Sustainability is important in all aspects of our lives. People are making more conscious choices that will have a better impact on our communities and the environment. We are realizing that there is only one planet earth and we need to take proper care of it. Many people have made sustainable changes in their daily lives, but have you thought about how you can make your traveling experience more sustainable?
So what exactly is it?
The World Tourism Organization defines the term 'sustainable travel' as "tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities." It goes far beyond refusing plastic straws and bringing a canvas tote to the grocery store, it is striving to leave the areas and communities you visit better off than when you arrived.
The Three Pillars of Sustainability (via Landlopers)
Environmental Sustainability: The environment is obviously important to tourism. Both the natural environment (such as beaches, forests, waterways) and the built environment (such as historic buildings and ruins) must be preserved for an area to be environmentally sustainable. Environmental sustainability means making sure resources in an area (whatever they may be) can be preserved for use by future generations. It’s much more than just being “green.”
Socio-cultural Sustainability: When an area starts being visited by tourists, there are bound to be some social and cultural impacts of those tourists on the host community. Locals may see increased congestion and overcrowding in towns and cities, perhaps an increase in crime, the introduction of new languages and values, and perhaps even an influx of migrant workers to be employed in the tourist industry. Socio-cultural sustainability, then, means minimizing these negative impacts and focusing on more positive ones, such as promoting cultural exchange and preserving local traditions. This can usually be achieved by getting the locals involved in the tourism industry. Having the community involved will not only offer visitors a more genuine experience, but the locals will be more likely to see tourism in a positive light because they will be proud of it.
Economic Sustainability: The last pillar of sustainability revolves around perhaps the most important part – the money. Many people don’t take into account economics when thinking about sustainability, but it’s really the key to making a tourism venture sustainable. Economic sustainability means building linkages and reducing leakages – essentially, keeping the money local. A hotel or company owned and operated by a foreigner is not likely to contribute much to the local economy – the money will likely leak overseas instead. This is not sustainable. Not only should the community be involved in tourism, but they should also all share in the financial benefits gleaned from it.
Ensemble's Sustainability Efforts
As a proud member of Ensemble, we support the recent sustainability initiatives being taken on by the travel consortia. David Harris, Ensemble CEO, announced at the annual travel conference in October 2019 that Ensemble has partnered with nonprofit Cool Effect. This "enables Ensemble members to offset their clients’ flights quickly and easily using its Offset Tool" (afar.com).
We are looking forward this partnership, as well as eagerly awaiting even more sustainable travel initiatives.
Things You Can Do to Become a More Sustainable Traveler
This Mexican resort town is one of the best spots for your spring break getaway! Whether you want to spend your trip laying on the beach or experiencing a new adventure every day, Puerto Vallarta is the place for you. Make sure you take some time to discover the thriving downtown area and explore like a local. For a truly unique experience, visit Choco Museo. Take a free tour of this chocolate museum or enhance your time with a Bean to Bar or Truffle Workshop where you can learn about cacao and chocolate. You also get to make your own chocolate to take home!
Playa del Carmen
Spend your spring break in this top Mexican destination. If you plan on traveling with a group, many resorts in Playa del Carmen are very accommodating. We recommend booking your trip earlier to guarantee there will be enough space for your group at your desired hotel or resort. Spend a day relaxing on a catamaran or take a Chichen Itza tour to explore ancient Mayan ruins, which has recently been named one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Unleash your inner foodie with a food and drink tour to discover the area's local delicacies. There is truly something for everyone!
Cabo san Lucas
Can you tell that Mexico is a great spring break spot? With the breathtaking sunsets, stunning beaches and fun atmosphere, a great time is in store for you! Cabo san Lucas is known for its beaches, water-based activities and nightlife. Make sure you stop and see the famous 'El Arco' rock formation, you may even see sea lions while you're there! Cabo is also perfect for golf lovers, as it is home to some of the top golf courses in Mexico.
If you are looking for an Instagram-worthy vacation, the Bahamas is the perfect destination for you! The top three things you MUST do in the Bahamas are (1) swim with the pigs at Big Major Cay, (2) walk the Pink Sands Beach on the eastern Atlantic Ocean side of Harbour Island and (3) explore Dean's Blue Hole. These spots will not only make for the perfect Instagram, but also will give you once-in-a-lifetime memories you will only be able to make in the Bahamas!
Punta Cana is a great destination for families! There are numerous kid-friendly resorts that give the kids an awesome adventure while still giving the parents a relaxing getaway. Many of these resorts have kids' and teens' clubs with activities and entertainment perfect for any age group. If your children are animal lovers, take a half-day excursion to Dolphin Island, an open-ocean dolphin habitat. Here you can swim with dolphins, manta rays and nurse sharks! Or hike and horseback ride through Fun Fun Cave, one of Punta Cana's largest natural caves. This is a great activity if you are traveling with teenagers looking for an adventure.
Looking for a romantic spring break getaway? Jamaica is the perfect backdrop for couples to enjoy some "us time" with numerous adults-only resorts and endless amounts of beautiful views. While you're there be sure to enjoy a couples massage or a candle-lit dinner on the beach at sunset. You can spend your stay relaxing, or channel your inner wild child with adventurous zip lining or rafting excursions. Jamaica is popular spot for destination weddings and honeymoons, so you can expect to find yourself in company with other couples just like you!
SPRING BREAK TRAVEL TIPS
- Stay hydrated
- Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, hats and sunglasses
- Try something new
- Attempt to not over pack (we're guilty of this one sometimes!)
- Use a Travel Consultant to plan your trip
Call 314.439.5700 or email us!
1. Get plenty of sleep before and during your trip
2. Stay hydrated
3. Slow down
4. Eat a balanced diet
5. Wash your hands
6. Give yourself time to recover after trip
Create A Fun Itinerary Graphic
Plan a Themed Photoshoot
Plan Ahead and Make Reservations!
Dress Up Like Iconic Celebrities
Be a Real “Tourist” & Book a Tour!
Have Matching T-Shirts Made
Have a Psychic Join the Fun
Go See/Listen to Live Music
Create “Goodie Bags” for Your Guests
Top U.S. Bachelorette Party Destinations
Call 314-439-5700 ext. 134 or email her.
Keep reading to find out their top picks!
Reusable Water Bottle and Snacks
My husband and I have always been huge Disney fans which means we absolutely love to vacation at Walt Disney World. My entire pregnancy people told me "you know you have to wait years before you go back to Disney World?" because people knew I would be dying to go back there and to most people it sounds like a miserable idea to take a baby to Disney. Well, when I announced I was planning to take my baby to Walt Disney World I got tons of push back! Of course I was a little nervous, but guess what - taking my 10-month-old to Disney was the best decision I ever made and I can't wait to go back with him! I will say it definitely was a different type of Disney vacation than what I've been used to, but it was completely worth it and here are some of my tips for taking your baby to Disney:
1. Be on your baby's schedule
On previous Disney vacations my husband and I would be the first ones in the park and the last to leave each day. We had to ride every ride, see every show and close out the night with fireworks. Unfortunately, this plan doesn't work too well with a baby. Nap time, feedings and bedtime all have to be taken into consideration. But this doesn't mean you can't still have fun! Be sure to have a stroller that you can recline back so baby can nap during the day and you can walk around the Park or get a yummy snack. Also, slowing down your pace will actually allow you to enjoy more of the Parks than constantly being on the go, which we definitely learned on this trip. Don't expect your baby will be awake for every photo opportunity. You have to learn to just go with the flow.
2. Ship baby necessities to your resort
If you plan to fly to Walt Disney World it's not practical to pack diapers, formula and food in your suitcase. You'll lose valuable space and you'll probably get stuck paying for heavy luggage fees at the airport. Instead, go on Amazon before your trip and select the items that your baby needs the most and have them shipped to the resort you're staying at. This was a lifesaver for us! I chose everything I needed and changed the shipping address to the resort. Be sure to include "Guest" with your name and check-in date on the shipping label so they can easily find the package when you check in.
3. Pack a change of clothes each day
Accidents and babies go hand in hand. You just never know when something will happen to a baby's clothes. Be sure that before you head out to the Parks each day that you have a spare change of clothes in your diaper bag. To quickly locate everything I recommend putting the change of clothes in a Ziplock bag, and this will also help keep the soiled clothes separate from everything else in your bag. Trust me, accidents WILL happen.
4. Mark your stroller
Any time you want to hop on a ride you have to leave your stroller in the sea of stroller parking. It can be difficult to quickly identify which stroller is yours, so to help out be sure to have a sign that you can attach to the back of your stroller. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, you could use a brightly colored ribbon. However I like to be a little extra and full of Disney flair, so I had a custom sign made that I found here on Etsy. Remember, don't leave valuables in your stroller!
5. Get a stroller fan
I can't emphasize this enough, you have to get a fan to clip on your stroller! There is almost nothing hotter than the Florida sun and you have to have something to keep your baby cool. I purchased this rechargeable fan on Amazon and it worked wonders. We clipped it to the top of the stroller so our son couldn't mess with it but it was securely aimed on him at all times.
6. Utilize Fastpasses for baby-friendly rides
Fastpasses are free with your park admission and they're a great way to make your ride-planning much easier. You get three Fastpasses that you can book in advance, and once you've used all your Fastpasses at one park you can request additional passes. To avoid waiting in lines and causing our son to get restless, we only went on rides if we had a Fastpass (or if there wasn't a long wait time). They made our day so laid back and our son thoroughly enjoyed every ride he went on! Our son got to experience The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Frozen Ever After, "it's a small world", Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan's Flight, The Voyage of The Little Mermaid, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover and Kilimanjaro Safari. I loved how his face would light up with curiosity, he would let out happy squeals and clap his hands to songs!
7. Book Character Dining experiences
My son is obsessed with watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I knew I wanted him to have the chance to meet all of the characters. The best place to do this is at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. I booked this during breakfast when I knew it wouldn't interfere with nap time and he would be in good spirits. It was the best way for us to have one-on-one time with each character without having to wait in long lines to meet them. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy all came to meet our son and he just couldn't get enough of them! It even brought a few tears to this Disney momma's eye.
8. Document as much as you can
Since Disney is so dear to my heart I wanted to document as many moments as I could with my son. Before the trip I made "first" signs for different experiences I knew my son would have throughout Walt Disney World. It made us pause during the day to appreciate little moments and take in different experiences in a new way. Not to mention I have so many more pictures for our photo album because I captured the moment!
Bottom line, just go with the flow and you'll have a fantastic time! To book your Walt Disney World vacation, contact Brentwood Travel at 314-439-5700 or send us an email!
A strong desire to travel.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? From beautiful islands to rolling green hills, we want to see it all! We asked our staff and these are Brentwood Travel's current top destinations giving us wanderlust.
"I just had some clients get back from 14 days on Star Clippers in Greece! Ever since I heard of Star Clippers I’ve wanted to sail on one of their ships. I think the small ship experience would be so unique. Greece is moving higher on my bucket list after hearing my clients rave about the beauty of Mykonos and their ports in Turkey!"
- Stacey Hoehne, Leisure Supervisor & Senior Travel Consultant
"I have two places that are currently giving me wanderlust. The first being Ireland because Joe (fiance) and I have officially begun planning our honeymoon and we chose to self-drive all around Ireland! My extensive research is giving me the ULTIMATE wanderlust. Places like Galway, Ring of Kerry with the Skelling Ring are on our list as well as our future stay at the beautiful Ashford Castle..."
"...The other place I keep thinking back to is Grenada in the Caribbean. In the midst of planning our honeymoon and wedding I keep thinking back to our amazing stay on that beautiful island and the engagement itself. Plus, I could KILL for unlimited sushi and piña coladas by the beach right about now!"
- Christine Hakenjos, Travel Consultant
Give us a call at (314) 439-5700 or email us to make your dream getaway come to life
"The cruise itself was amazing and we want to thank our Travel Consultant Stacey Hoehne for the wonderful dinner on our first night and the strawberries and champagne!
A highlight during our voyage was our balcony stateroom especially as it gave us the option to open the partition between our room and my parents which was fun! We also got up in the middle of the night while going through the inside passage and watched as we threaded that ship through a needle while sitting on our balcony in our robes. And it was a full moon that night!
One morning we were sitting out on our balcony and a humpback literally waved one of its fins at us. This was the first cruise that I’ve taken were you can see land all around most of the time. It was incredible when a momma brown bear and her 3 cubs were spotted on the shore and the captain would get us as close as he possibly could! And we spent many nights watching the sunset in the Crow’s Nest. The onboard naturalists were incredible and we all learned a lot about Alaska. The ship board credit also came in handy and we appreciated it. Food was good and service was great!
It really was a trip of a lifetime with my family and we all have awesome pictures of the trip and great memories. I believe that every single human being on this planet should see the many wonders that I saw in Alaska!”
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or send her an email
to begin planning an amazing Alaska Adventure!
Here in the United States, we have Americanized Italian plates to a crazy amount. Most Italian restaurants that we know, offer enormous portion sizes of their pastas that are easily big enough to share. This is NOT the case in Italy. The pasta in Italy, considered there as “Primo” is individually sized and this is not because the cook is being stingy. Italians like to stagger their meals. They eat their appetizers first, then their pasta and THEN their main entrée. By keeping their pasta dish to a smaller size, Italians hold on to their appetites long enough to full enjoy all courses without feeling too stuffed. Leaving room for plenty Tiramisu for dessert!
When ordering a Pepperoni Pizza in Italy, you will get a pizza pie covered in peppers. Why? Because pepperoni in Italy means ‘bell peppers’. Pizza originated in Italy, but again, we have Americanized the Italian Pizza to a crazy amount. For example, BBQ chicken pizza, Hawaiian pizza & yes, even the pepperoni pizza originated here in the United States. NOT Italy. The traditional pizzas found in Italy will be the Margherita (mozzarella, tomato & basil), the Marinara (which is just crust & tomato sauce), the Quattro Formaggi (white pizza with four types of cheese), and the Capricciosa (artichokes, ham, mushrooms, and black olives). So keep this in mind when going to order your favorite pizza pie in Italy!
As noted above, Italians stagger the way they eat. Enjoying the antipasta before moving on to first course (pasta/risotto/soup). The second course is either a meat or fish dish. This is why you will NEVER see a meat or fish entrée served on the same plate as your pasta. Italians consider these as two separate dishes that should be enjoyed separately, with the pasta being served before the main dish. Insider tip: Split your antipasta and then order either a pasta or an entrée. If you are STILL hungry, you can always go back for more 😉
We come from a land with AT LEAST five drinks choices being offered on almost any menu here in the States. At many sit-down restaurants, Italians will only sip on two drinks; wine and water. The wine in Italy will be served in chilled glass bottles and will usually cost about 2 euros per bottle. The waiter will usually ask you if you want “acqua naturale” which is flat mineral water or “acqua frizzante” which is fizzy mineral water also known as sparkling water. Do not ask for tap water, most restaurants will refuse to serve that to you. House wines can be ordered by the liter and are usually the same price as the water! Most will offer wine by the bottle also.
“Italian dressing” in Italy does not exist. That salad dressing was (yes, you guessed it) Americanized as well! When ordering a salad in Italy, the waiter will bring extra virgin olive oil and vinegar to the table or “olio e aceto”. This is the only way Italians eat insalata. Another fun fact! Italians will absolutely not dip their bread into olive oil and balsamic.
With foods like pizza, pasta and focaccia most think that Italians eat nothing BUT carbs. This is actually not the case. When ordering pasta, Italians would never consider eating their bread before their bucatini. The bread that is served at restaurants is used to scoop up the leftover pasta sauce onto your plate and ONLY when you are finished consuming the pasta.
#7. There are no such things as “doggy bags” to bring leftovers with you.
Italians love fresh, homemade meals. They do not appreciate leftovers the way we do here in the states. You must be careful not to over order while dining in Italy. The pasta that is left on your plate will be taken away and not returned back to you. So, enjoy the food that is in front of you while you can but do not expect to take it home with you.
#8. Some dishes will not exist in all of Italy.
Rome is world famous for Carbonara. Florence is known for its Fagioli and Venetians go crazy for their risotto. Wherever you travel in Italy, each region will provide you their own flavors. So the food you enjoy in Rome will not necessarily resemble what you enjoy in Sorrento. Insider tip: before heading to Italy, do some research as to the local specialties in each of the places that you will be staying.
#9. Cheese does not always go on your dish.
It is not customary to ask for grated cheese on top of your dish. Sprinkling grated cheese on pasta dishes and Italian entrees is yet again a very American thing to do. Unless your waiter offers you a spoonful of grated cheese, do not ask for it. It is not meant to be on that dish or it will be offered after it is served.
#10. Enjoy a caffe or digestive after dinner.
Only foreigners will order a cappuccino with or after dinner in Italy. Italians would much rather order a caffe or macchiato after savoring a full, slow meal. Cappuccino’s are filled with milk and cream and is considered much too heavy after consuming a bunch of carbs. It is also very common to order a caffe corretto after dining, which is a shot of espresso spiked with liqueur. Insider tip: NEVER pass up on dessert while in Italy.
Here in the States, we are so accustomed to the waiter bringing us our check when we are finished dining. This is not the case in Italy. The waiters in Italy want you to sit and enjoy your meal and do not want to hurry you out the door. Instead, they will wait for you to ask for the bill (which you can simply do so by flagging them down and requesting the “il conto” when you are ready to pay because they do not want to rush you out the door.
#12. Peel your fruits and vegetables.
Italians do not consume fruits and vegetables with the skin on them. They will always peel the skin off first. Many think that this is because Italians think the pesticides are unhealthy but most will say that this is because of tradition. If you start to bite into a fruit that still has the skin on it, you will most likely have the fruit ripped from your hand and the skin cut off for you by a local. Don’t get embarrassed this way 😉
It is considered rude in Italy to arrive early or on time to a dinner event. Italians will always try and arrive just a tad after the planned time as to not rush the host or chef.
Below you can find pictures shared by Travel Consultant Julie Skrainka, who travelled to Sorrento back in May. She & her husband, Alan spent an evening at their Agriturismo making pizzas with their host Natalia, her mother-in-law and her husband Luigi. Once Julie & her husband were finished creating their pizza masterpieces, Luigi then baked them in their own beautiful wood-fired oven.
Hungry for your next Italian adventure?
Contact us to get started on planning your next vacation to Italy!
Call us: 314-439-5700
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We started our trip by flying into Vancouver two days before our cruise was scheduled to depart. We stayed at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel which was in a great location for exploring the city. To see some of the beautiful scenery in the surrounding area, we booked a small group tour with a local guide. He took us North to Squamish, where we were able to see Shannon Falls, the Sea to Sky Gondola, and the famous suspension bridges.
On May 27, we were able to board our ship: Holland America’s Westerdam. We spent the afternoon exploring the ship, and when it was time to depart Vancouver, we made our way to the top deck for the Bon Voyage party. The scenery was beautiful as we sailed out of the port and began our journey North to Alaska!
Our first full day on the ship was a day at sea. We decided to hangout on the top deck and enjoy the sunny weather while keeping an eye out for whales and dolphins. That evening we cruised through the inside passage, and the crew opened up the bow of the ship so we could all get a great view as we sailed forward! We then went to dinner in the main dining room and got a table next to a window to continue enjoying the passing scenery.
The first port we visited was Ketchikan, where we booked an excursion to go sea kayaking. Ketchikan is known for being the rainiest city in Alaska, and even though there was a light rain falling when we started our tour, the guides were prepared with rain gear that kept us completely dry as we paddled through the peaceful coves! After our kayaking adventure, we walked through the famous Creek Street. The sun came out and we had perfect weather as we did some shopping and sampled local beers. We then returned to the ship and spotted lots of eagles as we sailed on to our next port!
Our next stop was Juneau, Alaska’s capitol city. We started or day by visiting the famous Mendenhall Glacier. We took a leisurely hike down to the lake for a closer view of the glacier and Nugget Falls.
Our next adventure in Juneau was an excursion that I had been looking forward to for months. We had decided to splurge and book a helicopter tour to a dogsled camp on top of a glacier, and it was definitely worth it! The helicopter ride took about 15 minutes each way, and the views from the sky were stunning. When we landed at the dogsled camp, the workers there gave us an insight to their way of life and let us meet some of their sled dogs. (As an animal lover, I was in heaven!) They hooked up a sled and we took off on a ride around the snow-covered glacier. I was happy to see how much the dogs loved running through the snow, and we could see that they were well taken care of by their handlers. This tour was very well done and was a highlight of the trip!
Our next port was Skagway, which is known for the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. We had planned to take the famous train excursion, but there was a landslide the night before and the railroad was closed for repairs. Instead, we took a bus tour up the Klondike Highway (which runs parallel to the train route) and had a great time! Our local driver made multiple stops for us to get out and take pictures of the beautiful scenery, and we spotted a family of bears hanging out right next to the highway.
We spent the rest of the day hiking a local trail, sampling the local breweries, and walking around the historic town before heading back to the ship.
Another highlight of our cruise was sailing through Glacier Bay National Park. The weather was perfect as we sat out on the top deck and watched the glaciers calving into the water below. The captain was able to slowly rotate the ship to make sure that everyone got a great view. Holland America had invited park rangers onboard to talk about the surrounding area, and they were available to help spot wildlife and answer any questions.
When we arrived in Seward, we were sad to leave the ship, but excited to head up to Denali! We boarded a motor coach and began the drive North. We were able to stop at Potter Marsh for some free time and wildlife watching, and then we continued our drive. As we approached the park, our driver stopped at a scenic viewing point and we got our first look at the massive Denali Mountain! We then arrived at the impressive McKinley Chalet, which would be our home for the next 3 nights.
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On our first morning in Denali, we took the Tundra Wilderness Tour into the National Park. This tour took us far into the park with a guide that kept us well informed, and we were able to see lots of bears, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep. The tour took us to an incredible viewing point where we were lucky enough to see Denali’s mountain peak for a second time! That evening, we enjoyed the campfire and live music at the chalet after a wonderful meal at a local restaurant.
Because we booked a Triple Denali tour, we had another day in the park to do whatever we wanted! We decided to go whitewater rafting, and even though the water was freezing, our wetsuits kept us warm and dry. Our experienced guide told us fun stories about his life in Alaska and kept us safe as we paddled through the rapids. After our exciting rafting tour, we took a relaxing hike that followed a river and led us to a scenic mountainside with a whole family of caribou.
After our adventure in Denali, we boarded the McKinley Explorer for our scenic train ride back to Anchorage. The dome windows gave us great visibility as we traveled through the mountains. There were lots of food and drink options available onboard and we had a guide that gave us information about the areas we were passing through. This was a fun and comfortable way to make the 8-hour journey!
We had one night in Anchorage, and then our flight home was late the next day. We had lots of fun walking around town, shopping, and trying out more local breweries! I was glad that we had free time to explore this unique town before heading back to reality.
Overall, this was an amazing vacation! Holland America did a fantastic job of helping us experience Alaska by land and sea. The transition from the ship to Denali was seamless and very well organized. Each employee we met was so kind and helpful, and I would highly recommend Holland America for anyone who wants to visit Alaska. Many people consider this a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but we enjoyed it so much that I know I’ll be back again someday!
Contact Maggie at 314-439-5700 ext. 120 or send her an email to begin planning your Alaska adventure.
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