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.

Travel Fore-Caddie: A Guide to Golfing

Now is the perfect time to start planning for your spring and summer travel. And, just as the fore-caddie goes ahead of golfers on the course to locate the shots, KaliKosmos Travel advisors are here to locate and plan your perfect golfing get-away.

While California, the Robert Trent Jones trail, and Georgia are the usual places to plan golfing experiences, there are also some fantastic choices along the East Coast.

This month, a Travel Leaders’ guest contributor breaks down top courses on the East Coast with information of courses like The Homestead, Pinehurst No. 2 Course, and TPC Sawgrass, to name a few.

And for the those who need a vacation to appease more than just the golfers, try Long Island, New York where the golfers can play the public Bethpage Black course, while the non-golfers hike the trails or play tennis or polo.

Ready to plan your next amazing travel experience? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us turn your travel dreams into amazing travel stories.

Sun, Surf, and the Unexpected of Los Cabos

From sun to surf to the unexpected, Los Cabos offers endless possibilities for travelers looking for anything from a relaxing get-away to an off-the-beat-path adventure.

Each of our clients who spend time in Cabo come back with their favorite way to have spent their time away.

For me, the San Jose del Cabo Thursday night art walk is a top option to meet locals and view amazing art, and, in my opinion, the farm-to-table dining experience offered at Flora Farms is not to be missed!

Guest writer, Dayna Engberg, offers three of her favorite Cabo spots she believes everyone should hear about: Santiago, Miraflores, and Cabo Pulmo.

Santiago

When visiting Santiago, traveler can find “verdant botanical gardens to natural hot springs … scenic hiking trails leading to secluded waterfalls and … a hidden gem and literal oasis for outdoor adventure.” 

Miraflores

In Miraflores, Engberg says travelers can “purchase a unique handmade souvenir directly from the artists to bring back home.”

Cabo Pulmo

If the less crowded scene is for you, Engberg recommends Cabo Pulmo as an ideal spot “for diving, snorkeling and kayaking.” In this area travelers can explore “three living reefs and the only hard coral reef in North America”.

Ready to make your Los Cabo reservations? Contact Katie Hartman, KaliKosmos Travel’s Cabo specialist.

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!

Have Bubble, Will Travel

May 6 is International Bubble Blowing Day. While we’re not sure that is actually a real thing, Travel Bubbles are a huge pandemic trend.

Some countries have created travel bubbles, but traveling within a bubble isn’t only for governments to arrange. You too can form a travel bubble comprised of close friends, extended family, neighbors, or co-workers – anyone you know and trust to follow safety guidelines.

People in bubbles

Travel Leaders offers steps for traveling with your bubble:

  • Find your people: Look around and find people you know who share a similar view of health precautions. Brainstorm about anyone from distant family, to girlfriends from college, to coworkers with zoom fatigue.
  • Set the ground rules: Start out by having an open, honest conversation about the expectations for all people in the bubble. It’s important to cover personal preferences like social distancing, use of masks, personal space – hugs or high fives – and understand both how each person is living their lives at home and what they would be comfortable with while traveling in a bubble together. It’s also important to understand if anyone in your bubble has underlying health conditions and how those may impact both their ability to travel and the rest of the group.
  • Agree on a destination or travel style: Think about the way you want to travel with your bubble.  Some destinations focus more on all-inclusive resorts, where you can have a bubble within a bubble knowing that everything you need is self-contained in the resort complex. Other destinations have more traditional hotels, some with multiple restaurants and others which require you to go out for meals and activities. And if you pick a condo or vacation home with a kitchen, think about meal prep and supplies.
  • Pre-test before travel: The group should decide if you’ll quarantine before your departure. It’s also common for each traveler in the bubble to test prior to departure, even when it’s not required for the destination. In most communities, testing is free and results come back in 2-3 days. Pre-testing adds to the confidence that everyone within the bubble is safe.
  • Enjoy your travels together: If everyone in your group has followed pre-travel precautions, you’re relatively safe to socialize within your bubble group. Play games, hang out, eat meals, toss a ball and enjoy conversation and in-person together time! After all the preparation and planning relax and enjoy your vacation.
  • When you return: In addition to sharing memories of time spent together, it’s important that the group maintain contact in the week following travel to share any updates on personal health situations. As an extra measure of caution, many bubbles agree to COVID test 3-5 days after returning from travel to ensure a full end-to-end focus on safety.

Several tour companies have created new programs for bubble travel to help facilitate safe time away with your special people. And with work from anywhere and distance learning, it doesn’t take a special occasion or holiday to spend quality time with people who matter most in your life.

There is no better way to coordinate your bubble buddies than to work with KaliKosmos Travel. From helping pick the right destination and experience to fit your bubble’s travel style to coordinating flights and local transportation, KaliKosmos Travel will work for you and guide you through the changes impacting travel. All you have to do is relax and enjoy the trip!

To plan your bubble vacation, contact us today.