Travel with a Challenge Dips Its Toe into Social Media
Yes, it has taken a while, but we are now proud to announce that Travel with a Challenge web magazine has its own Facebook page, and pretty fancy too!
If you are a Facebook user, please link to our page and automatically receive announcements of our latest bi-monthly feature article issues and of the most recent five news stories appearing in our TravelWatch senior travel newsletter that you are reading right now. Plus, from time to time, there will be interesting background stories about the most popular story themes over our publication’s 18 years on the Internet, and much more to come. If you wish to ask a question and receive a reply from the editor, you may now do so through Facebook or, as always, direct to my editorial email: email@example.com.
Protecting the Environment
Travel Operators and Destination Countries must both lead the way: here’s an inspiring example of each!
It is no secret that Styrofoam and single-use plastics are extremely harmful to the environment, and our oceans are filled with waste that will take centuries to dissipate. Knowing this, the tourism industry has made strides to prevent further damage with recent bans on these products around the world.
Most recently, the island nation of Grenada in the southern Caribbean has banned all Styrofoam imports to the country starting Sept. 1, 2018; by Feb. 1, 2019 all single-use plastics will be banned as well. This will include shopping bags, cutlery, plates, straws and cups. The Grenada Tourism Authority, www.grenadagrenadines.com, supports this effort to keep the island free of such products that are harmful to the natural environment and the fauna that depend on a clean environment to thrive. Already in Grenada, many hotels, restaurants and stores have transitioned to the use of alternative biodegradable products with the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association and the Grenada Green Group fully on side.
Indeed the three-island nation of Grenada (Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique) is a natural and cultural jewel of the Caribbean that has much to offer the traveler looking for a safe destination with much more than rest and relaxation beyond its admittedly gorgeous sandy beaches. I have had the pleasure of exploring all three islands myself and highly recommend them. Check out what to do and where to stay on the two smaller islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and the diverse Homestay Grenada options on all three islands.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based Natural Habitat Adventures www.nathab.com has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. As the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company—and the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund—it offers eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between.
However, it is taking its environmental-friendly mission one step further with the launch of its World’s First Zero Waste Adventure from July 6 to 12, 2019 with the aim to fit all waste produced on the trip into a single small container at the end, nearly eliminating the need to send any materials to a landfill or incinerator. Fourteen travelers will help meet this camping safari challenge on the Safari America: Yellowstone Country in the U.S. state of Wyoming, joining a pioneering endeavor in which Nat Hab’s goal is to divert (refuse, recycle, compost, upcycle, or re-use) 99 percent or more of all waste produced.
Camping in secluded luxury, participants will have the opportunity to explore the region’s legendary volcanic geology, erupting with geysers, simmering paint pots and steaming mineral springs in psychedelic colors. A profusion of wildlife has entranced visitors since Yellowstone became the world’s first national park in 1872. Now, as then, wolves, grizzlies, elk, moose and bison traverse the open range and montane forest in the richest interaction of large animals found in the lower 48 states.
Hong Kong Launches First High-Speed Railway Connecting to Cities Across Mainland China
Hong Kong’s first high-speed railway took to the rails in late September 2018, offering visitors from around the world the chance to travel quickly and conveniently between Hong Kong and cities across Mainland China. In particular, the new rail link puts Hong Kong in easy reach of nine neighboring cities in Guangdong Province.
The 26-kilometer rail link connects Hong Kong for the first time to Mainland China’s vast high-speed rail network, said to be the world’s most extensive. Travelers will be able to ride from Hong Kong to 44 destinations without changing trains, making the city an ideal starting point for multi-destination journeys through China. Frequent direct high-speed trains will link Hong Kong to Shenzhen and Guangzhou in as little as 48 minutes.
The Hong Kong section of the High Speed Rail network runs from West Kowloon Station, one of the world’s largest underground high-speed railway stations and a new must-see landmark for visitors to the city. The station’s design has already garnered a number of international design awards including one at the World Architecture Festival Awards, known as the “Oscars of architecture”. Visitors can enjoy views of iconic Victoria Harbour by walking along the Sky Corridor on the station’s rooftop.
Directly outside the station is Hong Kong’s new arts and cultural hub, the West Kowloon Cultural District, which will soon offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy an array of exhibitions, performances and cultural events when they step off the High Speed Rail network.
Tickets for the High Speed Rail network are available online, from ticket agents, and through a tele-ticketing hotline. For more information, click here.
Photos courtesy of MTR.
Senior Solo Travelers Rule
According to 44% of a major poll of U.S. travel agents, most of their clients taking solo trips are age 55 or older, followed by those 45-55 (29%), 35-45 (18%), 25-34 (9%) and 18-24 years of age (0.4%). Solo travel can be independent, self-planned travel for one, but it also includes signing up solo for a small-group tour or a cruise where the individual is willing to twin-share accommodation with a stranger (cheaper) or is happy to pay for a single supplement, where necessary. Based in the U.K., Just You, is an exclusively solo travel specialist with small-group tours to 10 European countries. “Escorted tours with your very own room, always!” That certainly appeals to older solo travelers I know … and me too.
People Clearly Love to Travel!
International tourism growth shows no signs of slowing, according to the just-released Tourism Highlights Report of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) looking back on the year 2017, the last full year for reported figures.
Global tourist arrivals grew 6.8% in 2017, hitting 1.32 billion. That’s 84 million more travelers than the previous year which was the highest increase since the 2009 global economic crisis hit.
The report attributes the growth to an economic upswing, resulting in strong outbound demand that clearly demonstrates how keen people are to travel when they have the money to do so. Simply put, travel is pretty close to the top of the average person’s bucket list!
So which countries attracted the lion’s share of arriving vacationers in 2017? Here are the top 10, together with a link to a destination feature article in our publication’s Travel Article Library collection that may motivate readers to swell the number of vacationers heading off to one of these countries:
1. France — 86.9 million (visit: Paris’s Cuisine Scene)
2. Spain — 81.8 million (visit: Why Walk Spain’s Camino de Santiago?)
3. United States — 75.9 million (visit: A Small Ship Inside Passage Adventure in Alaska)
4. China — 60.7 million (visit: A Conservation Volunteer Vacation with Giant Pandas in China)
5. Italy — 58.3 million (visit: A Senior Signs Up for Italian Language Lessons in Sicily)
6. Mexico — 39.3 million (visit: Glimpses of Mexico’s Riviera Maya along the Yucatan Peninsula’s East Coast)
7. United Kingdom — 37.7 million (visit: Doing the Coast to Coast Walk across Northern England, One Pub at a Time!)
8. Turkey — 37.6 million (visit: Seniors Go Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia)
9. Germany — 37.5 million (visit: A Walk Through Berlin’s Public Art)
10. Thailand — 35.4 million (visit: Thailand’s Scuba Diving Treasures Beneath the Sea)
Which country’s citizens spent the most money on travel in 2017? China continues to lead global outbound travel expenditures, spending a whopping $257.7 billion in 2017. Second is the United States, with its citizens spending $135 billion while traveling abroad last year followed by Germany, the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Russia, South Korea and Italy.
A Unique Design Museum Opens in Scotland
Created under the parental stewardship of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Victoria & Albert Dundee, www.vam.ac.uk/dundee, is a monumental museum of art, design and performance that opened its doors on September 15, 2018. Located on the waterfront of Dundee, Scotland, its commanding presence is reminiscent of the equally revolutionary Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. No doubt this new global design landmark will be the talk of the museum world well into the future.
Kengo Kuma, architect of V&A Dundee, says: “The big idea for V&A Dundee was bringing together nature and architecture, to create a new living room for the city, a centre of gravity. I’m truly in love with the Scottish landscape and nature. I was inspired by the cliffs of north-eastern Scotland – it’s as if the earth and water had a long conversation and finally created this stunning shape.” Mr. Kuma is also designing the stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Photo above: Travel disguise costume from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones the work of Scottish costume designer Trisha Biggar. ©Michael McGurk
As Scotland’s first design museum and the first V&A museum outside London, V&A Dundee tells a global story, investigating the international importance of design alongside presenting Scotland’s outstanding design achievements which are many in every walk of life. Its construction and fit-out took three and a half years to complete. Once part of the city’s docklands, it stands at the centre of the £1 billion transformation of the Dundee waterfront.
At the heart of the museum, the Scottish Design Galleries feature 300 exhibits drawn from the V&A’s rich collections of Scottish design, as well as from museums and private collections across Scotland and the world. At the center of these galleries stands the magnificent Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room meticulously restored, conserved and reconstructed.
The ambitious international exhibition program opens with Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, organized by the V&A and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. It explores the design and cultural impact of the ocean liner on an international scale.
With free admission, V&A Dundee is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Two Luxury Train Journeys in 2019 Explore India in Style
The term “luxury” should not be overlooked when considering these trips: be warned that the price of each one is commensurate with the word. However, they are clearly a once-in-a-lifetime, blow-the-budget opportunity to travel like a Maharajah or Maharani to experience some of India’s most amazing destinations.
In 2019, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains www.goldeneagleluxurytrains.com introduces two new rail adventures aboard the gleaming Deccan Odyssey train: one through the north and one through the south. The Madras Mail itinerary offers clients the opportunity to join Golden Eagle’s president and founder Tim Littler on a President’s Tour in celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary. It covers the very best of southern India, from Mumbai to Hyderabad. Then the Darjeeling Mail tour travels coast to coast across northern India, taking in the hill plantations of Darjeeling, the bazaars of Delhi, the sites of Agra (think Taj Mahal) and the spiritual pilgrimage mecca of Varanasi.
During the Madras Mail tour, discover a land of contrasts on this two-week rail odyssey across southern India, from vibrant cities to peaceful backwaters, and immaculate beaches to rolling tea estate foothills. Revealing a slower, peaceful and more exotic side of India, this itinerary showcases India’s innumerable ancient monuments and spectacular World Heritage Sites.
After a stay at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, join the Deccan Odyssey as it weaves its way southwards to Kanyakumari in the state of Kerala, mainland India’s southernmost point. Highlights along the way include: the beaches and temples of Goa; a trip on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, India’s only rack and pinion railway; and a Kathakali Dance performance in Cochin before looping north towards the main cities of Tamil Nadu. In Chennai (Madras) swap the Deccan Odyssey for a few nights at a beachfront luxury resort, before continuing the journey by air to Hyderabad for some final sightseeing to complete the adventure. It departs December 5, 2019 with 7 nights aboard the Deccan Odyssey and 7 nights hotel accommodation (2 in Mumbai, 3 in Chennai and 2 in Hyderabad) plus all meals and beverages included.
Joining the Darjeeling Mail tour, allows 14 nights to unravel the color, character and diversity of India while traveling from Mumbai to Kolkata on this fascinating new trip. It begins with two nights at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel to kick off the tour. Then guests climb aboard the Deccan Odyssey, their hotel-on-wheels for the next week. The first stop is Udaipur in the western state of Rajasthan to discover the city’s tapestry of lakes and palaces, before exploring the finest sites of Jaipur and Delhi. There is plenty of time devoted to the magnificent Agra Fort and Taj Mahal, ahead of the train’s arrival in Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the River Ganges, this cultural center is one of India’s most spiritual places, where Hindu pilgrims bathe in the sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Golden Eagle guests will have the privilege to witness these time-honored ceremonies before taking a private river cruise.
Leaving the Deccan Odyssey, the tour continues on another spectacular rail passage to the hill station of Darjeeling, this time aboard the narrow-gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway’s ‘Toy Train’. With three nights here, learn about the colonial history of the town, visit a local tea plantation to sample the freshest cup of tea, and take an early morning trip up Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise over the snow-capped Himalayas. A flight to Kolkata (Calcutta) signals the final days spent absorbing the sights and sounds of India’s former capital. It departs on December 14, 2019, with 7 nights aboard the Deccan Odyssey and 7 nights hotel accommodation (2 in Mumbai, 3 in Darjeeling and 2 in Kolkata) plus all meals and beverages included.
Prices for these tours are per person based on two people sharing. They include a fully guided off-train excursion program, porter service, airport transfers, the services of a tour manager and all gratuities.
See a feature article in our Travel Article Library collection about a Golden Eagle luxury train journey from Tehran (Iran) through five countries to Budapest (Hungary).
Images courtesy of Golden Eagle Luxury Trains.