1. Holiday trip: CHRISTKINDLMARKT (Christmas Market) in Munich, Germany is one of the biggest and best yuletide celebrations in the world. Visitors will find beautiful handmade ornaments, crèche dolls, wooden toys, ornate candles and more. Seasonal activities, such as concerts and tree lightings, are abundant. www.muenchen-tourist.de. Another big festival held in Munich, OKTOBERFEST, is the biggest beer celebration in the world! A parade full of beer wagons from the biggest breweries in Germany kicks off the lively festivities. In addition to tasting some great Bavarian beer, there is food, rides, concerts, and more.
2. Rail trip: RIDE THE VENICE SIMPLON-ORIENT EXPRESS and relive how elite travelers once experienced the world. Originating in 1883, the train ran from Paris, France to Istanbul, Turkey, until it was suspended in the mid-1970s. When it resumed operations, the routes changed. Today, rail travelers can choose from several routes, such as Venice to Paris. This is truly a case of the journey being more important than the destination! www.orient-express.com. Or the more adventurous may choose the Trans-Siberian Express. This is the world’s longest railroad with 6,000 miles of tracks that cross eight time zones! It crosses Siberia and extends into the Far East. www.transsiberianexpress.net
3. Soaring the Skies: HOT-AIR BALLOON TOUR OF EUROPE. This is an incredible way to see picturesque places, such as Italy, Switzerland (including the Chateau d’Oex Balloon Festival), Austria, France, and Turkey. The only company I’m aware of that offers this unique experience is Buddy Bombard’s Europe. Sail through the scenic skies by day enjoying gourmet picnics and fine wines(served while ballooning) and dine with royalty in castles by night. www.buddybombard.com
4. Cold lodging: STAY AT THE FAMOUS ICE HOTEL. Located in Sweden, this is a memorable experience, to be sure. It is the only hotel that melts and is rebuilt each year! Guests can stay in the hotel or in nearby chalets. Everyone eventually ends up at the hotel’s 50-foot bar consuming alcoholic beverages served in ice glasses. For guests staying in the hotel, you will sleep on an ice bed covered in reindeer pelts. www.icehotel.com (the site includes photos of hotel). Also, there is an Ice Hotel in Canada, www.hoteldeglace-canada.com. For those less adventurous, you can visit an Ice Bar instead. There are several around the world, including London, Hong Kong, and Dubai. We did this the last time I was in London. Two ice drinks and a frosty thirty minutes later, I removed the Ice Hotel from my bucket list! Or how about wet lodging? Stay in an underwater lodge in Florida. Seriously! You have to scuba dive to arrive, but baggage handling is included! www.jul.com
5. Best resort: THE PALACE OF THE LOST CITY (South Africa) is for those looking for the ultimate resort. Costing almost $200 million when it was built in 1979, it is a truly spectacular place. Many thought the developer was crazy when he built this palace in such a remote place, but his philosophy “build it and they will come” was absolutely right. There is no need to leave the property: 338 luxurious guest rooms and a zillion amenities make up the Lost City (also called Sun City). Cultivated rainforest and jungle offer a perfect backdrop for this remarkable resort, which includes a large game reserve! www.sun-city-south-africa.com/palace-of-the-lost-city
6.Spiritual pilgrimage: VISIT THE HOLYLAND (Israel). Christians, Muslims, and Jews all agree this is a very special place. You need two weeks to see everything, including Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, Masada, the Old City (Jerusalem), Galilee, Golan Heights, and more! But you can hit the highlights in a week, if you prefer. It is best to avoid the busiest times: summer and Christmas. It was just so surreal walking in the footsteps of Jesus, floating in the Dead Sea, and exploring Jerusalem. This was one of my favorite trips! www.goisrael.com
If you’re looking for something closer to home…
7. Walk on the Wild Side: NATIONAL PARK VACATION. We have many natural wonders in the U.S. and one of the best is THE GRAND CANYON. A must during a Grand Canyon vacation is to stroll the Skywalk. This clear glass walkway extends 70 feet out over the canyon, so you can look down and see 4,000 feet below! It is a thrilling and a tad bit intimidating experience. www.grandcanyonskywalk.com. Check out my free reports, ‘Top Ten Natural Wonders of America’ and ‘Planning Your National Park Vacation’, for more information.
8. Welcome to the Old West: DURANGO is a great family adventure. This small Colorado town is completely captivating. There is a lot to do in this former gold mining town, including riding the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Ride aboard the 1880s-era steam locomotive on a scenic ride, which takes you through the San Juan Mountains. It also takes you to the Tall Timber Resort, which is about 30 miles outside Durango. This is the only way to reach the resort, besides by helicopter. This remote utopia has a pool, extensive library, delicious meals, 24-hour concierge service, billiards table, saunas, and hot tubs. Guests can participate in exciting zipline canopy tours (Kelly Ripa endorses it, in case that means anything to you!) or go hiking or just relax with a good book. www.talltimberresort.com.
9. Step Back in Time: AMISH COUNTRY is a novel experience, at least for most of us. It gives visitors a chance to witness a simpler way of life. There are two ways to achieve this: Visit the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish in Lancaster County, PA or the Amish in Millersburg, Ohio. Both take you to scenic communities full of horse-drawn buggies, museums, handmade crafts and quilts, Amish food served in farmhouses, heritage trails, and numerous festivals. www.padutchcountry.com and www.visitamishcountry.com
10. Boo Hags, Buccaneers, and the Best Shrimp and Grits: EXPLORE THE LOWCOUNTRY. This is my favorite place in the U.S. There is too much to describe in one paragraph, so here are the highlights: horse-drawn carriage rides through the historic district of Beaufort, a pirate walk in Charleston, a haunted trolley ride through Savannah, yummy lowcountry cuisine, the view from Tybee Island Lighthouse, Gullah history and folklore, the ferry ride to Daufuskie Island, Hilton Head’s Sea Pines Plantation, taking an ACE Basin eco-tour, staying at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island, and much more! www.southcarolinalowcountry.com
For hundreds of travel planning tips and resources, check out The Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel: Save Up to 90% on Lodging, Flights, Tours, Cruises, and More!” Other helpful resources include www.tripadvisor.com and www.urbanoutfitters.com