Give the Gift of Travel

young attractive student backpacker tourist taking selfie photo with mobile phone outdoors enjoying holidays travel destination in tourism and exploring concept

Fox World Travel’s Rebecca Kollmann recommends celebrating a loved one’s graduation with an experience that will last a lifetime.

When I graduated from college, a friend was surprised with the gift of a trip to Ireland with her grandparents. She was thrilled, and although I appreciated the gifts I received, the chance to spend a week on the Emerald Isle before venturing into a full-time job sounded so exciting. Twenty plus years, a husband and three children later, she still tells wonderful stories about her week in Ireland.

Whether it’s a short break relaxing while the grad celebrates a world with no more final exams, or a longer trip that speaks to interests you share, there are endless options available. They are also flexible – the graduate might have time to travel immediately, or may have more flexibility after they start their job and have vacation time coming in the fall or winter. Regardless of timing, this is a gift that will be treasured for years to come.

Europe is tried and true — with diverse cultures and incredibly rich history, it offers countless ways to inspire. Sample a number of areas on one trip through our escorted tours, or venture through the Italian or Spanish countryside on a biking tour. Specialty programs — such as cooking classes and wine tastings — provide a fun way to connect with local flavors. Our Travel Agents can customize your trip to include the activities most important to you.

Are wildlife and nature at the top of the list? Alaska offers an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime, from sea kayaking and hiking on glaciers to visiting frontier towns and viewing moose, bears, whales and other residents in their natural habitat. Explore by both land and sea.

While celebrating, include the entire family. Family-friendly all-inclusive resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean are perfect for a quick break or a longer stay, and offer an array of activities for everyone in your group. Whether relaxing on a sun-drenched beach, enjoying the crystal-blue water or taking advantage of the nightlife, these paradises include a full menu of activities for people of all ages.

For a unique experience, Iceland is trendy, yet traditional, and offers rugged beauty of geysers, glaciers and waterfalls combined with colorful nightlife. Alternatively, if you’re looking to combine sun and sand with rainforest and volcanos, Costa Rica offers it all.

Looking for more ideas? Contact a Travel Specialist at Fox World Travel – we love building memories for you and your family.

Tour of Europe with Deb King

Deb King, of Fox World Travel recently went on a trip to Europe with her 18 year old daughter who had never before been to Europe. Hear all about their trip here.

In June I traveled with my 18 year old daughter on Insight Vacations ~ European Breakaway itinerary. This was my daughter’s first trip to Europe, so I wanted to choose an itinerary that covered a number of countries to give her an overview of a variety of cultures.

london great britainTuesday, June 10: London  Our morning started off with the hotel fire alarms going off and quickly exiting the hotel so we missed our included breakfast at the hotel. Once they allowed us to get back into the hotel it was time for our half-day motorcoach tour of London. The tour was on a motorcoach supplied by a local London coach company, not Insight, and was a mix of people on a number of Insight tours that had their tours starting in London. It was a great overview tour of London with a couple stops for pictures.

That afternoon and evening instead of a tour, we decided to see London on our own. We shopped on Oxford Street, took a cab to see Abbey Road and sign the wall outside Abbey Studios, and then went on to ride the London Eye. Don’t be put off by long lines to board. The Eye is in constant motion and our wait was short.

Wednesday, June 11: Eurostar to Amsterdam  This morning we met our Tour Director – Gigi Bromage amsterdam-annefrankand the rest of our group in the lobby of the Thistle. Half of our group was made up of Australians, four New Zealanders and the rest from the US. There were two other families with teenage girls so it worked out well for my daughter to have a couple younger girls to spend time with. We transferred to London’s St Pancras Station and boarded the high-speed Eurostar. The two hour trip was very comfortable. The actual travel through the Channel Tunnel is only about 20 min – 30 min of the trip. Upon arrival in Brussels we met our Insight motorcoach (yeah! Incredible leg room!) and driver for our transfer to Amsterdam. Our hotel was the Movenpick City Centre in Amsterdam. It was about a 20 minute walk to city center, but a really nice hotel. That evening we had our Welcome Dinner with our tour group at the hotel.

amsterdam canal (2)

Thursday, June 12: Amsterdam, City of Canals  Our morning sightseeing tour included driving past the Mint Tower, floating Flower Market and Royal Palace in Dam Square. We boarded a canal cruiser to glide through the canals of Amsterdam. It was a great hour tour and we were able to see gabled mansions of the 17th century merchants, Anne Frank’s house, and the many houseboats that line the canal. After the cruise we went to one of the diamond houses and watched craftsmen cut and polish the stones.

tulips windmillIn the afternoon we decided to take the optional tour to Volendam. This was one of my favorite excursions. We first stopped at a typical Dutch windmill to see how they worked and met the owner. Then on to the picturesque village of Volendam, known for its wooden houses, traditional fishing boats and old harbor, it was a wonderful spot for lunch and shopping. Renoir and Picasso both spent time in this fishing village and some of the residents still wear the traditional Dutch clothing.

This evening we added another optional experience – a walk through the red light district, known as the “Sailors Quarter” and then on to a historic local restaurant for a 3- course dinner.

GR_RhineValleyFriday, June 13: Castles of the Rhine Valley & Heidelberg  Today we departed Amsterdam and traveled through the Pass Arnhem, renowned for its ‘Bridge Too Far’, before crossing the German border bound for the Romantic Rhine. Our first stop was in the river side village of Boppard, nestled on the largest loop of the Rhine. We had time to shop and lunch before we embarked on our Rhine Cruise. We boarded the cruise boat and had a leisurely 1 ½ hour cruise past steep vineyards, medieval hill-top castles and went by the Loreley Rock. The cruise offered food and drinks for purchase. Our Insight cruise included one drink. After the cruise we followed the Neckar River to Heidelberg.

Upon arrival we checked in to the Crowne Plaza Heidelberg and then took a walking tour in old town Heidelberg. The old town is a beautiful mix of cobble stone streets with great dining and shopping.

Saturday, June 14: Bavarian Alps and Innsbruck  Bavarian AlpsThis morning we checked out of the hotel and headed for Innsbruck. We traveled around the northern Black Forest and head for the Bavarian Alps. A highlight of the trip for me was a stop at the royal castles of Hohenschwangau and King Ludwig’s fairy-tale Neuschwanstein. We have a nice 1 ½ hour stop to give us time for our pictures and lunch.

Once over the Austrian border, we continued to Innsbruck. We checked into the Hilton Innsbruck and took a walking tour of old town in the afternoon.

Sunday, June 15: Fair Verona & Venice, Queen of the Adriatic  After an early breakfast we left Innsbruck and traveled across the Europa Bridge and the Brenner Pass into Italy. Follow the Adige River through beautiful scenery, we stopped in Verona. We enjoyed a tour of Verona, with its Roman Arena, maze of squares and saw Juliet’s balcony. We had time for lunch and shopping as well.

hotelThen, on to Venice! Our hotel, the Hilton Molino Stucky, was a beautiful five star hotel. Once a flourishing flourmill, it is now beautifully restored and has 379 charming and comfortable guest rooms. With capacity to host 1-1000 people, the hotel has the most contemporary and largest conference facility in Venice, as well as 14 fully serviced meeting and boardrooms.

That evening we took a short walk to a local restaurant for dinner. After dinner we took the Magical Venice optional tour. This was one of my best memories from our trip. We took a private water taxi to St Mark’s Square area. After a short walk to the center of it all, Piazza San Marco, where we had seats reserved outside a Venetian café. As the sun set we enjoyed a refreshment and the music of a live orchestra and in view of the illuminated buildings and the Grand Canal. Now quiet with most of the tourists gone for the day, we could enjoy the real Venice. It was a beautiful night! On the return we slowly cruised the Grand Canal looking at all the beautifully lit homes as we returned to our hotel.

Italy - Venice 4Monday, June 16: Venice & the magic of ‘La Serenissima’  The following morning, we visited a Venetian arts center where local experts, craftsmen still make gondolas by hand and blow glass into incredible works of art. We had time for shopping in the Venetian glass shop. Then via private launch we traveled to St Mark’s Square. We took a walk along the water’s edge to the Bridge of Sighs which connects the Doges’ Palace with the prisons and then on to our gondola ride including a private serenade as we made our way through the canals of Venice.

That afternoon we took the Insight optional tour to the beautiful island of Burano. After a 45 minute boat ride to Burano we arrived to see the candy colored houses. Known for its artisan lace makers and leaning bell tower, this charming island is the place to buy scarfs and clothing. We had a wonderful late lunch of local seafood specials and wine was included.

lucerneTuesday, June 17: Through the Alps & on to Lucerne  The next morning we traveled through the beautiful farmland as we crossed into northern Italy. We saw some of the beautiful Italian Lake District on our way into the heart of the Swiss Alps and beautiful Lucerne. Lucerne offers a collection of spires, steeples, medieval bridges and half-timbered houses, set beside Lake Lucerne. Our hotel was the Astoria located in the heart of Lucerne.

After settling into our hotel we took the optional Lake Lucerne Happy Hour Cruise. Considered to be the prettiest of the mountain lakes, much of the shoreline of Lake Lucerne can only be fully appreciated from the water. The hour and ½ cruise included two drinks.

Then we moved on to the optional Swiss Dinner experience. This was a wonderfully fun evening. Swiss fondue is one of my favorite foods and I was looking forward to showing my daughter that the fondue she has had in America is NOT real fondue! We were at a traditional Swiss restaurant with entertainment including a folklore show of flag throwing, yodeling, Alpenhorn blowing and other great Swiss entertainment during our dinner.

St. Moritz, SwitzerlandWednesday, June 18: Lucerne’s Lions & Mt. Pilatus  We started off our day with an optional tour to the Swiss Countryside. A local farmer took us on a horse-drawn carriage to his home. The scenery was incredible as we trotted around through the Swiss rural community. Upon arrival at the farm we had coffee, tea and homemade snacks of cheese, crackers and baked goods made by the family. It was a wonderful way to start the day. We then took the cog-wheel train and cable-car to the summit of one of Switzerland’s most famous mountains, Mount Pilatus. We saw amazing sights over the snow-capped Jungfrau and Eiger peaks. Our tour continued back in Lucerne to view the Lion Monument.

We then strolled across the Chapel Bridge to the ornate Jesuit Church and spent time shopping in Old Town. This evening, the included Dine-Around dinner was at a local upscale restaurant. We dined with 10 of our group and had a wonderful 3 course dinner including wine or beer.

seine river parisThursday, June 19: Paris  Today we drove from Lucerne to Basel before crossing the Rhine to enter France. We traveled through the wine-growing Burgundy region to Paris. This was a long day of driving and we arrived late afternoon at the Le’Meridien Etoile hotel.

Tonight was our final Celebration Dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we took the optional Paris Evening Illuminations tour! So beautiful to see Paris at night. We had the opportunity to stop for pictures along the way.

Friday, June 20: Paris  This morning we met our local guide for our Paris tour. She took us past Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. We saw the Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine once stood and down the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Included was the Eiffel Tower and we rode the express elevator to the famous viewing platforms.

Eiffel Tower 4In the afternoon we took a Paris Seine River cruise and also took a tour of the Louvre Museum and saw the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, Mona Lisa and more. Then a tour of Notre Dame Cathedral and a walk through the streets of the Latin Quarter, filled with bookshops, cafes, and restaurants.

In the evening we decided to do the optional dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge. While it’s an expensive evening, everyone should do it once. Our steak dinner was surprisingly good and the show was entertaining. Our whole group decided to do the show so it was a great way to finish off the tour with our new friends.

After the show a group of us went to the Hyatt hotel located across the street from our hotel and up to the 34th floor Bar La Vue Paris. This bar is supposed to have the most expensive drinks in Paris… and one of the best views. We saw the Eiffel Tower start to shimmer at 11:00pm when the lights lit up and started to twinkle. It was a perfect way to end the trip!

Saturday, June 21: Paris  I added an extra day in Paris for some down time and we spent the time walking and shopping along the Champs Élysées.

Sunday, June 22: Departure Home  We had a mid-morning departure for Charles de Galle Airport. Instead of Insights transfers I opted to purchase a private shuttle with Paris Shuttle. It was a beautiful town car and the driver was right on time. Our flights on Aer Lingus were on time and uneventful. I love going through Dublin as we were able to clear US customs there instead of Chicago.

My thoughts:  LOVED Insight! The motorcoach accommodations speak for themselves with the incredible leg room in their business class seating. The Signature dinner experiences in wonderful historic local restaurants and the little unexpected flourishes Gigi gave us throughout the trip made the two weeks special. A souvenir Eiffel Tower Key chain in Paris, Chocolates in Lucerne, and it goes on. The optional tours were excellent. Some of them were your basic add-on’s, but others were very personal and unique. They provide some of the most special moments during the two weeks. The tour was fluid. By that I mean Gigi changed us the itinerary when needed to take advantage of the best weather, or least amount of traffic, etc. It kept the tour comfortable and gave us the most enjoyable experience possible.

Packing: Packing to travel in multiple countries is never easy. Living out of a suitcase for two weeks needs to be organized and you add in a teenage girl who needs to take her closet with her, you have a recipe for disaster. So I purchased E-Bags Packing Cubes and fell in love. For anyone who travels, these are a life saver. Maren and I each had different colors. We were able to pack our clothing by type in the cubes and take out just what we needed each day. These are the best things since wheels were added to luggage in my opinion!!!! I find the medium, small and slim packing cubes are the best. The large are too big. You can find them at www.ebags.com.

Disney World with Jennifer Sabish: Tips and Tricks for that Perfect Family Vacation

Jennifer Sabish, of Fox World Travel, recently went on her first family trip to Disney World.  Hear her review of their newest features, and tips and tricks for planning that perfect family vacation!

This was our first family trip to Disney. We felt the kids were finally at the age to enjoy the whole experience. Since it was our first family trip I knew there were some things that were just must for us; staying on Disney grounds and making sure to visit all four parks. In June I found a promotion that offered free dining. This was exactly what we were looking for.

There are several dining plans. The free plan included in our package was the quick service plan. This plan provides two quick services meals and one snack per person per day. We opted to upgrade to the Disney Dining plan which offered us one snack, one quick service and one table service per person per day. This allowed us to have one nice sit down meal per day, which also included some charter dining experience. Reservations are highly recommended for table service meals, as they can be booked 180 days prior to arrival.

PEP_icon_illustrative_MagicBands_90We also opted to plan as much as we could prior to our arrival. This included ordering our MagicBands. This is a newer feature for Disney guest. All passes, FastPasses, meals, room access, and the ability to charge items back to your room is all loaded onto your band. You can customize your name and color of your band prior to arrival by ordering online. If you choose not to order yours prior to arrival you will be provided plain gray ones at check in. Our kids enjoyed picking out their colors and receiving them in the mail prior to departure. Another new feature is being able to reserve your FastPasses prior to arrival. These can be reserved 60 day prior to check-in for your entire stay. You may reserve up to 3 FastPasses per day at one theme park. After all, initial FastPasses are used on a given day you have the option to add an additional FastPass to be used that same day. The additional FastPass can only be made at a FastPass kiosk at the park you wish to select.

I would also highly recommend downloading the free Disney Experience app. This app links all your reservations made on the Disney Experience website to an app on your smartphone. It also lists attractions, character sites, dining options, entertainment times and more. We used this app most for checking wait times on rides throughout the parks and changing our FastPass times.

We opted to use the Disney Magical Express Transfers along with the luggage delivery service. Even though the lines for the transfers were long, we moved along quickly and were at our resort before we knew it. We really enjoyed the luggage delivery service. This allows you to go right to your transfers and not have to claim your bags. Disney will collect your bags and deliver then right to your room. Theart-of-animation-gallery06 service can take up to 4 hours. So make sure you take anything in your carry on you may need before your luggage arrives.

Our home for the next five nights was the value resort of Art of Animation. There are two room  categories at this resort. The Little Mermaid section offers standard rooms that sleep up to four adults. Rooms have two double beds or king bed. The other category is the family suites. These rooms sleep up to 6 adults offering one queen bed in a separate room with adjoining bath, a double size table bed, double size sofa sleeper and another bath. These suites also offer a mini kitchen with mini refrigerator, microwave and small sink. There are three themes to the family suites; Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars. Our choice was the Cars suite. Each section offer its own pool area, however; the Finding Nemo pool area is larger with bar and kids pool. They also have a movie under the stars area near this pool that shows Disney movies nightly.

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Our room was not ready when we checked it. However, that was not a problem for us. We checked our other bags and took Disney shuttle to EPCOT. Disney shuttles run every 10-15 minutes between the resorts to parks and park to park. We spent the remainder of our day at EPCOT and had dinner at the Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. This was our first character akershus-royal-banquet-hall-gallery03dining experience. Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora and Ariel stop at each table for autographs and photos. I felt this was a more private time to visit the Princesses so we didn’t have to stand in long lines to see them at the park. Plus the meal was included in our dining plan. After dinner we viewed IllumiNations, a firework to music show over the reflection pond near World of Showcase.

Monday we spent the day at Hollywood Studios. Frozen has been a big addition to this park; offering a Frozen parade including all the favorites and even snow. This park is more compact than the others; making getting around the park fairly quickly. Our sit down meal for the night was the 50’s Prime Time Café. We loved this dining experience. It is set up like a 50’s family kitchen offering old fashion American comfort foods; like fried chicken, pot roast, and meat loaf. This restaurant also offered a bar (Dad’s Liquor Cabinet) offering both kid and adult drinks with electric ice cubes to light up your drinks.

magic-kingdomTuesday we spent the day at Magic Kingdom. This, of course, was the park the kids were waiting for the most. We used our Disney App to find the shortest wait times and were able to get through the park and rides pretty easily. We were able to view Disney Dance Party parade at 11am which allowed the kids to dance with characters and the Festival of Fantasy parade in the afternoon; this parade offers all Princesses, Mickey and friends. Finding a place to stand can be difficult. Start early or opt to use your FastPass for preferred seating area. Our dining for this evening was at the Contemporary Resort for dinner with Mickey and friends. This was an easy transfer by the use of the monorail. This dining option was buffet style with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto coming around to all tables for autographs and photos. We took the monorail back to Magic Kingdom after dinner to view the Main Street Electrical Parade and fireworks over the castle. Again, finding a place to sit/stand can be difficult. We were lucky to find a great location on the bridge in front of the castle which gave us prime seating for both.

animal-kingdom-gallery06Wednesday we spent most of the day at Animal Kingdom. This was the one park that I had not been to yet, so I was looking forward to my first visit. Best part of our day was the Kilimanjaro Safari where we took an open jeep through the park to view the animals. Since we were on one of the first rides of the day we were able to view all the animals except lions. We all really enjoyed getting wet on the Kali River Rapids. Our favorite roller-coaster through the whole trip was Expedition Everest. This is the one park that I would say you wouldn’t need a full day at. However, that could all change once they complete all the renovations and new attractions. Once we completed Animal Kingdom we headed back to EPCOT for dinner and finish up the few items we missed on Sunday. This evening we ate dinner at Coral Reef Restaurant. We enjoyed dining with views of a living coral reef and underwater sea life with views of the aquarium. After dinner, we were also lucky to have short wait times at Soarin’, another one of our favorites. We then walked through World of Showcase. We enjoyed seeing what all the countries looked like, eat and drink.

tonys-town-square-restaurant-00Thursday was our final day at Disney. We headed to Magic Kingdom to finish what we missed on Tuesday. Due to short wait times we were able to ride our favorite at Magic Kingdom, 7 Dwarf Mine Train. This is the newest Disney rollercoaster and was a big hit with the whole family. We choose to do our sit down meal today for lunch at Tony’s Town Square. The restaurant made famous by the movie Lady and the Tramp.

We, of course, had our entire souvenir shopping to do yet. We boarded the Disney Shuttle to one of the resorts and transferred shuttles to Downtown Disney. This was a great place to find all of your Disney favorite souvenirs. Plus some great restaurants and other shopping stores. We finished up just as it started raining and headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready for our early departure the next day.

Friday we were heading home. We had already check-in for our Southwest flight the day prior. Disney offers the ability to check your bags at your Disney resorts and they will be taken directly to the airport and checked with your airline. This gave us the opportunity to have our breakfast and get to ready for our shuttle trip back to the airport. Our return flight was on time and was back in Milwaukee before we knew it. Just a quick call to the Clarion our shuttle was on our way to pick us up.

All in all this was a great family vacation!  To find out more about planning your own Disney Vacation contact a travel agent today.