During a time when all we can do is dream of travel, Recommend reached out to its staff and asked them to share their favorite travel memories. We hope that these stories inspire you as you plan for the future and create not just a fabulous itinerary, but space for travelers to create their own unforgettable travel memories.
Recommend’s parent company, Worth International Media Group’s,marketing manager Ali Behar traveled to Cuba with her entire family—a group of 18!
“My grandfather left Cuba when he was 19 years old and this was his first time back since he left 60 years ago,” Behar says. “It was so special to get to see Old Havana where he grew up, and we were able to go to the street he grew up on and see the house that he lived in his whole life.”
Sharing these moments on a multi-generational trip with family, can’t top the most fabulous excursion you can book them on. So, when planning family travel, ask your clients if they have connections to a certain destination they might wish to visit. You might just give them the space for their own magical moments.
Behar adds, “It was magical getting to stand on this street in front of his house with him as he told us stories about growing up right there. It was the only building from his childhood in that neighborhood that was still standing, both his synagogue and his father’s tailor shop, which was where he learned to sew and make clothes, had been torn down.”
Behar’s family also dove in to the local culture. “We also got to visit all the other beautiful sites in Havana. We saw the capitol, we went to an Art Museum, we took a drive in classic cars around the whole city, had tours of a cigar factory and the Havana Club Rum distillery, and went to the Hemingway House. We also drank Mojitos in every well-known place we could! This included fancy hotels like The Nacional, the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway stayed, which also has a gorgeous rooftop bar, and El Floridita bar,” she adds.
For our COO, Victor Diaz-Herman, it was too hard to just pick one favorite travel memory.
“There are two specific moments that came to mind immediately,” says Diaz-Herman. “The first moment was back in September of 2014 when Kris [Diaz-Herman’s fiancé] and I visited London and Paris. Kris had never been to Europe, and I was planning on proposing to him on that trip, so I planned a series of special moments across two weeks. The first moment was by far the most unique! On our first night in London, which is where we began our trip, I told Kris that I made dinner reservations at a nice restaurant and that before dinner I wanted to go on the London Eye to see the city lights. So we got dressed for a nice evening and walked along the River Thames to the Millennium Wheel. What Kris didn’t know was that I had made prior arrangements for a private pod for two, an option that can be reserved directly on londoneye.com. I will never forget that evening was as we enjoyed the 360-degree views of London’s beautifully lit sites from our very own pod, 443 ft. above.”
As you start planning trips for your clients again, think of those little touches that might make an ordinary experience extra special. Such as, Diaz-Herman adds, “And to make it even more special, the experience included a Personal London Eye Host who served us chocolate truffles and champagne while providing a tour of the city from the World’s largest Ferris wheel. That night, over dinner at Duck & Waffle, which was an amazing experience as well, Kris and I took a moment to recognize how fortunate we are and how special that experience was for both of us.” Small touches can take an ordinary experience from fun to fabulous, creating that space for unforgettable memories to be made.
“The second moment that came to mind,” says Diaz-Herman, “was the following year, in September. We planned a trip to celebrate the one year anniversary of our engagement. That trip began in Italy where we joined a Source Events Journey.” He adds that, “The team at Source Events curates luxury travel experiences primarily for gay men, although there were straight allies onboard as well. Coincidentally, since they are based out of Miami, Florida we had several friends who were also on the ship.
“This particular journey was a cruise along the Dalmatian Coast. The team at Source Events chartered the Royal Clipper, the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world, which took us from beautiful Venice to ports throughout Croatia and Montenegro. The entire journey was so thoughtfully planned, with great entertainment, meals, and excursions, but there was one evening in particular that seemed more special than the others, and it was completely unplanned. This evening we were sailing out at sunset and you could see it on the horizon without any obstruction, the sky was clear and the waters calm. Most of the guests, including Kris and I, were on deck watching it set as classical music was playing in the background. And I kid you not, as the sun slowly sank into the ocean and the track in the background hit it’s peak, two dolphins began breaching just ahead of the ship. The moment was so moving that we all gave a collective sigh in awe of what we had just experienced. This was another moment when Kris and I expressed gratitude for the lives we live and for the ability to share the joys of travel.”
Other moments, such as the one Diaz-Herman described above, can’t be planned. But, curating an unforgettable trip that allows for these moments to happen spontaneously can be, especially during a romantic escape.
For others, like senior editor Andrea Doyle, taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime situation can create for unforgetble family moments. “My two daughters were fortunate to have had the opportunity to study abroad during college,” says Doyle. “Megan, who is now 25, studied in Florence, Italy, and Ashley, who is 22, studied in Thessaloniki, Greece. These provided our family a wonderful opportunity to meet in these two amazing destinations at the conclusion of their studies to travel together. Memories were created that will last our lifetimes.”
To help your clients think of these opportunities as a great advantage when creating their vacation plan, ask them what their kids are up to, do they have any travels with school coming up, are they planning to study abroad in the future? This will allow you to create an itinerary for mom and dad alone before visiting the kids, or a family vacation together once they all meet up.
One memory Doyle recalls fondly is of a road trip while in Italy. “We excitedly piled into our rental car to drive to Assisi, a village on top of a mountain where the views are legendary, with plans to spend Christmas Eve there, when traffic on the autostrada suddenly came to a halt. One hour turned to two to three to four. The only food we had in the car was a box of chocolate we had purchased in Venice, and we all agreed we would do our best to ration it as we didn’t know how long this unexpected shutdown would last. We made the best of our time in the car, sharing stories and singing songs. Just as sudden as the traffic came to a halt, is how the motorway reopened.
“Round and round we drove up that mountain road and finally arrived at our hotel housed in the former convent of St. Catherine, dating back to 1275. Famished, the hotel staff pulled together a light dinner for us with a bottle of red wine that I can taste as I write this. Christmas was like no other as we spent the majority of the day in the spa housed in the hotel built into the ruins of a first-century Roman amphitheater,” says Doyle. How’s that for a Christmas story this family will re-tell for years to come?
Doyle also couldn’t just narrow it down to one memory. So she shared with us an experience when visiting her daughter in Greece.
“A few years later, while we were in Greece, we spent a few days in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Santorini. A few hours spent at Art Space Winery, enjoying exquisite wine and art set in an original wine cave dating back in 1861, was unforgettable. The owner, Antonis, led our tasting and proudly showed off his family’s spellbinding winery. Megan and Ashley were especially taken by an oil painting of the Greek letter for the word life. The two girls continued on their adventures for three more weeks visiting more Greek islands, and finally Croatia.”
She adds, “Was I surprised when they returned home with ‘sister tattoos’ on their ankles that recreated that very painting they were so taken by.”
These two girls used an unforgettable memory to bond them together for life. Creating these moments, getting out there interacting with locals, and experiencing the world is definitely one thing we are all missing right now.
“How I miss getting out there and meeting locals like Antonis and not knowing what is waiting ahead of us like our stranded afternoon on the autostrada in Italy. Before long, we will all be traveling on, and I can’t wait!”
For me, it’s hard to pick just one travel memory between bathing and feeding elephants, and praying with monks in Thailand, helping just-hatched baby turtles reach the sea in Mexico, cooking with chefs around the world from Thailand, to Mexico, to Alaska, and Europe, it’s hard to pick just one. But, if I must pick, one of the ones I think of most often is ziplining in Icy Strait Point, Alaska as I zipped over the forest filled with stunning trees below and views of the ocean ahead of me. It was exhilarating, but also a moment that pushed me to overcome my fear.
I was terrified. Walking up the mountain from where the van dropped us off to the zipline site—the highest zipline in North America I might add, coming in higher than the Empire State building—I was petrified. And, petrified might be an understatement. As I walked up the mountain, I was convinced I would just watch my fellow journalists zip down, and then take the van ride back to meet them. Something I had made sure would be possible before heading up. But once I saw everyone geared up, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) started to swirl in with my fear. “When would I be able to zip down the mountain in Alaska again?” I kept asking myself. It took a few minutes of convincing to get me geared up, and also a few shrieks of deadly fear as I started to zip down the mountain. But once I made it down, I was so proud of myself for overcoming something I was really petrified to do. I was so in awe of the scenery, more in love with the destination that had already lured me at every corner and with every local I met.
If you get a chance to send your clients to Icy Strait Point, which is primarily a cruise stop destination because it requires either a ship, or a seaplane to reach from Juneau, book them. It’s a destination they’ll never forget, as the locals capture your heart, bring smiles to your face, and are so incredibly hospitable and friendly. It’s a small town, everyone literally knows each other’s name—there’s only one school, one stop light, one bar, and one medical facility in town—that they’re just excited to welcome guests to explore their corner of the world.
Another moment that really captured me was when I woke up at 4 a.m. in Luang Prabang, Laos for the Tak Bat Khao Nieow tradition, which is the giving of alms to the monks ceremony. As the monks dressed in their orange garb walked barefoot down the street, both locals and tourists would hand them fistfuls of rice. (Yes, you hand them the food—cooked, plain rice—with your bare hands.) Others threw in packaged food, but rice is the customary tradition. As I was excitedly waiting, sitting down in front of my hotel—the Aviani+ Luang Prabang—I realized small children kept switching places from one side of the street to the other with bags in their hands. My naïve self thought it was so adorable these kids were here to help out, too. But moments later I realized, no, they were in fact there to collect food to take back to their village and feed their families. Young kids, some as young as 5 years old, ran from one spot to the other to reach the line of monks again and again in the hopes they would be dropped a fistful of rice into their bags to take home. This moment touched me so deeply. Back home, kids wouldn’t even be able to imagine something like this. Heck, here I was, a grown woman having difficulty processing what I just saw. When the ceremony was over, I had to take a moment to just allow myself to feel the feelings. As I walked down the street shortly after, I saw a group of about 5 kids walking down the sidewalk together, bags in hand, and a little one with a bag full of food hung over his shoulder, ready to take on the world and go supply their family with the day’s meal.
During this time of pause, take a moment to remember your favorite travel memory. Share those on social media. Send it in an e-mail to your clients. Remind them what makes travel special. Remind them of a place they might want to return to. Or, inspire them with your story of an experience they might want to book and experience it for themselves.
And, when creating your itineraries, whether a multi-generational trip, a romantic getaways, a proposal, a family vacation, active travel, or a cultural immersion itinerary, take the time to curate the space for your clients to have the time for these magical moments to appear. Don’t rush them from one place to the next, but plan meaningful experiences that will allow them to slow down, and take in the experience they’re living. Because once this is over, society will be used to the slower pace, and hopefully, won’t be in such a rush to get back to the rush we lived in before checking experiences off a list, but rather, enjoying the experience.
For another inspiring piece on travel, check out “8 Travel Advisors Share their Favorite Travel Memory.”