Simply Tahiti

Whether visiting the Islands of Tahiti by boat with Paul Gauguin or island hopping over land with a Down Under Answers package, Tahiti is a tropical paradise worthy of exploring.

Tips for visiting Tahiti

  • The local currency is the French Pacific Franc, but USD and Euros, as well as credit cards, are widely accepted.
  • Tahiti is situated close to the equator which keeps local temperatures around 80 year round. Rain is common year round as well, but the wetter months are December through March.
  • Because Tahiti is so remote, your cell phone, even with an international plan, will likely not work. And, while some hotels offer WiFi, it’s often slow. You can purchase a sim card locally if communication is a must, but our suggestion is to take the chance to truly disconnect and enjoy the beauty of the region.
  • Make time for the locals. They love sharing their culture and traditions of music, dance, massage, food, lei making, and more. French and Tahitian are the main languages but many people, especially in the tourism industry, know some English.
  • The food truck craze has not missed Tahiti! And fear not foodies, these trucks offer delicious gourmet local dishes of open-sea fish, pork, tropical fruit, and coconut milk. They also offer New Zealand favorites of lamb and excellent Chinese chow mein.

Ready to begin planning your Tahiti experience? Contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and let us work for you!

The Hair Goes There: Seeking the Northern Lights

Last month my family and I went in search of those elusive beauties- the Northern Lights.

The best places for viewing the lights, scientifically called the Aurora Borealis, are, as exploratorium.edu explains, “near the magnetic poles. These include areas of northern Greenland, the Scandinavian coast, Siberia (brrr!), and Alaska in the north.”

We chose the viewing site of Fairbanks, Alaska, which allowed for our Northern Lights hunt to be a two-for-one as we checked off our 49th state road tripping as a family.

We’d explore the Fairbanks area during the day, having fun riding on dog sleds (and watching dog sled races), driving the treacherous Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle, snowmobiling, and museum hoping. Then, at night, we’d bundle up in our super warm clothes and head out to sites like Murphy Dome and Clearly Summit.

We assumed we’d be able to see The Lights on our own- expecting to see them dance brightly across the sky like we’d seen it pictures. We assumed this kind of hunt was a no-guides-required experience.

We were wrong.

On one night we saw people get out of their cars, hold up their phones, and take pictures. We joked about how they were going to go home and photoshop in what, obviously, wasn’t there. And then we drove back to our accommodations to try and get some sleep, disappointed with our lack of a catch.

It wasn’t until we decided to use a professional guide, that we learned a valuable piece of information– the Northern Lights are more visible when viewed through a phone or camera than they are with the human eye.

Oh. My. Word. Those people weren’t pretending! They were seeing something we couldn’t!

On our last night, with the help of a professional, we finally saw them in all their glory!

If you’re interested in viewing the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, the season runs from August 21-April 21 and our tour providers – those who know the ticks and can help your hunt be successful too – already have their 2022-2023 season available for reservations.

Ready to make your Northern Lights plans? Contact us today!

The Hair Goes There: Virgin Voyages

In February 2020 I was set with a reservation for a sneak-a-peek aboard Virgin Voyage’s Scarlet Lady before she was released to the market.  But, COVID shut down that sailing.

I’ve been waiting for almost two years and earlier this month I was finally able to experience her industry-changing voyage!

One way Virgin Voyages is making waves of change is that their cruise is adult by design.  That’s right, no kids.  Zero.  No one under 18.  At.  All.  Their no-kids allows them to push the envelope with their avant-garde,  Vegas style entertainment.

And, their no-kids policy also allows for a more adult-focused contemporary design for their lady ships. The wide open spaces and cozy resting nooks call sailors to breathe deep and enjoy their time at sea.

Secondly, their waves of change are seen in their inclusion of all group works.  Morning yoga, cycling, bungee cardio, HIIT, and more!  If working out is your thing, your thing is included at no extra cost.

Thirdly, their waves are shown in their all-food-included policy.  There are no off-limits eateries, no extra pricing to enjoy a good steak.  From the Galley’s food truck style choices to the culinary tasting experience of the Test Kitchen or from Pink Agave’s Mexican fusion to the Wake’s steak and seafood, your food in over 20 eateries is included.

And, finally, their waves of change are seen in their crew.  It was so refreshing to see crew that was able to be who they are- colored hair, tattoos, flare, and all!  And all of the gratuities for these friendly, happy people are included with the cruise fare.  All the time.  Every time.

Want to learn more about Virgin Voyages?  Or, are you ready to experience the Virgin Voyage sea change for all?  Contact KaliKosmos Travel’s Katie Hartman, a gold tier First Mate with Virgin Voyages.

Utforsk Norge! (explore Norway)

Norway, that big, beautiful country that takes up the western half of the Scandinavian peninsula, is an amazing place to visit.

However, since two-thirds of the country is mountainous and much of Norway is only accessible through a ferry system, exploring Norway is best done by cruise.

A few of my favorite ways to cruise Norway are:

  • aboard Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Costal Express that travels along the coast, following the country’s mail route,
  • aboard Quark Expeditions where travelers can explore some of Norway’s archipelagos,
  • and, for a family friendly approach, aboard Disney Cruise Line, where travelers can explore Norway in full Frozen style.

In a recent blog post, Dayna Engberg, tells of another way to cruise Norway, aboard Holland America.

In post, Engberg lists a few of her favorite Holland America ports such as Oslo, where travelers can visit he Bygdøy peninsula or the eclectic neighborhood of Grünerløkka; the Norwegian Riveria town of Stavanger; and the charming village of Flåm.

Contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and book your Holland America reservation by February 28, 2022 to take advantage of their Ultimate Upgrade Event* and receive:

  • Free stateroom upgrades
  • Kids Alaska cruise price of $75
  • 50% reduced deposit
  • Shore excursion(s)
  • Drink package
  • Speciality dining
  • WiFi

*terms and conditions apply

Let’s Get Back Out There

There are 72 days before the start of the spring travel season! Can you believe it!?!?

I’m a planner by profession and by nature (I’m sure that shocks you all). But, this means my 2022 travel is, #COVIDWilling, already mapped out.

This spring my family will be traveling to Alaska for spring break (shh, it’s our Christmas present for the kids). We’ll spend time in Anchorage and ride the train to Fairbanks where we hope to see the Northern Lights.

How about you? Have you planned your spring travel yet?

Take our traveler poll. Then, on December 30th look for the results on our Facebook page.

Still looking for travel inspiration? Check out this article by Amy Mutscher about some amazing travel experiences available when you travel with Celebrity Cruises.

Ready to make your travel plans? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you.

A suitcase full of thankfulness

Tis the season for Thanksgiving. I am, of course, thankful for my family, my friends, and the many other blessings in my life. But, as we move closer to the end of year-two of the COVID pandemic, I am all-the-more thankful for what travel brings to my life.

Travel creates moments to grow closer.

During the past two years my family has traveled to 27 states! While on the road we’ve had a lot of time together. We created memories in the cold waters of Cannon Beach. We slept in the Christmas Story House in Cleveland. We walked on the Woodstock site in Bethel, NY. These memories thread through the lives of my four boys and bind them together with shared experiences.

The boys (ages 17, 14, 7, and 6) inside Harvey the RV

Travel introduces us to new foods.

You can ask my family and they’ll tell you- I’d go back to Sedona for the cactus fries. I’d stay in Salt Lake City again for the scones. I’d travel to Missoula for the burgers. All these foods were amazing! On the opposite side of the spectrum, I’ve had hákarl in Iceland, endured spicy Ema Datshi in Bhutan, and swallowed horrifically stinky Morbier cheese in Vilnius (seriously – it was bad!!).

No matter which end of the spectrum you go, the adventure of trying new foods broadens both our menus back home (how does one make “sukuma wiki“?) and our “never have I ever” options.

Whale blubber in Reykjavik

Travel reminds us how big this beautiful world is.

As the leaves in my back yard turn from green to gold to orange, I’m reminded of how beautiful central Oklahoma can be (no, I’m not kidding). But, through travel, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by the amazing stars in the night sky of Mombassa, Kenya, see the vibrant colors of the Great Barrier Reef, and stand in awe in thin spaces, like Caha pass, Ireland.

In these moments I’m not only appreciative of how beautiful this world is, but I’m also astounded by how vastness and diversity of each place as well. Every time I travel, I’m reminded that it is, indeed, a beautiful world.

Caha Mountain on the Caha pass

In what ways are you thankful for travel?


Ready to experience more of this beautiful world? Contact KaliKosmos and experience the difference of professionally planned travel.

The Virgin Way

After months of of waiting, Virgin Voyages is officially off and sailing … in the UK at least. And those who’s been onboard, can’t stop raving about their experience.

One CruiseCritic blogger commented that “This ship oozes actual cool. You feel like a rock star wandering about with flattering mirrors; crazy corridors studded with bright lights that dazzle and amaze in equal measure … we can’t wait to see this ship in Miami. It’s a game changer, for sure.”

And, great news for US-based sailors, the Scarlet Lady is making her way across the ocean and will be at her home in Miami, ready to sail in October of 2021.

Here are a few things I can’t wait to experience on board:

  • $600.00 worth of always included items (Basic WiFi, over 20 eateries, tips, group workouts, and basic bevvies are all included, all the time!)
  • No kids (Yes, that’s right, it’s adult by design and no one under 18 is on board!)
  • Tattoos at sea. (I’m not saying I’m signing up, but I definitely want to see it at work.)
  • The ship’s Roundabout (aka the atrium — DJs, drag queens, pop up entertainment, and more! This is not your average at sea experience.)
  • Vaccination required for all. (Virgin Voyages is doing their part to keep sailors as safe as possible.)

And, KaliKosmos Travel is excited to announce a way that you can experience a Virgin voyage along side our Virgin Voyages Certified First Mate, Katie Hartman. Come aboard and celebrate Galentine’s Day with Katie on the Scarlet Lady’s February 4th sailing to Puerto Plata and the Beach Club at Bimini.

Contact Katie to secure your cabin for this or any other Virgin Voyages sailing.

Travel is back … but is your passport?

Travel is back! We’re excited to see countries opening and to see protocols for fully vaccinated travelers becoming easier. But, now that global exploration is back on the table, it’s time to make sure the basics are covered.

Check Your Travel Documents

If you’re planning on traveling outside of the United States (including travel to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico), you must have a passport book that expires at least 6 months after your date of return.

For even the most seasoned of travelers, the last 15 months have meant no international travel at all. For many, those passport expiration dates could have gone by unnoticed and now, passport processing times are much longer than normal.

According to a recent New York Times article, “Routine passport service by mail, according to the State Department, can now take up to 18 weeks, compared to six to eight weeks before the pandemic.” And, the article goes on to say, “expedited service, which costs an additional $60 and took anywhere from a few days to three weeks before Covid-19, can now take up to 12 weeks.”

passport

Go. Now. Check your passport. Do you have at least 18 months left before it expires? If you don’t and if you have plans to travel in the next 12 months, begin your renewal process now.

And, if your passport is not valid through February 2022, that last minute, pre-school term, Mexican beach getaway- isn’t happening. Instead, contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and let us help you discover some great domestic travel options.

Buy Travel Insurance

Some places require travel insurance but it is still, mainly, up to travelers if they want to protect their investment with the purchase of travel insurance. We love insurance not only because it protects our clients when they have to cancel due to illness, job loss, or death; but we also love it because it helps with the unexpected costs associated with airline issues.

According to Bryan Del Monte, president of the Aviation Agency, “bad weather, a labor shortage and capacity problems” were to blame for the most recent disruptions of flights over the past month.

And, when events like weather cause delays, which snowball into timed-out crew and cancelled flights, and end with a passenger pile up that can take several days to iron out- passengers are often left with the cost of hotel stays and meals.

Flight Delayed

But when you have travel insurance, and you have a written statement from the airline about the issue that occurred, you can file for reimbursement of those unexpected costs.

Insurance pricing is based on several factors and some coverage has limitations based on the date of when you made your first payment towards your travel services. Contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor for more details.

Arrive Early

There have been moments in the last 15 months when traffic at the airport was basically you and the one other person the next to you. Checking in at the airline desk was quick. TSA lines were short. You could show up without a lot of worry.

This is not then.

Airlines furloughed many check-in agents over the last 15 months and they haven’t all returned to work. There are also fewer TSA workers and more travelers. In some places three hours is now tight for making it through to the gate on time.

Some tips for helping the airport experience run smoother:

  • Plan to arrive at least three hours before your flight
  • Pack in a carry on (if possible) to avoid having to check bags
  • When you do have to check bags, use the skycap service (where available) to reduce the baggage check wait times
  • Use the MyTSA app to find average TSA line wait times
  • Enroll in TSA-Pre to cut down on time in line
MyTSA app
photo source: TSA App

Now is the time to check the basics and now is the time to plan for that next travel experience.

When you’re ready to turn your travel dreams into amazing travel stories, Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you.

Bella Ciao!

I love Italy.

I spent a semester living in a 16th century villa during my sophomore year in college and loved every minute of my time there.

I traveled back to Italy 10 years later to explore the area with my mother and grandmother. My second serving of Italy did not disappoint.

I can’t wait for Italy to fully open again and Dino’s recent article in a Travel Leader’s Insider Guide whet my appetite even more! In his write up, Dino highlights many off-the-beaten-path options, like Castel Gandolfo, the Dolomites, and Lago D’Orta.

Castel Gandolfo, Dino writes, “is a quaint little village overlooking the gorgeous lake Albano.” While there, Dino recommends eating at ristorante Pagnanelli and exploring their “labyrinth-like wine cellar.”

The Dolomites, not far from Venice, offers a mountain retreat “not just for skiers;” says Dino. While there “you can hike, walk, climb or just relax at one of the new luxury spa resorts.” Be sure to save time for the towns of Madonna di Campiglio & San Casciano.

Dino labels Lago D’Orta “the most quaint northern Lake in all of Italy” with many up-and-coming boutique restaurants and hotels.

Do you have an off-the-beaten-path area in Italy you’re looking forward to exploring? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you.

There’s still ways to see Alaska

Another step towards large-ship cruising in Alaska in 2021 was made yesterday, when the House passed the The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This means cruising on a larger vessel in Alaska could still be possible this summer, pending a signature by President Biden.

But, did you know, large-ship cruising isn’t the only way to see Alaska?

Alaska offers rail journeys, overland guided tours, city stays, and small ship/expedition cruising. And, these options are open without a presidential signature.

Travel Leaders advisor, Diane M., recently cruised the coast of Alaska with UnCruise Adventures, an award-winning small boat cruise line built for adventure.

In her Travel Leaders blogpost, Diane wrote, “UnCruise is a small-ship expedition cruise line that’s all about adventure and appreciating the local cultures. And since there was only 86 total guests onboard, we never felt crowded.”

One of the parts Diane appreciated most is how UnCruise’s size offered the ability to pivot each day’s activities. “Each day’s activities took advantage of the current conditions and opportunities,” Diane said. “We could be kayaking one morning and taking the inflatable skiffs out to a seal colony the next. Or another day may offer a leisurely afternoon shore walk or a rigorous mountain hike. … Since it was a small ship, the captain stopped the boat whenever we saw whales or bears. It was amazing to be out in the wilderness and see Alaska without the crowds,” she continued.

Are you ready to experience Alaska by small ship, rail, or overland travel? Would you like to be contacted when large-ship cruising returns to the Alaskan coast? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you!