Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Amazing Journeys’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we’re lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it’s chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.


Don’t be that traveler…

Monday, January 5th, 2015

In travel – as in life – things are bound to go differently than planned.  The best course of action is to be flexible, have a back up plan and go with the flow.  Many of the most memorable parts of a vacation happen when you go “off script”, so to say, and you are sent home with stories of “that time” on vacation.  It is our job at Amazing Journeys to make sure that you are well informed and taken care of so that even when plans do change, you don’t need to worry yourself but just keep on going and enjoy your vacation.

With that being said, we would like to share a few funny comments that travelers with other companies have shared about their travel experience.  They made us laugh!

1. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

2. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time – this should be banned.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

15. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

16. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

17. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

18. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2014

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our Top Ten Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

10. Multiple Device Travel Charger


This portable charger minimizes cable clutter by placing multiple charging outlets on a single unit. You can refuel up to six devices simultaneously while occupying just a single wall outlet. Available here.

9. Scratch Map


Track your travels with a scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map that charts globetrotting in a fun, colorful and innovative way. Scratch off the areas you’ve visited and show off your travel progress! Available here.

8. Foldable Water Bottle

Another way to save space in your bag!  Roll it up and a metal loop keeps the bottle scrunched up so it fits easily into your bag. Available here.

7. iPhone Life Jacket

Want to take pictures as you take a dip in the pool?  Throw your iPhone in a waterproof case and life jacket and let it float right alongside you. Available here.

6. Crease Release
crease release

In a world of overpacked schedules (and suitcases!), ironing isn’t always an option. As soon as you make it to your destination, unpack your clothes, give them a quick spray and blast of the blow dryer and start looking fabulous. Available here.

5. GoPro Camera

This rugged, waterproof, portable camera will take all the action shots you ever need to become the adventurous envy of all your friends back home. Available here.

4. A good travel book

Whether you’re reading up on your next destination, learning about a new culture or just escaping from reality, its always great to travel with a book. And who knows? When you’re done with your book, you can always trade with a friend on your trip and read their new favorite, too! Available here.

3. RFID Blocking Wallet
rfid wallet

This lightweight organizer protects your passport, ID and credit cards from identity theft with advanced RFID-blocking technology. Thieves with scanners can’t get at the radio-frequency tags embedded in your cards and documents because of the secure lining that shields your information. Available here.

2. Global Entry pass

Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved travelers the opportunity travel easier at the airport. Once you have been approved for Global Entry, you can use this for Pre-Check, a special quick security line in most major US airports, allowing you to breeze through while keeping your shoes and belt on, your liquids stored away and your laptop snuggly in your carry-on. How nice is that? There is an application process but we think it’s worth the work upfront, knowing how much time it will save at the airport. Available for US citizens only.

1. Packing cubes
packing cubes

This is the very favorite of our AJ staffers. If you’re looking for an easy way to pack and unpack while on tour, here is your answer! Throw all of your socks into one, your accessories in another and your shirts into the larger one. When its time to unpack in your stateroom or hotel room, you know where everything is and you’re done in 3 minutes. Simply unzip the cube, open the top, and lay right inside of the drawer. When it’s time to pack it up again, zip it all up and throw it in the suitcase. Only staying at the hotel for a day or two? Leave it all in the suitcase and reach right in to easily find what you are seeking! Available here.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

50 Shades of Green

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Ireland blog1
by Malori

It’s hard to say which of the many highlights of our recent tour in Ireland was our favorite. Was it the scone making class at the farm and the delicious fruits of our labor we got to enjoy with tea? Was it the 50 shades of green that dotted the rolling hillsides and farmland? To some, it was the endless rainbows we spotted or our never-ending search for the pot of gold and leprechauns. Many said it was it our remarkable pub crawls with the best music in the world. And to most of us, it was the wonderful group that gathered together across the pond to explore and discover the delightful and hospitable people of Ireland who welcomed us to their country.

Ireland is a culture away, yet, just a hop, skip and a jump from America. The six hour flight and the five hour time difference made it easy to travel. The fact that English is the language made it simple, yet, the dialect so different from ours, we couldn’t understand much of what was spoken. That was part of the fun.

Enjoying whiskey tastings and learning about Guinness Beer, straight from the source, were more highlights. Most of us took on the 100-step climb up to the top of Blarney Castle. We braved wind and rain and then lying upside-down on our back, kissed the famous stone to be granted “the gift of eloquence.”

Ireland blog2
We were amazed that the food was actually better than we expected, and we got to sample potatoes of every kind!

Roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, hashed brown potatoes, potato leek soup, scalloped potatoes, garlic potatoes… need I say more? We sampled Guinness stew and savory pies of every kind. Seeing the Dingle Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher were gorgeous and we were blessed with a sunny day so we could enjoy hiking around the cliffs.

We got to sample ice cream with names like Kerry Cream, Irish Oats and Caramel, Smoked Salmon and Guinness. It was delicious (the Irish Oats and Caramel, that is)!

Ireland blog3
Our scone making class was a memory we could take home and share with others. Barry and I made them today and tweaked the recipe somewhat. Here is our new and improved Irish Scones…straight from the farm!

2 c. self rising flour
¾ stick butter
¼ c. sugar
1 egg
½ c. buttermilk
½ c. dried fruit (raisins or other fruit…we used tart cherries)

• Pre-heat cookie sheet and oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In a large bowl, mix together flour and butter. Use your hands to mix to make sure butter is softened and evenly distributed.
• Add sugar and stir.
• Add dried fruit.
• In a measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and egg.
• Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in half of the buttermilk/egg mixture.
• Mix in part of the flour mixture getting it moist from the liquid in the center of the bowl.
• Add in more of the dry ingredients from the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
• Take the dough and need it on a flat surface, adding in flour as needed until the dough is no longer sticky.
• Spread out dough to about 1 inch thick.
• Take a glass or round cookie cutter, dip the rim in flour (so it doesn’t stick to the dough.
• Cut with cookie cutter or glass.
• Place on heated cookie sheet
• Cook for 17 minutes.

It’s a simple recipe and so yummy. Serve with jam and tea. Enjoy!


Winter Whiskey Warmer

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014


With the weather getting colder, it’s nice to have a warm drink to come home to!  Our Amazing Ireland travelers had the opportunity to visit the Kilbeggan Distillery and sample the whisky last week.  Here’s the recipe for our newest drink recommendation:

Winter Whiskey Warmer

1/3 part whiskey
2/3 part hot water
1½ t. brown sugar
1½ t. honey

In a pre-warmed glass, mix the ingredients.
Sip slowly.

Home is Where the Heart Is

Monday, October 6th, 2014

malori in india

by Malori

When I was seven years old, I decided I wanted to run away from home.   Was I bored in my current surroundings or was it the open road that was calling my name?   Was I hungry for adventure or needing to satisfy my curiosity about the world at such a young age?  That afternoon, I packed up my jewelry box (I guess I believed then as I do now in packing light) and shared my plans with my mom.  She asked me where I would go and I said I hadn’t yet decided but I would just head out at dinnertime and start walking.  She convinced me that I might prefer a nice “last” home-cooked meal and a good night sleep in my own bed, with a fresh start in the morning.  I believed then as I do now, that my mom was wise and made a good point (although I was never one to admit it), and took her advice.

The next morning, jewelry box in hand, I said my good-byes to my family, and headed for the hills on foot.  I got about two blocks away, and decided I needed a better plan and returned home.

Do people travel because they are searching for something or are they running away from something?  Are we seeking to learn and discover a people and a place very different from what we know at home?   Certainly, many of you reading a travel blog have an appetite for adventure, and we seek to learn about a different time and place from our everyday world.

malori and barry in morocco

But as people travel do they take the time to do what they set out to do?  Are we experiencing other cultures or merely brushing by those living in a different place than us?  Are we really experiencing other cultures or just seeking to check off the sights on our bucket list and buy the souvenirs we think we are supposed to bring back?  We observe as so many people do just that.

malori with ice

I believe travel should be experiential.  If you only get one opportunity to visit someplace new, why not explore it by having a conversation with some of the locals?  There is nothing more rewarding than having a local child give you a smile out of sheer joy for life and because they are seeing you, a face different than the one they know.  You have opened their world as well.  Sometimes getting out to the countryside to experience life in the small villages requires a long bus ride, perhaps along a bumpy road, but isn’t that why you came in the first place?


I travel to experience places and people who are different than what I know at home.  I want to learn about their lives, their families, their holidays, food, religion and more.  I want to know how they see the world.  I want to not only touch the land, but also touch the hearts of the people I meet along the way, as they certainly touch mine.  That’s my souvenir.


I guess I didn’t really want to run away from my family when I was seven,  I wanted to know other families in addition to my own.  I wanted to explore the world… and I have been doing so ever since!


What an Amazing Summer

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

by Malori

Summers are always busy at Amazing Journeys and this was no exception. During three calendar months, we do nearly half of our year’s trips, and bring along nearly half of all of our year’s passengers! This summer, 250 amazing journeyers participated in a variety of trips to some incredible destinations.

From the North Pole to South America with Europe in-between, we covered a lot of the earth’s circumference.

We started with Spitsbergen, the closest place on earth to the North Pole.  Our adventure travelers headed north to Norway and then further north to the island of Svalbard in search of the polar bear and they were not disappointed.  Traveling by expedition ship, our Arctic travelers hiked on frozen tundra, rode on a sled pulled by dogs and were transported onto Spitsbergen by zodiac rafts.  Lots of wildlife was spotted, along with 30 polar bears!

med nice group
Next was our Mediterranean Cruise that began in amusing and colorful Barcelona, this group of 30s, 40s, and 50s, many of them new to Amazing Journeys, discovered Spain, France and Italy and visited some of the Mediterranean coasts most loved cities. We spent our days enjoying the beauty of the Amalfi Coast in Italy, the beaches and foods of Southern France in Nice and the excitement of Barcelona. Biking, wine tasting, pizza eating, walking miles and miles, all with a great group and the warm summer sun, this cruise brought everything we wanted and more!

Our National Parks trip to Colorado and Utah was the perfect summer vacation for those who love nature and beauty. And it’s all right in our own backyard! Visiting four of the US National Parks was a highlight, and having time to hike and soak in the grandeur of it all was breathtaking. Everyday brought new awe-inspiring beauty and adventure, including white water rafting on the Colorado River, a jeep adventure riding over huge rocks and mountains in Moab, Utah, and a highlight, watching sunset over Arches National Park and seeing the “purple mountains majesty” set against rocks so orange and red, it made us cry over it’s sheer beauty! And thanks to our Denver friends who came out to party with us one night in Denver…we loved seeing all of you!

jewish heritage group

Our 74 Amazing Journeyers experienced a different kind of journey on our Jewish Heritage River Cruise along the Danube River in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Some started in Prague, offering an extra few days of touring, while others began their journey in Munich. This trip, our first river cruise, was an opportunity to explore part of our heritage and with it, part of ourselves. It was truly a journey of discovery as we delved into our past and the turbulent times of our Jewish people. Each day was a new opportunity for education as we met with locals like the 101-year-old Holocaust survivor, spending Shabbat with the local community at the Synagogue of Linz, and walking through the same streets that our family members had done in the not-so-distant past. Every day seemed to bring a new realization of our past, and our family members. And, all loved the river cruise experience and said they would do it again!

peru group machu picchu
Peru and the Inca Trail, one of our summer trips, was offered to those in their 20s and 30s and this group got to challenge themselves on the 47 kilometer Inca Trail. This once-in-a-lifetime experience combined four days and three nights of hiking and camping, in the scenic valleys, mountains and high elevations of Peru. Their prize at the end of it all? Reaching Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate on the morning of the fourth day. They were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise, magnificent views, and bragging rights for life! They also enjoyed biking in Lima, the markets of Cusco, learning how to weave, visiting llamas and alpacas, tasting local foods and visiting ancient ruins which dot the country.

peru group
Our second Peru group, which was designed for our 40+ group of travelers, got to experience adventure as they hiked, biked and white water rafted their way through Peru. For this group of adventurers, visiting Machu Picchu, enjoying a cooking class and exploring ancient Incan sights were among the highlights.

For those who got to spend a part of their summer with Amazing Journeys, we thank you the opportunity to plan and share a part of your summer with you.

Come join us for next summer! We’re already planning and our trips will be appearing on our website soon! We’d love to show you our amazing world!


5 Scientific Reasons A Beach Vacation Is Necessary For Your Health

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

By James Cave, Originally posted on Huffington Post

If you don’t already have a beach vacation planned, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols’s new book will make you seriously reconsider. Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In , On, Or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, And Better At What You Do (that’s the whole title) is the result of over 10 years of research that shows how looking at water, being around it or in it coaxes our brains into releasing happy chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.

Below, five theories from Nichols’s book that totally “blue” our minds:

1. Water returns us to our natural state:

We’re connected to water from the onset of life. Babies’ bodies are 75 percent water. As we age, we become drier (only 60 percent), but our brains are still three-fourths water and even our bones are 31 percent water.

The brain, which rests in a kind of “clear, colorless cerebrospinal fluid” in our heads, reacts to water very fondly because, as Nichols writes, “our ancient ancestors came out of the water and evolved from swimming to crawling to walking. Human fetuses still have ‘gill-slit’ structures in their early stages of development,” and the water in our cells “is comparable to that found in the sea.”

This biological connection to water, Nichols told CBS News, triggers an immediate response in our brains. When you see or hear the ocean, he says, you know “you’re in the right place.”

2. We’re more relaxed along the coast:

Look at the picture above. Beautiful, right? The very sight of it, it turns out, subconsciously calms us, and Nichols cites a study (“Functional Neuroanatomy Associated with Natural and Urban Scenic Views in the Human Brain: 3.0T Functional MR Imaging,” to be precise) that shows how areas of the brain associated with less stress and more empathy are activated when we look at nature scenes. While pictures of urban landscapes elicited activity in the parts of our brains associated with stress, participants who were shown nature pictures had heightened activity in the parts associated with “positive outlook, emotional stability and the recollection of happy memories.”

And when it comes to nature views, the coast wins. Another study, “Human Brain Activation in Response to Visual Stimulation with Rural and Urban Scenery Pictures: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study, shows that coastal images were more effective than other nature images in activating participants’ reward systems — “an area rich in opioid receptors that triggers feelings of wellness,” Nichols writes.

3. Looking at pictures is good, but water is even better in real life:

While looking at pictures is one thing, it turns out the real-life natural world also wins over urban landscapes. Nichols references a 2011 study in which a smartphone app called Mappiness tracked the well-being levels of about 22,000 participants. The participants received random prompts to report how happy they were in that moment. According to the over 1.1 million responses that were sent in, not only were people happier when they were outside, they were 5.2 percent happier when near bodies of water.

4. Water rejuvenates a tired mind:

In a section titled, “Water, Nature, and the Optimum Brain,” Nichols illustrates that we now have more screens to touch, social networks to update and websites to refresh, and our fatigued brains need to recharge. Water, he theorizes, helps that happen.

He references a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology in 1995, titled “Views to Nature: Effects on Attention.” Researchers wanted to find out whether or not dorm students with views of beautiful nature scenes would do better on cognitive tests that measured attention, visual scanning and motor speed, over students with more urban views.

“The dorm rooms were grouped by the views from their windows: trees and a lake, lawns and buildings, and brick walls and slate rooftops,” Nichols writes. “Students whose rooms overlooked trees and the lake not only performed better on the cognitive tests but also rated their ‘attentional functioning’ as more effective than that of all of the other groups combined.” The study found that, not only does nature rejuvenate a tired mind, but “an attention-restoring experience can be as simple as looking at nature.”

5. Blue soothes:

Blue, it turns out, is the world’s favorite color. Nichols cites a 2003 research project that surveyed 232 people from around the world about their associations with various colors. Forty-two percent of men said blue was their favorite color, while 35 percent of the women surveyed said the same thing — a majority in both brackets.

Nichols isn’t surprised. We “evolved on a planet that is primarily shades of water and sky blue,” he writes, so it makes sense that blue stimulates a positive emotional response. He quotes neurosurgeon Amir Vokshoor, who explains that “the arousal mechanism stimulated by blue’s wavelengths correlates to the release of neurotransmitters thought to be associated with feelings of euphoria, joy, reward, and wellness related to the effects of dopamine.”

Nichols also cites a study in the journal Perceptual And Motor Skills, entitled “Effect Of Partition Board Color On Mood And Autonomic Nervous Function,” which found that we feel less fatigued and claustrophobic when we’re around the color blue.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with strudel

Friday, August 1st, 2014

- by Erin

The passengers on our upcoming Danube River Cruise will have the opportunity to taste local specialties of the region including crafted brews, indulgent chocolate and of course, homemade strudel.  In an attempt for everyone to get their fair share of pastry, we thought it was only fair to share a recipe for this delicious delicacy!

Apple strudel



Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ stick butter


Stuffing for Pastry

  • 2 lbs. green apples, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 oz. cinnamon
  • 2 oz. raisins
  • 3 oz. sugar
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • 1 egg yolk



Sift the flour and combine with sugar and salt. Mix the egg and oil together, and them with the dry ingredients. Add the water to the dough a tablespoon at a time and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. Form into a ball and set aside, covered for 30 minutes. Take the dough and roll it out as thinly as possible in a rectangle on a lightly floured pastry board. Drape the sheet of dough over your hands and stretch, being careful not to tear it. Continue until the sheet of dough is very thin, always working from the middle toward the edges until it reaches 18″ x 14″. Lay the sheet of dough on a well-floured pastry cloth. Brush with melted butter. In a bowl, mix the apples, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and dark rum. Spread immediately on the dough. Form a long, tightly tucked roll. Press the ends and seal. Butter an 18” x 12” oven tray with raised sides and preheat the oven to 475°. Beat the egg yolk and brush over the strudel, and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 475° then lower to 400° and bake for 20 minutes. Lower to 300° and bake and additional 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a large serving tray. Pour the juice from the pay over the strudel and set aside to cool. Serve either hot or cold, and garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Makes 10 servings


Greetings from the National Parks

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

- by Malori

Greetings from Colorado and Utah where we are visiting some of our country’s greatest treasures, it’s natural beauty. Our National Parks were created to preserve some of the most awe inspiring scenery anywhere. Our group of 18 Amazing Journeyers are hitting the open roads in search of America’s inspirational landscapes. Today we are in Moab, Utah where we visited our collective favorite, Arches National Park. We visited by day and hiked up to and climbed through several of the actual arches here. The red colored sandstone was nature at it’s finest! In the evening, we went back to an area called “Balanced Rock” to watch the sunset, and with the sun setting against the rocks, we observed the natural colors of the rocks changing from orange to “burnt orange” to red. The colors of the mountains in the background were purple and the clouds in the sky turned pink. It was so beautiful, we broke out singing, “America the Beautiful” together.

This morning, some of the group participated in an exhilarating Hummer Safari tour up and over the red rocks and to the face of the cliffs, overlooking the Colorado River below. The rest of the group choose a white water rafting adventure in the Colorado River, and most of the group escaped the 106 degree heat and jumped right in the water, swimming alongside of the raft.

Later, we visited Canyonlands National Park, another beauty in our four-National Parks Tour. The views and vistas were amazing, and the hiking at both of the National Parks in Utah were incredible.

Earlier in the week, we visited Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Denver and tomorrow we will be visiting Mesa Verde National Park.

The Amazing Journeyers who choose to come with us on this tour love seeing the majestic landscapes we have had the opportunity to visit.

New TSA security regulations

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

cell phone
Is your cell phone charged?

It will need to be going forward. In order to continually protect US borders, TSA has added an additional security regulation at certain overseas airports on inbound flights to the US. TSA agents might ask you to power on any electronic or battery-powered devices in front of them that you bring through airport security, including cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, etc. This is to demonstrate the item’s functionality. This new security regulation is focused on intercepting explosives that could be disguised as electronic devices. If you are asked to do this and your device does not have power, you will not be allowed to bring it through security.

Moral of the story – make sure all of the electronic devices are fully charged before you head to the airport.