A hugely diverse country, Malaysia is a hidden gem in Southeast Asia that is rich with culture, wildlife, and activities. It's a country where you can experience the beauty of tropical islands, enjoy the glitz of big city lights, come eye to eye with endangered species, wake up to the sounds of the rainforest, and feel like a local being invited into homes with open arms. Malaysia is one place that probably isn't on your bucket list, but it should be.
My (Annie's) first encounter with Malaysia was when I visited my father's childhood home in a small town on the island of Borneo. This wondrous place had so many new sights, smells, and sounds. Throughout my journey I developed lasting friendships with locals who were so proud to teach me about their home land. And we're all still friends...so you can trust that you'll be in good hands when you visit!
Singapore is a major metropolitan city-state well known for its financial prowess. Although every inch of conference centers & offices have been trod by business travelers, few have stepped outside to meander the streets of Chinatown or local night markets to discover the true essence of Singapore. We examine Singapore's split from Malaysia in 1965 and the vision that led the country to its current state. And of course, we discover the food! Singaporeans are notorious for being serious about their food...from traditional dishes served by old aunties & uncles in the night markets to modern restaurants serving up the finest in culinary experiences.
The people have spoken! Italy was chosen by popular vote as a dream destination for discovering food culture, and we couldn't agree more. We visit regions where so many well known foods originated such as parmigiano-reggiano cheese, pizza, prosciutto, limoncello, and of course many wineries. We'll lead you to some undiscovered treasures and you'll feel like a local getting into making fresh pasta and visiting local farms.
Out of the most selfish of reasons, I traveled to Peru in 2016. It had been one of my top-3 bucket list destinations since living in Chile 10 years prior. Coincidentally, Peru had been gaining popularity on the travel circuit so I altered my "vacation" to include more destinations for a well rounded research trip. During my trip I fell in love with the stunning scenery of the Sacred Valley, the colorful clothing worn in small villages in the Andes, the delicious local cuisine, and the artsy neighborhoods of Lima. Although I had high expectations, Peru managed to exceed every one of them!
Will you offer travel to other countries?
Yes! We offer local, authentic travel experiences to many destinations but they might not be on our website. If your'e interested in a specific destination and want to do a private tour please email us. There are many places where we have the contacts and the experiences but we haven't yet developed a set itinerary; we can always put together a custom trip for you.
What are the hotels like?
Although our travelers are adventurous they prefer a comfortable, clean room at the end of the day. We partner exclusively with accommodations that have received 4 to 5 star ratings. We also prefer to work with hotels that exude some local culture or feeling in their property. We live by the 4 c's - cleanliness, character, comfort, and convenient location!
Will I have to carry my own bags?
Porterage of bags is typically taken care of so you don't have to worry about your bags. When transferring from hotel to hotel you will leave your bags in the room and they will magically appear in your next room! There are certain times when you may have to carry or roll your own luggage, typically when traveling by train or plane. Please consult your Terms & Conditions for specifics on your tour.
What is the minimum number of people for a private small group tour?
Six people is the minimum for a small group tour, and twelve people is our maximum group size. However, if you're a smaller or larger group we can put together a custom itinerary with more or fewer services as your budget permits. Please contact us.
How much walking / activity is involved in the tours?
The amount of activity varies by tour and destination. Most of our trips have at least one walking tour where you should be comfortable walking at a casual pace on uneven roads or sidewalks for at least 3 hours with short breaks in between movement. We have had some clients join us during recovery from surgeries where it’s made their walking more difficult. In those situations we can try to make alternatives available or offer the option to opt out of more intense walking activities. Please contact us before booking a trip if you have limitations that you are concerned about. We want to make sure that your vacation is comfortable for you!
How are small group tours different from private travel?
Small group tours give you a few companions with whom you will experience a prearranged itinerary where you don't have any worries or planning. Plus you'll have a Tour Director available to you around the clock. That person will be there to make sure you have whatever you need, whenever you need it. Your Tour Director is also your travel buddy and host - they know the locals so you’ll feel like you’re being introduced and welcomed as a friend.
Private travel gives you the flexibility to have more input on the activities, accommodations, or dates of travel. You can opt to have more services and as much or as little arranged for you in advance. If your group size or budget permits, we can also have a Tour Director escort you on your journey. We find that with some groups, like multi-generational family travelers, it helps to have an onsite coordinator who is ten-steps ahead, who has already thought about Grandma’s 5:13 PM ritual glass of wine and Timmy-two-year-old’s 7:00 PM bed time, and how to accommodate them both.
What is not included in the tours?
Our small group trips do not include international airfare to the arrival city and from the departure city. However, any regional transportation (train or air travel) is included in your tour package. Any incidental costs such as laundry, room service, souvenirs, etc. are also not included. Some alcoholic beverages are included, but not at all meals. During each small group tour there are generally 1-2 dinners on your own. We’ve found that most people like to have a few independent meals to explore on their own or have us coordinate a reservation for a romantic night out!
Can you build me a custom itinerary?
Yes! Whether you're looking for a dive trip in the Malaysian islands, a Vespa tour in Italy, a safari in Tanzania, or a luxury journey on the Trans-Siberian railway, we can put together a custom travel option for you.
Why is food so important?
Well, other than the obvious reason pointing to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, food is something that brings us all together no matter your culture, your age, your nationality, your gender. We all must eat. And we seem to like doing it together.
Food is a great way to experience a different culture and learn from locals. It gives us an opportunity to bond over a meal, share experiences, learn, and laugh.
Will I get sick?
Although all the dining experiences on our group tours have been tried and tested, dining anywhere can be a risk. Quite frankly, we've had food poisoning more frequently eating in the USA than abroad! That being said, if at any point you feel uncomfortable or prefer different food, your requests can be met; please alert your Travel Director.
What if I don't like what's on the menu?
Many of the meals on our group tours are prearranged, have multiple dishes, and are shared family style. In the unlikely event that there isn't a single dish you enjoy (sad panda!), we will find you something else to eat. We wouldn't leave you hungry!
Can dietary restrictions be accommodated?
Generally speaking, yes. We understand the challenges of dietary restrictions (since we have some odd ones ourselves!) and we do our best to make substitutes available to all participants. There are certain destinations where severe allergies are difficult to accommodate. As such, we recommend that before booking a tour, you check with us first about your specific restrictions to verify that we can accommodate them without risking your health or safety. Please email us.
Is alcohol / wine included?
Water is included at all meals. Some alcoholic beverages are included in every trip but not at all meals. Certain activities also include alcoholic beverages such as wine tastings, sake lessons, cocktail making. It is not required to drink the alcoholic beverages and we can offer alternatives! As it pertains to additional consumption, you are welcome to order more or different beverages beyond what is provided, at your own expense. If you have any questions please let us know and we are happy to answer specific inquiries about your trip!
What should I pack?
Prior to your trip you will receive an extensive suggested packing list. It varies significantly based on your destination and season of travel. We recommend that you pack as lightly as possible and leave room in your suitcase for gifts or souvenirs. Many travelers complain about not having enough space on their way home.
What should I do before I leave home?
Prior to your trip you will receive a pre-departure checklist of important things to do in order to prepare for your international trip. Your checklist will be specific to the destination, however you can see a general checklist here.
Do I need shots?
Vaccinations also vary depending on your destination. We advise you consult the World Health Organization for updated travel health requirements. And if necessary, visit a travel doctor or pharmacist who can advise you further.
Do you book flights?
We do not book international flights, however we do have a preferred travel agent provider who can create flight quotes for you. Please note these are extremely time sensitives since flight pricing changes frequently.
Do I need travel protection?
YES! Travel protection is extremely important and it is required that all travelers on our international trips show proof of adequate medical coverage. If you are a U.S. Resident traveling on one of our small group trips, we will include basic travel protection on your behalf (see below question).
If you have pre-existing health conditions please notify your provider so they can include any additional protection as necessary.
Please note that travel protection is different than trip cancellation & interruption protection, although many suppliers will package them together. Trip cancellation protection is recommended but not required to travel with us.
It is critical to review your plan details and coverage benefits to verify your destinations, activities, and possible reasons for cancellation are covered in your plan.
Do you have a recommended travel protection provider?
Our preferred provider for travel protection is Travel Insured which has over 25 years in the travel protection industry. On small group tours, we include basic travel protection through our group plans with additional coverage options available for purchase. For individual coverage on private itineraries you can get a fast, no-obligation quote online or request a quote by contacting us at +1.425.894.8976. If you do not want trip cancellation/interruption then enter your trip cost as $0.