How Travel Creates Young Global Citizens

Creating global citizens: Matthew Upchurch speaks on family travel

Virtuoso Chairman & CEO Matthew Upchurch travels extensively with his wife and two young sons

Whether Matthew Upchurch travels for work or play, his wife and two young sons come along. Virtuoso’s chairman and CEO, who travels much of the year, believes strongly in the value of travel to create lasting memories and family bonds. “When you look back on your childhood, what do you remember? You remember the trips,” Upchurch said in a Yahoo! Travel article.

In an increasingly interconnected world, travel takes on even more importance as the best way to create global citizens. Today’s parents want more from their travel experiences than just photos or a tan. They want their offspring to understand different cultures and acquire a broader perspective.

Never Too Early to Shape Global Citizens

Upchurch says it’s never too early to start young children off on a lifetime love affair with travel. “There is a lot of formal research that shows so much is being absorbed at a young age,” he points out. “One perfect example that I see in my own kids — their palates. Now they are 5 and 9, and they’re telling us where they want to go.”

The Gifts Travel Provides

Creating global citizens: Virtuoso agency owner Malaka Hilton has taken her children all over the world

Virtuoso travel agency owner Malaka Hilton credits travel with expanding her children’s worldview

Virtuoso travel agency owner Malaka Hilton lauds travel’s role in shaping the worldview of her two children, 13-year-old Alexandria and 11-year-old Carter. Hilton has taken her budding global citizens to destinations including Zimbabwe, Egypt, Cambodia, India, and Russia. “They are more aware of the world and more accepting of race, religion, and culture,” she told Yahoo! Travel.

One gift that travel gives children: the flexibility to cope with unfamiliar surroundings and learn to thrive in them. “The world is moving so fast today that by the time our kids graduate, everything will have changed,” Upchurch says. “You’d better teach them how to be creative thinkers, how to collaborate with other human beings, and how to fuel their passion.”

Planning Family Travel

Parents who look at travel as an investment in their children are working with travel advisors to map out a long-term vision for family vacations. Upchurch explains, “We already know the power of family vacations to bond us. But we have clients sitting down and mapping out the next 5, 10, or 15 years of travel. So they’re planning it in a more conscious way for their children, as they would for financial planning.”

Creating global citizens: the value of educational travel

Exposing children to different places creates global citizens

His top destination tip: take kids to China. “If a parent can afford it, it is almost irresponsible to not take them to China at least once,” he says. “The chances that your children are going to be sitting across the table from a Chinese banker, professor, doctor, or scientist are high.”

Are you hoping to share the joys of travel with young global citizens? If so, Virtuoso travel advisors who specialize in family vacations can create an educational experience that will give your children lifetime memories. Click here to see a list of family travel specialists at


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How to Enjoy Your Own VIP Vacation

Cece Drummond, Virtuoso

By Cece Drummond

Director, Tours Products



I recently had the opportunity to spend five days in one of the world’s great and magical cities – Istanbul. While the sights there were majestic enough, the trip was even more special because of the VIP services I enjoyed there. The good news is that you don’t need to work in the travel industry to enjoy a VIP vacation. But you do need to know what’s possible – and how to make it happen before you leave for your trip.


A VIP Vacation Arrival

Istanbul Ataturk Airport is huge and very busy. So the private meet-and-greet service awaiting me was a blessing. I stepped off the plane, and just as I exited the jetway were two escorts waiting for me with a sign bearing my name. They walked me past the hundreds of people in the immigration line and right up to an agent. I was the first one to collect my luggage. Note: If you are flying business class on Turkish Airlines, you’ll have an expedited customs line. But this doesn’t work for any other carrier. 


Private, Customized Tour

VIP vacation: visit Istanbul's Spice Market on a customized tour

One important element of a VIP vacation: visiting sites such as Istanbul’s Spice Market with your own guide

On the way into the city, I found out about the next part of my VIP vacation. My guide reviewed my custom-designed itinerary with me, and pointed out spots along the ride to orient myself with the European and Asian sides of Istanbul separated by the Bosphorus. Whatever your interest in Istanbul, Virtuoso’s in-country experts can work with your advisor to create tours just for you. 


Perhaps you’d like to cover the must-see sights – the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and its harem section, and more. Another do-not-miss experience is a peaceful private boat ride on the Bosphorus, which provides a different view of the city. If you’re a shopper, have your guide take you to the spice market. You will marvel at the array of exotic spices (you can take them home in vacuum-sealed packages), as well as nuts, figs and of course all varieties of Turkish Delights, a jelly-like candy. Shoppers also can’t miss the Grand Bazaar, with its famed Turkish carpets as well as everything from gold to tiles to scarves. Be sure to accept an apple tea from the shopkeepers as they display their goods to you. 


VIP vacation: stay at a luxury Virtuoso property like The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul

A luxury property such as The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is an essential part of a VIP vacation

Luxury Accommodations

A key element of my Istanbul VIP vacation was the hotel. At The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, I recharged in the amazing indoor pool, spa and exercise facility. The lovely Turkish sauvignon blanc in the hotel bar also helped! The extensive buffet breakfast was much needed each day before I set out for a full day of sightseeing.


The Ritz-Carlton is one of six Virtuoso properties in Istanbul, and each of them offers amenities at no extra charge just for clients of Virtuoso travel advisors. Click here to see the variety of luxury hotels that will offer you complimentary benefits such as an upgrade to the next category of room; a credit for hotel bars, restaurants and spa; and daily breakfast.


Deluxe Departure

VIP vacation: spend time in an airline lounge like Turkish Airlines'

Spending time in an airline lounge such as the Turkish Airlines one in Istanbul will make travel more enjoyable

On your way home, if you’re flying Turkish Airlines business class, get to the airport nice and early so you can visit their lounge. It’s one of the largest I’ve seen – two floors equipped with various food stations, bars, showers and more. But give yourself plenty of time to walk to your gate and shop your way through the airport.


How You Can Enjoy a VIP Vacation

It’s easy to arrange a VIP vacation experience. Go to the advisor catalog in and type the destination you have in mind into the search bar on the upper left. Advisors who have expertise in your destination will appear, and you can contact any of them to help you plan your VIP vacation. Their knowledge, resources and special access will help you travel in the style to which you will become accustomed.


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What Do Upscale Travelers Pick As Their Top Travel Dreams?

Travel Dreams Slideshow

Click here to view the top selections in this year’s Virtuoso Life Travel Dreams Survey

Where are upscale travelers heading these days? Which destinations are hot for specific types of travel? And if travelers could go anywhere or do anything, what would that dream trip look like?

The answers to those questions and more are in the newly released eighth annual Virtuoso Life Travel Dreams Survey. Nearly 9,000 clients of Virtuoso travel advisors took the survey, highlighting the latest trends in luxury travel.

Australia continued its reign as the top dream destination, while perennial favorite Paris finished first in three categories. Cruising also continued to rank high, with European river sailings besting other itineraries and a round-the-world cruise topping the trips of a lifetime. This mirrors what Virtuoso sees in traveler demand, with 2015 world cruises nearly sold out already.

The top Travel Dreams are:

  • Trip of a Lifetime: Taking a world cruise
  • Dream Destination: Australia
  • Dream Island: Hawaii
  • Foodie Favorite: Paris
  • City To Explore: Paris
  • Cruise Destination: European river/canal
  • Romantic Destination: Paris in April
  • Family Destination: Hawaiian Islands

    Travel Drams: Paris

    Paris was the top pick of luxury travelers as best foodie destination, romantic destination and city to explore

Click here to see a slideshow of the top five choices in each category.

The Travel Dreams Survey also identified five travel personalities. Which one are you?

The Go-Getter (24% of respondents)

  • Go-Getters are active, adventurous and want to see and do it all on their vacations.
  • Dream vacations: Traveling the Trans-Siberian Railway, cruising the Amazon, zip-lining with the kids in Costa Rica and biking with the family through Tuscany.

The Connoisseur (21%)

  • The Connoisseur likes the best of everything, and indulges interests and passions while traveling.
  • Dream vacations: Exploring Saint Petersburg, French wine-country cruises, taking the kids to the Swiss Alps in the summer, family pasta-making lessons in Italy and dinner dates in Paris’ five-star restaurants.

The Classic Traveler (20%)

  • Classic Travelers are loyal to the places they love and will return multiple times to their favorite destinations.
  • Dream vacations: Taking over a French villa with their family, going on a world cruise or riding the Orient Express.

    Travel Dreams: Orient Express

    A travel dream for Classic Travelers: riding the Orient Express

The Relaxationist (18%)

  • The Relaxationist travels to get away from it all to restore and rejuvenate.
  • Dream vacations: Lounging on a beach in Tahiti, staying in a Paris apartment and relaxing in the Maldives or the French Riviera.

The Trendsetter (17%)

  • The Trendsetter is all about what’s new and next and is an early adopter of emerging destinations.
  • Dream vacations: going on safari in Namibia, heading to space with Virgin Galactic, river cruising in Myanmar and wine tasting in Chile.

To bring your personal travel dreams to life, browse the global variety of upscale vacation possibilities at

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Why Sales by Travel Advisors Are On The Rise

Travel advisors are alive, well and even thriving. And the proof is the growth in luxury travel spending.

Virtuoso is projecting a 15% increase in revenues this year on top of the luxury travel network’s annual $12.5 billion in sales. Those sales are by Virtuoso’s 8,900 travel advisors at 340 agencies in 20 countries around the world.

Clearly people are turning to travel advisors for the expertise, value and convenience they provide. Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch explained the value of a travel advisor to viewers of Bloomberg News’ Market Makers program July 10. “Why would you have a wealth advisor in your life to have a conscious strategy over managing your financial assets but not have somebody that you collaborate with to help you have a conscious strategy on managing your most valuable non-renewable asset – your free leisure time?”

Upchurch explained that during the recent financial crisis, Virtuoso examined what it does and better defined how its travel advisors make a difference in people’s lives. “We always say it’s not the value of the trip, it’s whether they value the advisor,” he commented.

Travel advisors are selling lots of river cruises

River cruising is hot: Virtuoso sales of the experience are up 9%

Upchurch also discussed the summer’s hottest travel trends and destinations. Top of his list: river cruising. “River cruising is really hot,” he said. “There are so many different varieties of it. There’s small Amazon ships, there’s the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, there’s all these amazing things.” Virtuoso sales of river cruising are up 9%, and ocean cruising sales are up 4%.

Multigenerational travel is another huge trend of note. Upchurch explained its value: “Basically today what we’re finding is both the boomer parents and the grandparents are basically taking their kids on vacations not only for the bonding or the relaxation but really to give their kids a leg up, wanting them to be global citizens.”

The Bloomberg News appearance was Upchurch’s second live interview of the day. Earlier he appeared on CNBC to discuss how baby boomers are prioritizing travel, and what types of trips they’re taking.

If you want to discover the value that a travel advisor can bring to your next vacation, check out the catalog of travel specialists at

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Baby Boomer Travel: Why and Where They Go

The top priority of baby boomers is traveling the world, and they’re turning traditional ideas of retirement on its head as they do so.

That’s what Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch told CNBC viewers July 10, in an interview on Squawk Box focusing on baby boomer travel priorities.

Baby Boomer Travel Booming

“The number one desire of boomers to do in their retirement is travel by far,” stated Upchurch. “They have the money and the time, and they’re reinventing the way they retire.”

Boomers spend $150 billion a year on travel, taking an average of 3.7 trips a year. They rank travel as their top leisure activity. Adults over 50 account for 80% of travel spending.

“The Boomers were the first generation … that did not see travel as a luxury,” explained Upchurch. “They saw it as a part of their life. They saw it as a right.”

Baby boomer travel: world cruise

Taking a luxury cruise around the world is a popular baby boomer travel experience

Baby Boomer Travel Priority: Experiences

Baby boomer travel choices also reflect a new preference for spending money on experiences instead of goods. “What we’ve seen over the last 20 years is a huge shift in priorities from the accumulation of stuff to life experiences,” Upchurch said. “Quite frankly a lot of people are focusing on life experiences and travel as being one of the key if not the key conduit for that.”

The baby boom generation chooses travel experiences with a purpose, such as volunteering while abroad; those providing education or intellectual stimulation; and ones that are active.

Some popular baby boomer travel destinations are dream trips of a lifetime:

  • Taking a world cruise, spending months on a luxury liner visiting exotic ports of call that could include Easter Island, French Polynesia and South Africa
  • Enjoying an upscale safari in search of the Big Five, visiting multiple countries such as Kenya and Tanzania
  • Voyaging Down Under and seeing the highlights of Australia including Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef and rainforest
Baby boomer travel: multigenerational travel

One booming baby boomer travel trend: taking along multiple generations

Boomers Bring The Family Along

Baby boomer travel also incorporates the entire family. Bringing their parents and children along on a multigenerational trip is a growing trend. Almost three-quarters (74%) of Virtuoso clients travel with their immediate family, and 17% take trips with extended family members.

Boomers have given the gift of travel to the next generation as well. “Millenials are the children of the boomers and they’re spending more per diem than the boomers did,” noted Upchurch.

A host of Virtuoso travel advisors specialize in baby boom travel priorities, whether they be cruising, multigenerational travel or other options. Click here to browse the advisor catalog, and go to the specialty – interest box on the left to select specific niches.





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Survey Says

vlife-july-with-borderFor eight years, we’ve debuted the results of our annual Virtuoso Travel Dreams Survey in the July issue of Virtuoso Life. And in that time, tens of thousands of you have shared with us your dream destinations, trips of a lifetime, family vacations, romantic getaways, island retreats, and other globe-trotting aspirations.

The editors consider the survey results a playbook for the types of articles we need to feature – or not – in the magazine. But over time, we’ve evolved from focusing solely on the travel destinations and experiences that top the lists to also considering the travelers themselves. We’re fascinated by your travels, as evidenced by regular columns such as “Why I Travel” (page 56), “In My Bag” (page 78), and “Reader’s Report (page 114). In this issue, we even take an illustrated look at five different travel personalities – the classic traveler, the go-getter, the trendsetter, the connoisseur, and the relaxationist – and what trips make them tick (page 90).

elaine-july-with-borderEvery one of you has a story – many stories – to tell, and the travelers featured in our pages are proof of the power, perks, and privileges of working with a Virtuoso travel advisor. Take Bob Reichelt, winner of this year’s Travel Dreams Survey grand prize: a Crystal Cruise for two with air courtesy of Etihad Airways. (Five others won $1,000 cash prizes.) Bob, who’s taken 18 cruises, works with Dallas agency owner Ralph Iantosca to plan his vacations. “Ralph and his staff are extremely knowledgeable and great to work with,” he says. “My wife, Mila, and I generally know what we want to do; they add value in both their suggestions and their attention to getting things just right. Ralph takes the trouble and time to know us and our desires, and he anticipates our needs.”

Bob’s best travel tips? “Know what you want, book early if possible, and work with a good travel advisor.” You’ll find more words of wisdom – and loads of inspiration – throughout the issue. (And for more reasons to work with a Virtuoso travel advisor, take a look at the comments from fellow travelers, below.) Enjoy!





Editorial Director

In Your Word
Survey respondents tell us some of the reasons they like working with a Virtuoso travel advisor.

For a push in the right direction: “Antarctica is the perfect example of why I’m loyal to my Virtuoso advisor – she knows me better than I know myself. The relationship we’ve developed has been one of the most important of my life. Truly, I wouldn’t have been adventurous enough to visit many of the life-changing destinations I’ve seen without her expertise and planning.” – Brenda Massingill

For less legwork: “I used to book all of our trips myself online until I called an advisor when deciding on a destination for our honeymoon. It was so nice to sit back and let someone else do the research. She gave us a few options in our price range, and we picked one. Our trip was amazing! We have used her multiple times since.” – Mary Barber

To save the day: “We traveled to the Galápagos Islands, then hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was a great trip. But when we got to the start of the Inca Trail, there was a glitch in our porter arrangement. I called my advisor long distance at about 9 p.m. on her cell phone; she had shared her number with me ‘just in case.’ She straightened out the whole mess by 5 a.m. the next day. Without her help, the trip would have been ruined.” – Kathy Redd

For clairvoyance, on a budget: “I just like to go, and I typically don’t care when or where. She reads my mind most of the time on the budget I give her, and somehow she always makes it better than I imagined.” – Jeffrey Holland

To make a great trip even greater: “We were taking a boat over to Caneel Bay on Saint John, and the hotel representative went around saying something to each party that we couldn’t hear because of the wind. She told us that we had been upgraded four room categories. In our excitement, we turned to the people next to us and said, ‘Isn’t it great that they’re upgrading everyone?’ It was like asking if someone’s pregnant who’s not – the others hadn’t been upgraded. WOOPS! Just one of the numerous times our advisor has done a great job for us.” – Cathryn Buchanan


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Help a Virtuoso Win USA TODAY’s Best Twitter Traveler

Stacy Small nominated for USA TODAY award

Click here to vote for Stacy Small as USA TODAY’s Best Twitter Traveler

In just a few seconds, you can cast your vote for an exceptional luxury travel leader who is nominated for a USA TODAY Reader’s Choice Award.

Stacy Small lives and breathes luxury travel. She’s the founder, owner and president of Elite Travel International in Los Angeles, a Virtuoso agency and unique boutique firm.

Named Virtuoso’s Most Innovative Travel Advisor in 2013, Stacy is the go-to luxury travel planner for a portfolio of clients that includes Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, C-level execs, Hollywood producers, celebs, media, fashion, technology and finance moguls.

Before becoming a travel advisor, Stacy spent 15 years traveling the world as a journalist to hundreds of destinations. She was the founding editorial director of Elite Traveler Magazine, and has written hundreds of articles for dozens of publications about luxury hotels, cruises, airlines, spas, as well as the hottest trends in luxury travel.

Stacy is often quoted as an expert source on luxury travel in publications such as Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times.  Click on the short video clip below to hear Stacy (nicknamed the “Google of Travel” by her clients) talk about one big luxury trend she’s spotted.

Known as “EliteTravelGal,” Stacy shares her wealth of travel knowledge on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and her blog. She offers tips on where to go for the best in luxury travel as well as hotel reviews, cruise previews and other information about the world’s hottest destinations.

Her presence on Twitter (@elitetravelgal) is gaining her national attention. Stacy, who has more than 55,000 followers on Twitter, has been nominated for the Best Twitter Traveler award on USA TODAY.

To vote for Stacy Small, click here. You can vote daily and even share the link with connections via social media. Vote before June 30, and the winner will be announced July 3.

USA TODAY says the “top Twitter travel personality is a winning combination of brevity, responsiveness and wit.” The newspaper’s experts “sought microbloggers who really get the medium and whose tweets are a pleasure to read and to interact with. In short, they wanted tweeters who made travel better.”

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5 Red-Hot Luxury River Cruise Trends

river cruise trends: tauck

Interest in river cruising, such as this Tauck journey, is growing rapidly

When the average person thinks of cruising, they likely conjure up an image of a large ocean-going vessel with thousands of passengers voyaging to popular destinations such as the Caribbean and Mediterranean. But interest in a different type of cruising is skyrocketing.

River cruising is growing even faster than ocean cruising due to its smaller ships, convenient ports, appealing itineraries and all-inclusive nature.

Why Book a River Cruise?

“People like the fact that the ships are smaller,” explains Marilyn Stanek, a Virtuoso travel advisor in Green Valley, Arizona. “You get to meet more people. You’re seeing things closer—you’re not just seeing water.”

Travelers want a change from ocean cruising, comments Pat Horvath, a Virtuoso travel advisor in La Jolla, California: “Plus, on the small ships there is a nice camaraderie. Everyone gets to know everyone else, and it becomes a very personal, memorable experience.”

Other pluses:

  • Ships dock in the heart of cities, so they offer easy access to sightseeing and less time wasted getting to attractions
  • Because ships carry fewer passengers, there are no long lines for disembarking and embarking
  • Most river cruise lines include shore excursions, as well as wine and beer with meals. Some lines even include gratuities and other services such as airport transfers.
  • Rivers offer smooth sailing, with no motion sickness

Trend #1: New Ships

river cruise trends: avalon

Cabins on Avalon’s Suite Ships are larger than typical ones on other river cruise ships

River cruises tend to sell out quickly due to their popularity and their limited capacity. To address the capacity issue, companies are building new boats at a speedy pace. 2014 has been a big year for new ships: two from AmaWaterways, three from Avalon Waterways and two from Tauck River Cruises.

Modern river cruise ships are offering larger cabin options, including Avalon, whose Suite Ships have cabins 15% larger than standard river cruise ships. Tauck offers multi-level loft rooms and luxurious suites. Lines are also improving their public areas, including dining rooms. Viking River Cruises gives passengers the choice of dining indoors or outdoors. Some lines offer fine-dining restaurants as an alternative to the traditional dining rooms.

Trend #2: New Destinations

River cruising’s stronghold is European destinations such as France and Germany. While those continue to ride a wave of popularity, more exotic destinations are capturing the imaginations of river cruisers. Consider these off-the-beaten track possibilities:

  • Aqua Expeditions was the first to offer five-star cruises along the Amazon River in Peru, and Avalon also offers luxurious Peruvian river cruises.
  • This fall, Aqua Expeditions will begin sailing up and down the Mekong River between southern Vietnam and Cambodia. AmaWaterways and Avalon also offer Vietnam and Cambodia voyages.
  • AmaWaterways and Viking River Cruises launched new itineraries to Myanmar in 2014, joining Avalon in cruising the Irrawaddy River.
  • Viking and Avalon offer cruises in China along the Yangtze River between Beijing and Shanghai.
  • AmaWaterways offers a combination African safari and cruise on the Chobe River, covering Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Viking also offers Egyptian river cruises along the famed Nile between Luxor and Aswan.
river cruise trends: exotic destinations

Destinations beyond Europe, such as those offered by Viking River Cruises, are capturing the imagination of passengers

Trend #3: Theme Cruises

Indulge both your interest in travel and another passion on a theme cruise. Many river cruise lines offer voyages focusing on everything from music (classical music and jazz are popular) to food (chocolate, anyone?) to wine to wellness.

Trend #4: Immersive Experiences

On board, passengers enjoy everything from culinary demonstrations to learning opportunities. Once the ship reaches shore, passengers have a host of authentic experiences available. Typically, river cruise lines include shore excursions in the fare, but some are adding distinctive offerings, generally for an additional cost.

Two examples: astronomically minded cruisers can take a hands-on cooking class in a restaurant with AmaWaterways, or visit a cognac house and blend their own bottle of spirits on a Viking sailing.

Many lines have bicycles on board, and some offer guided bike tours. Ambitious cruisers can even opt to pedal from one port to the next.

Trend #5: New Types of Cruisers

river cruise trends: younger passengers

River cruises including those offered by Avalon Waterways are a great way for couples and families to celebrate milestones

River cruise passengers are getting younger, especially on shorter cruises of 10 days or less. What used to be a 70+ demographic is now 40+.

Those younger passengers are also bringing their children along. Some lines even offer family-focused voyages. A river cruise is increasingly viewed as a great option for celebratory travel to mark milestones such as graduations, weddings and family reunions.

River cruising is also adapting to become more welcoming to solo travelers. AmaWaterways and Tauck have waived the single supplement on select European cruises and cabins.

Want to Find Out More?

Visit to learn more about luxury river cruise trends, including the latest ships and hottest destinations.

Ready to start planning your river cruise, or even booking it with the help of an advisor? Click here to see a list of river cruise specialists on

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8 Tips for Taking Fantastic Vacation Photos

A whopping 93% of travelers take photos as keepsakes of their vacation sights and experiences, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The association, however, doesn’t offer any statistics on how many of those travelers could use help polishing their techniques for capturing vacation photos.

If you’re thinking ahead to your next journey, read on for eight easy ways to take great-looking vacation photos.

Tip 1: Think about lighting

Use a flash outdoors if your subject is in shadow – even on sunny days. Shoot with the sun behind you instead of the subject. Cloudy days or shade can provide flattering lighting. And remember the magic hour of early or late in the day when the light is golden. It will make your vacation photos look stunning.

fantastic vacation photos: lighting tip

Tip 2: Look for close-up opportunities

Fill the picture area with the subject. It’ll make for a more dramatic, interesting photo with details that aren’t visible with a wider shot.

fantatic vacation photos: close-up tip

Tip 3: Move your subject to one side

Fight the natural impulse to center the subject. Centering the subject may mean the background gets minimized or even lost. Positioning your subject to one side brings out the complete setting and provides more visual interest.

fantastic vacation photos: off-center tip

Tip 4: Find an unusual angle

Shooting a photo of your three-year-old? Crouch down to his level. Want a birds’-eye view? Raise yourself and your camera higher. This technique enhances interest by providing a view that most people (who tend to see things at eye level) may miss.

fantastic vacation photos: angle tip

Tip 5: Frame the image

Shoot your subject through an object such as a window or doorway. Even objects as diverse as ancient ruins or an abstract sculpture can offer on-the-spot ways to frame and emphasize your subject.

fantastic vacation photos: frame tip

Tip 6: Keep it simple

Too many elements in a photo distract the viewer and create a messy shot. Pick out just a few elements – or even one – and fill your shot with those.

fantastic vacation photos: simplicity tip

Tip 7: Look for color

Color livens up a picture and opportunities to snap vacation photos full of it abound. Think of fruits and vegetables at a local market, or bright flowers in a green field.

fantastic vacation photos: color tip

Tip 8: Use black and white

Conversely, try using black and white only. It will heighten the drama, emotion and contrast.

fantastic vacation photos: black and white tip

Interested in flexing your photographic muscle? Book a trip that provides great opportunities for stunning vacation photos. At, you’ll find photo tours and on-location workshops for a range of destinations.  Just search for ‘photo’ and ‘photography.’ You’ll also find advisors with an interest in photography who can help plan your next trip.

What’s your favorite tip for great vacation photos?

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What in the World is Glamping?

For travelers who want to get close to nature but don’t want to rough it, glamping is just the thing. Glamping – short for “glamorous camping” – has been taking off exponentially around the world. No more sleeping on the ground: glampers stay in luxury tents – or yurts, treehouses or cabins – with hotel-quality facilities and service. It’s a way to experience nature without sacrificing luxurious comforts.

“The tent makes it exotic and romantic, but the room is as comfortable and luxurious as in the best hotel,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Betsy Donley in Phoenix, Arizona.

Glamping at The Resort at Paws Up, where luxury tents can be more than 1,000 square feet

Glamping at Montana’s The Resort at Paws Up, where luxury tents can be more than 1,000 square feet

Glamping on the Rise

“We’ve noticed the trend taking off in a really big way,” says John Romfo, director of sales and marketing for The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana.  It houses five luxury camps, each with just six tents and its own cook, butler, and housekeeping. The tents all feature ensuite bathrooms and range in size from 505 to 1,030 square feet. A wide variety of travelers find the tents an appealing lodging option: there are three honeymoon tents for couples, and large groups can reserve an entire camp for themselves.

Perfect for Families

The growth of family travel is fueling the glamping trend, and many resorts are turning to an all-inclusive model. “You have so many different activities at your fingertips,” says Jolie Goldring, a Virtuoso travel consultant in New York City. “It’s a great sell for a family reunion or a special birthday, especially if it’s a patriarch or matriarch who has grandchildren.”

Suzy Nevins, a Virtuoso travel consultant in Beverly Hills, California, visited Paws Up with her children and grandchildren. “The idea of camping, the outdoors, and tents, it’s a big wow. My grandchildren still talk about it every time I see them,” she says. “The bonding was amazing.”

glamping at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Wilderness Resort offers glampers antique furniture, down duvets and Pacific Ocean views

An Active Vacation

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada offers guests 20 large heated tents overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  They’re furnished with spacious beds with down duvets, elegant rugs, antique dressers and tea tables, heirloom china and silver accessories, and abundant candles.

“It’s a dream world for kids, a Disneyland in real nature – not constructed,” says Donley, who took her two grandchildren to Clayoquot. Activities there include hiking, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, mountain biking – even ziplining, heli-photography and heli-hiking. “A honeymoon couple was there when we were. As we rode the horse and wagon back down to the float plane to leave, my 11-year-old grandson said, ‘I’m coming here on my honeymoon.’”

Experiences Your Way

Glamping at Longitude 131

Glamping at Australia’s Longitude 131 means glass-front tents with stunning views of Uluru.

The small size of most glamping resorts provides opportunities for personalized experiences and interaction with likeminded travelers, notes Peter Graham, director of sales at Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia, which runs Longitude 131, a luxurious camp with 15 two-person tents. Each tent has a canvas roof and glass front, allowing spectacular views of Uluru (Ayers Rock). Longitude 131 offers a variety of ecological and cultural activities, including small-group tours with local guides within adjacent Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park.

The culinary aspect of glamping is another key to its popularity. Guests can choose from a variety of gourmet yet casual offerings. Paws Up emphasizes organic food and grilling, like baby back ribs with chipotle barbecue sauce and smoked trout cakes. Longitude 131 highlights fresh produce and contemporary Australian cuisine, including wines from the country’s best regions. Fine wines are also featured at Clayoquot, alongside signature dishes such as prosciutto-wrapped halibut and oyster chowder.

Donley summarizes why glamping has become so popular: “Guests want to feel the outdoors but not have to be uncomfortable. [Glamping] frees people up to be casual, relaxed and close to nature.”

Benefits of a Glamping Vacation

  • You get the comforts of a hotel combined with the sense of being in the middle of nature.
  • You’re getting away from it all and truly relaxing.
  • It’s a great way to bond with your travel companions – your partner, your friends or your extended family.
  • You won’t be bored with so many available activities. Glampers can enjoy horseback riding, fishing, hiking and much more – even spa treatments.
  • You enjoy great outdoor experiences as you would on a safari but without the long trip to Africa.

Go to to find out more about these glamping resorts and the benefits you’ll receive at them by booking through a Virtuoso travel advisor. Each resort’s page suggests expert advisors who can reserve your stay.

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