Grand European vice president and native Londoner, Jo Basley, shares her top 10 trips for 2017.
We travel for many reasons; to broaden our knowledge of a country and its customs; to learn more about things that we are interested in like art, history and culture; for relaxation and to build up our personal memory bank. For me, travel is enriching. Inspiring. Sometimes a little crazy. But always rewarding and fun.
Working within The Travel Corporation family opens up possibilities of travel around the world. Every brand offers an unsurpassed selection of itineraries, each unique enough to appeal to every type of traveler. My Top Ten is a mixture of both destinations as well as specific itineraries. In my current life stage, family-friendly trips that enrich and educate my kids, as well as my husband and I are top of mind. Growing up I was fortunate enough to travel extensively and I’d love to give that same gift of travel to my family.
With an avid artist daughter and a history loving son, this 11 Day “family” trip by Trafalgar showcases the 3 must-see cities of Rome, Florence and Venice. The itinerary is peppered with unique and fun kid friendly activities including Gladiator school in Rome, a cooking class in Florence and Venetian mask painting in Venice. The perfect introduction to Italy and is number 1 on my list!
Greece is a fascinating country with many faces, rich in ancient history, stunning vistas and of course the spectacular Greek Islands. Insight Vacations 8 Day Glories of Greece itinerary is like a week long history class – except it’s way more fun than any classroom could ever be as you actually get to step back in time seeing, touching and absorbing the ancient cities while your Tour Director and Local Guides set the scene with fascinating stories literally bringing history to life. To add a little island magic I’d tag on the Greek Island Hopper for some much needed rest and relaxation in the spectacular, picture perfect islands of Mykonos and Santorini.
The USA is home to some of the most breathtaking natural beauty I have ever seen…yet I haven’t seen very much of it in the flesh! Pictures truly speak 1,000 words and as I look through photographs of the National Parks for our brochures and marketing collateral I’m often speechless at the sheer scale and beauty of the majestic canyons, waterfalls, lakes and unique landscapes that are in our back yard. With over 10 National Park trips I am spoiled for choice, although the family friendly Wild West, Cowboys & Buffalos is likely my first pick.
There is something about Ireland that is calling to me. It could be all those smiling Irish eyes, beautiful scenery and rugged coastline, or it could be the fact that on this fantastic trip you get to overnight in the magnificent five-star Ashford Castle which dates back to 1228, set in 350 acres on the picturesque shores of Lough Corrib. For me I think it’s all of these things combined that lands this trip on my bucket list. I had the pleasure of listening to Insight Vacations Tour Director, Aine Lynam, talk about this popular tour of Ireland and it was impossible not to get excited about her description of the castle experience. The staff lined up outside to welcome the group, the falconry school, grounds and facilities, the award winning dining and the beautiful décor throughout. Her passion was contagious and completely sucked me in. Sign me up!
Considering I spent the first 25 years of my life growing up and working in London, I’m ashamed to say that I never visited Scotland. Now that I live nearly 5,000 miles away it’s still on my list, but it will take me longer to get there. Steeped in history, surrounded by beautiful rugged landscapes, a healthy helping of ruined castles and of course home to the Loch Ness Monster, Scotland has something for everyone in my family to be excited about. I’m torn between Insight’s 10 Day Country Roads of Scotland, or Trafalgar’s 8 Day Best of Scotland, but I do know that I want to visit during the month of August to watch the spectacular Military Tattoo, the annual celebration showcasing the best of Scottish music, dance and military pageantry held in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.
I was extremely fortunate early in my career to join and educational trip to Australia and New Zealand…and I can’t wait to go back although this time for longer than 8 days! The contrasts between the cities in Australia and New Zealand are profound, so the aptly named “20-Day Contrasts of Australia & New Zealand” tour really appeals to me. It zig-zags across Australia with 2 nights in Melbourne, 3 nights in Cairns and 3 nights in Sydney before hopping over to New Zealand and incorporating the stunning fjords if Milford Sound, Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown and Christchurch. It’s a long flight, but well worth it and this time I can’t wait to experience it with my family.
Having spent the last couple of years helping with school projects and dioramas of the rain forest and learning all about the amazing wildlife that calls Costa Rica home, this is a firm favorite bucket list destination. With so much to see and experience in Costa Rica, taking a guided tour is simply the best way to explore this country. I often read returning guest reviews and they always say how fantastic the team in Costa Rica are, how much they learned and experienced, and how much they recommend this destination to their friends. I’m looking forward to one day adding an independent review of my own when I return.
This is a relatively new destination for us, but it is selling like hot cakes and it’s not surprising why. The northern lights look simply spectacular, the scenery simply staggering and I really do want to spend the day in Reykjavik’s Blue Lagoon…
I’ve spent a little time in Spain along the Costa del Sol but there is so much more to Spain than beautiful beaches and white washed houses. Insight’s Best of Spain & Portugal truly does cherry pick the must see places, cities and sights that give a fantastic overview of Iberia. From the quirky art of Gaudi’s Park Guell and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the magnificent Prado Museum in Madrid, to an unforgettable cooking demonstration learning the art of the perfect paella in Valencia, to the architectural marvels of the Alhambra in Granada and the famous port town of Porto and Lisbon’s seafaring history in Portugal, this trip covers so many experiences in 16 days. A great addition to my top ten bucket list.
Experiencing the magic of Europe’s traditional Christmas markets just sounds so much fun and a feast for the senses. Add in the luxury of a boutique river cruise as your floating hotel and it sounds like the ultimate Christmas gift to give yourself. Winner of Travel & Leisure World’s Best Awards in 2016, Uniworld offers a river cruise experience like no other and their 7 unique Christmas market cruises are no exception. Every ship is uniquely furnished to compliment the rivers they sail and are a perfect blend of 6-star hotel, art gallery and world class dining. I’ve always wanted to give river cruising a try, and I think Classic Christmas Markets would be a great place to start!
What’s on your travel bucket list this year? Tell us in the comments below!