• Mothers Day

    Virtual Experiences to Enjoy with Travel-Loving Moms

    Whether home together or separated by social distancing, some things are for certain: All Moms need celebrating and there are all kinds of ways to do that together, whether in the same household or virtually. <br><br><b>Susie, Classic Journeys CFO and mom of Jack 23 and Matthew 21, thought it might be fun to try a virtual wine-tasting.  </b><br><img alt="Napa Valley Wine Tasting Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8aM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“During our stay-at-home time, we’ve been watching ‘Somm’, the Netflix documentary about the process of becoming a master sommelier. I want us to sign up for one of the virtual wine tastings and compare tasting notes with the vineyard’s wine maker. It&#39;s always fun to see what we come up with—was that a hint of quince?  Hmmmm... I taste saddle.”</i><br><br>Several of the <a href="https://www.visitnapavalley.com/blog/post/napa-valley-comes-to-you-virtual-tastings-and-special-shipping-offers/" target="_blank">Napa Valley wineries</a> are offering virtual wine tours and tastings. Buy the relevant bottles then sign up for a live tasting (or watch a previous tasting—the Schweiger vineyard has been doing ones with musicians which you can find on their <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLe8mBKMxD9JcnH9-wKjEaOzs99BsOrF4x" target="_blank">YouTube channel</a>).<br><img alt="Napa Valley Wine Tasting Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8aR" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Another bottle? There’s no need to cut your time together short. Put this <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrKkchVOOAs" target="_blank">video from the Shafer Vineyards</a> on in the background and chat to the sound of grazing sheep and birdsong. <br><br><b>Kelli, Senior Tour Operations Coordinator and stepmom of Lucas 16 and Zoe 12, proposes a Provence painting session.</b><br><img alt="France Provence Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8aW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“I used to guide in France and with its lavender fields and colorful towns, Provence has so much to inspire. Why not put together a painting party and make Provence the theme? You don’t have to be the next Claude Monet, it’s just a great opportunity to do something different as a family.”</i><br><br>Each person will need: <br>Canvas/paper <br>Coloring pencils/paint &amp; paint brushes<br><br>Each household will need:<br>Lavender scented candle<br>Table space <br><br>To drink: <br>Champagne, French wine or a lavender-based herbal tea, Love Tea by Pukka would be my pick!<br><br>Set up your in-home studios, which could be in the kitchen, garden or anywhere with a flat surface. Prop up your phone/tablet/laptop for a video call if you’re including family elsewhere. Light a lavender candle to recreate the scented fields of Provence. Choose one of these images and each paint your own impression of it.<br><img alt="France Provence Virtual Zoom Background Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8aq" style="height: 271px; width: 500px;"></img><br><img alt="France Provence Virtual Zoom Background Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8av" style="height: 271px; width: 500px;"></img><br>We&#39;ve made these the perfect size to save and screen share on Zoom, or you can use them as a virtual background (read on to find out how!).<br>There’s plenty of time to catch up while you paint, and it’s interesting to compare everyone’s style at the end!<br><br><b>Diane, our UK guide mother to one daughter and four stepsons, suggests an English afternoon tea.</b><br><img alt="UK England Afternoon Tea Scone Recipe Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8ab" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“Is mum a Great British Baking Show mega fan? Are your fondest memories growing up to her cooking up sweet treats? For me, a traditional English afternoon tea sets the perfect scene for comforting food and a good catch up. You can’t have high tea without freshly made scones, a classic English treat. They’re ridiculously easy to make, taking less than 30 minutes and only needing a few staple ingredients. If you’re a family of keen chefs, you can get creative Baking Show-style and have each household compete for the best scones. Of course, mum plays judge!”</i><br><br>Here’s Diane’s recipe of traditional English scones—<br><br>Ingredients:<br>8oz all-purpose flour<br>3 teaspoon of baking powder<br>2oz butter<br>1oz super fine sugar<br>1 large egg<br>4 fluid ounces of milk<br><br>Jam<br>Butter<br>Heavy cream<br><br>Method:<br>Set the oven at 400F<br>Mix flour and baking powder, rub in butter until you have a mixture like fine breadcrumbs. <br>Add the sugar. <br>Whisk together the egg and milk with a fork.<br>Pour almost all (leave a tablespoon amount) into the flour mixture. <br>Mix into a soft dough. <br>Knead on a floured surface. <br>Roll out to half inch thickness. <br>Cut into rounds with a 3-inch cutter. This should make 10 circles of dough.<br>Place them on a baking sheet with space between them. <br>Brush the tops with the remaining milk and egg mixture.<br>Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown in color.<br><br>Leave to cool, then serve with jam, butter, cream and your favorite tea.<br><br><b>Saida, local Morocco guide and mother of two daughters aged 26 and 18, suggests some Mother’s Day pampering.</b><br> <img alt="Africa Morocco Home Hammam Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8cI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“Mothers do a lot for us, they deserve a spa session! The ancient ritual of a Moroccan hammam is the perfect way for mothers to de-stress. Usually I would go to a local spa, but you can just as easily set up a home-hammam.”</i><br><br>Find our hammam how-to in our Morocco blog here. You can provide mom with the components and instructions, or if you’re in the same house, you can set everything up as a surprise (and even make her a traditional tagine, using our favorite recipe.<br><br><b>Brianna, Senior Tour Operations Coordinator and Mom of Noah, 9, thinks making a photo album together is a great way of sharing family memories. </b><br><img alt="Mothers Day Photo Album Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8ag" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“I’m reminiscing past vacations more than ever at the moment, so how about creating an online photo album or scrap book together? Set up a Zoom call where everyone can share old photos from family travels, bringing back happy memories. There are lots of book-making websites out there (like Shutterfly) and once finished you can order mom a copy!”</i><br><br><b>Elizabeth, Tour Operations Manager and mom of Matteo, 20 months, reminds us that although we can’t enjoy National Parks in person, we can still enjoy them virtually. </b><br><img alt="USA Yosemite National Park Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8be" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><i>“My perfect Mother’s Day weekend would be spent with my family in Yosemite National Park. Though we can’t do that this year, I love that you can visit it virtually and that it’s not limited to one household. I have been using Zoom screen sharing a lot lately, which means multiple households can explore Yosemite through the <a href="https://www.virtualyosemite.org/virtual-tour/" target="_blank">Virtual Yosemite site</a> together. If your family loves National Parks as much as mine, this is next best thing to being there in person!” </i><br><br>You can even transport yourself into Yosemite with this Classic Journeys virtual travel background:<br><img alt="France Provence Virtual Zoom Background Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8bK" style="height: 271px; width: 500px;"></img><br>1. Right click on the picture above and save to save to your desktop.<br>2. Start your Zoom call and select the small arrow to the right of the “Stop Video” button on the bottom control bar.<br>3. Click “Choose Virtual Background,” select the “+” button, and upload your saved  image from your desktop. Un-check the “Mirror Video” button.<br><br><b>Vibeke, our local guide in Norway and mother of Kristian and Marcus, suggests transforming mom&#39;s couch into a theater seat.</b><br><img alt="Theater Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8bj" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img> <br><i>“In other times, I like to think that maybe my sons and their girlfriends would take me to a show. We are a music-loving family and it is so nice getting dressed up and spending the evening soaking up some culture, whether a play, ballet or opera! There is a solution in lockdown with a lot of theaters posting performances on YouTube.”</i><br><br>Theaters all over the world are posting performances for you to enjoy from the comfort of your couch.<br><br>Tell Mom to dress smart, plan a surprise delivery of her favorite ice cream and take your pick of performances.<br><img alt="Theatre Mothers Day Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8al" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Here are four of our favorites:<br><br><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWc6_aCTqI0" target="_blank">Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre, London</a><br><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYR2hd3QDUI" target="_blank">Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake by the Vienna State Ballet</a><br><a href="https://www.metopera.org/season/on-demand/opera/?upc=811357014523" target="_blank">Strauss’ Cappricio at The Met Opera, New York</a><br><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ5eUJNXrMw" target="_blank">KURIOS by Cirque du Soleil</a><br><br><b>Rachel, Senior Tour Operations Coordinator and mom of Sebastian, 5, finds a way to incorporate bedtime story time and virtual travel.<br><img alt="Bedtime Story Ireland Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8by" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br><i>“A story before bedtime is one of my favorite things to do as a mom. The Northern-Irish artist and author Oliver Jeffers has been posting ‘<a href="https://www.oliverjeffers.com/abookaday/" target="_blank">Stay At Home Story Time</a>,’ where he reads—and sometimes live illustrates—one of his children’s books. Some versions are available in American Sign Language. We have watched The Moose Belongs to Me and Lost and Found over and over! You can gather together parents and children of any age (in person or with a Zoom screen share), make hot chocolates and s’mores and enjoy!”</i><br><img alt="Oliver Jeffers Author Virtual Experience Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PjvQ&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000o8c3" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img>

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  • Sleep

    Your Best Sleep — Tips from Hotel Experts

    Sometimes, counting sheep doesn’t cut it. Maybe it’s jet-lag. Maybe something’s on your mind. Or maybe there’s no sensical reason whatsoever, falling asleep just feels frustratingly far from achievable. And when you do drift off, you don’t stay asleep. You’re not alone, the National Initiative for Tracking and Evaluating Sleeplessness at the University of Pennsylvania shares that 35% or more of Americans suffer from insomnia. <br><br>The Sleep Foundation tells us that insomnia is caused by high levels of stress, anxiety or depression. Drugs or alcohol abuse contribute to it also. Time is of the essence. According to the UPenn study, even two to four weeks of insomnia can increase the risk of depression and interfere with your ability to recover from it.<br><br>Wondering what the secret was to that smooth transition from daytime to dreamland, we sought the advice of experts whose careers are dependent on creating great sleeping environments—hoteliers. Good news that the team at Classic Journeys has a quarter of a century of relationships with the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hotels/" target="_blank">finest hotels around the world.</a> So we asked our friends who run then to share their most soporific rituals and sleep hacks. <br><br>Make a calming mug of chamomile, find the comfiest corner of your home and consider these ten tried and tested techniques for deep, dreamy sleep. <br><br><b>Meditative breathing before bedtime</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/india/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Taj Mahal India" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgXi" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/india-tours/" target="_blank">India</a>’s Taj Mahal: a powerful symbol of love and architectural symmetry greets guests morning, noon and night at Oberoi Amarvilas. <br><br>Designed to mimic the Taj’s Mughal majesty, the Oberoi hotel is a sumptuous sandstone palace with terraced lawns, fountains and fine pavilions. <br><br>Amarvilas’ General Manager, Vishal Pathak, recommends the age-old Indian practice of deep breathing: “In Indian culture, meditation is very important and the ability to quiet your mind and find calmness is my favorite way to wind-down before bedtime. There are many ways to do this—one is to simply sit in silence, breathe slowly and soak up your surroundings (if you’re staying with us, you can focus on the ever-changing color of the Taj Mahal from your balcony). Or, lie on your back in bed and practice this Prāṇāyāma breathing technique: inhale for 7 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and slowly exhale for 11 seconds. Our hotel has a service where you can call a yoga master anytime for a private stretching and reflecting session.”<br><br><b>Take a break from your bedroom </b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Iceland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgXn" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br>Tucked away in the silent countryside of south <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/iceland/" target="_blank">Iceland</a>, the Ranga sleeps under sensational starry skies and rises to the volcanic view of Mt Hekla. <br><br>Owner Frederik tells us, “Some nights you just can’t get to sleep. Rather than lying in bed and feeling frustrated, I find that it helps to get up and do something different until you feel tired again. I am lucky to live in Iceland, where a middle of the night change of scenery can mean incredible stargazing. I built my hotel to have an observatory, where guests can do exactly this. Some of our best northern light sightings have been seen on sleepless nights!”<br><br><b>Soak up natural light to improve your sleep cycle<br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/morocco/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Morocco Fez" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgXs" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></b><br>Its name derived from the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">Moroccan</a> word for magic, dreamy Hotel Sahrai is by far Fez’s finest place to stay.<br><br>Desert tribes inspire Sahrai’s Directeur General, Awa, to recommend daylight. “Berber tribes in the desert hardly use artificial light; their body clocks follow the movement of the sun and the moon which creates a natural, regulated sleep routine. This makes me think that we cannot underestimate the power of natural light, in fact, French designer and architect Christophe Pillet built our hotel specifically around this, so sunlight floods in throughout the day. That would be my advice: make sure you get as much natural light as possible in the day, peel back curtains, be outside when you can. When the sun goes down, dim indoor lighting accordingly and then make your bedroom as dark as possible (or use an eye mask) when you are ready to sleep.”<br><br><b>Snooze to the sounds of the ocean</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Galapagos Isla Isabella" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgXx" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br>Basking on the beachfront of the idyllic Isabela island, the boutique Iguana Crossing hotel—the only eco-hotel in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galapagos</a>—is built and managed by local islanders. <br><br>It took a while for manager Mauricio to realize that the white noise effect of the ocean was his key to a good sleep. “So many times, when I have stayed away from the island, I struggled to sleep. Something was missing. I realized that it was the sound of the ocean. The soothing rise and fall sound of the waves is like a lullaby, it distracts your mind and eases you into a deep sleep. We are lucky to be on the oceanfront, where we have the lulling sounds of waves all the time. Now, when I stay away, I use an app and listen to recorded sounds of the waters.”<br><br><b>Stop screen time for deeper sleep <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/tuscany/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Villa Tuscany Italy" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgY7" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a></b><br>Resting in the rolling hills of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany-tours/" target="_blank">Chianti</a>, the Renaissance Villa La Barone has been in the Della Robia family since the 16th century. <br><br>Count Aloisi de Larderel (aka our friend Corso) is a firm believer in avoiding screens as night draws in. “In this day and age, we are so used to seeing bright screens (phones, tablets, televisions) right up until the moment we fall asleep. Yet so many studies show how the light emitted by those screens can cut one’s sleep considerably. Therefore, my advice would be, put the screen off! <br><br>We make a point at Villa Le Barone that televisions are provided in bedrooms only upon request, and you would be surprised how little they are requested. While the initial intention was to maintain the historic, tranquil feel of our villa, this also allows our guests to spend quality time together and get good sleep.”<br><br><b>Eat well, exercise well</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/napa-valley/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Napa Sonoma USA" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgYC" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>A <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/napa-tours/" target="_blank">California Wine Country </a>foodie’s favorite, the historic Healdsburg Hotel brings together chic rooms, gorgeous gardens and food and wine you’ll dream about for years to come. <br><br>The hotel’s wine director, Patrick Holihan says, “Good food, good walks, great sleep is my motto. Here in Northern Sonoma County, we like our long, slow lunches (especially the ones made by our head chef, Charlie). But don’t let that mean you bypass dinner, because you should never go to bed hungry. Even if it’s just a light snack a few hours before you go to bed. In between meals, get as much fresh air and exercise as you can. If you were staying here, I’d point you in the direction of one of our many wine routes, which are stunning around golden hour.”<br><br><b>Bath time before bedtime </b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/norway/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Norway" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgYM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br>Painted sunshine yellow, the boutique BesteBakken hotel brims with Nordic charm. Alpacas graze peacefully on surrounding pastures and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/norway-tours/" target="_blank">Norway</a>&#39;s lake and mountain scenery surrounds you.<br><br>Host Lindis tells us, “A long, hot soak in a bath or jacuzzi (we have both at BesteBakken!) an hour or so before you go to bed is my secret to a better night’s sleep. Even better if you use chamomile or lavender which are naturally calming. The warmth melts away any tensions from your day and afterwards, as your temperature lowers, it sends a message to your body that you are ready for to fall asleep.”<br><br><b>Siestas are the secret </b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/costa-rica/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Costa Rica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgYR" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br>An eco-friendly resort in the tropical rainforest of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costa-rica-tours/" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a>’s Punta Quepos promontory, the Parador Resort rubs shoulders with the Manuel Antonio National Park.<br><br>Marianella from the front office says, “Ticos adore our naps! If I am not working and the afternoon arrives, you won’t be able to find me because I will be taking a siesta. When the heat of the day hits its peak, find a peaceful spot—indoors or out—and just switch off for 20 minutes, 2 hours, whatever you need. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the rest of my day in beautiful Costa Rica, then come nighttime I sleep soundly.”<br><br><b>Go with the flow</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/peru/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Monastery Cusco Peru" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgYW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>A former monastery and protected national monument, the beautiful Belmond Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru-tours/" target="_blank">Peru</a> is blanketed in history. The spectacular chapel with its glistening gilt-framed artwork was built in 1595 and a 300-year-old cedar tree marks the center of the elegant courtyard. <br><br>Arturo, General Manager, argues the case for good quality air, “Some of our rooms are enriched with oxygen to help guests sleep well at altitude, but even if you’re not high up above sea level, good ventilation--just leaving a door or window open, or having a fan--improves air quality which leads to a better night’s sleep.”<br><br><b>Talk to your pillow</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Luxury Hotel Vietnam Saigon" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002PpMN&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xgYb" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a> <br>French-Colonial chic in a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/indochina-tours/" target="_blank">Vietnam</a>&#39;s vibrant city of Saigon, this hotel gives guests Park Hyatt’s world-famous five-star treatment, from wake up to turndown. <br><br>Phong, who takes care of guest services, tells us, “You can be in the most scenic location in the world, but scenery doesn’t help you sleep well, a good bed however makes all the difference. Think about how you sleep: on your side, back or front? Do you wake up with neck or back pain? And invest in a pillow and mattress that suit your sleeping style. Then add the icing on the cake in the form of luxury bed linen! This is worth thinking about when you travel, too. Most hotels have a pillow menu or even mattress toppers.”

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  • Grand Canyon

    Pro-tips to avoid the crowds this summer

    The ‘new normal’ is gradually emerging, but with many hotels and National Parks reopening just in time for last weekend’s Memorial Day holiday, daunting reports have been flooding in, complete with photos of jam-packed parking lots, hours-long lines and crowded trails. <br><br>As the phrase ‘far from madding crowds’ rings more true than ever, travellers from coast to coast are wondering will worries of overcrowding and social distancing mean not being able to enjoy some of the most spectacular places on earth? Will travel bucket lists have to wait? <br><br>With apologies to Thomas Hardy, informed travellers have found a way to visit the same spectacular places as the crowds, but stay far from them. <br><br>To find out how, we asked experts whose jobs are to know the most popular places better than anyone how to avoid the crowds when everyone starts to travel again. <br><br>Follow these pro tips to enjoy crowd-free travel as we go into the double whammy of reopening and summer season. <br><img alt="USA Grand Canyon Tour Crowded Overlook" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi44" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>The good news is, absolutely not! <br><br>We asked local guides and hoteliers to share expert advice on how to avoid the crowds when everyone starts to travel again. <br><br>Follow these pro-tips to enjoy crowd-free travel as we go into the double whammy of reopening and summer season. <br><br><b>Stay central </b><br>Eliminate the crawling daily commute to your destination and instead, wake up exactly where you want to be. Whether that means in the National Park wilderness or in the center of a historic downtown, you’ll be staying among the sights and sounds you came for and get to experience them unflooded by day visitors, from dramatic dawns to silent starry nights. <br><img alt="US National Park Luxury Hotel Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3G" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Kris from Bryce Canyon Lodge says, “Staying within Bryce Canyon National Park means no lining up at the entrance station or circling around the parking lot until you catch a free space. While everyone else is having to deal with that, you’re already here. Breakfast among the scenery or set out for a sunrise walk. At night, you’ll see constellations that hotels in city locations couldn’t even dream of.”<br><br><b>Go against the grain</b><br>Just because the majority of visitors explore somewhere a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s always the best way. <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/tag/alaska/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Alaska Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3p" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>“This is the least crowded state in America, but if I took you to one of Alaska’s harbors on a cruise docking day, you wouldn’t believe me for a second.” Eric S., our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank">Kenai Peninsula Trip</a> leader tells us “that’s because the majority of visitors come here by cruise ship and those visitors go to the same sights that a day on land allows, before returning back to their cabins. So, I would say, think outside the box (or outside the boat!). We have some incredible hotels in locations that let you venture deeper into Alaska’s diverse and immense landscape (when you see them, you will agree with me that a cruise ship can’t compete!). Rather than run by a crew from who-knows-where, these lodgings are run by locals who often have generations of stories to share and will give you insight into what living year-round in Alaska really looks like. Don’t forget, they also have the inside scoop on where to find the freshest crab legs and the most delicious cup of smoked salmon chowder!”<br><br><b>Pick a private tour </b><br>Private tours allow for personal space, and let you explore at your own pace. <br><img alt="USA Napa Valley Sonoma County Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3L" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> “Signing up for a public tour of a historic landmark is better than not taking a tour at all” admits Linda, who leads our Charleston &amp; Savanah tour “but if you want an unhurried experience without having to contend with hordes of other visitors, my advice is to travel with a tour operator that offers private tours just for your small group. In Charleston, Drayton Hall is my favorite. I always choose a timing that fits well within the day’s schedule, and you can ask as many questions as you like.” <br><br>Christopher, who mans the front office at Vintage House Hotel agrees, “<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/napa/" target="_blank">Napa</a> has so many ways to experience wine, but a private wine tasting is by far the most intimate experience. There are no distractions. You can tailor it around what you like—a walk through the vineyard, a long lunch, you could even do a local cheese tasting and pairing. The best part is, with smaller groups that usually means more wine!”<br><br><b>Have a local take the lead </b><br>Save the strains of self-guiding and avoid tours that import in trip leaders. <br><img alt="USA Hawaii Big Island Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3Q" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Kathleen, who owns the Volcano Retreat, has learned the best way of exploring: “We moved here from San Francisco in 1991 and have taken all kinds of tours since then. No-one knows <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hawaii-big-island" target="_blank">Hawaii&#39;s Big Island </a>like the back of their hand like the islanders born and raised here—the days and times to avoid, the trails less trodden, the best back-up plan for trail closures. While everyone else is following the same itinerary Google search results first throw up, with a local you can venture deeper and differently. They’ll know the exact times when places are most spectacular and least crowded. And they’ll have awesome stories to share along the way. And you’re supporting our local economy, for which I thank you!”<br><br>Peter, New Mexico’s <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/newmexico/" target="_blank">Santa Fe to Taos Trip</a> leader: “When you visit the high desert of New Mexico, where Native American tribes have left such well-preserved art, architecture and cuisine, being shown around by someone whose family line dates back centuries is incredible. Who better to show you around historic Taos Pueblo than a local member of the tribe, who happens to be a good friend of mine?”<br><br><b>Go beyond the 10-minute trails <br><img alt="USA Vermont Fall Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3z" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br>Don’t stop at the nearest, shortest trail. They don’t know what they’re missing.<br><br>“Venture further,” advises Bruce, our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vermont/" target="_blank">Vermont Stowe to Middlebury Trip</a> leader, “ask any guide or ranger, I am sure that they will agree. I’d say 90% of visitors literally park their cars, take a 10-minute walk, snap some photos for Instagram and then leave. Often, they spend longer trying to find a parking space than they do exploring! It’s a shame. But it’s good for those of us who know better! And you don’t even have to be a super fit backpacker with the stamina for a 5-hour hike up a Vermont mountainside. I can think of so many stunning walks that virtually no one takes that are easy going, rarely crowded and show you our famous fall landscape like you’ve never seen before.”<br><br><b>Look for limits </b><br>Don’t be deterred by group restrictions, actively seek them.<br><img alt="USA Zion National Park Narrows Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3V" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Marcia Burns, who leads our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bryce-tours/" target="_blank">Bryce, Grand Canyon and Zion trip</a> tells us more. “The Bureau of Land Management enforces group size limits to certain areas of wilderness. For example, here in Zion, the Narrows upstream of Orderville Canyon allows no more than 12 people and you need a permit to access. I feel like the words ‘restriction’, ‘limit’ and ‘enforcement’ put people off, but now more than ever, they are a good thing! You get to experience the most stunning parts of a National Park in their true wilderness form. It doesn’t feel like Disneyland!”<br><br><b>Picnic instead of cafeteria </b><br>Don’t lose time in the lunch line. Make the dining as good as the destination. No rush. No reservation needed. <br><img alt="US National Park Culinary Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3a" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img> <br>“Exhilarating walks and sights sure work up an appetite.” Eric K, who leads our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bryce-tours/" target="_blank">Bryce, Grand Canyon &amp; Zion</a> trio tells us, “but bear in mind that will also be the case for every single other person visiting. Come lunchtime, people pour into the one or two nearest cafeterias here. Precious time that could be spent exploring is lost as you line up for a free table and wait for your food. My way around this lets you enjoy good food, at your leisure, while enjoying the destination at the same time. And it’s simple: a picnic! You’ll have views restauranteurs can only dream of. I know amazing spots where you can lunch with no one else as far as the eye can see. And I know incredible local restaurants and delis that will pack you a lunch of hand-crafted specialties, so you can skip that mass cafeteria food.”<br><br><b>Get a driver</b><br>Don’t drive and definitely skip the shuttle. Instead, let a local take the wheel, while you sit back and soak up the scenery.<br><img alt="US National Park Private Car Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3f" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>The expert recommendation from Janice, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/glaciernationalpark/" target="_blank">Montana’s Glacier National Park Trip</a> leader, is to “make sure you book a trip with a private driver. Driving on your own only takes you as far as the parking lot, which can be a nightmare to navigate. Then you have to choose between the packed-out trails leading from the parking lot, or a free shuttle, with its long wait lines and what makes me think of herded-cattle once everyone is piled on. In Montana, don’t settle for an over-a-stranger’s-shoulder glimpse of our legendary Going To The Sun Road. Doesn’t it sound nicer to sit back with a driver who knows exactly how you like the air conditioning?!”<br><br><b>Swap sunset for sunrise </b><br>Everyone loves a sunset, but the silent spectacle of sunrise is worth an early wake up call.<br><img alt="US National Park Sunrise Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Pq2Y&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001xi3k" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>As Head Chef at Friday Harbor House, Jason’s work hours make him a seasoned sunrise-seer, “If you ask me, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sanjuans/" target="_blank">San Juan </a>sunrises are by far the best. To escape the crowds, my favorite time of day is dawn. I have to get up early for my job and am so thankful I do. What a way to start each day and usually I am the only person up to enjoy it. When our guests ask for a recommendation, sunrise is always my suggestion and I promise them a mouth-watering breakfast to follow!”<br><br>Jamie, who’s a baker at the Grand Canyon Lodge, is also an early-riser, “It’s no secret how stunning the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bryce-tours/" target="_blank">Grand Canyon</a> is at sundown. But, for that reason, you will find a steady stream of cars as sundown approaches, with packs of people taking photos from the best-known overlooks. Skip the evening crowds and rise early to watch the colors of the rising sun dance on the canyon walls. Rather than hearing cars and tourists, listen to the surrounding silence that almost seems to echo. Everyone else who comes here completely misses it. Beyond being uncrowded, often there is not another soul in sight. So, even if you are not a morning person, set an alarm and you won’t regret it.”

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