Tag Archives: news

The 2017 WOW List Is Here: The Best Travel Planners in the World

We’re thrilled to announce the 2017 WOW List of Wendy Perrin’s Trusted Travel Experts. This list of the world’s top trip designers, compiled annually by Wendy based on real travelers’ experiences and her own stringent review process, is the pinnacle—and the original. You may find similar designations in other magazines, but it was Wendy who created the first list of this kind 17 years ago, and it’s still used as the source of those other directories. The list is informed by Wendy’s long career as a travel journalist, and no one can schmooze or pay their way onto it—in fact, the running joke is that it’s easier to get into Harvard than onto Wendy’s WOW List.

More important, her roundup of the best travel agents, tour operators, and travel-planning firms is the first stop for thousands of sophisticated travelers. And based on reviews they submit after their trips, we know that they’re satisfied:

“Joe Yudin was excellent. He and his team tailor-made our itinerary going back and forth to meet our specific needs.”

“China is a fabulous destination on its own, but we have little doubt our trip was greatly enhanced by the detailed, personal service rendered by Mei and her team.”

“Cherri Briggs was fantastic. We would use her again in a heartbeat and highly recommend her to anyone (and we have, to our friends) considering such a trip.”

Not only does Wendy recommend these Trusted Travel Experts, she stands by her recommendations—through a unique Trip Support System. That means that when travelers contact one of her Trusted Travel Experts through WendyPerrin.com, she stays in touch with both the traveler and the TTE to make sure the process, and the results, live up to everyone’s expectations. She also organizes the annual Wendy Perrin Global Travel Summit so that she can connect—face-to-face—with the Trusted Travel Experts on her WOW List, in order to reinforce the high standards of quality our readers expect from them.

This year’s list is bigger and better than ever, featuring 86 trip designers whose areas of expertise range from safaris to sun-soaked islands, from expedition sailings to family cruises, and from once-in-a-lifetime splurges to affordable family vacations.

Before you start planning your next big trip, browse Wendy’s WOW List and reach out to the appropriate Trusted Travel Expert. If you can’t find the person you need on the list, contact Wendy directly at Ask Wendy. She’s continually testing new candidates for up-and-coming destinations as well as those who have niche insight on a classic. So stay tuned and stay in touch.

Wendy Perrin Global Travel Summit

Wendy revealed travel trends and predictions, along with her WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts, at the first Wendy Perrin Global Travel Summit, held at the Dream Downtown hotel in New York, in 2016. Photo: Tim Baker

Be a smarter traveler: Follow Wendy Perrin on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know. 

Wendy making friends at the ancient Phoenician city of Baalbek in Lebanon

Why Xenophobia Makes Me Want to Travel More

Did you see that Dictionary.com named “xenophobia” its 2016 Word of the Year?  Defined as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers,” xenophobia has been resonating deeply in the cultural consciousness lately.

How sad. As you can imagine, I’m a strong believer in the enlightenment that comes from traveling to foreign countries, meeting different peoples, and learning first-hand about their culture. I also believe xenophobia can be more harmful than the people it makes you afraid of. There’s danger in not leaving your comfort zone. To quote Paulo Coelho, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine—it’s lethal.” And you can argue that certain risks are greater where we live: I’m more afraid of people wielding guns at home than in the places I travel to (the U.S. has more guns per capita than any other nation).

So this Word-of-the-Year news had me down…until I realized there’s a silver lining:  If xenophobia actually leads to a wider reluctance to travel, it will be the stereotypical “ugly Americans” who stay home. And that’s not so bad for us diehard travelers. It’s always been my experience that the fewer tourists in a destination, the more welcoming the locals are, the easier it is to talk to them, and the more goodwill they show you. I’m more than happy to travel without running into crowds of Americans in fanny packs and shiny white sneakers. I’m thrilled to have iconic sights to myself and not have my photos marred by busloads of cruisegoers from megaships. And the fewer Americans filling flights and hotels, the better the deals for the rest of us.

When I’m in remote locales, I don’t want to hear Americans saying how much better something is at home. I don’t want to hear, “I had to haggle with a guy to buy this” (do the math, and you’ll see that you were bargaining in increments less than a dollar). I don’t want to hear complaints that there’s not enough ice or air conditioning or whatever drink you’re used to at home. I remember once when I was in Egypt—on the terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan overlooking the Nile—my husband ordered a Coke and I ordered a Diet Coke. The waiter brought a 16-ounce Coke for my husband and an 8-ounce Coke for me. It took us a minute to understand the logic, but we’ve been laughing about it ever since. That was a beautiful travel moment.

So, my dear xenophobes, if you prefer to stay in your bubble, I’m more than happy to do your traveling for you and serve as an ambassador for our country. I’m happy to drink tea in a bedouin tent while my children play soccer with the local kids. I’m happy to travel to rural Asia armed with pencils and postcards from home. Give a child a postcard of the place where you live and, before you know it, his mom is inviting you inside the place where they live—no fear of strangers involved.

The number of truly different places to travel to in this world is shrinking. The influences of global commerce, Hollywood, and the Internet are quickly making foreign countries more similar to ours than some of us want to admit. That’s why I think it’s important to see these places soon. I’m thrilled that countries still exist where we can say—to quote John Cleese as he sat behind his Monty Python news anchor desk—“And now for something completely different.”

So that’s how I came to terms with xenophobia. Now I just need to get past “post-truth.” That’s another 2016 Word of the Year—the one chosen by Oxford English Dictionaries.  I’m a journalist who has always stood for truth (first as a columnist at Condé Nast Traveler, where “Truth in Travel” was our credo, and now at WendyPerrin.com, where I continue that mantra). So imagine how concerned I am that murky facts and fake news have grown so prevalent that a word had to be invented to describe them.  We may be living in a post-truth era, but I, for one, feel more obligated than ever to share accurate portrayals of the world we travel in and bring truth home to our fellow citizens. How about you?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

The Red Cross offers aid to victims of the Central Italy Earthquake of August 24, 2016. Photo: Croce Rossa Italiana

The Italy Earthquake and What You Can Do to Help

Update 10/30/16: Yet another earthquake has hit Italy today—the strongest in 36 years. The epicenter is near the town of Norcia, where the medieval basilica of St Benedict is among the historic buildings demolished by the disaster. Norcia is close the epicenter of the August 24 quake near Amatrice, which killed nearly 300 people. Thankfully, this one has only caused injuries, about 20, and no deaths.

Updated 10/27/16: A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy on August 24, centered about 65 miles northeast of Rome, in the town of Amatrice. Sadly, nearly 300 people were killed, according to officials, and the mayor of Amatrice told CNN,“The town is no more.”

The Italian Red Cross has set up an information page for those who want to donate funds to the rescue effort. The organization is also asking those who are in the area to donate blood (if they’re eligible) and to unlock their personal Wi-Fi systems (ie., make it so that passwords are not required to log on) so that rescue workers and victims can freely use their Internet access to stay connected to each other and other emergency service workers.

For the longer relief effort, one of our own Trusted Travel Experts, Andrea Grisdale, has a few plans in action. In addition to promoting a donation appeal on her IC Bellagio website and raising funds through her nonprofit association Prolezzeno, she says: “We are working with the Lake Como town of Menaggio to organize fund-raising event on September 9.  We are also working with towns in central lake area of lake Como to get all our restaurants and trattorias to put Spaghetti Alla Amatriciana on their menus and for every plate sold they donate two euro to earthquake appeal.” She adds that all funds collected will be managed by Associazione Italiano Alpini (Gruppo Di Menaggio), “as they have earthquake support experience and they are local and this gives folks confidence that monies will reach the right destination.”

During the immediate aftermath of the quake, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature so that those in the area could alert friends and family that they were okay, and so that those at home could search for travelers and confirm their status. Google also has a Public Alerts page, where you can see a map of affected areas and track information on earthquakes, floods, and other emergency situations, sometimes with forecasts before they happen.

Sadly, the disaster in Italy was not the only one that day: Myanmar also suffered a 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which damaged at least 66 stupas in the ancient city of Bagan. The shake was felt as far away as Bangkok, Thailand; Calcutta, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Only three people have been reported killed so far, including two children.

A smaller quake hit Indonesia on August 24 too, off the coast in the Flores sea. Luckily no one has been injured and a tsunami warning was not issued. That’s a relief for the country, which sustained a 6.5 magnitude quake in June that damaged buildings in western Sumatra.

Japan suffered a double quake this past spring: a 6.2 on April 14, followed by a 7.0 two days later. And in the western hemisphere that same week, Ecuador was rocked by a huge 7.8 earthquake on April 16 and then hit again in May; more than 1,300 people were killed in both, and tens of thousands were injured.

We’re not ticking off all these tragedies to scare anyone, nor are we suggesting that you stop traveling, or attempting to capitalize on such devastation. Rather, our goal (as always at WendyPerrin.com) is to keep you informed and to help you be as prepared for your travels as possible—and that includes being prepared for the unlikely event that you’ll be caught in an earthquake. To that end, we’re putting together a guide on how to be prepared for an emergency when you’re traveling overseas. Stay tuned.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

vasari corridor florence photo by Eric Stoen Travel Babbo

Florence’s Vasari Corridor Is Closed, Effective Immediately

Florence’s fire department has shut down the famed Vasari Corridor “effective immediately.” The medieval passageway is a hidden gem of an art gallery that is lined with approximately 700 works of art collected by Cardinal Leopold de Medici. The Corridor connects the Uffizi Gallery to the Pitti Palace via the Ponte Vecchio and was first constructed in 1565. Now 450 years old, it needs some renovations to bring it up to fire code.

Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt had previously announced a plan to revamp the Corridor—most of which has been closed to the public for years—and make it accessible to all visitors to the museum. Prior to the shutdown, the gallery had been open only to travelers who planned their trips through Italy travel specialists such as Maria Gabriella Landers, one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts for Italy.

This most recent shutdown of the gallery is not part of Schmidt’s original plan, but the hope is that it will not delay the overall renovation project, which would’ve seen the Corridor refurbished and reopened in October of this year.

Vasari Corridor florence italy by lloyd alter

Inside the Vasari Corridor, you’ll find one of the largest collections of self-portraits. Photo: Lloyd Alter/Flickr

The experience is worth waiting for. Wendy has visited the Corridor herself and described it to Independent Traveler: “The Vasari Corridor…was built by the Medicis so they could walk between their workplace and residence invisibly, spying on their subjects from on high. The passageway houses the world’s largest collection of self-portraits by artists, and also provides some of Florence’s best views, but that’s not even what makes it so cool. The thrill is how it makes Florence’s history and secrecy come to life in such a visceral way. As the passageway winds this way and that, growing narrower and darker and more rough-hewn, it feels like you’re walking back in time. Alone in the tunnel with your guide, peering down into the shops on the bridge, into hotel rooms on the river, even into the church balcony that the Medicis used, you feel the power that the Medicis must have felt. Seeing without being seen, you get to be a spy like them.”

There’s no news yet on how long the shutdown will last but, in the meantime, there is plenty more behind-the-scenes insider access that travelers to Italy can enjoy—experiences available through Maria, as well as through our other Trusted Travel Expert for Italy, Andrea Grisdale. For example, Maria is happy to arrange an exclusive visit to the 16th-century Torrigiani Gardens, Europe’s largest private garden, with the Florentine nobleman who owns it as your guide. Andrea can set up you up in a beautiful mahogany speedboat for a lake tour that will reveal the many of the area’s magnificent hidden mansions and gardens, or get you access to Capri’s secret grottos.

What Italy experience would you recommend for other travelers?


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.