2020 - Amazing Journeys

Archive for 2020

Wanderlust Blog

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.

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Amazing Journeys Update

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Dear Amazing Journeyers,

I hope this message finds you and your family members well. We have enjoyed seeing and hearing about all that our travelers have been doing while staying home to keep themselves busy. Whether you’re baking, exercising, cleaning out closets, finding entertaining things to binge watch or creating things to make others smile, we hope you’re all healthy and finding comfort during this unique time in our lives. If you’re like us here at Amazing Journeys, you can’t wait to hit the road and get back out there, seeing the world. We hope you’ve been enjoying our multitude of online opportunities to gather together, whether it be our Lunch & Learn, Trivia, Happy Hours or Kabbalat Shabbat programs.

While the world is repairing, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your thoughts and concerns for us, our families and our business. I am confident that travel will one day resume… when it’s safe to do so, and when it does, Amazing Journeys will be right there to offer you the amazing travel programs you have come to expect from us. Those of you who had signed up for trips that were postponed or cancelled know that Amazing Journeys was there for you, and offered to refund all of your money… no questions asked. At a time when there was so much worry over potential loss of income, loss of value in the markets and threat of illness, we wanted to lessen that stress as much as possible. When the time is right, we want our travelers to be excited about their upcoming vacation plans, rather than being apprehensive in any way.

Never before in history has the entire world been closed off to tourism. There will be many changes in the world as a result of COVID-19 including travel, with regard to social distancing practices, protective gear and procedures followed by airlines, hotels, tour groups, cruises and more. We recently outlined some of these things during an online zoom presentation we offered last week. If you were not able to join us, we invite you to click here to watch the recording (password is AJ2020/2021 and it is set in two recordings that will play one right after another).

We have also recently offered a survey so that you can tell us what’s important to you when traveling. We’ve had a great response with over 200 participants. We’d love to hear from you and know your thoughts.  If you have not yet filled out the survey, please click here.

At this time, we will plan to resume our trips, starting with those scheduled for the Fall of 2020. In addition, we have recently announced our 2021 line-up. With social distancing in mind, Amazing Journeys will be offering travel opportunities to take you to off-the-beaten-path destinations, where you can learn about the countries and their people, their culture and take in the beautiful landscapes. We have lots of experiential components built into the itineraries as well. We’ll offer smaller group experiences, allowing for a more intimate experience on the road, with our guides and with other Amazing Journeyers on your tour. We will be partnering with companies who allow us greater flexibility in our terms and conditions, whereby we are able to lessen our penalties as much as possible, should the need to cancel arise. Finally, we are working with global suppliers who offer a “cancel for any reason travel waiver” which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before the start of your trip and get all of your money back. Very few tour operators offer this, but we are partnering with these companies so that at least 50% of our upcoming trips will offer this option. Because of all of this and more, we believe our upcoming line-up will offer travel in a way you, our clients, want to experience travel at this moment in time.

We would like to share our 2020/2021 line-up with you below. If you have interest in a specific destination, click on the link below the trip for more details or to be placed on an Interest List. Once on that list, you will be the first to know about any of these upcoming trips before the general public.

We miss traveling but most importantly, we miss you. Our team is looking forward to the day when we can all leave our nests and fly. And when we do, we hope it will be on an Amazing Journey with you.

Stay healthy and wishing you all the best,

Malori

Malori Asman, CTC, MCC
Chief Amazement Officer, Amazing Journeys
412.571.0220 (phone) | 412.344.3937 (fax)
733 Valleyview Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15243 (address)
www.amazingjourneys.net (web)

 

Upcoming Amazing Journeys

National Parks of the Southwest (Arizona, Utah, Nevada)
October 2-9, 2020
Click here for trip details

Australia & New Zealand
October 29 – November 14, 2020
Click here for trip details

New Year’s Cruise to Cozumel & Key West
December 28, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List 

Adventures in Croatia
April 28 – May 8, 2021
Click here for trip details

Morocco
May 14 – 23, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

Israel
June 6 – 15, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

France River Cruise
June 30 – July 6, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

Norwegian Fjords Cruise
July 11 – 18, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

Ireland
July 24 – August 1, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

Scotland
August 1 – 11, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List 

Greece by Land
September 27 – October 10, 2021
Click here to be added to the Interest List

Polar Bears in Churchill
October 15 – 19, 2021
Click here for trip details

Giving Back

Monday, April 13th, 2020

by Michele

TRAVEL:  A gift we often give to ourselves that keeps on giving.  We get so much good from our journeys; amazing experiences, friendships, photographs, souvenirs and the list goes on!

Thousands of people come to us with an appetite for travel; looking for adventures, new places to visit and memories to create.  Time away from the ordinary, travel gives people the chance to have unique experiences with different cultures where you walk away not only grateful for what you have but also with an understanding of other cultures.  Travel gives people the chance to learn and enrich your life as well as those of others.  You gain a beautiful understanding of what makes this world… amazing.   Immersing  yourself in a new culture and meeting locals allows personal growth with so much to absorb.  As a result, we also find opportunities to open our hearts even more and extend a helping hand.  There is always time for giving back!

For two decades now, one truly special opportunity is when our groups make a difference in the lives of others.  Not only do we get so much out of traveling, we can give so much as well.

For our first decade, Amazing Journeys pledged to grant a travel wish to a child through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Upon returning home from an Amazing Journey trip, our passengers might contribute to this fund and Amazing Journeys would match it.  Not only were our passengers able to fulfill their life-long dream exploring a destination, they were eager to make that happen for a child that may not have a lifetime to dream such dreams.

In Africa and Asia, we have taken clothing and school supplies.  In Africa our groups visited a school and took time to celebrate in song. In Cuba we took supplies, medicines, vitamins, hygiene products and the like to distribute them along the way to those in need.

In Vietnam and Cambodia, we have packed up clothing and dropped them off in very small and distant villages. In India, we visited an orphanage where they had a need for books, vitamins and school supplies. In Namibia and Tanzania, our group distributed school supplies to children a long the way.

As happy as these little gifts made the locals, it doesn’t compare to the feeling one gets seeing the difference that we can make in another’s life and the power of a smile put on someone’s face. ”We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Under Construction

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

by Erin

The Seven Wonders of the World… UNESCO World Heritage Sites… 1,000 Places to See Before You Die – there are plenty of lists out there of destinations that you should put on your bucket list, but what happens when you finally get to that place and it is under construction?

Millions of people travel each year to these top rated destinations, but in order to keep them upright, clean and open for viewing, there is required maintenance to keep the buildings intact.  Or sometimes, the original building is still taking place years and years later.  Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, for example, began construction on March 19, 1882 and is still taking part in its original build.  The Taj Mahal in Agra, by comparison, was built between 1631 and 1648 and has been completed since then, but needs regular maintenance to keep the building clean and to prevent the four free-standing minarets from collapsing.

So if you get to one of these famous places and it is surrounded by cranes and tarps and construction materials, don’t get upset.  Just realize that this is happening out of necessity to preserve the buildings for years to come and either help to document the construction or get creative with your picture taking!

Dressing the Part

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

by Erin

Have you ever been to a party and found out too late that you were not dressed appropriately?  You are either dressed up too much or are not fancy enough… it’s enough to throw you off your game for the entire night.  Sometimes, just dressing the part makes you feel more comfortable and makes you feel like you fit in.

We have found that one of the most fun parts of travel is donning the garb of the locals!   And not just grabbing a hat for a picture, but really dressing the part!  Like each of the four times we have brought a group to India, one evening is spent dining at a local home wearing sarees, bangles and henna.  We are dressed by experts so we are sure to wrap them the right way, and it is just such a fun experience to look truly local.  Also, you get an instant souvenir (but have to figure out when you get home just how to wrap it correctly on your own).

If the opportunity doesn’t always present itself on land, you make your own party on a ship and dress local.  Each time we are in Greece, we strip the bed, wrap ourselves up in sheets and host a toga party!  The cabin stewards may not appreciate the party as much as we do, but we sure know how to make an entrance into the dining room with a crowd clothed in sheets!

And if all else fails and you don’t have the time to match your outfit to the locals, just figure out what it is that makes them unique and copy them in any way that you can!

Standing out in a crowd

Monday, March 16th, 2020

by Erin

One of the reasons we travel is to see different cultures, meet different people, eat different food and experience different customs.  If you are not willing to do any of those things, you might as well stay home.  

In some destinations, the only thing giving up the fact that we are tourists is that we are traveling everywhere in a group, following a sign, wearing tennis shoes and walking with our cameras up and taking pictures of everything – besides that, we look like everyone that surrounds us.  In other places, we stick out even more, standing out in a crowd, clearly announcing that we are not from here and not quite fitting in.  But in the latter instance, I have always felt welcomed with friendly locals greeting us, showing us something that is unique to their culture or practicing their English with us.

I find that one of the most rewarding parts of travel is people watching and interacting with those that we are visiting.  I encourage others to say hello, not shying away from the fact that we are different or do not speak the same language, but rather trying to find our similarities with creative communication.

I’ve also found that the less we look like the locals, the more they want to take pictures of us and with us.  Walking around China and India, a group of white Americans stood out and we were virtual celebrities in certain places where the locals are not use to seeing foreigners.

So when you are traveling, don’t be shy and hide behind your camera – jump in the picture, make a new friend, interact with the locals and make a memory in a new country!

Weathering the Storm

Friday, March 13th, 2020

by Malori

You have no doubt been inundated with information regarding the coronavirus. This is not the first time since our founding two decades ago that a global event has led to uncertainty around travel, and it won’t be the last.

I want to assure you that your well-being now and in the future is of the utmost importance to us. Those who are traveling with Amazing Journeys on upcoming trips have received personal emails throughout this crisis. We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation via the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and the State Department. We trust their information as well as the on-the-ground advice from our travel partners and our in-country partners and staff to make educated decisions about our trips, while not overreacting and keeping it in perspective among the other potential risks we may encounter in everyday life, whether traveling or at home.

For those who have reached out to us with concern over our well-being as a company and as individuals during these trying times in the travel industry, we thank you for your concern.  I have weathered many storms during my tenure in travel and I know from experience it’s all about having the right raingear.  We are well-positioned to ride this out.  Fortunately, I am the sole owner of Amazing Journeys and can make quick and well-informed decisions. I run a debt-free operation and have since day one.  What does all of this mean?  Amazing Journeys is here for the long-run.

I strive to be a responsible citizen and so I have asked my staff to work from their homes for the coming days and possibly weeks. As always, please feel free to contact any of our team at any time.

Email: info@amazingjourneys.net
Phone: 412.571.0220
Please be sure to leave a message so that we can return your call

As your Amazing Journeys family, please remember that we are here for you now and in the future. It was travel that brought us together in the first place and not only will we get through this together, but we look forward to traveling together for many years to come.

We thank you for your complete trust in Amazing Journeys and hope we see a day in the very near future when our adventurous travelers are back on cruise ships, tour busses and planes, heading once again to the destinations of their dreams.  And when you do, we hope that you will allow Amazing Journeys once again to help you indulge in your wanderlust.

Wishing you good health and comfort in the coming weeks,

Malori and the Team at Amazing Journeys

Indescribable Antarctica

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

by Erin

It has been said that the only people who can describe Antarctica are those who have never been, and I could not agree more!  Having been home for a week now, I am still processing the fact that we stepped foot on Antarctica – the frozen continent – and am having trouble putting the experience into words.

The scenery was breathtaking and truly indescribable.  I found myself fighting with my camera because it wasn’t taking pictures that could capture the beauty, grandeur, immense scale and vastness of what I was seeing with my eyes.  Videos weren’t doing it either and the only thing that I could do was stand there, in that moment, and try to commit everything to memory – the chill of the air, the sound as the ship sailed through icy water, the sun reflecting off glaciers and the height of the mountains that surrounded us.  We experienced all types of weather, and in each one, the lands and waters surrounding us was different.  My favorite part was hopping into a zodiac, sailing away from the ship and finding a quiet spot just to sit and observe.  And in the age of Facebook, Instagram and getting that truly post-able picture, I also reminded myself just to be in the moment.

Traveling to such a remote destination, a continent that only 51,000 people visit a year (less people than it takes to fill a football stadium), is not easy.  It took 10+ hours to fly to Buenos Aires, 3+ hours to fly to Ushuaia, 2+ days cruising through Drake Passage and potentially some of the roughest seas on Earth, but when you wake up, look out the window and see massive icebergs floating by you, you realize that it is totally worth it!

Each stop that we made was different – there was a day where we walked around with penguins and climbed to the top of a ridge for a beautiful view, a day where we visited an Antarctic research station, a day where we walked around the edge of a once active volcano and a day where we went ice swimming.  Each experience was unique and even those who have been to Antarctica will have experienced something different as each sailing charts its own course depending on the weather conditions.

While I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have now been to Antarctica, and have the daunting task of going through over 3000 pictures, I don’t think I will ever truly grasp the sights that I saw, the silence that I experienced or just how magical nature truly is in a destination as untouched as Antarctica.

What Was The Craziest Gift You Have Ever Received?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

Amazing Journeys has been honored and blessed to have received a multitude of gifts over our 20 years of trip planning and guiding.  I want to say right from the start, we are not encouraging gifting on our behalf – we are honored by your patronage and presence on our trips and that is the only gift we are hoping ever to receive.

Of course, we have received the traditional gifts of flowers, pictures, stuffed animals, edible fruit, deli trays, lunch for the staff, candy, jewelry, hats and books.  We are always flattered to receive them and are so grateful at the kindness behind the gift.  The cards are thoughtful and usually contain  notes of thanks for an amazing trip or once-in-a-lifetime experience but more often, they are thanking us when we have introduced them to their basherte, “saved” them from natural disaster or introduced them to a destination that they never thought they would visit.

On a recent trip to South America, someone asked, “what was the craziest gift you have ever received?” That brought to the forefront an entirely different category!  We wanted to share with you what we think are the most fun, craziest and most loved gifts we have received. The photo above speaks for itself… yes, there is an Amazing Journeys bra, a moose hat, bedazzled underwear and so much more!

Thank you to those who have honored us over the years with your appreciative nature, your fun and enthusiasm, and most importantly, your friendship.

We are so grateful~
Malori

AJs 20th Anniversary!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020