Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Solo Trips Done Right: Traveler Reviews

by | November 3, 2023

We’re hearing from more and more people who realize that they love the freedom and possibilities when they travel on their own. Read on for a selection of the solo trip reviews we’ve received. Our Trusted Travel Experts design custom-tailored trips—and when you’re the only traveler, that means your trip will be exactly the right fit for you. Here’s what you get from a WOW trip.

Morocco: “meeting the people and seeing life like a local”

Our traveler's guide outside his family home in Tangier's Medina, Morocco.

Milinda Martin’s guide AbdulRahman outside his family home in Tangier’s Medina. Photo: Traveler Milinda Martin

“It had been 20 years since I had visited Morocco, and I have to say, the country is going through such a positive time. People are happy there! The government is building tons of affordable housing, redoing the waterfront areas, and spiffing up all the cities. It’s a good time to visit.

Thanks to Radia and her team, I was able to indulge my desire to learn more about the history of this country, especially the Berber culture, the invasion of the Arabs, and the long history of the Moors and Jews. Radia did not disappoint; all of my guides were experts and very willing to discuss the benefits and challenges of being such a rich land where everyone wants to be. My guide in Tangier, AbdulRahman, was OUTSTANDING. He was born in the Medina and his family still lived there, and he was able to share stories of how Tangier has changed over the centuries with all the invaders. He shared the local delicacies — mint tea and amazing cookies — with me, and we truly felt like friends by the time I moved on to Chefchaouen.

With Radia’s guidance, I visited Casablanca, and the amazing Hassan II mosque, with a Muslim scholar who could really immerse me in the religion, far beyond the 5 pillars. The trip ended in Marrakesh, where I had the most unique experience of learning how to make mosaics. This wasn’t a “tourist activity”; this was a visit to a gentleman’s workshop where we cut the tiles, arranged the mosaics and eventually plastered the mosaics into place. Radia provided a translator because the artist — having mastered this trade 40 years ago — did not speak English.

And I have to give a strong shout-out to my driver, Rachid. Throughout my tour, he was always on time, always kind, always conversational, and a great driver to boot. This is what I like about planning with Wendy Perrin: meeting the people and seeing life like a local. We visited the communal bakery and the hammam, two vital components of life for every Moroccan. I was able to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains, obtain early entry to the Majorelle Gardens, and have someone guide me through the mazes of the Medinas. The riad in Marrakesh was truly divine! Unlike other tours that whisk you here and there, in international hotels, where you never meet a local, Radia and her team ensured that I felt like a Moroccan from the very start.” —Milinda Martin

Read more reviews of Morocco trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Norway: northern lights, Oslo’s museums, art & architecture…

Northern Lights, Alta Fjord, Norway

The northern lights above Alta, Norway. Photo: Traveler Jeannie Mullen

“Just returned from a solo trip to Norway September 11-20, 2023. After my pet sitter bailed on me at the last minute, I reached out to Jan to see what he could do to adjust the 3-week driving itinerary through Norway that he and I had just finalized. Jan was very flexible, gave me several options to choose from and before long we had whittled a 21-day trip down to 10, maintaining the main focus of trip…seeing the northern lights.

I started out at Sorrisniva Wilderness Lodge in Alta, above the Arctic Circle in the northern fjords. By day I was entertained with king-crab fishing in Storekorsnes, lunch with and storytelling by a local reindeer herder, a visit to the nearby UNESCO site featuring northern Europe’s largest concentration of petroglyphs (rock art) made by hunter-gathers dating back 2000-7000 years, and a boat ride on the Alta River with Tor, one of the lodge owners. Each night after dinner I was driven to different locations to search for the lights…. It was such a great experience. I had been coached beforehand that not everyone gets to see the lights every night and sometimes not at all over a period of several nights. Fortunately I saw them each of the four nights that I was there and got some great photos. On my last night in Alta I came back early enough to see the lights with a cup of hot chocolate from the warmth of my bed. It was an experience that I will never forget.

I had shared with Jan that I had a very broad range of interests coming into this trip, so the tenor and tempo changed quickly when I arrived back in Oslo. At my request, it was all about art, architecture, history and culture. In a very fun surprise, I was treated to a WOW Moment as I walked out of the elevator my first morning there. Jan knew from our trip-planning discussions that I am involved with a professional theatre company in my hometown and had made arrangements for his sister-in-law, Ingjerd Egeberg, a Norwegian actress (and national treasure), to spend an hour with me prior to the start of my planned day. Over coffee we had a lovely discussion about the theatre and then walked across the street together to the National Theatre for a backstage tour. It was truly delightful! Thank you again, Jan and Wendy! And THEN the day started.… The museums, art, architecture and parks in Oslo were beautiful…the Munch (The Scream) Museum, City Hall, the Opera House, the Deichman Bjorvika (the world’s best new public library), the Nobel Peace Center, the Harbour Promenade in Oslo Fjord, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History and the Vigeland Sculpture Park. The next day was spent away from the city at the Kistefos Museum in Jevnaker, one of the most important outdoor sculpture parks for contemporary art.

And then it was time to head home. I cannot say enough about Wendy’s suggestion to use Jan.… His detailed planning, choice of hotels, guides, drivers, and restaurant suggestions were all spot-on. I enjoyed myself so much on this trip that I had Jan plan a 10-day itinerary to Denmark for the fast-approaching Thanksgiving holidays. And next summer I’ll work in the driving portion of the Norway trip that I missed out on this year.” —Jeannie Mullen

Read more reviews of Norway trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Spain: lunch and castle tour with a Countess

Leon Malkin

Leon Malkin’s view of San Sebastián from his hotel room. Photo: Leon Malkin

“I visited Sevilla, Cordoba, Ubeza, Granada, Bilbao, San Sebastián, and finished in Madrid where I did day trips to Toledo and Salamanca. Every place was a joy to visit. I particularly loved Sevilla and the old city, where the guide took me for tapas and the following night I had a cooking course at her home where we made soups and paella. Granada and the Alhambra were sensational. Ubeza was a great visit where they were restoring some of the Jewish homes and creating a museum.

Visiting an organic farm and old castle in the Andalusian countryside was so special especially having lunch and a guided tour of the castle by the Countess. The Guggenheim in Bilbao was awesome and my guide gave a great tour of the huge space. Maybe my favorite place was San Sebastián—so beautiful on the water. Could definitely live there. My guide Gurutze was so great to be with. Madrid was a big city but I really enjoyed my walking tour of the city and Royal Palace. I also attended a Flamenco show and dinner which was most enjoyable. The old university in Salamanca was especially interesting. My favorite hotels were in Sevilla, Madrid, and San Sebastián.

What impressed me most about Spain was their quality of life, cleanliness, low crime rate, food, historic places of interest, and friendliness of the people. Could not recommend Spain enough as a destination. Thanks so much to Virginia and her team and to Wendy Perrin for her high standards of travel advisors.” —Leon Malkin

Read more reviews of Spain trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos: street food, hiking, helicopter to ancient temples…

Jeannie Mullen

Jeannie Mullen at the Mandalao Elephant Sanctuary in Luang Prabang, Laos.

“On a lark, and with spot-on advice and counsel from Wendy about where to go on short notice, I booked a three-week trip to Southeast Asia. Most of my travel is solo and private, so I rely on travel planners to make everything seamless and as problem-free as possible. Wendy put me in touch with Sandy and Ethan, and, just as she said they would, they were able to turn on a dime. They put together a very detailed, interesting and diverse trip for me (and that included securing expedited travel visas).

I don’t think I’ve been to that many UNESCO sites in one single trip, ever. I cannot say enough about this part of the world, the food, the people and the culture. So different than what I am used to and so very interesting. Every planning detail, including Fast Track airport service (where available) for arrivals and departures, was taken care of with great care and attention.

Vietnam was so special and different … Hanoi and Saigon such busy, eclectic places with great food, shopping, museums and live evening performances … lots of war history, which I found fascinating. I got the biggest kick out of enjoying a street food tour on the back of a Vespa scooter in rush hour traffic … being at street level and driving through the backstreets, alleys and neighborhoods added an entire new level to the experience … Contrast these experiences with very different low-key rural locations and experiences areas like Ninh Minh (a hike and a relaxing float trip), a relaxing one-night cruise on Halong Bay among gorgeous limestone islands, several nights in the provincial town of Hue to explore the Citadel, garden houses and quiet streets and a boat ride on the Perfume river, followed by several days in the ancient town of Hoi An to discover the distinctive blend of cultures and architecture in the old quarter.

Siem Reap, Cambodia … the place around which the entire trip was planned … was phenomenal … traipsing in and around the temple complexes and experiencing sunrise at Angkor Wat was a major bucket-list item. Major shout-out to Silen, my guide and Ethan’s friend, for her attention to every detail and working our way into and out of the temple complexes in such a way as to avoid other tourists. She was also a master at pacing the day so as to provide relief from the heat and humidity.

Surpassing those experiences was the day that I flew by helicopter to the even more remote and off-the-radar locations of Preah Vihear and Prasat Banteay Chhmar with Po-Thai Khan, a renowned Cambodian archaeologist. Walking these temple complexes with Thai was one of those pinch-me experiences … he was so interesting, engaging and affirming. And the temples were totally without tourists. Something I will never forget. On the way back to Siem Reap, as we skirted a massive thunderstorm, we flew through a full circle rainbow …how did Wendy manage THAT wow moment?

Thank you so much to Sandy and Ethan, and all of their family and friends in SE Asia, for turning a spur-of-the-moment trip idea into a reality for this solo wanderer.”—Jeannie Mullen

Read more reviews of Southeast Asia trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


India: spirituality, palace hotels, bazaars…

amber palace in Jaipur Rajasthan india overlooking water

Jaipur’s Amber Palace. Photo: Shutterstock

“My trip with Victoria was superb. As you may recall, she created a flawless itinerary for my first trip to India several years ago. This time, it was a solo trip focused on Haridwar, Rishikesh, and Jaipur.

Haridwar was the most “off the grid” I had been thus far. It is one of the most sacred cities in Hinduism and lacks the foreign tourism one finds in Varanasi. I was one of only two international travelers I saw during my time there. My hotel, Haveli Hari Ganga, was located within the bazaar and had its own private bathing ghat. I swam in the Ganga and was able to participate with only two other guests (from Delhi) in a private Aarti ceremony. And I had my own Havan pooja the next morning with the pandit. Extraordinary.

In Rishikesh I had asked to stay within the town, as I wanted to experience the spiritual scene in town amidst the hippie seekers and the yogis. Victoria got me a balcony over the Ganga. It was exactly what I wanted. My guide in Rishikesh, Divya, was superb. She and I spent three days together, exploring everything on my list and adding to it. We had the best place to sit at each Aarti ceremony, we met with the head pandit at every mandir, I had the best guide and a private boat when I went river rafting–and swimming in the Ganga, again.

Post Rishikesh I went to Jaipur and stayed at the Samode Haveli. My first time in Jaipur I had stayed at the Rambagh Palace. My thinking is: Go big or go Samode. That is, stay at the Rambagh because there is NOTHING like it, or stay at the Samode because it is charming and heritage and much, much cheaper than the other palace hotels.

Victoria thought I could benefit from the expertise and guidance of India Beat’s Jaipur manager, Diggi, in the bazaars. She was right. There is no way that I could have seen the things I saw in the bazaars, eaten the street food, or bought the treasures I did without Diggi’s help. He took me everywhere and introduced me to everyone. We spent an entire day, at my request, choosing fabric and having dresses made, shopping, praying, speaking in Hindi, and eating lots of samosas, sweets, and faloodeh. Victoria also arranged lunch at the new Villa Palladio (I LOVE exploring hotels) outside of town. I was met by Barbara, the Italian owner, and toured the property with its manager. Gorgeous. As was lunch on the verandah overlooking the gardens.

And, just like that, two weeks had flown by and I was headed home. I recommend Victoria to your travelers without reservation and with great enthusiasm and I urge them to trust her judgment and instincts. She delivers way more than she promises.” —Jennifer Black

Read more reviews of India trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Sicily: farm visits, wine tasting, genealogy….

coast of Cefalu, Palermo Sicily Italy

The coast of Cefalu, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: Shutterstock

“The first time tour of Sicily that Matteo planned for me was an amazing cultural tour of my ancestors’ homeland. I asked him to plan a 10 day tour across the whole island, focusing on culture and food (of course, being Sicilian myself) and he did not disappoint. Sure anyone could open a tour book and pick from the standard museums and cultural attractions, however the benefit of using an experienced local agency like Matteo’s was their firsthand knowledge of experiences I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

For example, I went wine tasting at multiple vineyards, however doing so with a personal guided tour from the owner and a certified wine sommelier made the experience that much more exceptional and personal. I visited an almond farm (didn’t even know you could do that) where we sat down with the owner and ate an amazing traditional Sicilian lunch prepared by his wife. Of course the best was touring Palermo with a local who then helped research and translate the birth records of my great-grandfather in the village where he was born was an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity, (Thanks Enrica!) If you’re going to visit Sicily, I highly recommend you consult with an experienced agency like Matteo’s before you do.” —Chris Lopinto

Read more reviews of Sicily trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Thailand, Laos & Cambodia: walking with elephants, private-island resort, Angkor Wat…

Sunset over ancient moat surrounding mysterious ruins of Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Sunset over ancient moat surrounding mysterious ruins of Angkor Thom in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Photo: Shutterstock

“I traveled to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in May 2023 with an itinerary designed by Sandy and Ethan, and the trip truly surpassed my expectations. An unexpected highlight was visiting the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary in Laos, where I got face to face with the enormous gentle animals and spent time feeding them and walking through the forest with them.

Another highlight was attending an all-day Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai where I surprised myself by learning to cook five excellent Thai dishes. We made everything from scratch under the direction of an expert Thai chef whose English was excellent.

Lastly, I loved spending five nights of luxurious relaxation at a private island resort, Song Saa, off the coast of Cambodia. Song Saa was everything I was looking for: quiet, private, tranquil and luxurious. And because I visited during the low season, it felt as if I had the island all to myself. I would happily spend another week there.” —Henry Robles

Read more reviews of Southeast Asia trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Chile: Santiago, Valparaiso, wine country and Atacama Desert

Traveler walking up snowy incline with walking poles in Atacama desert Chile.

Atacama Desert, Chile. Photo: Jeannie Mullen

“Just back from the holidays in Chile, and I could not have been any more pleased with Tom’s trip planning. We focused on Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, and the Atacama Desert. Highlights included:

* Vina Vik—what a phenomenal location, beautiful art and architecture, terrific young staff and fabulous food. Every detail taken care of, no matter how small. I hiked every day, had a tasting at their winery, took a cooking class with their chef, which started with choosing our ingredients for lunch from their organic garden, and also took a mixology class with their bartender and learned the secret to a pisco sour.

* Santiago—a walk through the boho neighborhoods in Valparaiso (shopping, street art, great food) and a fresh seafood lunch in Vina Del Mar. Tom’s private guide was a wealth of knowledge about current events in Chile (I’m a nerd about politics … they have just elected a new president and are writing a new constitution). She also knows where to go for the best Peruvian food (which I was on the hunt for).

* The Atacama Desert—an unexpected pleasure and my favorite experience, hands down. I didn’t know what to expect when Tom first suggested the desert, but I went with it anyway and followed his advice. I never knew how beautiful a desert could be. From every angle, at every time of day … the colors. Awasi is an interesting and authentic local property, fresh and creative food, an energetic, caring and engaging staff, and attention to absolutely every single detail. Every guest is assigned their own guide/trekker and 4×4 vehicle for the entirety of their stay. Each day we trekked to a new and interesting place—the salt flats, the petroglyphs, canyons, etc. We’d hike in the morning and in the afternoons, never in the middle of the day when the heat was at its worst. One morning we left at 5:30 a.m. to drive to the geysers in time for the sunrise. On the way back we stopped at a scenic overlook and my trekking guide cooked me breakfast out of the back of the 4×4.

On what would have been my last day to trek before heading to the Calama airport the next morning, my guide convinced me that I could trek to the summit of Toco volcano (elevation approx 18,400 ft). I took a leap of faith and extended my trip an extra day in order to make the ascent (Tom and the Awasi staff made it easy for me to do this by handling all of those last-minute travel logistics also). On the way back we stopped for lunch (again out of the back of the 4×4), and then they called ahead and made arrangements for a massage upon my return. When we got back to Awasi, the staff was waiting outside the front gate to congratulate me. A day that I will never, ever forget. And all because of their encouragement. That night at dinner, Pablo, the sommelier, recommended an infusion (tea) with rica rica to help me recover from the affects of the altitude. In sum, a phenomenal leg to the trip that resulted in achieving several personal bests and an unforgettable time in an infinitely beautiful desert.” —Jeannie Mullen

Read more reviews of Chile trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Iceland: hiking to an ice cave, bathing in a thermal pool overlooking a fjord…

Sea cave, Iceland. Photo: Arnar Kristjansson Photography

Chris planned the trip of a lifetime to Iceland for me from September 16-26, 2021. I contacted him only two weeks before departure, and he put together an incredibly detailed itinerary, including reservations at the top hotels and restaurants. He also arranged fascinating experiences such as hiking to an ice cave inside a glacier, bathing in an outdoor thermal pool overlooking a fjord and mountains, and a stay at the spectacular private Retreat at the Blue Lagoon. Iceland and its scenery were magnificent. It was also the perfect Covid destination, since the population is very low density and almost all activities are outside. There also are stringent entry requirements for international travelers. I felt very safe everywhere I visited.” —Lyn McHugh

Read more reviews of Iceland trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Egypt: behind-the-scenes Cairo

Queen Hatshepsut's mortuary temple in Luxor as seen from our hot air balloon just after dawn Egypt.

Hot air balloon, Luxor, Egypt. Photo: Stephen Behnen

Jim and his team check all the boxes.

Excellent guides, check!

Well curated—not days so full, I forgot what I saw—check!

Customized for me, check!

Flawless execution, check!

A high-quality, on-the-ground team, check!

Comfortable vehicles, check!

Flexibility with start time and itinerary, check!

Private experiences, check!

Behind-the-scenes opportunities, check!

Here are some stories to provide a flavor of what made this trip a WOW experience.

In Cairo, my hotel room wasn’t what I was expecting. Jim’s logistics person, who met me at the airport and took me to my hotel, was determined to change that. He wouldn’t leave the hotel until he spoke to the manager, and then shortly after that, despite the hotel being full, I was moved to the room I wanted.

Not only was my Cairo guide well-educated and knowledgeable, I felt as though she was matched to me. We had so much in common; we felt like friends by the end of our time together.

Jim provided a comprehensive itinerary and assured me it was flexible, and it was. The on-the-ground team was terrific about flexibility. I felt like they were my “genies in a bottle.” Whatever I wished for, they went out of their way to make it happen, even on the same day! When I thanked my guide for this, her response was, “You don’t come to Egypt every day, we want you to have the best experience.”

I could share many examples of what made this trip a WOW experience; here’s my favorite.

I wanted to see Jewish history in Cairo, in particular, to meet the “leader” of the few remaining Jews and visit the Jewish cemetery. Jim’s team tried hard to arrange these two requests in advance but was unsuccessful. The leader was out of town, and the government said no to visiting the cemetery. Unbeknownst to me, they were not giving up. Both my guide and the driver (who was also Wow, btw) were determined to make it happen, and they did. The driver drove down a road that didn’t seem drivable, stopped in front of a gate, and tested it. It was open, and in we went. It turned out this was an old Muslim cemetery. My guide spoke to some men she found. They knew about the Jewish one, called someone, I gave them some baksheesh (she told me how much), and off we went to the Jewish one, where someone was waiting to let us in for a bit more baksheesh. It was a wonderful experience seeing a centuries-old resting place of my ancestors, but what made it a lasting memory was the effort of the guide and the driver to make it happen.

I could go on and on with examples. Jim took me on rather last-minute because I was in a bind. The planner I had started working with had dropped the ball, and I was anxious because I was traveling alone. I had just learned about Wendy Perrin and contacted her, hoping to rescue my trip. Jim said yes despite being busy and in the middle of a move. From beginning to end, he and everyone on his team continued to say yes, and the process was flawless.”—Elisa Spain

Read more reviews of Egypt trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


London: January trip with only locals around

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, London. Photo: Visit London.

“I am just back from a magnificent visit to London. Wendy directed me to Jonathan and his wonderful colleague Katie, who were super attentive to my interests and also my circumstance as a woman traveling alone. January in London is the off-season, but still I never expected to see Westminster Abbey with only five other visitors! The same was true almost everywhere I went, whether Churchill’s War Rooms, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, the British Museum. The food markets were busy but mostly with locals, as were the pubs and restaurants.

My private tours were fantastic, with guides who made London come alive for me by showing me different ways to experience the city. I had so much fun learning about London street art from Alex, and Emma’s history of London in four drinks ended up in a gin distillery—what’s not to love about a great history lesson with a gin and tonic in hand! I really wanted to visit Hampton Court Palace again and fit in a visit to Oxford. Simon, my driver-guide, made my day to Hampton Court and Oxford extra special by suggesting we include a stop at Runnymede and also asked if I’d like to attend Evensong at one of the college chapels in Oxford. The day was filled with great conversation, meaningful history, glorious sites, and capped by a beautiful service at New College chapel.” —Nancy Footer

Read more reviews of London trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Uzbekistan: private museum tour, home-cooked lunch…

Tilla Kori Medreseh, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Tilla Kori Medreseh in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo: Zulya Rajabova.

“I traveled to Uzbekistan. The ancient cities of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand are all wonderful—the architecture is breathtaking, perhaps some of the best preserved Islamic architecture in the world. I learned a lot of history about this part of the world that is often overlooked in American schools! In particular, I enjoyed the Savitsky Museum in Nukus. Zulya set up a private tour with the Museum exhibition director, who is also an art history professor at the local university. She was terrific and spent over two hours with me. Her explanations of the history of the 1920s-40s in both Russia and Nukus/Uzbekistan gave me a great perspective on the art. Another trip highlight was Zulya setting up a lunch with her family in her hometown of Bukhara. It was a real treat to meet her parents, as well as many of her siblings, nieces, and nephews. The lunch was really tasty and bountiful: They demonstrated how they make plov, the national dish, and we also had many other tasty dishes, bread, and homemade fruit juices. After lunch, the children put on a dance show, and I was asked to join them. I am NOT a dancer but gave it a go! Their warm hospitality was much appreciated, and I had a wonderful time. The trip logistics were flawless, and the only disappointment was that the Tajikistan border inexplicably closed a day before I was to travel to Tajikistan!  So my hiking there had to be canceled—a big disappointment. However, within 24 hours, Zulya’s local team was able to organize hiking in the Tian Shan mountains outside of Tashkent instead, complete with a guesthouse and a local hiking guide. I did three hikes, and the scenery was great. While I would have preferred to see the Fann Mountains/Seven Lakes, it was great to still be able to do some hiking on such short notice.” —Sally Lee

Read more reviews of Uzbekistan trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Three months in Italy: Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Pompeii…

an autumn landscape in the Chianti region of Tuscany hills in the surroundings of Radda in Chianti

Chianti region vineyard, Tuscany, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

“The trip was the most enjoyable of my life. In 87 days, Andrea’s team showed foresight in catering to my needs/interests and flexibility in adapting to my needs and interests as they changed, instead of rigidly and blindly following the itinerary. That includes changing transport arrangements based on circumstances and my preferences and guides being willing to take me places that I saw on the spot and sounded interesting. The guides had to be among the most knowledgeable in their cities and regions. Andrea’s team worked seamlessly with a riding outfitter to mix horse trips with their arrangements. This review really only scratches the surface of 87 days in Italy, five weeks of which were horseback riding.

• How did this trip differ from one you might have taken before the pandemic?

Less than you might think. Yes, a few small rooms in a palace in Florence were closed, there were one way routes through museums, I was having to show proof of vaccination everywhere, I had to wear masks in different places, and I had to get tested before returning home and make provisions for a positive test, but in terms of activities, hardly at all. Italy has done better at managing the pandemic than most countries, and the regime was strict but not oppressive.
Because there were way fewer tourists in famous places like the obvious sites in Rome (and Rome overall), the Vatican, Pompeii, and Tuscany, the trip was far more enjoyable. I don’t know how many times I heard a guide telling me, “Before the pandemic, this street would have been packed!”

• Did the trip planner suggest experiences, accommodations, dining options, travel logistics, etc., that felt Covid-appropriate to you? Did he/she solve particular challenges or destination-related problems?

Yes. An occasional restaurant had tables that were a bit too close for my comfort level, but that is totally subjective, and I discussed that with the guide already. As to the second, airport staff used by Andrea’s team helped me deal with with an airline problem and would have helped get to a city by other other means, and Nicole booked a hotel in Torino the night before a flight because heavy snow around where I was staying in the mountains 90 minutes away could have turned into ice and made it impossible to get out. I, of course, had to pay extra.

• What did the trip planner do, or not do, to minimize your health risk or financial risk?
I never felt that there was any unreasonable health or financial risk. I don’t know what would have happened if I had tested positive a few days before the trip, and Andrea’s team made known an evacuation insurance company that could have taken me home if I had met its criteria. If I hadn’t, according to the Embassy, I could have quarantined for as long as three weeks at my expense at my expense and not because of Andrea.

• Did the trip planner add value to your trip?

Yes. By having really knowledgeable guides who had dealt with the people who worked at every site who were willing to change the itinerary as circumstances and personal interests changed. We couldn’t do the Siracusa archeological area on the first day, but were able to add it to the beginning of another. Also, having private drivers meant that it was possible to see more since the driver could let us off at one place and pick us up at another. The guides and Andrea’s team were able to book restaurants at the last moment and other activities, such as puppet shows in Sicily.

• Did you have certain trip experiences that other travelers should either seek out or avoid?

They should seek out a villa in Sicily between Siracusa and Agrigento with complete mosaics that depicted in fine detail life in Ancient Rome, the private tour of the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel, the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, the Galileo Museum in Florence, the city of Verona, and the Piemonte region, which has rolling scenery every bit as beautiful as that of Tuscany plus great views of the Alps. Being with dogs hunting truffles was a lot of fun. San Gimignano, Siena, Assisi, and Perugia were all beautifully preserved medieval and Renaissance cities/towns that made me feel transported back in time. Being in Rome, Florence, and Verona during the time right before the holidays would have been beautiful anyway because of the decorations, but all the more so because Italians had come out of a very tough lockdown and were obviously joyful and relaxed. The only place which I wish I hadn’t visited was the August Mausoleum because the restorations and alterations totally wrecked what was an amazing building when it was constructed.” —Daniel Wile

Read more reviews of Italy trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 


Southern Africa: wildlife galore

A leopard walking around at a national park in Zimbabwe

A leopard walking around a national park in Zimbabwe. Photo: Shutterstock

“I love Africa, been there more than 5 times. I wanted to change up my next trip with a custom itinerary instead of a pre-defined tour. Wendy’s expert, Cherri, created a fabulous and memorable experience. A friend recommended Mana Pools so we started there. Cherri asked me what I love about Africa. The itinerary she recommended included:

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa

In Mana Pools, views were expansive and breathtaking. The Nyamatusi camp was modern and rustic and comfortable. The staff was musical and friendly and fabulous. The heat was notable, but the plunge pool, fan, outside shower and the banks of the Zambezi River made every day super special. Elephants, wild dogs and hippos were so close and easy to watch to create a super special experience.

At Chobe, Flo, one of the earliest woman guides in Africa, was my own private guide. The place was uncrowded, so Flo and I drove and floated the Zambezi every day. We did more outings on the Zambezi and I got to see so much elephant and hippo behavior at the water’s edge!!!

On the Okavango Delta, the Kwai Tented Camp is a modern, beautiful place and extremely comfortable. Giraffe, hippo, wild dogs, lion, hyena and leopard kept us company. I got an amazing moment in a tiny helicopter ride over the delta. We also had a really close up visit with a pack of wild dogs, who were hanging out on a dry river bed near the camp. We ended the stay with a fabulous dinner in the camp boma.

At Sabi Sands, the first morning, a pregnant leopard stretched in a tree, climbed down and walked by our vehicle. Then a lion pride of about 20, including two males (brothers) and cubs 3 months, 6 months and one year old. The father of the cubs was eating what remained of a recent zebra. His brother waited nearby and one of the 6 month old cubs approached, looking for approval to check out the zebra. The father grunted, allowing the young one to chew and play with the nose area of the kill. A few times, the little one tried to move up towards the more interesting parts but was immediately corrected—back to the nose. According to the guide and tracker, this kind of behavior is very rare.

Wendy surprised me with a surprise WOW Moment—a visit to an elephant rescue, including an elephant ride. It was astounding!

I’m so hooked on Wendy’s experts for designing and arranging my trips!” —Helene Bard

Read more reviews of Africa trips. Learn how to get your own WOW Moment. Or use our trip questionnaire (reached via the black button below) to start a WOW trip.


London & Venice: special access and amazing walks

Colorful houses and boat on a canal in Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano, Venice, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

“Wendy, my dream trip to London and Venice, arranged by Jennifer and her team, was everything that I had hoped for…with a little hiccup on the side. London was as amazing as ever. Jennifer was spot-on in recommending The Kensington. It had the best martinis of the entire trip (and I tasted many all over town) and was a quick walk to the Underground for exploring the city. Special access to the Churchill War rooms, a visit to the crypts of (an almost deserted) St. Paul’s, and amazing walks through Blenheim and Chartwell. My local guide, Hugh, knew more than just what was in history and guide books….it was an amazing educational and entertaining experience. I am already planning a return to follow in the footsteps of T.E. Lawrence…Hugh, you better start reading up!!!

At the back end of the trip, Venice seemed to be emerging out of its pandemic isolation and tourists were coming back. So was the water!! It wouldn’t be Venice if San Marco were not flooded at least once during the week…it did not disappoint. The Baglioni Hotel Luna was perfectly situated at the corner of the Piazza San Marco, right off the Grand Canal and around the corner from Harry’s Bar (still have great Bellini’s). Alvise, my artisan tour guide, knew the ins-and-outs of the cathedral, the amazing talents on Murano, and introduced me to Maestro Pastor and his wood-carving talents. But Jennifer left me just the right amount of time to wander (and get lost in) Venice on my own—it’s the best way to experience the city.

Unfortunately, the middle of the vacation was filled with major upheavals, not because of Jennifer but because of Belmond: A day before I was to embark on the Orient Express, the entire journey was cancelled. A major disappointment. However, Jennifer and her team quickly sprang into action and coordinated/expedited/confirmed transport for me from London to Bologna to Venice. It was a major logistics coup and something I could not have done without their help—it turned a nightmare scenario into a (minor) annoyance. But what would life be without such a glitch?? This only means that I will have to come back next year for the train experience—and Jennifer is already working on that. I’ll let you all know how that works out this time next year!!” —John Bradunas

Read more reviews of London and Venice trips. To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below. 



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