ALASKA TRAVEL GUIDE

ALASKA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Expert local guides and dedicated travel director
  • Enjoy an Alaskan salmon bake
  • Try your luck at gold panning
  • Visit Glacier Bay National Park and get up and close with a Glacier
  • Go ‘mushing’ with professionally trained and cared for sled dogs
  • Take the scenic route and retrace history on the White Pass & Yukon railway
  • Try to spot wildlife in the mountains
  • Go whale watching
  • Get a panoramic view of Alaska on an all-inclusive cruise

ALASKA VACATION TIPS

  • Alaska is the ultimate destination for outdoors activities such as hiking, biking, glacier walks, and other activities To get your best glimpse at bears or moose, try visiting Denali National Park
  • When in Alaska of all places, practice responsible travel and don’t leave a trail behind you, risking harm to the beautiful natural environment
  • Pack layers as the weather can be unpredictable
  • Seeing Alaska by cruise and land are two different experiences, so you can do both or plan out exactly what you want out of your trip to help decide which is best for you
  • Make sure you try the seafood. What should you get? Alaska King Crab legs of course!

THINGS TO DO IN ALASKA

1. GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

Situated on the Pacific coast in Alaska is Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. It borders the Gulf of Alaska and the Icy Strait park. To its East is British Columbia, Canada. It’s the largest protected marine sanctuary in the world and the most recent time its ice sheet grew was between 200 to 500 years ago.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Since being discovered in 1796, the glaciers at the park are retreating faster than anywhere else in the world.

2. KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

Kenai Fjords National Park is over 600,000 acres large and was first designated a national monument in 1978 by President Carter. About 51% of the land is covered by ice. It wasn’t until 1980 that it was redesignated as a National Park. Both marine life and mammals can be found at the park, along with whales, otters, and seals. Today, more than 300,000 people visit the park every year.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
The grounding of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in 1989 contaminated about 4% of the parks coastline, causing extensive damage to the area and its ecosystem. Today, cruise lines work with the National Park Service and have very strict and environmentally focused policies as they cruise in and out of the park.

3. HUBBARD GLACIER

Located 200 miles northwest of the capital city Juneau is Hubbard Glacier, whose source starts in the Yukon. At 76 miles long and 1200ft deep, it’s actually 25% larger than the state of Rhode Island!

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Hubbard Glacier was named after Gardiner G. Hubbard in 1890. Mr. Hubbard was named the first president of the National Geographic Society & regent of the Smithsonian Institution.

4. TRACY ARM FJORD / SAWYER GLACIER

Named after the Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Franklin Tracy, Tracy Arm Fjord is located 45 miles south of Juneau. The twin Sawyer Glaciers, North and South, are located inside of Tracy Arm. You’ll fall in love with Sawyer Glacier for their deep blue color.

5. PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND

Named after an 18th century British prince, Prince William Sound is dotted with beautiful islands and is home to fjords, coastal mountains, glaciers, and even some towns. Each of the three towns are very different from each other: Valdez is picturesque and home to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Cordova is a fishing port, and Whittier is nestled in by glacial mountains.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Not many cruise ships come through here so it is very peaceful. Valdez provides more of the iconic, picturesque look of Alaska most people think about. Whatever mode of transportation you’re using, make sure to come through here and check out Prince William Sound and any of three towns.

6. HUSKY HOMESTEAD DOG CAMP

Before they become champion sled dogs, a team of people raise, care for, and train them. That all happens at the Husky Homestead Dog Camp. When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by furry cuddles and wet kisses from these fast and not-so-furious little pups. You’ll also get a look into an authentic rural Alaska lifestyle.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Four time Iditarod champion, Jeff King, calls the Husky Homestead Dog Camp home, so make sure to stop by and say hi! He’ll give you the insider perspective on what it takes to win the race and what training and raising the dogs are like.

7. WHITE PASS & YUKON RAILWAY

The Yukon Railway was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. The narrow two-gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. You’ll embark on at Skagway and go right into the heart of the Yukon on fully operating trains, taking you through the most breathtaking scenery imaginable, including waterfalls, gorges, glacial rivers, and the wilderness at large.

YOU SHOULD KNOW
This excursion has been rated Alaska’s #1 activity for many years running. Once you get on, you’ll understand why. At times, it’ll feel like you’ve been taken back in time. The connection you feel to nature is unexplainable, making this a must-do activity.

8. THE AURORA ICE MUSEUM

The Aurora Ice Museum is located 60 miles north of Fairbanks in the Chena Hot Springs resort. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The ice museum was built in 2005 and kept at 25F all year, using advanced geothermal technology. Carved to look like a church, the museum is made out of more than 1000 tons of snow and ice.

9. WHALE WATCHING

If Alaska is on your bucket list, chances are whale watching is right next to it. Seeing them in the wild is so rare, but being in Alaska gives you the best chances. To up your chances even more, take a cruise through Alaska, as passengers have reported seeing whales out of the window during dinner – can you think of a more incredible scenario?

YOU SHOULD KNOW
Former whale watching tour guide Erin Heist says “Juneau is the place to go whale watching if you’re coming to Alaska.” What are you waiting for? Let’s get booking!

10. ALASKA CRUISE

Of course, one of the biggest things to do in Alaska is taking an Alaska cruise. The ships here are a bit smaller than what you’d find in the Caribbean – around 3-4000 passengers max. All-Inclusive cruises are a great way to vacation and travel as accommodations, food, and entertainment all included and readily available to you. Ready to plan your Alaska cruise? Call one of our cruise consultants at 1-800-627-3753 today!

BEST TIME TO VISIT ALASKA

If you’re planning a visit to the last frontier, you’re going to want to know when the best time to visit it. Whether you’re here looking for the best trails to hike, glaciers to climb, or wildlife to see, we’ll help you plan the best time to visit Alaska.

QUICK FACTS:
Summer is the most popular time, and best time to visit Alaska May and September are both slower months and also great times to visit. Most visitors want to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora, you’ll have to visit between September and April, which happen to be the colder months.

1. Summer – June to August – High Season

The average high in Alaska during the Summer is 63F and 48F low. This is the most popular time for tourists coming to Alaska. The weather is warmer and you can participate in all the outdoor activities Alaska has to offer. While it’s the most crowded time, it’s the optimal time to visit.

2. Fall – September to October – Low Season

The average high in Alaska during the Winter is 40F and 29F low. The weather gets cooler and snow is not uncommon. The crowds also start to head home and that plus the nice cool weather makes Alaska a nice time to visit. You may also get a glimpse of the Aurora as well.

3. Winter – November to March – Low Season

The average high during Winter is 28F and 17F low. Visitors at this time are here because they love winter sports like skiing and snowboarding or trying to catch the Aurora. Winter will be your best chance to see the lights in all of its glory, as the nights are long and dark.

4. Spring – April to May – Good Season

The average high during Spring is 44F and 29F low. This is a good time to visit Alaska as the crowds have not yet arrived and the days are starting to get longer and snow is melting. The temperatures are still cool but comfortable. The plus side, the landscape are getting their color back as the flowers bloom.

India Travel Guide

India Tours Highlights

  • Attend one of the many festivals like Diwali, Festival of Colors, or Dussehra.
  • Stand in awe of the ivory-white marble Taj Mahal.
  • Visit the Elephanta Caves and see the 5 Hindu and 2 Buddhist temples.
  • Discover the beautiful nature in Meghalaya.
  • Drink an authentic Masala Chai, a milk tea with spices born in India.
  • See the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a 340-room palace houses the president of India and is the biggest residence of any president the world over.
  • History enthusiasts should not miss the National Museum on Janpath.
  • As a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, you might want to visit Raj Ghat.
  • The bazaars of Chandni Chowk have lots of shops and eateries.
  • Walk around City Palace, Jaipur.

Travel Tips

  • India is huge and diverse, there are 22 official languages and all 29 states have variations in their cultures and traditions.
  • India has four major weather seasons- summer, winter, monsoon, and post-monsoon. Each part of India experiences different climatic conditions, so plan ahead on what to wear.
  • Some villages won’t have doors on their houses or will leave them open when running errands.
  • Mangoes are very popular fruit and should be on your list to try when traveling.
  • India takes the sport of Cricket very seriously and you can oftentimes see school children playing.
  • Talk with your doctor about any medicines you might need when traveling. Western food and water is different than what is found in India.
  • Temples and holy places will require you to dress modestly and take off your shoes before entering.
  • Public transportation is vast in India, taking the train or a rickshaw are common ways to travel.
  • Haggling is customary in India, especially at local bazaars.
  • 220-volt electricity is used in India, so pack necessary converters for your electronics.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN INDIA

1. GET UP CLOSE TO THE TAJ MAHAL

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. This ivory and white marble mausoleum was commissioned in 1632 as a tomb for the emperor’s wife. The huge complex includes a mosque, a guest house, a garden, and a water feature. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was constructed by 20,000 builders and is considered a universally admired masterpiece.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Taj Mahal is located about 125 miles from Delhi in the popular Golden Triangle.
  • It is worth it to arrive before the sun rises. The changing of light in the day makes the structure appear to change colors.
  • Vehicles aren’t allowed within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal because of pollution

2. ATTEND ONE OF THE MANY FESTIVALS

There is Diwali, Dussehra, and many other festivities worshiping the Hindu gods, but Holi has become the worlds’ happiest and most famous festival of India. At this festival, people smear each other with paint and throw colored dye to celebrate the beginning of Spring. The Festival Of Colors is a day full of fun and dancing that invites everyone, and it has even expanded to other parts of the world.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Holi is celebrated in February or March every year during Phalguna. Diwali is 5 days during mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is celebrated 21 days after Dussehra.

3. EXPLORE AMBER PALACE

Amber Palace is a fort located in the small Amer, Rajasthan, outside of Jaipur. Located on a hill, it is known for its artistic style elements, large ramparts, and series of gates and cobbled walkways. The palace was built in 1592 and was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas and their families and is one of the best-known attractions in Jaipur.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

The heat can be scorching hot in the Summer, so aim to visit between October and March.

4. WALK AROUND CITY PALACE, JAIPUR

Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan, and is still the home of the Jaipur royal family. The palace has lots of artistic buildings, spanning courtyards, galleries, holy shrines, and even places to eat. It is a paradise for art and history lovers. The Chandra Mahal is a four-story building that has a separate entrance fee.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The City Palace is located in the middle of the old city wall of Jaipur.
  • Budget a few hours to walk around. Don’t miss Chandra Mahal, the Mubarak Mahal, and the City Palace Museum.

5. GO TO THE HISTORICAL AGRA FORT

A little north of Taj Mahal sits Agra Fort, a historic walled city built in 1573. It did serve as the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638. Agra Fort is known for its rich history and has been owned by many rulers are emperors. The semicircular fort has various palaces and halls and faces the bank of the Yamuna river.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The entire fort was built using the red sandstone, but then underwent some major changes and many structures were rebuilt with white marble.
  • When the British took over the ownership of Agra Fort, they made more changes but some structures were able to still stand.

6. LOOK UP AT THE QUTUB MINAR

This tall, slender tower in Delhi is elaborately decorated with inscriptions and geometric patterns. It is part of the Qutub complex and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tower is the highest tower in India, 73 meters, and is complete with five stories and projecting balconies. It was built in 1193 to celebrate the victory of dominance.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Qutub Minar is open daily. Since it is an outdoor site, it is best to visit during the cooler months in the Winter and Spring for pleasant weather. Plan to stay for about 2 hours.

7. VISIT THE INDIA GATE

The India Gate stands as a memorial to the 70,000 British Indian Army soldiers who died in WWI. Located in New Delhi, it has 13,300 soldiers and servicemen’s names inscribed on the gates. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the monument was completed in 1931. Many say it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Although the India Gate is grand in any light, the site transforms in the evening when it is dramatically lit up. Their fountains and colored lights with a huge green lawn makes this a popular picnic spot or perfect for a friendly cricket match.

8. VIEW THE GATEWAY OF INDIA

Located in Mumbai, this arch monument as built in 1924 to commemorate the first British monarch to visit India. The triumphal arch made is of basalt and is 26 meters high. It has been called a symbol of conquest and colonization as a way of commemorating British colonial legacy. It is located on the waterfront at the Apollo Bunder area.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The Gateway Of India is the perfect place to see a mixture of culture, sea level beauty and deep history all at once.

9. SEE THE RASHTRAPATI BHAVAN

The official residences of the President of India is located in New Delhi. The estate has large open spaces, huge gardens, reception halls, guest rooms, and staff offices. Few official head of state residences in the world will match the grandness and sheer size of Rashtrapati Bhavan. It took 17 years to build, has 4 floors and 340 rooms with an area of 200,000 square feet.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Check the schedule of visiting days because the complex has different schedules for different sections of the building. Most circuits are open Thursday- Sunday.

10. SHOP AT THE CHANDNI CHOWK

One of the oldest and busiest markets in Old Delhi, it is located by the Old Delhi Railway Station. It was built in the 17th century and has a ton of little shops and local eateries. Everything you’ve imagined about India’s bazaars comes alive here. Not only are they full of vendors that have perfumes, jewelry, clothing, books, and hardware, it is also a wonderful spot for foodies who want to sample the local cuisine.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • Don’t feel overwhelmed by looking for something specific. Vendors stay grouped together by what they specialize in. It’s best to hire a shopping tour guide if you want the best deals and specific goods.
  • It is common to haggle and if a deal is too good to be true, it usually is because fakes are common.
  • Keep an eye on personal belongs because pickpockets are common in this crowded area.

BEST TIME TO VISIT        

Most shops are closed on Sundays. There is an early morning bazaar close to the Red Fort, we suggest getting there before 8am in order to get your choice of things offered.

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Review: Trena and Dawn’s Excellent Hawaiian Adventure!

By: Trena Holloway, Senior Travel Consultant, CTA

Aloha From Hawaii

Our Adventures started with booking flights from Dallas Fort Worth to Honolulu non stop on the American Dream line. With many options we chose these flights because they offered Business Class within the US, and not only because of the lay down flat seat option but in business class you get perks! They also offered Premium and Economy just like going to Europe.

Did someone mention perks? We sure did! A few of them like 2 free checked bags or how about the 1st class Priority Lines and boarding. Breeze right past that long line. The best Perk of all is the access to the Admirals Lounge only for Business class passengers. We where super happy to have access to this lounge.

Up the elevator we went with an effortless check in, greeted by a huge smile and a wonderful glass of Champagne with fresh squeezed orange juice. Yum! This is how we like to start our vacation. The lounge area opens up in front of you with a beautiful full buffet of sandwiches, salads, breakfast options, and a juice bar with full top shelf cocktail bar. TV ,relaxation rooms with lay down large leather chairs, work out rooms with private showers. A wonderful well appointed lounge to just sit and relax watching the planes to unwind before your flight.

Once on board, American Airlines did not disappoint with the full entertainment lay down pods. Personal entertainment handheld systems control lights and sound the TV and seat functions. Get comfortable with the pillow and blanket they have waiting in every seat in business class. Full dining experience with an appetizer and salad full course meal service that is completed with a sundae of your choice. Did you forget your eye mask or socks on flight? How about a Toothbrush or Toothpaste to freshen up before you land? Don’t worry they have you covered with your personal goodies bag. They have thought of everything from earplugs, floss, earphones, eye masks and socks . A first class flying experience. Arrive fully rested and ready to go.

Arriving in Honolulu was a breeze and off to baggage claim we went, and then we took the train to the rental car counter. A bit of advice at airports, take the extra time to get everything into the system, join the club with the car rental agency you chose, do the online check in so you can go straight to your car because the first time we did not do that and wasted hours, and who wants to wait hours when you are on vacation!! Not Us!

Taking the drive from the Airport we stopped at Pearl Harbor which is very close to the airport. It is one of the main attractions on Oahu. Driving onward through the Harbor area of the Island, we could see the the Norwegian Cruise. “Pride of America” which is the only U.S Flagged ship that sails year round from Honolulu to the islands. Fun!

Where to Stay?

With so many options of hotel styles on Waikiki you can find most any type of hotel, condo or vacation rentals here. I recommend doing at least 2 nights here so you can visit some of the highlights of the island. You can rent a car and journey freely or you can join an excursion or you can book an escorted tour with companies like Globus, Trafalgar and many other operators that give you that Island hopping experience and free time to go exploring.

With tons of oceanfront and ocean view properties in Waikiki we chose the Honolulu Hilton Hawaiian Village resort. This resort was very big and It sprawls out over 22 acres of prime beach gorgeous landscaped areas. Koi ponds with turtles wander the grounds, We visited the shops, grabbed a Starbucks in the morning and walked through the park next door. Even though we did not use the the resorts pools, water slides or go into the Saltwater Lagoon, it was definitely a multi generational hotel with beach front dining.

The beach activities did not disappoint. You can snorkel and get the gear to go all from the hotel. They have concierge desks in the Lobby to assist you in scheduling any activity you could ever want. The Hotel has its own pier right from the beachfront for any on water activity you would want to join. Grab a bicycle and pedal down the front streets. Hit the fitness center, or just lounge by the pool in a gorgeous cabana. This Hotel has been featured in many TV shows thru the years and is used by many Tour companies even the King himself “Elvis” has famously stayed at the Hawaiian Hilton Village.

While we opted to do our own thing, we visited the Dole Plantation for the best pineapple soft serve ice cream and rode the Pineapple Express, visited the pineapple fields during each of their growing stages. This is on the north side of the island, which is less touristy. We drove along the coast and enjoyed the breathtaking views. The North Side has a laid back country feel away from the city. Down the road is the macadamia farm, which offers fresh macadamia nuts and coffee stocked with snacks of all kinds. It was so delicious! Stay hydrated and try drinking fresh coconut water along the way. As you keep venturing down the coast make sure you visit the Polynesian center. It has a wonderful Luau and you get to learn about the history of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people while eating wonderful food and drinks of the island.

Whether you opt for a day or 2 visit or spend a week, there are plenty of activities and things to do in Honolulu. I think we did it all in 2 days. One thing we learned is that all the beaches in Hawaii are alcohol free and no smoking.

Onto our favorite Island Maui. We flew Hawaiian Airlines non stop We flew to Maui in 45 minutes seamless inter Island carrier of Hawaii. We arrived in Kahlua Airport and went straight to the pick up for the car rental with our easy online check in. We chose to rent a private beachfront villa, Travel Leaders Network Villas by Distinction which is the consortium for Affordable tours has many to choose from. For our accommodations we stayed at the Kapalua Villas, a 2 story floor to ceiling full glass front villa overlooking the cliffs and Kapalua Beach. In one of the largest Hawaiian Nature Preserves. Surrounded by the protected West Maui Rain Forest and 2 Marine Sanctuaries. A gorgeous peaceful side of the Island for rest and relaxation.

With tons of Beaches that have public access. We walked down the trails to a private beach area. In the same area as the Ritz Carlton with its championship golf course with course side dining. We had brunch at its oceanfront property and it was worth every penny. It is a breathtaking Hotel from the moment you pull up onto the grounds with gorgeous views from anywhere on its 55 acre property. The 6 world class dining options are world class dining, the breakfast buffet during the week is a hidden gem, they will valet park your car for your visit. Beautifully landscaped grounds, perfect pools with luxury cabanas, the spa, the gym and many community areas to sit on a bench in the garden area or maybe by a fire pit and sip wine. A concierge is there to assist you with any sight seeing you may want to do. Then of course there are the small, quite beautiful shops. Luxury at every turn.

We explored the mountainous 1 lane roads winding around the coast with beautiful views and stops along the way to see the outstanding landscape. It was breathtaking. There are so many different areas on Maui to stay all with their own personality and flair. Driving from Kapalua you come to the next resort area which is Kanapali beach and resorts. This community has numerous first class hotels and beautiful beaches with a large outdoor shopping mall, and tons of wonderful restaurants. We visited the Sheraton
Kaanapali and it featured one of the best pools in Maui with a lazy river and wonderful Hawaiian luaus at sunset.

Other hotels include the Westin, the Kaanapali resort and more and we walked it all. It is a great place for the whole family. You don’t even have to leave the resort community, there is something for everyone, including indulgent spas, world class golfing and restaurants. Not too far down the road from Kaanapali. Lahaina is a Historic Town with original buildings turned into museums of the history of this town and port area. This is where you would board a Fishing charter or a dinner sunset cruise. The largest and oldest Banyan tree is in the heart of this city, and we sat with locals playing music in the park.

Walking the streets and visiting the shops and art Galleries with vendors and artists selling their crafts along the coast line was fun. We visited Fleetwoods on front street Mic Fleetwoods restaurant and gift shop and we had lunch on the deck with an ocean view. One of my all time favorite bands! We kept going and found another popular location for the Maui Islands for family visitors is the Wailea Area another upscale area of Maui. This area is lined with Luxury Resorts Golf Courses shops and Beaches galore. We visited the Four Seasons Resort and had a great lunch and talked to guests around the bar, and learned a lot. This hotel is full of family energy. Beautiful landscaped grounds. The pool area has a fabulous restaurant overlooking a beachfront that is perfect for snorkeling. Many famous people stay here with their families to bask in the peace and sun in the private cabana next to that perfect pool. Maui has something for everyone and is the perfect vacation destination for any age any traveler as you can customize your journey to fit any of your travel needs or wants. The Grand Wailea, the Fairmont Kea Lani, are other great options in this area that we visited.

Lastly we traveled up into Upcountry, where we met locals and way less touristy than the resort area. We traveled up to the road to Hanna another highlight of Maui. We had such a great time meeting locals and enjoying the wonderful weather in June. Good bye 100 Degree weather and hello, 75 breezy days! Whatever you decide to do on your Hawaii vacation, there is no wrong or right way, it’s your way! I could keep on and on and on.