I would like to put this report about some interesting things I learned at The New York Times Travel Show in the context of the show happening right as the new isolationist, xenophobic, bigoted, inhumane, un-American Trump directives about who can and cannot be allowed in the United States were announced. This quotation sums it up for me:
“…you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction.”—Mark Twain, The American Abroad speech, 1868
The State Department had a booth but the people staffing it could only talk about passports. I’m certainly not the only one concerned about what it means for U.S. travelers abroad now that the senior State Department officials in charge of overseeing their safety departed suddenly and en masse on Wednesday. I was told someone named Cheryl would call me. I’m waiting.
Security provided by veterans: Less than a year old, Vet Guard is a veteran-owned company that only hires U.S. military veterans for security services. What does this have to do with travel? Well, it’s no secret that Americans are often targets abroad. If you really wanted to see Istanbul – as you should – but know that there’s a State Department travel warning, you might want to hire a U.S. military veteran to accompany you for ease of mind. Or let’s say you’re an archaeological buff and really want to see Persepolis, which is in Iran. If Iran is letting Americans in (it is threatening to reciprocate the new U.S. ban on Iranians), you could hire a veteran who served there so s/he understands the culture, geography, and security issues you might face. You could choose your guard to be plainclothes and blend in or in a uniform to send a message to possible perpetrators. What a great way to support our veterans. Brilliant.
The New York Times is now branding student travel. The New York Times partnered with several tour operators a few year ago to lead trips for adults but just recently they’ve launched fascinating travel opportunities just for teens in a program called Student Journeys. Their first trips with partner Putney Student Travel are this summer and each is accompanied by a NYT expert on the region and/or topics explored. High schoolers can study climate change in Australia and Fiji or Iceland, focus on business in China or science in Switzerland on a trip that includes a tour of CERN. I was told that right now the trips are only for individuals to sign up but they will be expanding to group travel. They’re holding an info session Sunday, February 5, 2-3:30 (did anyone tell them that’s Super Bowl Sunday?).
Who has travel permit #1 for the Galapagos? What is now called Go Galapagos by Klein Tours was the first tourism operator in the Galapagos, with a license granted in 1983, according to marketing director Samina Quaglia. Making their debuts this year in a relaunch of its renovated 100-passenger M/V Galapagos Legend are new and enlarged balcony suites (ranging from 226 to 301 square feet), plus new quadruple suites. It has the largest outdoor space of any ship sailing in this archipelago, a glass-bottomed dinghy, and a new Moon Deck that lets you stargaze or admire the landscape from 40 feet above sea level.
See NYC’s up-and-coming neighborhoods with locals. You’ve heard about Gowanus, Long Island City, Inwood, DUMBO, Red Hook…See these neighborhoods and more with people who live in them on a walking or CitiBike tour with Local Expeditions. I used to live in Long Island City and I spoke with Jeffrey, the millennial who leads LIC tours. I was impressed. I looked him up and he’s a NYC public school teacher. Love it. And love that the company gives five percent of each tour’s price to the local organization of the guide’s choice. Children under 10 are free and those ages 10-15 are half price.
Best booth giveaway: By far the I Love Boobies temporary tattoo from what I imagine is a Galapagos operator. I also am fond of these keychains, which have a lot of personality, handed out at the Jordan booth.