The White House announced new provisions in support of transgender and LGBTQI+ rights. Americans will be able to choose an “X” in the gender portion of their passport applications – a move towards a gender-neutral and inclusive passport. The “X” choice is also going to be allowed on U.S. Social Security cards. These measures aim to provide leeway and choice for intersex, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals who do not identify with either male or female…It’s just after midnight, June 21, 2016, and I’m standing on the street outside the Reykjavik pub from which I have just emerged.  The sky above is clear and bright.  Perhaps not as bright as when I went into the pub three hours ago but, then again, neither am I. In the last 24 hours, I rafted (and swam) a glacial river, photographed a massive waterfall from dozens of angles, explored a terrain pitted with…Travel is about access to new and different possibilities. To those individuals with physical or medical disabilities, however, the word “access” takes on an a multi-dimensional meaning. Accessible travel is a goal, an adventure, a state of mind. Increasingly, accessible travel is a concern for the tens of thousands of senior adults that are now seeking new experiences in all corners of the globe. As used here, “accessible travel” means travel that takes into consideration…The Roscoe Head (24 Roscoe Street) is an authentic English public house bursting with character which has survived the onslaught on the super pub chains. It’s a local city centre pub which remains unspoiled; with patrons from all walks of life – regulars like Zutons singer Dave McCabe and ‘The Wire’ playwright Jimmy McGovern make for some interesting backroom debates. Pop in on quiz night and you may well meet Billy Hatton, former band member…There’s a quiet culinary uprising catching on in Norway; a new-found pride and a change in attitude towards food traditions. This has given rise to the production of local and organic produce which people in the know claim is the result of their climatic conditions and landscape. To find out what makes fjord food so distinctive, I sought the advice from food producers, chefs, artisan bakers and farmers. From Cheese… Following a brief ferry trip…If you are bored with the uniformity of five-star hotels and prefer personalized treatment, a daily gourmet food experience, sport followed by wellness to recover, you want to read on. The 89-roomed Grand Park, with its understated elegance and obliging service staff, is Bad Hofgastein’s only five-star hotel. Its location is perfection, in the midst of the Alps, the gateway to world-class hiking and skiing. The hotel itself, Georgian in style, is located well for…Here’s a fact seldom discussed when the topic of travel agents arises. When the airlines began cutting commissions to travel agents in the mid-90′s, the real problem wasn’t commissions. No, the airlines had another reason for wanting travel agents out of the picture. Travel agents told clients how to obtain the lowest fare. Call American Airlines directly and they don’t tell you Delta has a lower fare. But a travel agent would. Know what? They…Fifty-two miles south of Salzburg, surrounded by the imposing Austrian Alps, with their broad slopes and wide runs, is the piste-perfect ski resort of Grossarl – an idyllic winter sports mini break in a picture postcard setting. The hotel to call home is the 4 star-superior Grossarler Hof, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. They opened in 2009 and already have a host of awards and accolades. Committed to nature …Who has not been captivated by tales of knights and dragons, of medieval feuds, battles and betrayals? Serving as the backdrop for each of these stories is a castle. Visiting a castle can provide a playground for the imagination, allowing the mind to revel in legend and lore. Walking through grand halls past suits of armor, torches and tapestries, one cannot fathom so many stories embedded in stone. More than a getaway from the stresses…In the 19th century, Flachau was Austria’s regional centre of iron smelting. Now though, it’s one of the largest ski resorts in Ski amadé with 270 lifts and 760km of slopes, snowboarding, tobogganing, tubing, cross-country and downhill skiing. The village has combined technology with top-class ski facilities and has modern lifts sweep skiers above manicured slopes, whisking them to the top of the mountain. Long quiet runs cater for everyone – from beginners, to connoisseurs,…Considered the jewel of the Austrian Alps, the Gastein Valley lies an hour south of Salzburg, in the heart of the majestic Austrian Alps. Other than the fantastic thermal spa and panoramic views of the Hohe Tauern National Park, the mountains surrounding Gastein are what it’s all about. From the west side of the valley, cable cars rise two miles to the summit of Stubnerkogel. From there, a variety of ski runs and several lifts…Austria’s Ski amadé is a sensory experience; a colourful explosion of blue sky, white snow and emerald green trees; interspersed with aromatic aromas of local cuisine and the silken taste of Austrian wine (their secret weapon!). It sharpens your senses – it’s chaotic, intoxicating, raw, in-your-face and utterly exciting. Like the perfectly groomed pistes which give you access to viewpoints such as the Kraftorte recovery point, where nature comes into focus and opens up unexpected…Now is the time for wine and nature lovers to rejoice; not only do Sussex vineyards produce beautiful wines, they also provide opportunities to sample, tour the vineyards and meet the Vintners. Fizz On Foot, who offers guided walk and wine tasting tours, combine the great outdoors with walks through great British wine country. From a one-day buffet lunch and wine-tasting tour to a four-day, several vineyards trek, you’ll see the spectacular Sussex countryside as…Lately I’ve had a lot of bad luck with my luggage while traveling on long-haul flights. My bags were delayed three trips in a row – reaching my destination only 1 to 3 days after I had arrived. After these three consecutive luggage mishaps, I was confident the airlines could not mess up a fourth time. They didn’t – but my bout of bad luck did not end with that fourth flight. Arriving at Paris…

Read about what’s Hoppin’

If you are like most who have never been to Hawaii, the state’s islands blend into a mass of unpronounceable vowels and indistinct images of a tropical paradise. The geography of the islands is not difficult, however, and all it takes is one trip to make visitors long to become…

Five good reasons to use a travel agent

Yes, you can research and book your own travel. The internet on the other side of your computer screen is a virtual cornucopia of information about travel. Deals and specials to every corner of the earth seem just a few keystrokes and a credit card charge away. But are there good reasons to use a travel agent? We think so. Here are the best reasons to use a travel agent and to have their telephone number handy when you first begin to plan your next trip or cruise.

Travel agents customize your trip

When you purchase travel from one of the large travel website companies, you take what is offered, an “off the shelf” product, essentially one size fits all. A travel advisor, however, will begin your travel plans by asking you lots of questions about your preferences,, your likes and dislikes and your travel history. By doing this the travel professional can customize your itinerary to better suit your personal tastes and needs.

Verify and validate your research

Do you like doing your own travel research? Great! A good travel consultant will work with you to ensure your research is accurate and can validate your choices. In fact, a common misperception is to think travel agents “sell travel,” which is not truly accurate. Travel agents do, however, assist clients to make good buying decisions. Because travel consultants are continually working and researching in the travel industry, they know about special programs you might not know about or discover on your own. Travel agents also can suggest possibilities you might not consider leading to an unexpected adventure on a river cruise instead of the trip to the beach you were considering.

Travel advisors recommend good suppliers

Which hotel should you choose in New Orleans? What tour operator should you use to Russia? Want to go on an African safari? Each of these decisions bring into play the travel suppliers who do sell travel to the public and who vary greatly in quality. Further, the supplier that is best for me may not at all be suitable for you. One of the key functions of a travel advisor is to match the client with a compatible supplier taking into consideration all of the preferences of the traveler. Travel professionals have personal experience with these suppliers, know their industry reputation and can help you avoid dubious offers. Their insider knowledge can be invaluable.

Price and Value

Think you get a better deal booking on your own? Good travel consultants think in terms of value. Price is only one component of the value equation. Value considers attributes of the supplier like reputation, location, amenities, level of service and then takes your own preferences into account. A travel advisor will seek to find the best possible travel options for you at the best price possible. In almost every instance, you would actually pay the same or more for the equivalent trip with far less certainty. Why might you possibly pay more? Agencies typically work through industry associations providing upgrades, credits and insider deals they then pass along to their clients at no charge.

Troubleshooting and advocacy

No matter how good your travel karma, not everything on a journey always goes according to plan. In just the past few years we have seen volcanos, strikes, airline outages, weather and many other unforeseen events disrupt travel on a large scale. When the unforeseen happens, the travel agent can be there to assist you with arranging alternative travel. Likewise, when a problem occurs while you are on the trip, your travel agent is both advisor and advocate. They can work on your behalf with a supplier when something goes awry, even after you return home.

Travelhoppers seeks to inspire a community of travelers that respects the road, respects the people we visit, and those with whom we travel.
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