GUIDED TRAVEL OR INDEPENDENT TRAVEL?
When you are ready to explore, one big consideration is often whether to travel as part of a guided travel group or go totally independent.
There are good things about both guided and independent travel and many things to consider. It is important to think clearly about what makes sense for your trip. Guided travel has come a long way from years ago when group tours were very regimented with a schedule allowing no flexibility. Independent travel formerly was the only way to have control over how your time is spent while exploring. Times have changed!
Our guided travel options include:
*Both large and small groups
*Transportation by rail as well as motor coach
*Custom groups sometimes have a private motor coach
*Expert guides to show you the iconic sites
*Combinations of time involved in group touring alternating with time on your own
*Themed groups such as culinary groups, wine groups, art groups etc.
*Tours just for Millennials
*Guided tour groups for families
*Groups that can combine both touring on land as well as time on a ship
*Group activities such as cooking classes, wine tastings or photography classes
*Family groups with activities for children as well as separate activities just for adults
*Opportunities to meet new friends with common interests on guided trips
Our Independent travel options include:
*Transfers and transportation
*Private or shared tours of iconic sites
*Private or shared drivers for winery tours or other areas
*Private or shared boat tours
*Combinations of hotels, transportation and city overview tours
*Excursions both private and with small groups to see sights off the beaten path
*Some independent travel can be combined with hotels booked with a local host to answer questions or help you plan your days
*In Ireland we can set up vouchers for B&B properties
*Our expertise to set up the most important parts of the trip, leaving you with unplanned time as well
We often combine both guided group travel with independent travel to customize a trip to what works best for our clients. Guided travel is a very efficient way to explore. Someone else takes care of all the tedious details, leaving you to just enjoy the destination.
When you want to maximize the value for your travels, keep in mind that the high quality tour companies we work with provide excellent rates for each part of your trip. For example, due to the volume of hotel rooms they book with their many tours, guided tour companies get very good hotel rates. You also have access to excellent tour guides as the top guides are employed full time with the best tour companies.
When totally independent travel works best, having the most important pieces of the itinerary set up ahead of time means you have paid in US dollars at a set price, you know the activities that are special to you are included and your transportation and hotels are confirmed. This gives you freedom to add in other things that you may choose at the spur of the moment to fill in some of the free days that we always include in our trips!
We do not book through systems that will cause you to be bumped from hotels or put in the undesirable room locations that are reserved for discount online companies. Your vacation time and money is too important to waste any time with those types of issues . We protect you and your money!
ARE YOU A FOODIE TRAVELER?
Have you thought about exploring this beautiful world using your taste buds?
This might help you decide if you could be a “Foodie Traveler”.
Let's see how many of these sound like you.
What did you do last weekend?
Four-course dinner at your favorite bistro
What’s your ideal rainy day activity?
Finally trying to make that amazing recipe you saw online
When visiting a foreign country, what is the most important phrase to know how to say?
“Where should we eat”
It’s 7:00 AM. What are you doing?
Setting up the French press for the perfect cup of coffee
What is your favorite souvenir to bring home when you travel?
A copy of the menu from your favorite meal
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What’s the one thing you would bring?
One really good bottle of wine - or two
Let’s talk about setting up your adventure!
THE WORLD OF CRUISING
Be a true explorer!
Traveling by water is one of the oldest ways to explore. Modern cruising has so much to offer, but it is definitely not-one-size-fits-all! Cruising makes it possible to see a region that might be difficult to explore in any other way.
Do you know about the different types of cruising? Just as there are large resorts with lots of activities, small boutique hotels with a focus on individual service, and lodges located in secluded natural areas, cruising is much the same! How do you choose? What are the questions to ask yourself as you consider the options?
What do you come home remembering after a trip?
Is it the scenery and wildlife of a new destination?
Do you relish the level of service you enjoyed during dining?
Will you enjoy meeting new people, or spending time alone in nature?
Are memories of the sounds and scents of a fascinating place what make you smile?
We can match you with the cruise options that best serve your interests.
CONSIDER OUR SPECIALTIES: LUXURY OCEAN CRUISING AND RIVER CRUISING
Sailing with the top luxury cruises can be so much more than you’ve heard! If you have cruised on some of the more mainstream cruises and enjoyed the extra room of a suite, you are ready to move up to the best of the best! Luxury cruising includes so much that you will be pleasantly surprised at the great value!
Did you know that in luxury cruising, you travel with smaller numbers of guests, so that your service is highly personalized? Smaller ships have approval to stay in ports overnight, so you can enjoy nightlife or just enjoy the beautiful sunset at a local restaurant! Expedition-style ships explore truly exotic locations such as the coast of Indonesia, the Northwest Passage, and Antarctica.
When cruising with our luxury partners, there are many unique opportunities, such as enjoying visiting local markets with your chef, or boarding a kayak directly from the back of your ship to get out on the water. While you are onboard, you are able to enjoy the best of the amenities, such as your in-room linens, entertainment centers, full bathrooms, walk in closets, and having someone to call to quickly attend to anything you might need.
You will enjoy the exclusive amenities when you move up to a luxury cruise!
RIVER CRUISING: HAVE YOU HEARD?
When we started our travel planning business in 1996, at that time we knew about European River Cruising, but most of our US clients did not yet know anything about this style of travel. There were also a lack of good options for exploring the US on rivers and lakes. So much has improved in both regions of this beautiful world and we are so happy to share this experience with you!
European river cruising has become known to Americans and we are happy to explain how it works! During the 1990s, the Rhine-Main-Daube canal was finished.This canal made it possible to sail Europe’s rivers from the North Sea all the way to the Black Sea. This created so many great options for exploring central Europe! The Danube and Rhine are the two most popular rivers to explore from a cruise ship.
Cruising the rivers and Great Lakes of the US is a perfect way to see vast areas of our wonderful country. You avoid the hassles of driving yourself and then the disappointment of not really seeing the types of sites you want to see in each region. Travel on our river and lake cruises opens up so many opportunities to immerse yourself in areas you might not be able to see otherwise!
Cruising on our recommended river cruises is such a lovely experience, and so much is included! You will enjoy a luxury level experience while onboard, with beautifully prepared meals and highly refined service. As you stop each day in the towns along the river, you will enjoy the included shore excursions, with local expert guides. You are also free to just step off the ship into the small towns and walk those ancient cobblestone streets on your own!
We know the ships and the itineraries, so when you use our services, you will have an expert helping you craft a wonderful experience. Some of our river cruises have butlers, some have pools on the upper decks, and work-out areas and spas onboard. The river cruise lines are expanding options all the time based on feedback from guests, so staterooms are getting larger, amenities are increasing, and cuisine is becoming more attuned to special dietary needs of guests.
Cruising rivers eliminates concerns some travelers have who may experience sensitivity to motion when sailing on other types of ships. River cruising is not a good match for those with mobility problems, so we would have other recommendations for those travelers.
River cruises are a perfect setting for group travel such as wine clubs, culinary clubs, wellness groups, yoga groups, and history buffs. The combination of interesting activities and the relaxing atmosphere of the ship makes a river cruise the idea venue for a group of friends to reconnect by sharing a getaway.
US RIVER CRUISING
I’m so happy to finally be able to have good options for exploring the beautiful US via our mighty rivers and amazing Great Lakes ! Previously, there were not good vessels to recommend, but now that has changed!
Think about exploring some gorgeous areas of the United States with a small group, sailing along rivers with lovely dining, personalized services and well done touring of the towns and historical areas.
Consider these ideas:
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
There are themed itineraries to enjoy such as Civil War, Jazz Music and Wine Region Explorations too!
Highlights of the Mississippi River Including:
New Orleans's festive French Quarter and Creole cuisine
Cajun Heritage in Baton Rouge
Vicksburg National Military Park
Mark Twain’s boyhood home
Birdwatching along the river
Visit a working family farm along the river
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GREAT LAKES & CANADA
The Great Lakes are a massive and diverse area of great beauty ! With 10,000 miles of coastline and the world’s largest ecosystem on earth, it is something to see!
Hiking through beautiful, pristine forests
Kayaking through the Georgian Bay - a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Enjoy the technology behind the Welland Canala and Soo Locks
Experience some of Canada’s colonial past and the St. Lawrence River too
There’s so much variety in the Pacific Northwest from the natural wonders of the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands while watching for diverse wildlife. The wine regions of the northwest is a very special place to visit as well!
Ideas that may intrigue travelers:
Visit the Olympic National park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The San Juan islands
Hike in rainforests with old-growth forests
Kayaking, paddle boarding, birding are all excellent ways to get out in nature
For wine cruises, visiting vineyards, craft beer tastings
Wine pairing lunches, cider tastings & food demonstrations
Some of our cruises have on board sommeliers
Have you ever returned home from a vacation to proclaim that you needed a vacation to recover from your vacation? Have you mentioned to those close to you that you must take a break to focus on your health? Did your last doctor’s visit wake you up to the reality of all those missed workouts?
It is time to learn about wellness travel!
You may think wellness travel is a time spent with strict workout schedules and only eating kale, but that is not how it works. You may be surprised by what a lovely experience it can be to regain your health!
Meaningful wellness getaways can change your life. You will find that you are not alone in your health improvement goals, as friends may want to join you or you may make new friends during your trip. Others may join you in some of your activities, or just be available for brainstorming to compare their struggles and goals. You will be enriched with these types of experiences:
Practice daily yoga with personal trainers to help you start at your comfort level
Learn about the best nutritional options that fit you
Absorb ocean breezes, the smell of nearby vineyards and sunshine to connect you to nature
Take time to actually learn about how to lift weights in a way that really benefits your health
Enjoy very good sleep on high thread count sheets, aromatherapy touches to your room and refreshing treats delivered by room service to start your day
Receive medical evaluations to choose how to prioritize your health journey - some resorts have top notch testing facilities to get you on track
Enlist expert help with learning pilates or yoga techniques - much better than trying to figure out for yourself if you are holding poses correctly from watching a video at home
Break away from your usual ideas of fitness by exercising in the ocean, along the beach or while hiking up into mountains and enjoying amazing views
Enjoy learning a new sport without competitiveness, but just for the fun of it
Indulge in massage appointments to compliment guided stretching sessions
Learn how to heal injuries that may have stopped your fitness goals in the past
Practice relaxation techniques to improve sleep, handle stress and really rest
Experiment with cuisine focused on health - you may surprise yourself with healthful meals that you would never have considered before
Learn to cook to revamp your usual meals - continue the changes once you get home
Attend a workshop to practice incorporating prayer, worship and meditation into your workout
Detoxify your body with a week of good activity, food that is perfect for your goals, and spa treatments to lead your body into a relaxed state
Take time to be quiet, read a book, nap in a hammock, draw or paint
Arrange help with accountability for when you return home
Schedule a followup getaway for the next year
Come home feeling like you have actually done something very good for yourself so that you are ready to tackle life in your best state
Are you a business owner? Are you looking for a unique way to connect with your clients?
When you build great relationships with your clients, you gain clients for life and new clients through word of mouth!
We have a chance for you to build your business and form relationships with your clients from the deck of a ship!
When you enter into a joint venture with South Shore Travel, you gain these advantages:
• A unique experience to offer your clients that they will enjoy and appreciate
• A common experience to foster deeper connections
• The opportunity to generate revenue for your business
• The enjoyment of a luxurious European river cruise
European river cruises are such a popular mode of travel!
When the Main-Danube canal was finished after many years of starts and stops, it opened up central Europe to river cruising. Americans have discovered the great advantages of river cruises, such as the inclusion of meals, drinks and shore excursions all in a small group setting! Being able to see some of the iconic areas of Europe without packing/unpacking, or dealing with numerous small details such as local transportation or the expense of daily meals are attractive advantages of river cruising. Having comfortable accommodations waiting for you after each busy day is another significant advantage.
We seek businesses that would be good matches for a joint ventures with South Shore Travel. We invite you to reach out to us to learn more about these opportunities