Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Pandemic-Era School-Break Trips: Safe, Easy, and Fun

by Wendy Perrin | October 6, 2022

This sampling of trip reviews from families with kids in school or college shows how you can get safe, easy, delightful, international school-break trips, as my own family did too, even during Covid.  How?  Via my WOW system. To get a trip like one below, click on the black button, submit the questionnaire, and you’ll hear back from us shortly. Here’s what you’ll get.


Christmas/New Year’s


Spring Break

Summer Vacation

Hot air balloons rise over Angama Mara safari lodge in Kenya

Hot-air balloons rise over Angama Mara safari lodge in Kenya. Photo: Angama Mara

Christmas/New Year’s

A “trip of a lifetime” safari in Kenya

2020–21 holidays

“Initial discussions with Cherri and her team began in July 2021 to further investigate if 2021 would be the year to go on safari. What Covid hurdles would we encounter? How would we handle a trip cancellation if a family member tested Covid positive days prior to departure? Where is the best place to see the Big 5?

She and her team answered those questions (and plenty more!) enabling us to explore Kenya for 15 days. Cherri’s team guided us from the beginning and insisted on three key items to avoid possible trip derailment and an immense financial disaster.

1. Transportation: Due to Covid country entry requirements regularly changing with little notice (the U.S. changed their entry requirements two times after we booked our trip in July), Cherri recommended a direct flight from JFK via Kenya Airways. This smart strategy limited us to only one Covid test when leaving the U.S. and avoided the possibility of additional tests for connecting international flights and airports. Cherri also recommended limiting our travel to one country, Kenya, to again avoid additional, costly Covid tests in order to enter another African country.

2. Insurance: Cherri highly recommended we purchase Trip Cancellation insurance and evaluate the optional CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) endorsement. I generated quotes via and ended up with an AXA policy with the CFAR endorsement. Granted, the policy was expensive and the CFAR endorsement only indemnified me for 75% (industry standard) of the total trip cost, but it provided peace of mind as the Delta and Omicron variants raced across the U.S. with me and my family as potential targets!

3. Health & Safety: Cherri recommended bringing paper copies of all travel documents: Covid vaccines, health insurance cards, Trip Cancellation policy, Covid test results, passports etc. and not rely on my phone as the only document location. This strategy enabled us to move through airport check-in quicker than others because Kenya Airways wanted to review paper copies and not documents on a phone. Cherri’s team also coordinated our return Covid tests at Saruni Mara with a Kenyan doctor prior to leaving. The day following the tests, results were emailed to me at Giraffe Manor, our final stop, and the staff was instrumental with printing the lab report with the QR Code which was required in order to board our flight home.

The accommodations recommended by Cherri were superb. The hospitality was warm, the bush guides were knowledgeable, the food was excellent and the facilities were immaculate and regularly wiped down to eliminate any threat of a virus. A special shout out to Sasaab and Saruni Mara for going above and beyond by arranging meaningful visits to local people! Cherri’s tip to bring some candy and small gifts for the village children as an icebreaker was all that was needed for smiles, giggles and an insider’s view of the locals’ homes and lifestyles.

I cannot forget to note the sleeper of the trip: Governors Balloon Safari. My husband and I were skeptical of this bucket list item, envisioning being stuffed in a basket with other random tourists prior to sunrise. Boy, were we wrong. An overwhelming sense of nostalgia overtook us as we rose high above the trees of Masai Mara, spotting elephants, giraffes, hippos and buffalo in their natural habitat for the hour ride. It brought back memories of our 1970s childhood: Sunday nights, the entire family parked around the vintage RCA console television, spellbound by the breathtaking treetop scenes from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. But this time, it was live and we were filming!

How could I conclude without mentioning the game drives, the true meaning for the trip? Our guides had us up early for good reason. We regularly viewed big cats over kills every morning. Breakfast in the wild was a chance to pause and reflect. Night drives were full of excitement as we watched the drama of life and death unfold again. Africa, as revealed by Cherri’s team, is truly the “trip of a lifetime!” —Beth Nury



Ecuador and a small-ship Galapagos cruise

2020–21 holidays

Allie planed a 2-stage trip for 5 five of us ranging in age from 18–53 yrs, visiting Ecuador and the Galapagos from 12/27 to 1/10/2022. The first week was in Quito and the surrounding mountainous areas including Mindo and Otavalo. The last week was spent on an out-of-this-world cruise in the Galapagos.

First of all, without Allie there is no way we would have been able to correctly negotiate the shifting sands of COVID regulations in Ecuador, the Galapagos islands and for our return to the US. I mean this. Talk about value. It would have been a full-time job to get everything in order for all 5 of us and likely, we would have failed to do it all correctly, getting turned back and losing our money.

Over the month. prior to the trip she sent weekly and then bi-weekly emails updating us on the requirements and forms, which kept changing. She had us send copies of all tests results etc… to her and she kept them on the ready in case we encountered any difficulties. The cruise company that Allie set us up with and the agency, required travel insurance of some sort. Allie gave us good recommendations on this, such as check with your credit card, it may have coverage, and if not, here are recommendations. Allie made certain that both our driver and guide were fully vaccinated and they both wore N95 or KF94s the entire time. They spoke beautiful English but were also willing to let a few of us try out our Spanish when we felt up to it. As our travels from Reno began during the biggest storm we have seen in 10 years, Allie she kept in touch with the staff on the ground in Quito regarding our delays. Sure enough, when we exited the plane in Quito, our driver, Daniel, whisked us out of the airport and directly into our Mercedes Sprinter as he collected our bags. Unfortunately, given the delay due to the storm, our bags missed the connecting flight. Daniel went to speak to the baggage office in Quito before we even left the airport grounds. The local travel agency started making calls and sure enough, the bags were delivered to our hotel the following day without incident. Super. I had wanted to go straight to the Galapagos cruise, but Allie had strongly advised that we leave lead time in Quito beforehand – just exactly for reasons like this! If we hadn’t planned the trip with the lead time, we wouldn’t have had our luggage for our 8-day cruise! Allie booked us in at spectacular but smaller places, thereby avoiding crowded areas. The mild weather allowed most of our touring to take place outside. We were impressed with how organized, efficient and strict, but sensible, the Ecuadorians were regarding COVID safety. Allie’s local partners chose the perfect driver and guide for us. They both had university degrees in tourism. Additionally, our guide, Kristina, had a second degree in Environmental Science. She was an absolute fountain of information and perfect for science geeks like us! Kristina and Daniel were a great pair, we always felt perfectly safe, and were so impressed with how smoothly they organized our transitions. This was particularly key when we had to swing through the Quito airport and get pre-Galapagos PCR testing, as well as when we went back for our Rapid Antigen test prior to our trip home. They had it so dialed in that we waited no more than 10 minutes despite the long line of people. Again, talk about value! Who wants to spend an hour waiting in line at the airport clinic multiple times during the trip? Additionally, Allie emailed us repeatedly reminding us to email results to her and print them out at the hotel as well. Then Allie made sure to email our Galapagos PCR test results to the cruise ship and confirmed their receipt! All of this was crucial as vaccination status, test results and temperature checks came, at times, unexpectedly and we had to be ready.

All in all, despite the initial luggage delay, everything went seamlessly and almost unbelievably, we all tested negative each time.

So… what are the can’t miss parts of our trip?

1) That Galapagos cruise with Ecoventura (we were on the Theory) !!! Indescribable experience. Small ship – only 14 people on a 20 person ship. Both of the other families had college/young adult kids. We were a perfect match and this was not entirely an accident. Their sister ship, the Origin, traveled in tandem with us and had a very different passenger mix. Our crew struck the perfect tone between high-level service and a more casual, friendly attitude, to match the young people on the boat. This was worth the price tag!! Trust me!! Our naturalists were top notch. As a bunch of science nerds we were impressed! really! Perhaps most notable was that absolutely everyone, from Captain Peter, on down to our panga drivers was equally excited the wildlife sightings. You could see the excitement on the staffs’ faces as they ran to grab cameras and Go-Pros when a pod of pilot whales followed us or when penguins were sighted diving in front of us while snorkeling. Our captain took the ship 2 hours out of its way so that we could get a good view of the volcano that started erupting on Isabella, necessitating a longer nighttime navigation for him and his first mate. When you added the almost unbelievable geology and wildlife of the Galapagos Islands to the outstanding ship and crew, it was magic!

2) Otavalo and the Hacienda Cusín outside of Quito. The Hacienda is such a special place. Highlights include; the buildings dating back to 1605, the game room, old fashioned squash courts, horseback riding, beautiful monastery, the hot water bottles at the foot of your bed and the private cooking class that they designed for us on their expansive back lawn. I would go back in a heartbeat and stay longer. The surrounding area is beautiful with San Pablo Lake and the Parque Condor which houses injured birds of prey including the Condor! We visited traditional indigenous weavers and Andean instrument musicians and craftsman as well as the lively and well-known Otavalo market.

I am out of time and breath, but could go on and on. The experiences were unforgettable, but none of them would have happened without Allie’s understanding of our interests and her sensational organizational skills.

Thank you Allie and thank you to the local staff, as well as our beloved crew of the Theory! And thank you Wendy and staff, without whom, we would not have found these folks.” —Kristen MacLeod



Private yacht and scuba diving in the Caribbean

2020–21 holidays

“Choosing to travel internationally as a family during the pandemic was not an easy decision, but after hearing Rachael discuss the health and safety measures they were taking with their sailing vacations during one of Wendy Perrin’s Zoom sessions, we decided to explore the possibility further.

The attraction to us was being socially distanced by miles versus feet. The yacht would serve as our accommodation, dining venue and entertainment for our 10-day vacation. Another reassuring factor is that the country of Belize requires a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours to enter. American Airlines offers PCR Covid testing through a partnership with Let’s Get Checked. Passengers booked on AA flights are “guaranteed” results within 72 hours. We were pleased with the Let’s Get Checked process and liked that they require you to take the sample while on a video chat with a health care professional.

Traveling during the pandemic does take additional planning. There were no last-minute trips to the store to pick up items as we self-quarantined for 2 weeks prior to our trip. In addition to the Let’s Get Checked test, we took several local PCR Covid tests in the weeks prior to our travels. To minimize transportation exposure, we drove ourselves to the airport and parked in the short-term parking lot. My husband parked the car and walked across the street to enter the airport – well worth the additional cost. We choose flight times early in the morning and late in the evening to avoid the crowds at the airport. Wendy’s seat selection recommendations were greatly appreciated. In our opinion, American Airlines did a wonderful job ensuring everyone was wearing their face mask properly.

If for some reason we would have been unable to travel, Rachael gave us the option to reschedule the vacation within a year. A very generous offer that put our minds at ease when booking. Rachael, Cliff and Patricia, were very prompt in replying to our e-mails and providing additional information. They even tracked down poker chips at the last minute to add to our yacht – remember, I couldn’t go to the store.

Joining us in our yacht bubble, were 2 wonderful crew members, Eric, the captain and Andrea 1st mate/chef. Whether it was playing silly reindeer games on a rainy Christmas day, spending extra time fishing for the prize catch or cooking up the prized catch, their dedication and attention really made the trip special. They covertly decorated the yacht for our 25th wedding anniversary while we were out kayaking. Andrea even found time to stealthy make a cake from scratch.

We are a SCUBA diving family and diving in Belize has been on our wish list for a while. Rachael and Patricia worked closely with us to arrange private dives and diving equipment that we could procure at the beginning of the trip and keep for the duration. The Amigos Del Mar dive shop in San Pedro were top notch!! We had 7 wonderful SCUBA dives with Carlos and Alex. Having private SCUBA diving excursions limited our exposure to others and ensured we were typically the only boat at the location. Also, it afforded us the opportunity to feel comfortable taking our 12-year-old son to the Great Blue Hole! An amazing experience and bucket list worthy location that not many young divers can say they have accomplished. The juvenile nurse sharks were quite playful and joined us on several of our dives. They showed us around their swim throughs ensuring we all stayed together. In our many years of SCUBA diving, we have never had the wildlife engage with us so much – I think they were feeling neglected with the lack of tourist.

In addition to SCUBA diving, we enjoyed the yacht activities of paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, exploring deserted islands, spotting the rare red-footed boobie bird, star gazing and quality family time. My 12-year-old and I had an engaging conversation for 2 hours one evening while we gazed at the galaxies – a moment in time that I will treasure.
We will be talking about this vacation for years to come! Thank you to Rachael and her team for helping us feel safe while traveling during the Covid pandemic and making family memories that we will forever cherish.” Shelby Willets


Mexico’s Riviera Maya with three girls under 10

2020–21 holidays

“We went to the Fairmont Mayakoba Dec 28-Jan 3rd. We saw Tulum and swam in a cenote and enjoyed the resort. It was the perfect family friendly resort. The service was great. My 2 year old is particularly difficult and she loved seeing the turtles at the grand cenote and my older girls loved swimming and seeing the bats above our heads. In Tulum they loved running around exploring. Franc was so helpful and kind he picked a delicious restaurant for us to eat at for lunch and helped us skip the wait. He totally didn’t mind having kids around. The resort was the perfect way to relax but escaping to see some of the beauty and history of Mexico was great. Traveling with 3 kids is always tricky but we use Wendy Perrin’s list to make it easy.” —Mary Ko


A family cruise in the Galapagos Islands

2021–22 holidays

Allie was fantastically responsive and made sure we had all the information we need. She steered us to a great cruise ship and we had a fantastic time. She saved our bacon twice on the trip: once when the airline abruptly moved our flight two hours earlier at the last minute (she had a man at the airport hold the flight and usher us through) and again when our COVID test didn’t come back on time (she made some calls and miraculously the lab sent the results immediately). Very glad to have had her in our corner!” —Michelle Mello



A beach getaway for a family of five

2021–22 holidays

“We have just returned from a trip to Playa del Carmen and enjoyed a fabulous week at the Palmaia, House of Aia. What a gorgeous resort with a beautiful beach just 45 minutes to an hour south of the Cancun airport. Our trip was planned by Zach’s team. They arranged private transportation to/from the airport and our hotel accommodations. We had two beautiful rooms for our family of five and enjoyed the ocean views from the 3rd and 4th floors. This was a trip for just relaxing, so we didn’t plan any excursions. We enjoyed the beach and pools—a perfect vacation. The staff all wore masks and we spent most of our time outside, which made it feel more comfortable. The hotel is an all-inclusive serving top-shelf drinks, and the food was mostly vegan (though you could get seafood and meat at a few restaurants). The most delicious food we have eaten on vacation. We plan to return!” —Michele and Ken Krisko



An “epic family trip” to Egypt

2021-22 holidays

“We had an epic family trip to Egypt over Christmas and NYEve break! Arlene & Jim set up this trip perfectly—and with very little input since we were too busy. We entrusted them to prioritize and plan our limited time in Egypt, and they did it quickly and brilliantly. The tool they use to share itinerary drafts and the final documents and suggestions were fantastic! When we faced some issues or had changes, they were quick to support us. When we had to cancel one of our group due to Covid, they tried to get as much $ back as possible. Scuba diving the Red Sea was a bucket list item for me and we pulled that off as well (even though it was a little cold). Tour leaders and Egyptologists were all awesome—helpful, knowledgeable, friendly and organized. St Regis in Cairo, Sonesta Star Nile cruise, and Savoy Sharm el Sheikh were all great choices too – especially NYEve party!” —Bernardine Wu



Outdoor adventure in Belize’s jungle and beach with three active teenagers

2021–22 holidays

“We almost never return to the same country. As we confronted the possibility of trying to travel between Christmas and New Year’s in 2021, we decided to make an exception to our ordinary rule and return to Belize. The wisdom of that choice was completely validated by our experience the second time around. First, Patricia planned an excellent itinerary, matched by superior management of all logistics. Our family of five, with our three active teenagers, spent four nights in the jungle, then seven nights at the beach. While based in the jungle, we kept our three teenagers busy with horseback riding, cave tubing and visiting the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich. We enjoyed fantastic gourmet meals and even squeezed in some time at the spa and the pool. Then, at the beach, we enjoyed leisurely days at the pool and also snorkeling, fishing, and barbequing on the beach.

The highlight of the itinerary was the unexpected WOW Moment. Knowing that we have a strong interest in learning about local culture, Patricia arranged with the Black&White Garifuna Restaurant to come to our hotel for a private, immersive evening focused on the Garifuna Afro-Caribbean culture. We were treated to a magical singing and dancing performance, and then got dancing lessons and drumming lessons. We also received short, digestible lessons on Garifuna history, language, holidays, and cuisine. After we wore ourselves out dancing, we were guided to a beautifully laid table on the beach and served an extraordinary 6-course private dinner prepared by O Restaurant at Las Terrazas resort. While we dined, the singing and dancing continued. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Importantly, Covid safety protocols received the attention they deserve. We stayed only at hotels with the strictest Covid policies and appreciated the ease of getting rapid antigen tests on the day before departure. Patricia promptly answered all of our questions about Covid requirements and safety conditions. We definitely felt safer in Belize than we did at home. All in all, the trip was an A+. We had quality time as a family, and interesting, memorable experiences in a beautiful, diverse country. Thanks to Patricia for making it all so easy. We are very grateful.” —Robyn Smyers



Immersive, off-the-beaten-path Argentina with two adult children

2021–22 holidays

“I took my husband and two adult children to Argentina for the 2021 holidays (13-day trip). I planned this trip with Maita only six weeks beforehand due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid. I wanted to be off the beaten path and stay in interesting places that offered active enjoyment of the natural beauty of Argentina. Maita helped me narrow down the locations to BA, Mendoza, Salta and Iguazu (we recently had been to the lake region and Patagonia in Chile). I also wanted to stay in family-run estancias—and, though my husband and son aren’t huge fans of horseback riding, I convinced them that this is an important part of the Argentine experience. I wanted to experience the vastness of the landscape on horseback and get to know the people, history, and culture of Argentina. The trip exceeded all expectations and I can’t wait to return—with Maita’s expert guidance. We stayed at three estancias which were amazing, and even my husband and son enjoyed the excellent horses and gorgeous trail rides. One of these estancias had never taken paying guests before— it turned out to be one of the most unique and enjoyable travel experiences of our lives. In addition, we stayed at several small hotels when we were not at the estancias which felt very authentic (mostly Argentine travelers) and had interesting locations/architecture. Maita was able to quickly respond to all of our requests: last-minute flight changes due to Covid issues, securing and changing restaurant reservations at the most popular places, arranging a last-minute bike ride through the vineyards, and gave us many ideas about art galleries, sites, stores, etc., that are special. She provided us with two superb guides who made our trip enjoyable, more meaningful and active (we requested frequent walks to break up the driving). The customer service was extraordinary. I highly recommend Maita and her team.” —Carol Johnson


A trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights

2021–22 holidays

“We had an amazing trip to Iceland during the peak holiday season. We started planning the trip relatively late and Chris worked some miracles to find us accommodations. He also found us fabulous guides and experiences, provided us with morning updates on weather/road conditions and alerts for the best viewing of the Northern Lights (which we saw on our first night!), and even planned out walking itineraries of Reykjavik based on the types of stores/sights we wanted to visit. He also smoothed out some small bumps we encountered, such as moving dinner reservations to comply with Iceland’s new Covid restrictions. It gave me great peace of mind knowing that we had Chris to support us if we had encountered any problems or tested positive while we were there.” —Ann Plaza


A private villa in Puerto Vallarta

2021–22 holidays

“When we decided on a family vacation in Mexico for three generations, plus a pre-vacation vacation for my husband and me, we wanted to make sure we navigated all the ins and outs of dealing with COVID while feeling safe and still having fun. Zach and his colleagues came through on both counts.

The first stop for my husband and me was San Miguel de Allende. While we had initially hesitated to stay at the Rosewood because it was not in the center of town, Zach convinced us this hotel would be excellent, and he was correct. Thanks to him we were upgraded to their Tower Suite, which not only came with an enormous amount of space on two levels, but its own private elevator, three outdoor patios, and two butlers! Everything about this hotel was magical, and we cannot wait to return. The tours Zach arranged in San Miguel were excellent and included a market tour and cooking class with a chef, and an in-depth tour of San Miguel and Guanajuato. (Zach had difficulty convincing us to spend the time on the day tour of Guanajuato, but we are so glad he did; it is a lovely, interesting city, and we were sorry we had not allocated an extra day or two to explore there.)

The remainder of our trip was spent in Puerto Vallarta with the entire family. We had mentioned to Zach that, because of COVID, we wanted a private villa. We also had very specific requirements for the villa: directly on the water, large enough so we would all have our own space, fully staffed (and the staff vaccinated), close to activities, and located an easy distance from the center of Puerto Vallarta. We also wanted private activities, just to be safe. Our villa, Casa Demae II, is in a gated complex, and was exquisite and outstanding in every way: spacious bedrooms (all ensuite, and most with balconies) with views of the pool and Banderas Bay, incredible common areas, infinity pool with a swim-up bar, jacuzzi, outdoor dining areas (from where we saw whales most days), streaming services—you name it, it was there! The staff were excellent and always helpful; what a treat to always have, without asking, coffee ready in the morning and (for the adults), margaritas ready in the evening! Our chef was fantastic—we actually cancelled two dinner reservations because the food at the villa was so wonderful. Another very nice touch was simply putting the dirty clothes in the closet basket, and having clean ones reappear that afternoon. This was like having our own private hotel…but better.

As in San Miguel, the activities planned were second to none. Everyone is still talking about the whale watching tour and the day on the private catamaran around Banderas Bay with complete crew and a chef. Also, because we had the benefit of entry to the Beach Club, the staff arranged for us to jet ski, paddleboard, and snorkel only a short distance away. Most importantly, we always felt comfortable with the COVID protocols that were in place. There is no way we could have put together this trip on our own. From the moment my husband and I landed in Guanajuato until the entire family boarded our flight home, absolutely everything was handled efficiently and worked smoothly.” —Vanessa Hulme




Italy and Switzerland with four kids, ages 5 to 11

Thanksgiving 2021

“My family of six—including four daughters, ages 5 through 11—traveled to Italy and Switzerland in November/December 2021. Maria pulled it all together on relatively short notice; I think we had only four weeks of lead time. She arranged for great hotels, fun excursions, and private guides in Florence and Zurich who were fantastic with the girls. It was really nice to have the same driver the whole time we were in a city, and each driver was excellent and very accommodating. We had a fantastic time making pizza in Florence, and another major highlight was our WOW Moment. Thank you so much, Wendy, we really enjoyed it! We walked across the river in Florence to a more residential neighborhood and visited an artist’s studio, where she welcomed us and helped us make our own mosaics in her found-object style. While they dried, we enjoyed sandwiches and cake in the cafe. The artist and Elvira (our guide) were so friendly and welcoming it was a real treat to spend the afternoon with them. As for Covid, we felt pretty safe: Things felt mostly normal (but with masks…and a QR code app in Switzerland). The Italians and Swiss seemed comfortable and ready to move on, which put us at ease as well. Maria arranged for Covid tests for us prior to our return flight. Everything went smoothly, and it was nice not to have to worry about anything. I will definitely call Maria again when we return to Italy or Switzerland.” —Rebecca Bartlett




photo of Sea turtle swimming underwater in the Galapagos island

The Galapagos Islands are filled with fascinating wildlife. Photo: Shutterstock

Spring Break


March 2022

Boris and his team were absolutely invaluable in helping us have an unforgettable family trip. We hired them for their pre-trip planning expertise, but what was unexpectedly amazing was being able to truly enjoy our time and not spend part of each day debating what to do, see or eat. This is a huge bonus, especially with a multi-generational family group full of opinionated people. Having a great plan in place allowed us all to actually relax and enjoy our family time pretty much from Day One. Our tours were amazing, especially the music and art tours in Bogota and Palenque (so beautiful and culturally rich)! Cartagena is incredibly special; we enjoyed soaking it all in. The coffee region was so different—lush, green and peaceful. We adored Casa Medina and Hacienda Bambusa — gorgeous, high-quality, unique hotels with superb staff. If we had it to do over again, we probably shouldn’t have arranged quite so much activity, so that we could have relaxed at our wonderful hotels a bit more. As far as Covid, it was a non-issue. Everyone wore a mask (moreso than in the States) unless we specifically invited them not to. Most restaurants checked vaccine cards. The Covid testing was remarkably easy to arrange, and results were prompt. We felt safe every step of the way.” —Erin Texeira



March 2022

“For our trip to northern Italy in late March with our teen daughters (14 and 17), Andrea added value by arranging experiences that we would not have known about. First was a private experience with a couture fashion designer in her studio in Milan: We learned all about the couture and ready-to-wear markets, along with a crash course on fabrics, materials, etc…We even got to see seamstresses working on one-of-a-kind dresses.

On Lake Como we had an all-day private boat tour, and en route to Bologna we stopped at the Ferrari Museum for a private VIP tour. It was very interesting…even for non-car people! In Bologna a chef/guide met us at the hotel to walk us through the old food markets of Bologna. He taught us all about the local foods while we shopped for ingredients for our private cooking class that afternoon. We made the most amazing homemade pastas and sauces!

Next came Italy’s Piedmont region, best known for wine and truffles. Andrea’s group had recommended a hotel that opened last year called Casa di Langa, located in the hills outside of Alba. This hotel was amazing, and the views from our room were stunning. The Piedmont region is completely underrated!!! It has the beauty of Tuscany without the crowds. My husband is an avid wine collector and had requested a tour of the Gaia winery in a local village. Gaia is not open to the public for tours, but Andrea used her connections to set up a private tour and tasting for us that was definitely a highlight for my husband! On our last day, we were taken to a private home of two brothers who truffle hunt. After a truffle tutorial, we made our way up into the hills with our truffle hunting dog. It was so exciting to actually find truffles in the ground! We proceeded back to the house for an amazing selection of local cheese, salami and olive oil…with a generous portion of truffles slices on top! Back in Alba, we wandered the narrow streets filled with locals. Northern Italy was a special area that we can’t wait to go back to!!” —Jennifer Mann



March 2022

“Just got back from spring break in Morocco with my three kids (ages 3, 7, and 9). We never could have planned an experience as wonderful as what Hicham and Radia planned for us. We rode camels, went ATVing along the ocean, and my girls love couscous. We loved our private local guide, chosen for us by Hicham and Radia. He has three kids himself and was empathetic to the occasional chaos. My snake-loving daughter loved the cobras and snakes she was able to hold. My 7-year-old got a fever and cough and our guide helped us find medicine for her. Honestly, it is always an adventure to travel, but with three kids we have to be able to pivot, and pause. Everyone was so helpful and kind. The Four Seasons was perfect for kids. The beach was beautiful. We feel so lucky to have been on this trip!” —Mary Ko



March 2022

“We had a fantastic time in Portugal, in spite of rain throughout the 10-day trip and a once-every-20-year sandstorm that blanketed the country for three days. Our trip began in Porto, where we stayed in a beautiful hotel within walking distance to shops and good food. We had an amazing cooking class at an estate outside the city that had been in the owner’s family for 18 generations. Next we spent time in the Algarve, where Gonçalo booked us at a wonderful resort on the beach and we spent the afternoons exploring nearby towns. We spent the end of our trip in Lisbon, where our amazing local guide was able to engage our three teenage girls and keep all of us interested in the history and sights. We took a sailing trip and did an amazing Coasteering activity along the coast that the girls loved. It involved cliff jumping, rock climbing and swimming. We were freezing, but adrenaline kept us going, and the wetsuits helped. Gonçalo arranged a trip exactly as we requested: some history, some culture, and some active adventure. If only he could have controlled the weather, it would have been a perfect trip.” —Karyn Sallus



February–March 2022

With three and a half weeks’ notice, Jonathan planned a fabulous 10-day trip to Ireland for our family of two adults and three teens. We had put off planning, due to Covid concerns, and Covid hardly impacted our trip at all. We stayed two nights in Dublin, and then our fabulous guide, Brendan, picked us up and spent the next eight days driving us around. We spent three nights in Galway and three in Cork. During the days, we explored the countryside and visited both historic landmarks and out-of-the-way finds. Along the way, Brendan charmed us with his unending knowledge of historical facts, local stories, jokes, and quick wit. As Jonathan had predicted, Brendan is now on our Christmas card list!

Each family member loved learning about the rich history and culture of Ireland. Our kids, aged 20, 18, and 14, were the perfect ages for this trip, as there was so much to learn but also a lot of time in the car to see the far-flung rural sites. We were fortunate to attend a Gaelic football game where Brendan, a former player, could explain all the rules. The kids are very into sports, so this was a definite highlight. In all, the itinerary was a perfect mix for all our interests, and the right amount of moving from one hotel to another.

We were aware how much work Jonathan and Brendan did to make sure we were treated as VIPs everywhere we went. Our schedule frequently changed on the fly, due to weather or our wish to stay longer to learn more about a particular place, and Brendan was able to arrange upcoming situations to fit, every time. He could always call ahead to the perfect restaurant to get us right in, and he knew people everywhere we went to pave our way. We received the royal treatment wherever we went, and problems we faced were quickly arranged away. Each of us are experienced travelers, but we would not have been able to do the volume of planning required to make this trip happen so well and so quickly, or to sit back, relax, and experience all the joys of Ireland while trying to manage the myriad logistics on our own.” —Jarvis Weld


The Galapagos Islands with two teen boys 

March–April 2021

“We planned our trip with Allie to Ecuador pre-pandemic, in 2019, for March 2020. We actually took our trip post-pandemic, late March through mid-April 2021. Back in those halcyon pre-pandemic days of 2019/20 when we planned the trip, Allie was fantastic at accommodating our complicated schedules (kids and I flying in from West Coast, my husband joining us later in the trip from the East Coast). It’s rueful to look back on those days when our busy lives meant we “had” to leave on a certain day and could “only” make certain sailings. How naive we were! Nevertheless, Allie was able to put together an amazing trip on limited notice even with our (now laughable) schedule demands – demands we now know were so artificial and that we will probably never see again for a long time (“we have to be back for school”; “I have to attend this industry conference with five thousand other people and will join you later”).

The pandemic hit two weeks before our departure. We thought we had lost everything as we had already paid for the entire trip. Amazingly, Allie was able to retain ALL of our bookings. Honestly, I don’t know how she did that. And it’s not something I could have ever navigated. This is exactly why you use a talented and experienced agent. The only thing we lost was our international airfare — which I had handled. (Note to others — use only legacy carriers for the foreseeable future. I often used small, budget carriers pre-pandemic. For the next few years, I will only use legacy carriers. It was impossible to recover my $7K of international airfare with the low-cost carrier. By contrast, I was able to secure a $12K credit of international airfare with a legacy carrier for my cancelled summer 2020 Europe trip.)

In March 2021, we actually took the trip. Allie was even more amazing in this post-Covid world. A week before our departure, Ecuador changed the rules, allowing vaccinated people to skip Covid testing. Allie informed us within the hour of this happening — although it was still news to the airline desk agent when we checked in! Travel in the post-Covid era is challenging. Flight schedules seem to change daily, even during our trip! Allie was always there to make the necessary adjustments. Our international arrival and departure changed, our domestic flights changed repeatedly (with one even being cancelled), our ship changed. Allie handled it all. We never could have done any of this on our own. And most importantly, we never had to worry or fret about it, because we knew Allie was taking care of it all.

It was incredibly reassuring to know that we had Allie watching our back during the trip, to troubleshoot for us. During our trip, one of my sons was ill, which, to put it mildly, is distressing during pandemic travel — Allie knew via the lodge and texted us immediately. (He was fine.) The details on one of the PCR tests for our US return was incorrect — Allie was able to immediately contact the lab and get a corrected report emailed to us. Her calm and grounded demeanor gave us great comfort, especially with pre-trip jitters and generalized low-level anxiety during the trip. I knew that if anything went sideways in Ecuador that we weren’t alone.

Travel is unpredictable in this post-Covid world. A WOW List planner is vital to ensuring a successful, enjoyable trip no matter your travel history or expertise. We are experienced travelers, have lived abroad, and, pre-pandemic, travelled internationally five to six times a year. But we absolutely could not have done this trip without Allie.

It goes without saying that Allie’s hotel picks, scheduling, transfers etc. were top-notch. She recommended a few days in the Highlands at Hacienda Zuleta, which wasn’t on our radar at all and ended up being one of the highlights and my kids’ favorite hotel. And her recommendation of La Selva Jungle Lodge was spot-on. This was our second time in the Amazon. La Selva blew our last experience (Brazil) out of the water. I felt I was taking a collegiate level tropical ecology/biology course. It was everything that I dreamed the Amazon would be. The Galapagos are as fantastic as reported, you feel like you are living in a National Geographic special (I could almost hear Sir David Attenborough’s voice).

We don’t know why it took us so long to visit Ecuador — it is an amazing destination and should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list.” —Julie Heimark



Tropical beach and jungle adventures with a 2-, 6-, and 8-year-old

March 2021

“So many amazing things to mention on our recent trip (March 2021) to Belize! Maybe I will start with empty airplanes so each of us had our own row…. and customs being empty too! I am already trying to book my next trip before things pick up!!!  We were near San Ignacio at Chaa Creek and Portofino on San Pedro island and both were amazing!  We had a portable service come to us to do our Covid test prior to leaving the United States and they were so sweet with my 2, 6, and 8 year old! The true amazing parts were seeing my girls ride horses, hold iguanas, attempt to snorkel for their first time, and at the butterfly house at Chaa Creek when hundreds of butterflies landed on them. My husband and I swam with sharks, Eric and Carlos were so sweet with the kids! They let them feed the sharks because they were too afraid to jump in. The glass bottom boat was perfect. Portofino’s food was awesome and I think I gained 5 lbs on this trip. We had a tour cancellation and the concierge at Chaa Creek booked chocolate making instead. Mayan chocolate is amazing! The whole trip was incredibly amazing! I can not say enough good things! We went to the Mayan ruins and we had the whole place to ourselves! It was unreal. Usually it is shoulder to shoulder with tourists! I can’t wait for our next adventure!”—Mary Ko



Safari for a well-traveled family with two young boys

March 2021

“What a wonderful trip!  Julian utilizes some amazing people and companies for his Kenya bookings! We (family of four with two children, ages 11 & 13) have extensive international travel experience pre-covid and wanted to travel mid-covid as well. We had never used a travel specialist before and had some hesitations. We were hesitant to loose our control over our daily plans and freedom to roam. Our main reason for using a travel specialist was because travel can be unpredictable in todays travel climate. Julian eased our minds with his grounded approach during the very first phone conversation we had with him. Let the planning process begin! In a very short amount of time, Julian had put together a robust and adventurous itinerary for us.

Julian created a travel product that is unmatched (adventure, culture emersion, conservation, a human approach). If you are looking for an unforgettable and meaningful Kenyan experience, Julian is your guy.

Everything was seamless from the airport transfers, hotels/lodges, guides/drivers, domestic flights, Covid testing, meals, freedom to create our days plans to our liking, etc. Julian will listen to what his travelers want, their comfort levels, budget limitations, etc and create an magical African experience. Our children’s eyes were wide open from the moment we landed in Nairobi until the moment we left. We made a lifetime of memories in Kenya.

Perhaps the test of any travel specialist is when things go sideways. During our time in Kenya, the government altered their Covid regulations and locked down the counties surrounding Nairobi. Julian stepped in and handled the whole situation. In the end we had to make some changes to our plans but the end goal remained the same (our goal of an amazing trip that was safe). If we would have had to handle all the changes, within a very dynamic situation, on our own it would have ruined a full day of our trip and would have caused massive stress. Julian handled it all and we were able to continue enjoying the Masai Mara knowing that it was being handled with our safety and interests in mind. We, as a family, said to one another on numerous occasions that it was wonderful that we used Julian and had someone taking care of the tough yet important tasks to sort out these issues that were out of our control.

Our trip may be over but we have memory cards full of pictures, endless stories to relive around the table, mental images of endless African beauty, new perspectives that will guide us through our lives, and new contacts in our phones of friends we met in Kenya.
If Africa is on your list of places to experience, call Julian!” —Jonas Bean



A catamaran anchored off the coast of Santorini, Greece.

A catamaran anchored off the coast of Santorini, Greece. Photo: Shutterstock

Summer Vacation

Father-and-son trip to Greece

June 2022

“My son and I traveled in Greece together, and Mina’s team did a great job of identifying activities and places of interest for us. The most breathtaking place we went was Meteora, where we got to see, close-up and personal, the monasteries that were built on cliffs and how they functioned. The e-bike tour that we had there was incredible, especially the sunset—a true WOW Moment!

On the island of Naxos, on our river walk hike, our guide led us through the backcountry to unique places off the beaten path and showed us old water mills and different plants, wild herbs and vegetables that cover the landscape. Our catamaran day cruise was also an amazing experience, with snorkeling and great food. On the island of Crete, the landscape was truly beautiful and unique, and we were totally blown away by the Blue Palace Resort & Spa, with its spectacular view looking out on Spinalonga, especially in the mornings.

The people in Greece were so inviting, easy to talk with in English while teaching Greek words along the way, and so generous when serving us their delicious meals. My son and I are now officially addicted to tzatziki! Thanks so much for helping us plan this once-in-a-lifetime trip together.” —George Powers


Costa Rica with teen daughters, one celebrating a birthday

May 2021

“Wendy, once again your WOW experts did not disappoint. My daughters (ages 15 and 16) and I went to Costa Rica at the end of May and the trip was perfect. Irene arranged a trip exactly to my specifications. We had adventure, culture, relaxation, and beautiful accommodations. We had a wonderful guide throughout our trip who was patient, knowledgeable, and entertaining. Irene and Edgar were there to solve the few catastrophes were had along the way, including forgetting our laundry bag when we left Arenal/La Fortuna heading to Nosara. They called the hotel picked the bag up and flew it to the local airport and delivered it to our hotel in two days. They didn’t even charge us for the effort. Edgar was very knowledgeable about the country, wildlife, and food. He was sooooo patient with my teenage daughters who could often be more interested in their phones than what he was showing us.

We enjoyed so many experiences from hiking, zip lining, ATV tour, a private cooking class, a chocolate farm tour and tasting…. we were busy from the start of our day until the end.

My daughter had her birthday while we were in Costa Rica and they were so great in helping us celebrate. The hotel had a cake at breakfast. Edgar had the van decorated with balloons and a gift basket, the chocolate tour gave her chocolate bars to take home and the cooking class had a cake for her as well. The entire day a celebration for her!

We also had our special WOW Moment which was really something special. Edgar picked us up in the late afternoon and we drove to the lake where a boat was waiting. There was a three piece band and dance teacher aboard. We were serenaded and taught to dance salsa (or at least they tried to teach us the Salsa). As the sun went down we toasted our great stay in La Fortuna. After we arrived back on shore we were taken to the private home of a chef in town. He and his wife prepared a delicious 4 course dinner and we could see the prep as the kitchen was outside by the table. The food was fantastic. Little did we know our guide Edgar had been observing our food preferences throughout our trip and dinner was chosen from his recommendations. So much thought was put into the experience. My daughters and I will remember the night fondly.

We ended our trip in Nosara, a small beach town were we could unwind and relax before heading home. My only complaint was the hotel was not anything special. It was a very low key, beachy hotel with minimal bells and whistles. Once we got settled in it was fine and we could walk to the beach and surf as they provided surf boards and boogie boards. We definitely got to relax after or jam packed time in La Fortuna.

I would recommend Irene for planning a fun filled trip to Costa Rica. And Edgar was the bomb….patient, kind and knowledgeable.” —Karyn Sallus



Open-air family fun in Croatia with a 9-year-old 

June 2021

Ala planned a wonderful 10 day trip to Croatia in June for me, my husband, and my 9 year old son. We started in Istria and wound our way down the Dalmatian coast to Split. We spent a couple nights on the island of Hvar in the most peaceful and elegant hotel overlooking the Adriatic. Ala included activities that were exciting for my child: truffle hunting with dogs in Istria, a boat ride with swimming around the Pakleni Islands, and a fresco painting workshop. My husband and I loved our tour of Split and the Diocletian Palace. Ala found us a hotel right next to the Palace and our tour of the Palace was fascinating. In Istria we visited medieval hill towns with our wonderful tour guide Jasmina. All the tour guides were exceptional, informative, and personable. Ala was up to date on what Covid tests we needed, turns out we only needed to get tested for our return to the States. She suggested an at home Covid test that we packed in our suitcase and was super easy and convenient to take. We felt completely safe traveling around Croatia, most of our activities were outside and all of our guides wore masks. The hotels were very conscious of Covid safety. Every restaurant Ala recommended was amazing. I would not have been able to plan a trip like this on my own. We saw so much and learned so much in 10 days! I felt safe and that my family was very well taken care of.” —Leslie Manning



Kid-friendly Istanbul, with unvaccinated 9- and 3-year-olds

June 2021

“Our family of four traveled to Istanbul in June of 2021 with the help of Karen and her team. We had a phenomenal trip.  My wife and I were vaccinated; our two kids (ages 9 and 3) were not, and so we really wanted a trip that would be safe and easy to control (with respect to social distancing and covid protocols) as well as exciting and fun and everything else a trip should be. In researching potential destinations, we got comfortable and excited about Turkey because it was more likely to be open (including for our unvaccinated but safe and covid-negative kids) than EU destinations and because the country had prioritized the tourism industry in its vaccination roll-out (so that most everyone we would come into contact with at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites would be vaccinated). Karen was wonderfully helpful in providing us all the information we needed (from primary sources like the Turkish health authorities) and making arrangements for private and covid-safe activities throughout the trip. Of course Istanbul is also a fascinating city and one that we’d always wanted to visit.

We decided on just under a week in Istanbul—and left other locations in Turkey for a future trip. Staying in one place and avoiding extra flights made sense for a shorter trip, especially with our kids.

The trip was incredible, and we couldn’t be happier with the planning. Karen’s team arranged for sightseeing visits where we practically had the sites to ourselves (one benefit of reduced tourist traffic during covid) and set up great activities (including a private cruise on the Bosphorus and a cooking class). Our guide Tülay was wonderful and understood the pace we needed to keep the sometimes short-attention-spanned kids engaged. Everyone we met was warm and friendly and couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. We felt entirely safe from a covid perspective and can’t wait to get back!” —Brad Weldon



Greece for foodies and 12-year-old Greek mythology fans

June 2021

“We took an amazing trip to mainland Greece and the Peloponnese with Jacoline as our planner – June 16 – June 29th, 2021 right as Greece was opening to American tourists. First – Jacoline’s team was amazing to work with in general – our original trip was planned for March 2020, and because they have such good relationships with their vendors, we were able to reserve the majority of our paid trip towards this year’s trip in credits. More importantly, working with Jacoline is like having a family member with exceptional taste at your side. We traveled as a family of four (two 12 year old kids), and shared that we wanted to make “real” their interest in Greek Mythology (Percy Jackson fans of course!) The guides were all very professional, knowledgable and patient with our children. We come from San Francisco – so are foodies, and we found that the restaurants that Jacoline reserved for us, as well as the ones recommended in her team’s guide – were all of excellent quality and value – not a single tourist trap in the mix. It was the most varied trip – with wonderful boat trips to beautiful beaches off the southern tip of the Peloponesse, an E bike tour through Athens, a guided tour through the nearly empty site of the Byzantine city of Mystras, and a visit to a biodynamic wine / olive oil producer outside of Nafplio. We can’t wait to go back and definitely will look up Jacoline for our next trip!” —Angela Wong



Turkey for a mom and 18-year-old daughter

July 2021

“My daughter and I traveled to Turkey on July 5- July 14th, 2021. We visited Istanbul for 4 days and then flew to Izmir and spent 2 nights in Alacati and 2 nights in Sirince. We worked with Karen. Everything was very smooth and we felt really very taken care of from the minute we stepped off of the plane. Karen listened to my ideas for what I wanted from the trip and translated them perfectly into a special trip for my 18-year-old and me. Our guides were top notch and both of us liked them very much. I would strongly recommend Karen to anyone thinking of heading to Turkey and why not go while most people are not traveling there at this time.” —Andrea Huber




Athens and three Greek islands with two teens

August 2021

We just returned from a fabulous 11-night trip to Greece for our family of 4 (2 adults and 2 teens)! Faye put together a wonderful trip from start to finish and Stella was our on-the-ground contact, planning details and connecting with us as needed.

Faye helped us to create a manageable timeline seeing Athens and then traveling to 3 islands. Since we hadn’t visited Greece before, we wanted to see the highlights and historical sites, but also have opportunities for relaxation, enjoying the local culture and interacting with locals.

Although we arrived in Greece during the recent heat wave and unfortunate wildfires, we still felt extremely safe. Each of our transport drivers and tour guides were terrific and very flexible. One became our local driver throughout our time in that location. We had a little hiccup when we realized about 45 minutes into our mythology tour that the day didn’t include a visit to the Acropolis. This was unexpected, but easily managed and corrected as we had a private tour and our guide, with Stella’s help, was easily able to pivot to meet our needs.

After Athens, we spent 3 nights each in Naxos, Paros and Santorini. Each island was different and we selected an excursion in each destination. In Naxos, we had a very unique hiking experience. Set in the middle of the island, we saw historic ruins, visited tiny villages and saw wildlife. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and engaging on a long and hot hike. We selected boat/catamaran trips in both Paros and Santorini and this provided excellent opportunities to see the islands, enjoy the Aegean Sea, enjoy local food and meet people from around the world.

Our accommodations in each stop were outstanding, particularly in Athens, Naxos and Santorini. Faye did a great job of selecting hotels that provided a level of luxury, privacy and service that we were looking for. We appreciated that our hotels felt spacious and safe during Covid times. Breakfast buffets required guests to wear masks and gloves and all servers were masked as well. In addition, we had to show proof of our vaccination status on the rare occasion we ate indoors, which was very comforting.

Overall, this trip was a 10 and our travel agents were exceptionally receptive, available and accommodating. As expected with travel, there were a few bumps along the way (i.e. missing dinner reservations), but Stella was available at any time to help us problem solve. We didn’t know anything about our destination prior to traveling, and one lesson learned in the planning stage is to ask a few more questions about the different hotels and excursions – we did go in a little blind and had a few surprises (i.e. no pool in our Santorini hotel or the distance from the hotel to town/dinners), but none of this negatively impacted our trip or experience.

Our trip was very special and memorable. We received excellent guidance on what we needed to do to follow protocols (entry requirements for Greece, Covid testing for the return to the U.S.) and most of our destinations were not overly crowded. Thank you to Faye and Stella for creating an unforgettable experience for our family. We look forward to our next trip!
—Julie Schulman



“The perfect vacation in a tropical paradise”: Private villas for a family with three college-age kids

August 2021

“I can say with confidence that planning this trip with Patricia and her team was a pleasure in addition to being completely stress-free. Our family (my husband and I plus our three college-aged kids) has enjoyed many trips together; on our survey, I was able to describe those trips and what we enjoyed about them and from this information, Patricia put together an ideal itinerary. For example, I mentioned that we liked adventurous things but also wanted some downtime to enjoy the beach. She suggested that we spend time at the beach and the jungle to really see the best that Belize has to offer. Our accommodations were top-notch: We had a private villa at Victoria House on the beach in Ambergris Caye with our own plunge pool. Having the extra space with young adults really made a huge difference in our enjoyment of our time together. The food at Victoria House was excellent, plus they prepared the fish we caught for our dinner one night. Our scuba/snorkeling excursion with Amigos del mar that Patricia arranged was so much fun; the reef and all the sea turtles, rays and nurse sharks were awe-inspiring. After four nights at the beach, we took a short flight and about a two hour drive to the Lodge at Chaa Creek in the jungle. On the way there, we stopped to do ziplines and cave tubing, both of which were great experiences. We enjoyed another private villa at Chaa Creek which may be the most luxurious place we’ve ever stayed. The balcony with its private plunge pool overlooking the jungle was one of my favorite things. We were able to relax at the pool while enjoying a family of howler monkeys playing in the trees just a few feet away. While at Chaa Creek, we enjoyed a Mayan cultural immersion tour and loved being in the homes of Belizeans. Covid tests were provided at our hotel for our return to the US, so that was easy to get done. Patricia and her team prepared everything so well that we had no complaints about our trip. I heartily recommend Patricia and her team to anyone looking to plan the perfect vacation in a tropical paradise.”  —Claire Leuenberger



A “unique, fun” African safari for a family with three teens 

August 2021

“Our trip to Zambia August 10-22, 2021 was amazing and exactly what we needed in our first trip after COVID! Our family of 5 relished the new sights/sounds/experiences of the bush, the time spent with extremely knowledgeable local guides and the professional, attentive hospitality. While Africa was always on our trip wish list, we feel fortunate to have done it this summer without the usual crowds and before others were even thinking of traveling overseas. It was truly a once in a lifetime trip where we easily saw just about every animal (including the big 5), stayed in beautiful, luxurious accommodations, ate delicious meals every night and felt special, safe and appreciated everywhere we went. We will never forget the warm, knowledgeable guides, the bush meals and surprise moments (lunch on a sandbar), and the interesting conversations and magical sunsets every night for sundowners. Thank you for our favorite guide, Fanuelle, whom came up with unique, fun activities for our teenagers on our last day together- sand volleyball with camp staff and driving across/wading in spring fed Kapamba River.

Cherri was wonderful to work with designing the ideal itinerary with time in different landscapes, different types of camps, varied activities and the best guides. Despite the fluctuations in the pandemic and constantly changing requirements, Cherri and Frankie were confident in our ability to travel, prepared to help us navigate the extra requirements and in frequent communication before and during trip. They worked with the lodges to provide reasonable, flexible cancellation policies and connected us to an awesome luxury air specialist for flights. I believe Cherri’s connections got us the absolute best guide at camp for our first six days. Only hiccup on trip was delay in one of the charter flights which Cherri’s team was on top of and in communication with our camp to keep us updated. Getting our departure COVID test in our lodge was so convenient and easy. They obviously have great relationships with the lodges, charters and even government officials (helpful during a pandemic). Will definitely return to Africa with Cherri!

Travelers should consider what type of camps they would like (size, how much interaction with guide, types of activities, room setups if traveling with children). The more information you give the trip planner, the more satisfied you will be. Be sure to check premium cabin fares with their air specialist!

Tracy Reller and family (teens 17, 14, 14)   —Tracy Reller



Thrills in Iceland for a family of five

August 2021

“We just returned from a fabulous 4-day trip to Iceland coordinated by Chris at the very last minute (due to cancellation of another trip to an area with a major Covid outbreak).
Chris responded to my request immediately, and treated me like a long-time client, even though we had just met.  Even if the trip weren’t last minute, I would have given Chris a five-star rating. He put together the perfect trip for our family (kids ages 21, 19, and 14), combining Iceland must-sees with great adventures. We marveled at the waterfalls, snowmobiled on glaciers, rode ATVs on black-sand beaches, and hiked all over. Every guide/driver he employed was excellent and patient, and our hotel was perfectly located in the center of town. He also arranged all of our Covid testing. How he managed to do everything in the 11th hour is beyond me.

Chris means it when he says he’s available 24/7. He told me he sleeps with his phone in his hand, and I believe it. Any time I texted him, such as when the rest of my family got our Covid results but not my oldest daughter, he responded within minutes. He was always positive and optimistic and just overall the kind of guy I felt I could trust immediately.  I could keep writing about Chris, but I’m probably bordering on gushing. I’ve used lots of WOW experts before and I think Chris is WOW.  Thanks again for recommending him and for all of your travel advice. I’ve been reading you for years and you are always spot on.” —Rebecca Wolf




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