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Magellan's Blog: Hear from the Travel Experts

  • Voluntourism: A lasting, positive impact

    With everyone from ex-presidents to movie stars getting involved in voluntourism, travel to underdeveloped and emerging nations isn’t just about seeing remote and exotic parts of the world. Today more and more travelers want their visit to have a more lasting impact than just dropping a few dollars into the local economy.

    Opportunities to do a little good (or a lot) on your vacation range from rehabbing Montana trails and New Orleans flood-affected areas to bringing fresh water and sanitation to remote areas of Asia, Africa, and South America. Travelers young and old are finding voluntourism as a means to immerse themselves into local cultures in ways more meaningful than the typical sanitized tours and safaris.

    You can find excursions that match your interests and skill levels, travel time, and budget. There are opportunities for teachers, medical pros, carpenters, and engineers to spend anywhere from a few days to several weeks helping on a huge variety of projects. Seniors are welcome, too. Hands Up Holidays is one of several voluntourism organizations that offer 4-5 days of volunteer work as part of longer “upmarket” luxury trips including ones tailored to the needs and interests of more mature travelers. As you browse the variety of voluntourism options, you will notice that several of these tours bring travelers to orphanages that lack even the most basic caregiving resources, so sometimes all that’s needed is a willingness to help for a few days. Continue reading

  • Dubai Ups the Ante for Cruises in 2014

    In an effort to build tourism in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the port of Dubai has announced the opening of a new expanded cruise terminal.

    A longtime favorite destination for shoppers from Asia and Europe, the Emirates will see nearly 100 cruise packages at the port of Dubai. All major cruise lines now or soon will have Dubai as a port of call. Itineraries spread east to India, Southeast Asia, Japan, China, and Australia. British operator Cunard Lines has departures from Southampton that traverse the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal with stops at Lisbon and Rome, and includes excursions along the canal to explore Egyptian antiquities at legendary sites such as Luxor and Karnak. There are even extended cruises from the U.S. and South America that call on several ports as they sail half way around the world.

    Sports tourism is growing in Dubai with major international golf, tennis, and horse racing events on the calendar.  Cultural sightseeing on the Arabian Peninsula is growing, but shopping is still king. Known for its market districts, called souks in Arabic, Dubai has modern malls and a large duty-free shopping area in the Dubai International Airport. The entire emirate transforms into a massive shopping mall and event center each year in January during the Dubai Shopping Festival. Continue reading

  • New Year Celebrations at Home and Away

    New Year's Eve at Times SquareEveryone knows about the Times Square celebration in New York City on New Year’s Eve.  Here’s a quick look at what you will find if your travels take you somewhere other than The Big Apple.

    North America

    Midnight kisses under the Bellagio fountain are a tradition on the Las Vegas Strip. Baby New Year drops from the top of the Jax Brewery in New Orleans in the French Quarter. Not to be outdone, a female impersonator descends from the Bourbon Street Pub in Key West in an eight-foot red shoe to “kick-off” celebrations.

    Fireworks are on display in Denver on the 16th Street Mall and from Toronto’s CNN Tower. NYE cruises around Vancouver Harbor feature buffet dinners, live DJs and midnight champagne.

    Latin America

    Celebrate at one of the massive gatherings at the Zócalo in Mexico City or Parque Fundidor in Monterrey. If headed that way, remember the cultural customs such as wearing red underwear to attract love or yellow to attract money. In Bolivia, it’s traditional to change your underwear at the stroke of midnight to start the year off fresh. In Ecuador, people burn pictures that remind them of times and people they want to forget. Continue reading

  • Travel Enriches Life: A wealth of experiences

    Photo Courtesy: Ron Stern, Magellan's Travel Contributor Photo Courtesy: Ron Stern, Magellan's Travel Contributor

    Travel can make us a better and more interesting individual: a better businessperson, leader, parent and citizen. Travel creates experiences we otherwise wouldn't have had if we stayed in our familiar backyard – experiences that can broaden our outlook on life and make us more effective and valuable to others.

    The simple act of witnessing how things are done by other cultures can lend new perspective to a wide variety of interactions, from everyday matters to sensitive issues in the workplace or community activities. So what’s the best way to make your travel experiences count? It all starts with planning and an open mind.

    Start by deciding what’s important to you. Where do you want to go and what do you want to be sure to see? Learn as much as you can on the Internet or in guidebooks before you leave. Talk with people who have been-there-done-that and ask questions. First-hand experience beats sanitized promotional material. But do consider the source: it may be that your co-worker’s goals are different from yours; or leisure and relaxation take the back seat when compared to your lust for culturally-diverse interaction. Continue reading

  • Traveling with Kids: Make it enjoyable...for everyone


    Worried about traveling with kids?  Enjoy the en route time with your family with tips from today's guest blogger, James Sullivan, a Magellan's team member.

    Christmas is coming, and so are a lot of travel plans.  For some of you, that will involve traveling with kids, a task that isn't always easy.  I have traveled around the world and have experienced many things: I have skied the Jungfrau Region of the Alps; spied over the Cliffs of Moher on Christmas Day; cruised on a moped with my wife on the Island of Mykonos; snorkeled the reefs of Bora Bora; viewed the palace of King Kasyapa on the top of Sigiriya. But all the travel experiences in the world can't prep you for the unpredictable things kids will say and do when traveling.  In all the adventures with my 8-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-year-old I have learned a few important tips that just might help you through your holiday season travels.

    Be Creative with Games

    In the airport, there are many games that you can play to pass the time while waiting for your flight.  I have installed line tag on many decorative airport floors.   The same decorative tile or carpet can also be used as an A to B game where my kids have to get from one side of the airport to the other while facing many obstacles and only touching selective colors or patterns. Continue reading

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