Travel Expressions Ltd.'s Blog

We can't get enough of the Monograms way of travel. Have someone else do the legwork while you get to have all the fun? Count us in.

All Monograms tours give guests the VIP treatment: a Monograms Local Host and driver to pick you up and drop you off when you're arriving and departing from the city (no matter how you travel – we arrived by cruise ship and departed by air); a private guided tour of the city to see the highlights and get your feet under you; a selection of experiences integral to life in Rio or any of Monograms' world-wide destinations; plus your Local Host is available throughout your stay to provide tips and advice to make sure you get the very most out of your trip.

Watch the video above to see how we got the VIP treatment on a Monograms' tour of thrilling Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It's the perfect combination of independent traveling and having an expert local friend in town.

You can even cherry-pick from a number of optional experiences and excursions to customize your visit to your own personal interests. And you didn't have to do any of that research to find or check reviews to ensure you'll have a quality experience; the local experts have already done that for you.

And here are our top picks of optional experiences in other Monograms South America tours:

Argentina Highlights

See exciting Buenos Aires and some of the natural wonders of South America's most southern country. Your local host ensures you experience the best of one of South America's most exciting cities including the grave site of Eva Peron, heroine of the musical Evita!, the majesty of the world's widest boulevard, and the vivid colours of the port area La Boca. Fly to Patagonia to the foothills of the Andes to experience some of the world's most breathtaking vistas, then further south to a glacier park UNESCO World Heritage Site to see one of the world's few advancing glaciers as it 'calves' with chunks breaking away into the water.

Don't Miss these Optional Tours: the world's sexiest dance, a traditional Tango show in Buenos Aires, and the opportunity to visit a working Argentine ranch to see authentic gauchos at work.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Click here to see our Monograms Tour of Buenos Aires and optional Tango show.

Magical Columbia

Columbia is one of the world's travel hot spots and Monograms provides you with the insider guidance and local expertise to help you see the best of Columbia in this 8-day tour. Your local host connects you with local food and colonial architecture in Bogota, and also takes you up a funicular car ride 10,000 feet up to the best view of the city. In the coffee triangle area, you'll visit a coffee farm for a tasting and exploration of the coffee production process, and enjoy views over the Andes mountains. And you'll also get a private tour of the can't-miss sites of Cartagena's UNESCO World Heritage walled colonial historic district and get an insight into the area's Pre-Columbian culture, too.

Don't Miss this Optional Tour: Go 600 feet underground to a Columbian pilgrimage site and architectural masterpiece, a church unbelievably constructed in multiple tunnels of an old salt mine.

Ecuador Discovery

From the Pacific coast to Amazonian tropics to the heights of the Andes, Ecuador is one of the most geographically and ecologically diverse countries in South America. Your local host helps you get a taste of it all, beginning with Quito, near the equator, with its colonial Old Town, a fascinating local market and a nearby local school. You'll get into the countryside for a visit to a highland national park, a natural hot springs at your hotel, and a plantation that grows one of Ecuador's most famous and sweet-smelling export: roses. And you'll take a mountain top train ride of a lifetime to visit Incan, sun-worshipping ruins. Your visit also packs in a cocoa plantation, a panama hat factory.

Don't Miss this Optional Tour: to the Middle of the World.There's a monument in Ecuador at latitude 0 where you can literally straddle two hemispheres. It's a can't-beat photo op!

Peru Highlights

Peru's lost mountain top city of Machu Picchu is on every travel bucket list, and this Monograms tour even gives the opportunity to overnight in this mystical location. Start in Lima with a city tour with your Local Host and experience the 16th century Spanish colonial historic and modern sides of Peru's capital. After you fly to Cusco, you'll also get a guided tour that includes monasteries, ruins, an amphitheatre and a red fortress. You'll visit the sacred valley of the Incas and learn about the importance of alpaca/llamas in Inca culture as well as modern weaving and craftsmanship. Then a train takes you to Machu Picchu, the 'Lost City of the Incas' with your Local Host ensuring you see all its secrets.

Don't Miss this Optional Tour: Lima is home to the largest electronic water fountain complex in the world, and you won't want to miss the spectacle of the water, sound and light show in its Park.

Amazonia Voyage with Rio and Iguassu Falls

This will be 10 of the most memorable days of your life, including 3 days on a ship on the Amazon river. Monograms' Local Host takes you to Rio's mountain-top Corcovado, just like in our video. Then you'll fly to the record-breaking Iguassu Falls for a private guided tour of this 2-mile wide falls. You'll also get a private tour of Manaus' spectacular architecture constructed during the incredible 19th century rubber boom before boarding your Amazon river cruise ship where you'll experience jungle and wildlife and local river communities and their connection to the jungle around them

Don't Miss This Optional Tour: A Panoramic City Tour and Visit to Sugar Loaf Mountain gives you more view points over spectacular Rio and its waterfront as well as one of the best cable car rides on the planet.

- Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host, BestTrip.TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





Buenos Aires ranks high on travel bucket lists: an exciting, European-influenced city in a remote country, renowned for a passionate history and punching above its weight in contributions to global culture.

Argentina has given the world the breathtaking music and dance of tango, the legendary Eva Peron (immortalized in the timeless musical Evita!), some of the New World's best wines from its vineyards, finest beef from its ranches, not to mention its famed polo players, soccer stars, and rabid soccer fans.

With a European familiarity, but its own uniquely Argentine and Latin sensibility, Buenos Aires is a world capital where you want to make sure you don't miss a beat. So my colleagues and I decided to try Monograms.

It's a hybrid way to travel that cherry picks the best parts of doing it on your own, and combines them with the benefits of groups. Monograms promised all the pleasures of Buenos Aires, with someone else doing the hard work – and a Local Host to provide tips and insights and recommendations. Sounds like the dream way to travel, doesn't it?

Here are 6 Reasons to Take a Monograms Tour of Buenos Aires:

The Local Host

The Local Host is the hero of any Monograms story. Our guide Analia is a local who loves her city and is passionate about sharing it with guests. Even when she wasn't with us, she was available by phone. It's like visiting a friend in another city: they take you to and from the airport, help you with logistics, provide you with essential insider tips like the coolest restaurants and local tipping practices, take you to some places and recommend other places for you to explore on your own in your free time.


The Airport:

Independent travelers are used to that moment in Arrivals. You're tired after that long flight, you haul your bags off the belt, go through Immigration… then you're in Arrivals and you have to rally again to figure out the lay of the land as you longingly file past the signs being held up to greet other new arrivals that promise a warm welcome and assistance.

That VIP treatment is yours on a Monograms tour. Our guide Analia was waiting for us, her Monograms sign a welcome beacon in a busy airport. It's not like a large group tour either. No waiting for 30 other people to join us; our group of 3 was whisked off to a waiting mini van.

Luggage and Tipping:

Lugging luggage is the least fun part of any trip. Our bags were taken from us, loaded into the van, and at our hotel, unloaded, and handed to bellmen to take care of from there. A seamless hand-off with no fuss for us. We breezed into our hotel, all without lifting a finger. Or opening a wallet and fumbling with local currency. Tipping had already been taken care of.

Hotel:

Monograms tours include hotels, but you still get to customize your Buenos Aires experience. You can choose among different hotels at different price points and different neighborhoods to suit your own budget and interests in the city. Breakfast is included, so you can start your day off right and without having to figure that out.

In Buenos Aires, the breakfast buffet was so much more than a generic, 'international' meal. It was hard to resist delicious local dulce de leche (how do you make fresh pastries even better? Adding the local caramel sauce) and some of Argentina's famous meat in the form of thinly sliced cold cuts and sausages.

Our guide Analia escorted us in; the hotel staff knew her, and while our bags were being taken from the van to the lobby to our rooms, she smoothly arranged a late check out for us to accommodate our travel schedule. Our hotel was in a busy neighborhood, steps from local shops and cafes and on our first evening, we found the best restaurant around the corner, full of locals and only local dishes and wines – fantastic!

The Private Tour

What a wonderful way to get the lay of the land. And a private tour of the city with your guide is part of every Monograms tour.

Essential Buenos Aires includes the world's widest avenue (which Analia explained to us as we drove in from the airport), the famously and fabulously European architecture, the colorful and eccentric La Boca neighborhood, and even the cemetery in the Recoleta neighborhood, where Eva Peron's final resting place still draws fans and floral tributes. When we were chatting with Analia and she learned of my foodie side, she offered to change the private tour to include the wonderful local market. Although there are 'must see's' in every new city, we were so thrilled our Local Host and the tour was responsive and customizable to our own interests.

The Customization

Some of the customization, like changing up the private city tour to swing by the market, is spontaneous, but other ways to make the Monograms tour your own are baked in so you can put your own mark on your holiday.

Your choice of a selection of vetted hotels, your choice of additional, curated experiences that range from a hands-on culinary experience where you learn to make the famous beef empanadas, a tango show, or even exploring outside the city – a cruise on the Tigre river, or a visit to a real Argentine ranch where you can see 'gauchos' in action.

Plus, of course, plenty of non-programmed free time so we could do exactly what we wanted. I'd heard about the woman who makes the world's most famous tango shoes, so one free afternoon, we went on our own to the atelier of Comme il Faut for an extravaganza of extravagant, limited edition tango/party shoes. Wow!


Our Verdict:

Even in our short stay, we discovered the best of Buenos aires with Monograms. We loved having a 'back up team' even while we did our own thing, taking the inconveniences of travel off our hands, and providing us the that local contact during our tour and transfers in person, but available by phone throughout our stay who gave us that private, insiders' experience of the 'Paris of Latin America'.

By Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip.TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Intrepid Doubles Family-Themed Itineraries

Intrepid Travel is doubling its family-themed tours for 2017 with 48 itineraries tailored to families in two new styles of travel, Comfort and Active Family.

The decision to launch more than 20 tours comes as a result of the increasing demand for multi-generational travel. Intrepid Travel has also experienced significant demand for its teen trips, designed for ages 12 and up, inspiring the launch of teen trekking itineraries in Peru and Nepal, among other destinations.

“Intrepid Travel’s kid-friendly tours shake up the typical family vacation, offering a sense of adventure suited for all generations,” says Leigh Barnes, North America director for Intrepid Travel. “By significantly increasing our Family tours for 2017, we hope to be the go-to operator for family adventure travel.”

Ideal for meeting like-minded families, Intrepid Travel’s family-only adventures offer action-packed experiences steering off the beaten track, away from ball pits and buffets. Transforming travel into a form of education, the tours encourage families to use the world as their textbook by immersing into the destination and culture. With an average group size of 12, travelers can hop aboard local transportation, eat at family-run restaurants and kick back in home-stay accommodations. Family-friendly tours with 2017 departures offer one-of-a-kind experiences including:

  • Act like Mowgli in search for Shere Khan and other Bengal tigers for a true “Jungle Book” experience on the Comfort Northern India Family Holiday.
  • Visit Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park, recognized by World Animal Protection for its protection of elephant welfare, on the Thailand Family Holiday.
  • Punt along the waterways of the Okavango Delta’s vibrant ecosystem by traditional canoe, greeting grunting hippos on the Namibia & Botswana Family Adventure.
  • Take on life as a local Gozitan shepherd for the day, tending to animals, cutting corn, making ‘gbejniet’ cheese and preparing lunch with the host family during the Malta and Gozo Family Holiday.

Start your Trip!

A version of this article previously appeared in TravelPress.com

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Southfork Ranch, Dallas

 

 

Your trip to Dallas won’t be deemed complete without a day tour around the phenomenal Southfork Ranch, which is the set of a namesake Hollywood TV series. 
 
People who have watched and is planning to follow this long-running television series will find the Southfork tour as a fascinating experience, much like how a Daily Mail UK Travel writer’s dream came true when he first set foot in this ranch (“Addicted to Dallas: A Super-Fan’s Tour of Southfork Ranch as the Iconic Soap Returns”). Here’s an excerpt of his travel article as he takes on an escorted tour around the ranch grounds:
 
 
The inside is smaller than the interiors seen on screen. But then, scenes set ‘within’ the house are filmed in a much more expansive studio. And I am told that the ranch does not stretch out to the 100,000 acres that the show claims, but is a rather more humble 36,000 acres… For those that want souvenirs, Southfork has two shops. As an obsessive who cannot quite come to terms with being on such sacred turf, I am like a child in a sweet factory. I soon have a basket full of items displaying logos and dialogue quotes. In the second shop, I am unable to resist purchasing a big black cowboy hat. I put it on instantly and saunter outside. If only the shop had swing doors.
 
 

So contact our travel reps as soon as possible to begin your vacation in Dallas!

Photo Credit

Ortakoey Mosque

 

With Turkey’s various historical hotspots and countless waterfront resorts lining the seaboard of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, it’s not a surprise how it managed to draw over 31 million travelers each year – making it one of the top ten most visited countries on the globe.

In addition, its health care, culture and spa tourism is booming just recently, so it’s important that you properly plan your trip to this Eurasian country so that you could make the most out of your vacation. Aside from starting at its capital city, Ankara, one developing city you ought to check out is Antalya, which serves as a gateway to the country’s most beautiful beach resorts and strips of coast.

Furthermore, you could follow what Gareth Huw Davies of the Daily Mail UK Travel did as he listed six of the must-do travel activities in Turkey. This, of course, includes finding ‘riches in ruins’.

Below is a preview of his travel article:



We spend two nights in Canakkale, the ideal base for trips to nearby Troy and Gallipoli. Then we move down the west coast, via many quiet little fishing villages on the Aegean coast. The remains of the once-great Greek and Roman city of Pergamum (modern-day Bergama) are well worth a stop. It had the world's greatest library (after Alexandria), given by Mark Antony to Cleopatra. We head on south to Ephesus. This huge, sprawling site is one of the best preserved in the Mediterranean. The 44,000-seat stadium is one of the biggest in the ancient world. My advice is: stay in the nearby town of Selcuk and go there very early to beat the heat and the crowds.
 

Catch the rest of his travel post, and see what else awaits you during your Turkey vacation!
 

So speak with our travel reps today for more ideas on your next escapade to Turkey!

Photo Credit

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One of the reasons why Costa Rica is now becoming a magnet for nature lovers is because of its beaches, with the Caribbean Sea on its east and the Pacific Ocean on its western part. Nonetheless, there are more to this Central American country than its surf and sand as more and more protected areas and national parks are now being established all throughout the nation.

Take a look at a few of the many flora and fauna and stunning volcanic landscapes in this clip compiled by Cole Graham, who says,
 

My family spent two weeks in Costa Rica this Winter break. Being blown away by the beauty and scenery, I decided to make a video instead of focusing pictures when travelling.
I ended up with this short film.
 

Get more info on your next vacation in Costa Rica by speaking with us today!

Five Flower Lake in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve

 

 

Known as the Nine Village Valley in English, the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve or Jiuzhai Valley is a premier national park situated in South Western China’s Mt. Min Shan. 
 
Because of the super clear lakes, one-of-a-kind wildlife, magnificent falls and land forms of narrow conic karst, the Jiuzhai Valley is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Read on to know more about useful travel tips when visiting Jiuzhai Valley.
 
1. Clothes
 
Don’t be fooled by the warmth you enjoy during your day tour as the temperature will predictably drop at night. So you better pack up clothes to keep you warm as well as other necessary medications.
 
2. Protection
 
For some reason, you could expose yourself to too much UV rays when at the top, so make sure that you apply sunscreen and wear a hat or cap during your day tour. 
 
3. What to Include in the Tour
 
Make enough time to visit the entire valley to appreciate its real beauty. Although one- to two-day tours are available, three days allow you to check out the Shuzheng Quanhai Ditch and Zharu Temple in the first day. During your second day, you could check out Rizhe Ditch as well as the primitive forest, while spare the Zhezhawa Ditch, Long Sea and Huanglong Temple for your third day tour.
 
In general, visiting Sichuan province just to see the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve is a must-do activity when in China.
 

So start planning your trip to Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve today!

Photo Credit

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For a unique and authentic culinary experience consider Thailand's original Food Tours. Explore the city's tastiest neighborhoods, try different delicious Thai cuisine and learn about Thai culture and local history. Fun for all ages!

The company offers a variety of tour options: Historic Bangrak Food Tour, Chinatown Foodie Walk, Bangkok Bites & Bike Tour, and a Private Group Food Tour. All are fairly priced and well-reviewed

Check out their website for more information!

And contact us to help you on your way to this magical city!