Tag Archives: february

Travelers and the elephant at the Dera Amer sanctuary in India.

February Trip Ideas: Traveler Reviews to Inspire You

If you’re looking to travel in February and wondering where on earth to go, take inspiration from your fellow travelers: Check out their reviews recounting their favorite February trips. Our intrepid travelers have scouted wintry destinations for the northern lights, warm-weather escapes in the southern hemisphere where February is summertime, and close-to-home getaways in Mexico and Costa Rica. These trips were optimized for February by the local fixers on our WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts. 

You’ll find even more ideas in the February installment of our Where to Go When series, and you’ll find more traveler reviews here.

Unsure where to go in February? Click the black button below for our help.


Norway for the northern lights (and daytime adventures with reindeer)

Northern lights explosion on snowy mountain range near coastline at Lofoten islands, Norway

Northern lights in the Lofoten Islands, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

“Seeing the northern lights was on my bucket list, and Jan helped me plan every detail of the trip. The hotels were excellent, and we received many upgrades. Our hotel in Alta was particularly lovely, and our dinners there were incredible. Knowing how much we wanted to see the lights, and being disappointed twice before in Iceland, Jan steered us to Alta, in the northernmost part of Norway. He said it would give us the best shot. How right he was! We saw them three out of three nights!

Much of this is due to the incredible guides Jan arranged. Despite the fact that it was cloudy and snowing the first two nights, our guides looked at all the weather maps and found the area that had the most potential to clear up. It was a real drive, but the clouds disappeared and the lights danced.

Jan also suggested a visit to the area where the Sami live and herd reindeer. It was the best advice! These indigenous people live the same way their ancestors did, and it was a privilege to spend the day with them. Mathis, a Sami elder, met us and drove us over 30 miles on snowmobiles to watch the Sami move a herd of 2,500+ reindeer to higher terrain. After that, we snowmobiled back to his home, where he had prepared a delicious lunch of salmon and Arctic char. He generously and patiently answered all our questions and made us feel like welcomed guests. Our day with this incredible gentleman was truly the highlight of our trip, and it is an experience that will not be forgotten.” —Judy Wimpfheimer

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Cuba for a Caribbean getaway that’s a cultural deep dive

Cathedral of Santiago de Cuba on a sunny day.

The cathedral in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second-largest city. Photo: Shutterstock

“The Wendy Perrin team scores again. Needing expert advice on travel to Cuba, I reached out and they connected me with Rob and Ana, who planned a wonderful trip! I am researching a book that involves Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second-largest city, and a less-visited destination than Havana. Ana understood instinctively what I needed, first steering me to an on-the-ground researcher, Alicia Howland, who did much advance work that narrowed my itinerary, and then putting me in the kind and extremely capable hands of Tania Vivar, a peerless guide during my four-day stay. I could not have asked for a better experience, from the first pickup at the Santiago airport to my last poignant goodbye.

Rob and Ana’s team booked me into a lovely private casa in a leafy suburban neighborhood, near the sites I most wanted to see, where the on-site garden provided daily fresh produce in a place where basic foodstuffs are in short supply. My spacious, air-conditioned room with ensuite bath was the perfect refuge at day’s end. Alicia and Tania’s knowledge of the city, and of Cuban history, made my stay so much richer, and Tania’s perfect English made communication a breeze.

Economic conditions in Cuba are grim indeed—especially in the eastern part of the island—but the resilience and fortitude of the Cuban people is inspiring, and so is the country’s rich cultural and social history. I simply could not have asked for more caring or capable shepherds to a destination that can be challenging, especially for a non-Spanish-speaking American. I am everlastingly grateful and cannot recommend Rob and Ana highly enough!” —Todd Purdum

This trip was arranged by a WOW List candidate. Here’s what that means.

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Venice and Rome for a romantic Valentine’s Day without Italy’s usual crowds

Marsha Friedli and her husband during their gondola ride in Venice on a foggy day.

Marsha Friedli said the fog during her gondola ride made Venice “beautiful and evocative.”

WOW! A foggy gondola ride with guitar player and singer (part of our WOW Moment) was our introduction to Italy, specifically Venice, on Valentine’s Day. Around every turn, under every bridge, were sites to behold and cause wonder. The heavy fog made Venice so beautiful and evocative. We stayed at the Sina Palazzo Sant’Angelo Venice Hotel on the Grand Canal. Our room balcony was a perfect location to watch the water traffic comings and goings of daily life in Venice.

Another part of our WOW Moment was visiting the 1499 textile weaver, Tessitura Bevilacqua! My background is in textile & clothing so I was extremely surprised and pleased to experience this working factory/museum. Seeing the weavers work and delighting in their skill with the looms. Their patience with me and my many questions!

From Venice we went to Rome via the high speed train—fantastic way to travel! Arrived at the Rome train station where our escort and driver were waiting. So glad Jennifer arranged this as we would not have had an easy time with all the construction closures.

Our hotel for the next 6 nights was Martius Private Suites, just steps from the Pantheon. This was the perfect location as we walked to/from most of our touring sites and wonderful restaurants.  A very fun happening was taking a golf-cart tour in Rome! Just a fun way to scoot around and visit some of the sites! We visited the Trevi fountain during its cleaning session. The size is enormous and with it filled with water you don’t really get the scale of the fountain.

Our driver dropped us off at a private Art Restoration experience that Jennifer and her team arranged for us. This was a truly wonderful experience for me to actually see and watch a 15th-century artwork being restored. This was a private experience and we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted and get up close to the work being restored and yes, take pictures! This experience helped me to appreciate the art even more during our visit. Without Jennifer and her contacts we would not have had this truly memorable experience.” —Marsha Friedli

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Brazil for Carnival and Caipirinhas

Sugarloaf Mountain and Botafogo Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro by Sunset with Full Moon in the Sky

Imagine mixing your own caipirinha at the top of Rio’s iconic Sugarloaf Mountain. Photo: Shutterstock

“We booked a two-week trip to Brazil with Paul, and he came through big time. The best tour guide we’ve ever had, Lais, met us at the airport on arrival and transported us to the beautiful Hotel Fasano right on Ipanema Beach. We were able to spend two full days on the beach, where we really got a feel for the local culture.

My wife had wanted to see the dancers at Carnival, but we didn’t arrive in Rio until it was over. Somehow Lais pulled off a miracle and found a group that was meeting in a public park and recreating their Carnival performance. It was called a Samba Hangover Dance. We were able to hang out with the locals for a few hours and see the performance up close.

Then we went to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where we were met by a master craftsman who taught us how to make the best Caipirinhas we had on the entire trip. While in Rio we were able to eat at Garota de Ipanema, the cafe where Vinicius de Moraes originally saw the famous ‘girl from Ipanema’ go by before writing the lyrics to the song. On Paul’s advice, we also went to eat at Aprazivel restaurant in the hills above Rio for a delicious meal in a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view of the city below.

Next, we boarded a plane to Iguassu Falls. We stayed at the Hotel das Cataratas in the national park and only 100 yards from the falls. The hotel is the only one in the park and you often had the viewing areas to yourself. Our guide took us on a tour the next day of both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides of these gigantic, 2 ½-mile-wide falls. Seeing them was awe-inspiring, but taking a boat ride under them was exhilarating and an experience not to be missed. At Niagara Falls you get misted when taking the boat ride, but at Iguassu you actually go under the falls. It was safe and great fun.

We ended our trip with a stay in the colonial town of Paraty. We’d seen the big city while in Rio, the jungle in Iguassu, and now a peaceful, historical small town in the center of the country. Our stay at Casa Turquesa was magical. It’s a 9-room inn with a beautiful pool and lovely rooms. We enjoyed navigating the original rocky streets while visiting the shops in town. Paul had arranged a day trip on a schooner where we visited several bays and beaches and had lunch at a place that was only accessible by boat. It was a perfect, relaxing way to end our trip.

A final note about safety. In the United States we’d read traveler warnings and received a notice to beware of dengue fever from our government. Some friends were wary of us going to Brazil. In response I’d like to note that we never felt uncomfortable or unsafe for even a minute during our trip. Are there places in the city of Rio that you shouldn’t visit? Of course, just like in New York City. So don’t go there. Your guides will help you with that. I’ve told friends that Rio is like NYC, but with a better view. Even though we’d taken mosquito repellent to avoid getting dengue fever, we only used it once the whole trip and I never saw a mosquito the whole time.” —Ted Embacher

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Paris for unusual perspectives on the City of Light, from sidecar tours to macaron classes

View over the River Seine, Paris, France

Sunset over the River Seine, Paris. Photo: Bruno Abatti/Unsplash

“My teen daughter and I had a wonderful trip over her February week-long break. Jennifer was full of ideas to interest both of us. The perfume and macaron classes were big hits. We both enjoyed the sidecar tour and didn’t find it scary. I’m so glad we did it.

Jennifer listened carefully to our interests and suggested multiple properties in different areas. We chose Relais Christine for the historic beauty and lively neighborhood. We were pleased with this beautiful property with very kind and fast service.

I LOVED the VIP greeter service Jennifer recommended upon landing. Such a lifesaver, with efficient and speedy shepherding of us through the airport. Our flight to Paris had been delayed the night before and had a change of outbound airport, so it was a little stressful in the lead-up to departure. Landing with someone to take care of us immediately was a treat.” —Jane Kasey

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Mexico for its colonial cities that too many beach-resort-goers miss

Tony Ford-Hutchinson and wife Jane at Monte Alban, a pre-Columbian archaeological site in Mexico.

Tony Ford-Hutchinson and wife Jane explored Monte Alban, a pre-Columbian archaeological site.

“As our previous trips to Mexico have all been to resort areas, Jane and I realized we really needed to go to Mexico City to understand what the country is all about, including its complicated history.

Zach organized an outstanding trip. We stayed in the boutique hotel Casa Polanco, right in the Polanco neighborhood with restaurants, etc. all within walking distance. Zach was able to snag reservations at top restaurants, including Pujol, which was a short walk from the hotel and lived up to its reputation of being one of the world’s top restaurants. We visited Teotihuacan, the City’s historical center, and Frida Kahlo’s house. We also had a private after-hours tour around the Museum of Anthropology, a climb through Chapultepec Park to the Castle and its museums, and prime seats at a Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) match, followed by drinks and snacks in a Mezcaleria.

Then, in Oaxaca, Zach arranged several private artist studio tours. Many artists have made Oaxaca their home. We walked all around the town, ran into a Carnival procession, and met multiple wedding processions, all unexpected. With so many great restaurants and bars in Oaxaca, what is there not to like!

Finally, we flew to Tijuana and walked across the border from the air terminal (very easy) to meet our son in San Diego. Quite surreal.” —Tony Ford-Hutchinson

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Ecuador for nature’s extravaganza in the rainforest and cloud forest

A frog clinging on the traveler's glasses frame.

A Mashpi glass frog clings to the rim of a pair of glasses. Photo: Traveler Robin Madden

“We just returned from a 10-day trip to Ecuador, with our two adult sons and one of their partners, and unlike most, we did not include the Galapagos in the itinerary. We chose to visit the Amazon and stay at Napo Wildlife Center, and Mashpi Lodge in the Cloud Forest. These two places were chosen due to their commitment to the local communities and preservation of the incredibly biologically diverse ecosystems in which they are each set. Carmen on Jordan’s team put together a seamless experience.

Though remote, the Napo Wildlife Center is both elegant and comfortable. Our experience included a local guide from the indigenous community. The lodge is owned and operated by the local community—a rarity in luxury lodges. Mornings started early, 5:30, but oh, the payoff! We saw multiple species of monkeys, more than 40 different birds, caiman, river otters, and a sloth, as well as various snakes and insects.

At Mashpi, Fernando was our guide, and he is the ‘frog whisperer.’ He is a biologist who did research there prior to becoming a guide and identified a new species, the ‘Mashpi glass frog,’ which he found for us on a night walk. We had the extraordinary luck of witnessing a battle between a wasp and a tarantula. The wasp won, killing the tarantula and depositing her eggs inside to hatch in about 10 days. Fernando videotaped the whole encounter. It was like watching a National Geographic special, but it was right there in front of us.” —Robin Madden

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Egypt for a luxe desert oasis, a Nile cruise, warm and welcoming people…

Jeannie Mullen

Jeannie Mullen and friends enjoying a private sunset dinner cruise on the Nile.

“Two friends and I just returned from a private three-week trip to Egypt planned by Jim. We started in Cairo on the Giza plateau with a private tour of the Sphinx, then moved on to the pyramids, temples and tombs that we all see in our dreams when we think of Egypt.

An unexpected treat was the tranquility and beauty of an eco-lodge in Siwa, a desert oasis west of Cairo and about 250 miles from the Libyan border. Adrere Almallal is a stunning lodge which offers guests an opportunity to unplug (no electricity and no wifi) and experience the life and pace that the desert affords. The tranquility, the staff, the FOOD, the candlelit rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and the night sky bursting with stars was such a gift. Highlights in Siwa were a trip into town to tour the Temple of the Oracle of Amun and the Spring of Juba (Cleopatra’s pool), a visit to an all-women’s workshop, shopping and sharing tea with the local Siwa merchants, and a 4×4 trip into the desert to ride the dunes, dune surf, hunt for fossils and watch a stunning sunset.

Our WOW Moment came in Aswan, after we disembarked from a Nile cruise and checked into the famous Old Cataract Hotel on the Nile. Wendy arranged for a private sunset dinner cruise that night which was just stunning. The crew members were lovely and the scenery was fabulous! Thank you again, Wendy!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, among the many, many experiences we had, the thing that stood out to each of us the most was the warm and welcoming spirits of the Egyptian people. Our trip was made all the more special by the lovely Egyptians that we crossed paths with along the way.” —Jeannie Mullen

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Costa Rica for a combo of cloud-forest adventures and beach relaxation

A waterfall in the Nectandra Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.

A misty waterfall in the Nectandra Cloud Forest. Photo: Traveler Mary Ann Smith

Irene could not have planned a better trip for us. Visiting the Nectandra Cloud Forest was magical with the mist and educational with our expert guide, Arturo. It was great to start there to understand the ecological mindset of Costa Rica.

Our time at Nayara Tented Camp was beyond wonderful. Irene had balloons, a card, and a bottle of champagne in the room to celebrate my 80th birthday when we arrived. We also really enjoyed kayaking on Lake Arenal, doing the zip lines over the trees, and the Hanging Bridges Park. Thanks to your seminar on taking photos with cell phones, we got some wonderful pictures of waterfalls, birds, the yellow pit viper, and the red dart frog.

While on the drive from La Fortuna to Manuel Antonio, it was very interesting to see the countryside with coffee beans growing and all the tropical plants (under netting) that they grow for export. Upon arrival at Arenas del Mar we enjoyed another lovely room with a beautiful view, plus a great restaurant, a private beach, and great service.

Our white water rafting on the Savegre River was one of our best days. Jesus and Juan were great guides and despite the early questions about being able to do it at our age, they kept saying ‘excellente’ as we went through the rapids. We loved it!

Irene had arranged for us to fly back to San Jose from Quepos rather than driving which was a wonderful way to end the trip with views of the mountain range and 30 minutes of flying versus several hours of driving. It was more than we could have imagined!” —Mary Ann Smith

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Morocco for a sunny, exotic getaway just across the Atlantic

Travelers Craig and Stephanie Smith with their driver and guide having dinner on the rooftop terrace of Essaouira's Salut Maroc, Morocco.

Craig and Stephanie Smith enjoyed a farewell dinner with new friends: private guide Jamal and driver Majid.

“We just returned from an amazing two weeks in Morocco. We told Radia that what was most important to us was to have a stellar guide. We also told her that we have a strong interest in music and would like to incorporate learning about Gnawa music in some way. And we told her that our hotel preference was to stay in riads instead of international chain hotels.

From the moment we were met at the Casablanca airport by our private guide Jamal and private driver Majid, we knew that we were in for an incredible trip. They were both so hospitable! Jamal was incredibly knowledgeable about the culture and history of his country. He was very attentive to all of our needs, and he made us laugh a lot. He made sure that we saw everything on the itinerary and then some.

Majid drove us many miles in a huge loop, from Casablanca to Volubilis, to Fes, to Ifrane, to Merzouga, to Todra Valley, to Dades Gorge, to Skoura, to Marrakech, to Imlil, to Essaouira, and back to Marrakech. We always felt very safe with him behind the wheel, and he had a great sense of humor.

We stayed in beautiful riads with a very personal touch and enjoyed all kinds of delicious food. In addition to seeing many historic sites (mosques, synagogues, palaces, medinas, souks, tanneries), we also had adventures. We went for a camel ride and rode ATVs in the desert. We went for a hot air balloon ride outside of Marrakech. We went for a hike in the High Atlas Mountains from Imlil to Armed. One of our favorite activities was the sunset motorcycle sidecar tour of Marrakech, suggested by Radia. We felt like we were in a movie, riding through the Palmerie and the medina in comfortable, roomy, sidecars. A definite must-do!

Another highlight was an impromptu visit to the Todra Valley for lunch at Jamal’s family’s home. We were so honored and humbled to be invited into their home for lively conversation and a delicious lunch. And, to satisfy our musical interest, Radia organized a thoroughly enjoyable private Gnawa music workshop with master musician Najib Soudani in Essaouira.

With Jamal and Majid at our sides, it felt like we were traveling with friends we had known for a lifetime. The itinerary was wonderful, but they made the trip into an experience that we will cherish forever.” —Stephanie and Craig Smith

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


India for Rajasthan’s wedding season, lavish palace hotels, ethical elephant sanctuaries…

Travelers and the elephant at the Dera Amer sanctuary in India.

Michael and Lisa Riggs with new friend Rangmala at the Dera Amer sanctuary.

“As with every WOW List specialist we have worked with over the past five years, we found that Victoria had everything planned and arranged to perfection. Any glitches were handled and fixed immediately. Most notable, after I left a packing cube with my husband’s polo shirts in the Delhi hotel, Victoria’s team managed to retrieve them and get them to us, via a variety of drivers and tour guides, at a later destination. Meanwhile, our guide Vanch suggested we get some shirts made, which was fun, inexpensive, and quick.

The hotels were 5-star, gorgeous, and even historic. At The Imperial in New Delhi, the site of many historic meetings, we enjoyed sitting at the same table Gandhi did!

In Agra, we were surprised by our WOW Moment: an authentic Hindu marriage ceremony for us! We participated in the rituals, learned a lot, and enjoyed the experience of ‘renewing our vows’ in a different culture. Now we will be together for 7 lifetimes, the priest told us. Luckily, we’re good with that.

Our WOW celebration continued with an excellent dinner of Mughal tandoor cuisine, with a traditional Santoor musician, at the highly rated Esphahan restaurant in our hotel, the Oberoi.

It was wedding season in Rajasthan, and it was fun to see things even more ornately decorated than usual, including horses, elephants, vehicles in the streets and our hotel, The Taj Rambagh Palace (a former Jaipur Maharaja’s palace). The elaborate Mughal gardens were the site of a large and lavish wedding reception, all day and into the night. It was fun and interesting to witness. Even the staff was impressed.

One of our favorite stops was the Dera Amer camp, an animal sanctuary and home of elephant rescues. We fed and took a walk with Rangmala and her mahout, and she allowed us to pet her and pose for photos.” —Lisa Riggs

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


New Zealand for unusual summertime experiences far above the crowds…

Travelers Joe Tobin and Mary Lou Voytko on a glacier in Whitcombe Valley, New Zealand.

Joe Tobin and Mary Lou Voytko got to perch on the edge of a glacier in the Whitcombe Valley.

“We just completed an absolutely fabulous month-long trip to New Zealand. With his extensive relationships, especially with the Maori, Jean-Michel crafted a truly unique trip that we would never have been able to create on our own. Besides cruising Milford Sound, we had three major interests for our trip: interacting with Maori to learn about their culture, going to the MacKenzie-designated Dark Sky region to stargaze, and being on a glacier.

Instead of going to touristy places to see the Maori, Jean-Michel set us up with several unbelievable one-on-one days with individual Maori, including Tom Loughlin, who cooked us a fabulous traditional Hangi meal in the ground at his 5,000-acre wilderness cabin; Delani Brown, a famous master carver who creates enormous masterpieces of complexly intricate carved wood scenes of Maori culture; and Bevan Climo, a master pounamu (New Zealand greenstone or jade) carver, who took us to his tribe’s portion of the Arahura River, where I found a lovely piece of greenstone!

For our Dark Sky experience, Jean-Michel arranged for a privately guided astral viewing at the Matuka Lodge in Twizel where we were staying. The stargazing was fabulous, and to not to have to do the 3-hour roundtrip to the St. John’s Observatory was priceless.

As for the glacier, Jean-Michel again came up with an amazing intimate experience in the Whitcombe Valley, instead of the over-touristy Franz Josef Glacier. Matt, our helicopter pilot, came with over 30 years of flying experience and was even the pilot for Tom Cruise when he was filming in the region! Matt created a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with views of numerous glaciers and glacier lakes, highlighted by a landing at a glacier that we walked up to and sat on! Talk about being at the top of the world and having your dream come true!” —Mary Lou Voytko

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Thailand and Vietnam for optimal weather and local delicacies…

Vietnamese soup- pho ga in bowl with chicken and rice noodles, mint and cilantro, red onion, chili, bean sprouts and lime on grey background.

Traditional Vietnamese pho makes a hearty breakfast. Photo: Shutterstock

“We just returned from an amazing 12 days in the Far East, visiting both Thailand and Vietnam and including five cities total (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Hoi An and Saigon). From the moment we landed to the moment we departed, our trip was flawless. Dan and his team listened to and responded to all of our concerns and suggestions and came up with an itinerary that was right on spot.

The food everywhere was terrific, with a bit more spice in Thailand than Vietnam. We especially enjoyed ‘pho’ for breakfast! All of our local hosts were fluent in English, extremely knowledgeable and overly concerned with making sure we had everything we needed. It was so helpful to have them as we navigated each city, and they showed us all the local favorites, from the markets to stores to food and to the delicious egg and salt coffee that Vietnam is known for.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the elephant rescue in Chiang Mai. Wow! The project was so well managed and allowed us to spend five hours with the four elephants that have been rescued, including a 6-year-old baby boy elephant. It was a surreal feeling to walk alongside an elephant while feeding them bananas out of our bag and ultimately joining them in a swim in their watering hole. Must do!” —Laura McDermott

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Sri Lanka for tropical landscapes, an exotic culture, and very few other tourists (which makes the local people especially welcoming!)

Sri Lanka's Cinnamon Country

Sri Lanka’s beautiful—and uncrowded—Cinnamon Country. Photo: Sri Lanka In Style

“There were many highlights of our trip. One of them was a general lack of other tourists, which is bad for the country but was excellent for us. We would highly recommend Sri Lanka as a destination and would encourage others to visit without hesitation. While there was some political unrest there in 2022, we felt perfectly safe at all times.

Our two nights that Miguel and Donovan arranged for us in the high tea country were a definite highlight, as was a fabulous private farewell dinner, arranged even though the venue has a seven-to-eight-month waiting list for reservations.” —John Schroeder

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Dubai and Abu Dhabi for sunny beaches but with skyscrapers, camel treks, dune bashing…

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is a can’t-miss for visitors to Dubai. Photo: BS1920/Pixabay

“We had a wonderful time during our trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi that was planned by Justin. The trip was very professionally arranged, from picking us up at the airport to all activities and transportation. We stayed at Jumeirah Beach hotel, which has beautiful views of the ocean and you can see the Burj Al Arab from it as well. Over the next few days we had our personal guide, who gave us a comprehensive tour of Dubai. We learnt about the city’s Bedouin heritage, bold architecture, Emirati culture, politics/sheiks. We got to see all the major attractions, the gold souk, Atlantis, and of course the Burj Khalifa. The guide had our tickets ready for us, which was nice. It took us 60 seconds in the lift to get to the top of the world’s tallest building. The views from there were spectacular. Once you exit the Burj Khalifa you end up in Dubai Mall (one of the world’s largest shopping malls), so we ended up walking around the mall and ate at the food court. Our kids had to try the McArabia from McDonald’s, which they thought was pretty good.

After a few days in Dubai we went to the desert. The highlight of our trip was the desert/Qasr Al Sarab Resort. It was a magical place, absolutely breathtaking. The desert sand is so soft, fine and has multicolored hues of khaki and orange. We all enjoyed rolling around in the sand dunes, and seeing the magical sunsets. Getting from Dubai to Qasr Al Sarab was flawlessly planned. We had our own private driver who was flexible in case we needed to make stops, as we were traveling with two kids (ages 6 & 7). Arriving there felt like arriving at a Arabian palace, the kind you see in Aladdin. They greeted us with some dates and a yogurt drink which was cooling in the hot weather. The breakfast was amazing, a lavish buffet having a mix of local delights. We enjoyed the dates, local jams, omelettes, and fresh juices. All the excursions were perfectly organized. We went on a camel trek, which was a great experience and felt like something out of a movie. In the evenings we got a chance to have some fine Arabic cuisine set in a beautiful ambiance amidst the desert lit up by lanterns, fire pits and the stars above. Certainly a dream. We dined amidst the desert dunes, a Bedouin set-up of plush carpets and cushions serving lamb, cherry rice, variety of dips/hummus, and breads. Another highlight of our trip was dune bashing. My oldest son loved it and said he would do it again, while my youngest said it was terrible. I would say it was exhilarating, however not for everyone. I would recommend not eating an hour before doing it.

Our next stop was Abu Dhabi. It was a quick two-hour drive from the desert. We only spent a day in Abu Dhabi, and then went back to Dubai. Abu Dhabi’s highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. We were greeted by our tour guide, who was well prepared. She had an extra head scarf for my wife, as the dress code is very strictly enforced. She was a wealth of information and was able to get us into the mosque the most efficient way. The architecture and design of the mosque is something quite special. It has intricate designs of flowers and geometric designs carved on the walls and exquisite carpets and chandeliers inside. After the mosque our guide gave us a tour of Abu Dhabi. We requested to go to some local markets, as we needed to get some souvenirs. She took us to a quaint market where they had camel key chains, local embroidered pillowcases, Aladdin lamps which my kids loved.” —Adi Derasari

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


Bhutan and India for Buddhist enlightenment (plus the Taj Mahal)

Herbal bath with a view at Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan.

An herbal bath with a view at Bhutan’s Gangtey Lodge. Photo: Traveler Wendy Tucker

“My husband and I just returned from a fantastic two-week-plus trip to India and Bhutan. We have been lucky enough to travel to many places, but we both declared at our return that this was our favorite destination. Sanjay planned a perfect trip and we are so grateful to him and his local agencies for their knowledge, punctuality, kindness and seamless handling of everything. When I initially contacted Sanjay, our plan only included Bhutan. There are no flights to Bhutan from the US or Europe—you need to go through India or Thailand. We had never been to India, so Sanjay suggested that we fly into Delhi (one of the cities you can access Bhutan from) and spend a few days to see the Taj Mahal. We were so glad we took his advice.

Overall, we found Bhutan to be peaceful, calm, clean, welcoming, safe and fascinating, with people full of warmth, interest and kindness. We stayed at four incredible properties, each with their own flavor, beauty and charm. My favorite was Gangtey Lodge. Gangtey Lodge was the furthest east we traveled and is high above a beautiful valley. It snowed when we were there, so we enjoyed herbal baths gazing from the tub out over the valley.

We filled our days with visits to fortresses, nunneries, temples and monasteries—we loved them all, although our favorite was Gangtey Goenpa Monastery. We spent almost three hours there participating in a tea ceremony with the monks and discussing Buddhism and life in a monastery with a senior monk.” —Wendy Tucker

To get your own WOW trip, start with our trip questionnaire, reached via the black button below.


African safari for shoulder-season value and animals galore

An elephant in Tarangire Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

An elephant in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. Photo: Carole Henderson from Pixabay

“We had a great trip arranged by Cherri and Katie, to Rwanda for mountain gorilla trekking and then to the Serengeti in Tanzania for more wildlife viewing. The experience of being able to get so close to and observe elephants, giraffes, lions, gazelle, zebras, cheetah, wildebeest, Cape buffalo, leopard, hippos, golden and vervet monkeys, not to mention gorillas, in their natural habitat, is incomparable. Also incredible were the gorgeous birds, including storks and flamingos. We were also lucky to see black rhinos both in the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater.

The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge was outstanding. The cottages were lovely. A wood-burning fire was lit every evening in our room, and sometimes on very cold mornings as well, by Felicien, our butler, who also brought coffee to the room. He helped us gear up for the gorilla treks, and assisted with hiking boot and leg gaiter removal when we were done. The treks themselves were physically demanding at high altitude but well worth it, and we were completely pampered when we got back to the lodge.

The lodge is community owned, and many staff members are from the nearby village. Felicien gave us a great tour and we were delighted to meet many of the people, including the beekeeper, the doctor/herbalist, and some charming women who showed me how to grind flour from sorghum. Easier than it looks!

We stayed at two different camps in Tanzania and our guides were outstanding. The game drives were amazing and the guides well informed. Our favorite was the Namiri Plains Camp, where you could look out your deck and watch elephants stroll by.” —Lisa Riggs

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The Best Trips to Book in February: What to Lock in Now





Whether your available travel window is just a few weeks out or you’re planning a year ahead, we’ve got a wide range of ideas for the best trips to book right now, in February. A yacht charter in the Aegean? Tickets to Wimbledon or Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival? Hard-to-get rooms for the Day of the Dead celebrations in Oaxaca? Use our Trusted Travel Experts to be sure that you get the trip of a lifetime.

(Don’t miss the rest of our series on what trips to book in each month of the year. If you prefer to know which destinations are ideal for traveling to in any given month, see our Where to Go When series, and don’t miss our comprehensive guide to the benefits of booking early.)

An East Africa Safari During Shoulder Season

safari tourists in a jeep watching elephants pass in Tanzania

The Chem Chem Reserve is located between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Park. Photo: Chem Chem Safari Lodge

For: February and March 2020

You often have to plan a safari a year or more in advance, but you can sometimes find last-minute deals in Kenya during shoulder season, or even in Tanzania during the birthing season of the Great Migration, before the “long rains” start in April.

Why book in February? It’s now or never: The sooner you nail down dates, the better your chances of finding a shoulder-season deal.

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Scandinavia’s Season of Abundant Daylight

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia come alive as the weather gets warmer. Photo: Kim Wyon/VisitDenmark

For: May and June 2020

As the Northern Hemisphere approaches the summer solstice, Scandinavia enjoys extra-long days that last until 10pm. The countryside is filled with celebrations during the first weekend on or after June 21, and the outdoor cafes are made lively by locals soaking up the sun after months of darkness. It’s also a great time to enjoy the abundance of fresh seafood.

Why book in February? If you wait until March, many of the small boutique hotels in the countryside—some of which have only seven or eight rooms—will be booked up.

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Greece or Turkey via a Gulet Yacht Charter

view from a wooden gulet boat on Turkey's Aegean Coast

A wooden gulet is an enticing way to explore the hidden islands of the Aegean. Photo: Sea Song Tours

For: May to October 2020

A wooden gulet is an enticing way to explore the hidden islands of the Aegean: While your captain sails between spots that cruise ships can’t access, your chef is preparing fresh-caught seafood, the deck hands are setting up your sunbeds, and the hostess is keeping your glass of Champagne full.

Why book in February? The most beautiful gulets with excellent crews are in high demand, but if you book four months or more before arrival, you can take advantage of early-booking discounts. (Visas to Turkey are now available online.)

Ask about a yacht trip to Turkey or Greece

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Botswana: Special Savings on a Safari

Botswana helicopter at sunset over the savannah Desert & Delta Safari

Take a helicopter over Botswana for a different perspective on the usual safari. Photo: Desert & Delta Safari

For: June through October 2020

Botswana’s safari camps and lodges are in such high demand that it’s hard to find a deal at any time of year—especially during the prime game-viewing season, which runs from mid-June through October. But if you spend ten nights at Desert & Delta’s eight properties scattered throughout the country, you’ll receive a complimentary scenic helicopter ride and one free night’s stay. The highlight is sure to be your time in Chobe National Park, which is loaded with wildlife: lion, leopard, hyena, wild dog, impala, waterbuck, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog, and nearly one-third of all the elephants in Africa.

Why book in February? For this month only, our Trusted Travel Expert can get you an additional 10% off this package—but only if you contact her via WendyPerrin.com.

Ask about a trip to Botswana

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London for the Championships at Wimbledon

For: July 2020

The lottery for Wimbledon tickets is long over, but our Trusted Travel Expert can still get you the very best seats, even for the mens’ and womens’ finals.

Why book in February? The excitement of the tennis tourney means that London will be very busy in early July. Book now before the city’s most beloved hotels sell out—and while many of them are offering four nights for the price of three if you book in February.

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Switzerland: An Authentic Farmstay Experience

matterhorn-Switzerland Alps CR Pixabay

Farmers bring their cows up into the Alps in summer. Photo: Pixabay

For: July and August 2020

Farmers bring their cows up into the Alps in summer, and you can join them for a night or two to experience this traditional way of life. Wake up to cowbells and help the farmer with the milking, then sit down together for a breakfast of homemade bread and dairy, and fruits from the region. You can even help make cheese over the fire, as the farmer’s ancestors have done for centuries.

Why book in February? A very limited number of farmers have the suitable space and attitude to invite travelers into their flock; book now to ensure your spot on the dates you want.

Ask about a trip to Switzerland

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The Pacific Northwest at the Height of Summer

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse, Haro Straight, San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands of Washington are at their most crowded in the summer, but also at their most beautiful. Photo: Shutterstock

For: July and August 2020

Summer brings the clearest skies to Washington and British Columbia; it’s prime time for those vistas from Seattle’s Space Needle and off the decks of the Olympic Peninsula’s ferries.

Why book in February? Summer is also the most crowded time of year for the region. Many families don’t think to start planning their summer vacation until after spring break; get ahead of them and you won’t get shut out from the best hotel rooms, guides, and upgrades.

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Iceland’s Shoulder Season

Iceland waterfall Skogafoss in Icelandic nature landscape. Famous tourist attractions and landmarks destination in Icelandic nature landscape on South Iceland. Aerial drone view of top waterfall. -

Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls. Photo: Shutterstock

For: August and September 2020

Iceland is awash in tourists in high season, and the supply of hotel rooms, specialized vehicles, and the like hasn’t kept up with the skyrocketing demand. So it’s wise to arrive toward the end of August or in September, when the weather is still pleasant, the crowds fewer, and the prices a bit lower. There is even a chance of seeing the Northern Lights in September.

Why book in February? While there’s greater availability of hotel rooms and expert guides for the late summer and early fall, even those dates will sell out if you wait too much longer.

Ask about a trip to Iceland

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French Polynesia’s Famous Overwater Bungalows

overwater bungalows in French Polynesia at the Conrad Hilton Bora Bora

Book early to get an overwater bungalow with the best ocean views. Photo: Conrad Hilton Bora Bora

For: September and October 2020

September and October fall during the Trade Wind season, when breezes keep temperatures in the low 80s and the humidity down as well. It still rains, but in 30- to 40-minute bursts. It’s quieter at the resorts, too, since families tend not to travel in the fall.

Why book in February? The overwater bungalows with the best views—not of the rest of the resort, but of the lagoon and the horizon—sell out first. Wait much longer and you’ll be stuck looking at another bungalow.

Ask about a trip to French Polynesia

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Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival

mongolian eagle hunters at the golden eagle festival

The annual Golden Eagle Festival protects and celebrates the ancient Mongolian tradition of hunting with eagles. Photo: Nomadic Expeditions

For: October

The Kazakh people of the remote and rugged Mongolian Altai Mountains have long hunted with golden eagles. However, the practice looked to be headed toward extinction, until the Golden Eagle Festival was co-founded two decades ago by Jalsa Urubshurow, our Trusted Travel Expert for Mongolia. Today, the festival protects and celebrates this centuries-old tradition; this year it takes place October 3 to 4.

Why book in February? The festival—one of the country’s most popular—happens in a remote part of Mongolia to which flights are infrequent. Tickets and accommodations are also limited, so you need to book now to ensure that you’ll be part of the festivities come fall.

Ask about a trip to Mongolia

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Mexico: Oaxaca’s Day of the Dead Celebrations

Day of the Dead with painted skull face and doll in Oaxaca Mexico

Day of the Dead celebrations are at their most vibrant in Oaxaca. Photo: Journey Mexico

For: October and November 2020

Oaxaca is the place to experience Day of the Dead’s soul-stirring and vibrant celebrations. Witness colorful street parades, join a twilight vigil, and sample some sweet and delicious pan de muerto during this holiday celebrating the departed.

Why book in February? Accommodations in Oaxaca during the festival are almost entirely sold out, but our Trusted Travel Experts have secured a few hard-to-get rooms at Quinta Real, a gorgeous hotel set in a 16th-century convent. This is likely your last chance to join the 2020 festivities in style.

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Chile’s Lakes District for Spring Adventures

For: November 2020

The Lakes District isn’t as well known as Patagonia, but it’s arguably more beautiful, and certainly easier to get to. Here you’ll find a wide range of adventure activities—hiking, biking, sailing, fly fishing, and the like—a more vibrant example of contemporary Chilean life, and lower prices. In November, the rains have gone and everything is at its lushest, with blue skies and temperatures in the 70s.

Why book in February? Top-end accommodations in the region are limited, so book ahead to ensure the level of comfort you want.

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Peru Over the Holidays

Woman in Main Square of Cusco Peru with old building behind her. Photo from Aracari travel

Mix adventure with culture when visiting Cusco, Peru. Photo: Aracari

For: December 2020

Peru’s greatest hits—Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu—are a very popular destination for holiday trips, particularly among families. Our Trusted Travel Expert can mix a bit of adventure and culture in clever ways (a hike with a local woman and her llamas, for example), and the remains of the ancient Incan city at Machu Picchu will impress even the most blasé teen.

Why book in February? There is limited space in the upscale hotels in these key destinations; if you wait until March, you may be out of luck and find yourself staying at lesser properties.

Ask about a trip to Peru

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Sri Lanka in 2021, Before It Sells Out

eautiful Tropical Beach In Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka. These boats used to take people to watch dolphins

The early part of the year sees some of Sri Lanka’s best weather. Photo: Shutterstock

For: January or March 2021

The second half of January and first half of March bring delightful weather to Sri Lanka (February is pleasant too, but very crowded due to the Chinese New Year holidays). It’s also safe to swim in the seas along the west and south coasts at this time of year, which is outside the period when monsoons cause dangerous currents and waves.

Why book in February? Tourism is booming on this tiny island nation but the infrastructure has yet to keep up, so you need to book about a year out to guarantee rooms in the most charming inns and the services of a top chauffeur-guide.

Ask about a trip to Sri Lanka

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We’re here to help

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