling with? Did you check off an experience that had long been on your bucket list? Did you enjoy one of the best meals of your life on that trip?
When thinking back to my favorite trips, I realized that there is a common theme…
Each of these trips included a new experience - something we had long looked forward to or something that was simply new to us.
We learned something new on each of these trips - whether via a cooking class or with a private guide.
We had time to connect throughout our trip - with each other, with the culture, and sometimes with friends and family who live in that city. (This connection element is often the least predictable but almost always the most satisfying. Including some unplanned time at leisure throughout each of your trips offers the greatest opportunity for this connection.)
And finally, we had time to relax and disconnect on each of our favorite trips.
Keep reading as I describe each of these four elements in more detail. You’re well on your way to designing the most wonderful itinerary…
While planning your next trip, whether together with me as your travel advisor or on your own, be sure to consider what’s on your bucket list and what you’ve seen and heard about this destination that you want to be sure to include. Maybe you’d like a private gondola ride on the evening of your arrival in Venice, a hot air balloon ride over the “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia, or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to surf and your upcoming trip offers the perfect opportunity.
These new experiences not only give you something to look forward to leading up to your trip but they also create the most wonderful memories to look back on when retelling your favorite moments of that adventure.
I especially love this new experience element of each trip because this often includes stepping out of your comfort zone - which is almost always a good thing!
Finding time to connect with both your travel companion(s) and with the local culture is often the simplest but is usually the first to be forgotten. Including unplanned time during your travels is absolutely essential to stumble upon a local restaurant, to return to said local restaurant because the manager and chef were just so wonderful, and to engage in spontaneous conversations that can’t be had when you’re constantly rushing from one place to the next.
When thinking back to some of my favorite travel memories, it was in these unplanned moments that we stopped to grab a snack, then walked to a bar to have a drink, then continued on our way and found the most peaceful park to enjoy a leisurely stroll, to then pop into another pub for a drink + appetizers... that I truly felt connected to both my travel companions and the local culture. These unplanned afternoons got us to explore neighborhoods that aren’t typically frequented by tourists.
The underlying secret to connecting? When you think you need a certain number of days in a city (2, 3, 5 maybe?), add one more day and don’t make any plans.
There are so many opportunities to learn while traveling. The key is to understand what you enjoy learning about so that we can find the best option for you.
I have come to enjoy our privately guided experiences the most. Understanding the history and culture of the city or destination I’m visiting while also having the opportunity to engage in dialogue about what I’m learning with a local guide has enhanced my travel experiences to a level which I’m no longer willing to forgo.
While private guides are one of my favorite elements to include when designing itineraries, it’s not always all about the history and culture. Learning about the local cuisine, traditional dishes, and ingredients commonly used which aren’t available back home offers just as much of an opportunity to learn as do the churches, monuments, castles, and artisanal workshops.
This idea of relaxing during my travels took far too long for me to understand. I always approached each of my personal trips with an excited, eager energy. I wanted to see and do as much as possible in as little time as possible. This meant that relaxation was out the door before we had even decided where we were going to travel next.
Getting a massage is one of my personal luxuries. So is curling up in my hotel room to enjoy the view, sip my coffee, and crack open a new book. Often my relaxation depends upon the type of adventure I’m currently planning. Whatever your preferred method of relaxation looks like, make sure you fit this in.
Be sure not to confuse this planned relaxation with the planned leisure time I mentioned above. Planned leisure time is an afternoon with no plans at all to explore on your own, have a long lunch, and stroll through the park. Planned relaxation is a planned afternoon on the beach, at the spa, or in your comfy clothes back in the hotel room.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that all of my most memorable adventures include each of these elements, but now I know. For my personal trips and for yours that we design together, I will try include a new experience, an opportunity to learn, time to connect, and space to relax in each itinerary.
Which of your personal trips are most memorable? Did they include each of these elements? Are there any other elements I haven’t yet realized are equally as important?
Whitney’s love of experiential travel began when she studied abroad in New Zealand. Upon returning home, this seemingly small decision led her on an unpredictable path to do everything in her power to continue exploring the world. Within one year, she headed to Africa for one month to visit a friend who was volunteering with animals in need of rehabilitation support, and upon graduating only 6 months later, she moved to France for no other reason than the study the language and experience the culture firsthand. Fast forward 8 years, 2 languages, and 20 countries later, Whitney has successfully combined her passion for foreign languages and experiential travel with her professional experiences and launched Undiscovered Sunsets, a bespoke, experiential travel agency.