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· Travel,Cruises,Luxury

I'm off to Las Vegas on Saturday, half excited, half apprehensive, as the sheer scale of Virtuoso Travel Week takes a hold of me. I do though promise to focus on each and every one of my 225+ meetings as I absolutely know there are many new connections to be made that are going to make a future clients trip extraordinary.

With our own children either at college or starting a career, I was slightly startled this week to discover that our local school system went back to school today. Wow, that is early.
I remember reading that they were changing up the school year, but hadn't realized it was to be implemented so soon. On investigating the full year school calendar, the travel advisor in me sees some great opportunities.
For our family travelers, make sure you note your own school systems calendar as soon as it comes out, and what you really want for travel purposes is an extra early Summer term finish, or an extra late Fall term start. I'll use our local system Iredell as an example -
Next summer's school finishes on May 22nd and that's before Memorial Day. For any families thinking of heading to Europe, book your trip as soon as school is out. Lower flight costs, better value in your destinations and you enjoy smaller crowds wherever you head as European schools do not finish until several weeks later. Potentially the Iredell dates also work extremely well for this Christmas and Spring Break. A December 19th finish means there is 2 1/2 weeks of vacation time at Christmas, plenty of time to head anywhere, including destinations that may not carry that hefty Christmas and New Year premium, and a March 7th finish for Spring Break is also early enough not to clash with Easter, another win for finding good value.
And so, for this weeks Top 5, here are the suggestions for what you should be looking at NOW for some of these dates.

5 Trips to Be Looking at NOW

1. Alaska Cruises for 2020

The busiest time for Summer 2020 Alaska cruise reservations will be now until October. Alaska cruises fill up on a completely different timetable to any other cruise itineraries. Firstly they are much more popular with families, than say the Caribbean. Families and multi-generational groups also like to know exactly where they will be on the ship with cabins right next to each other or possibly in a comfortable Suite large enough for everyone. This means the best suites and cabins, indeed, a large percentage of inventory is sold this side of 2020. Our recommendations for family Alaska cruises - Norwegian, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean (below).

Alaska Cruise Summer 2020 on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, or Celebrity Cruise Lines

2. Christmas and New Year 2019/20
It's actually getting late to be thinking about travel over the coming Winter holidays. With the dates of December 23rd through to January 2nd probably the most premium dates of the entire year, we often find it hard to make recommendations as value is so hard to come by. But it can be found. If the Caribbean is on your radar, definitely look at your options soon, as many of the best hotels will not have much space left and flights are filling up.
The value trip? If you can squeeze 7 days+ out of your vacation then Europe in the winter can be beautiful (think charming Christmas Markets), flights are at least half the price of summer travel, and you can see the sights with a fraction of the crowds of July and August. One of our top suggestions would be Tallinn, Estonia (below).

Christmas Markets in Europe

3. Costa Rica
I'm not quite sure what's going on with this destination but its popularity is such now that bookings need to be made many months in advance of travel, especially for the drier season of November thru April. So if this eco-friendly adventure destination is on your list for Spring Break 2020 think about making those plans or you may be disappointed. Our top tip for the country -
leave yourself enough time to enjoy a 2-center trip combining the beach with the jungle, and we particularly love some of the resorts in the Arenal Volcano area such as Nayara Springs (below).
It's an incredible adults-only boutique property with world class service.

Costa Rica Arenal Region at Nayara Springs
Argentina boutique hotel for Christmas

4. Argentina
It's just over a year since we personally enjoyed the Mendoza wine region of Argentina, and I can't get it out of my head. It's not so much that you need to rush to book a trip here, it's that I think it's such great value and such a fascinating country, that you should consider it now. Buenos Aires. I've written about it before, but BA is as European as you can get outside of Europe and the charm of so many of its hotels would make for a relaxing, different and superlative break, even over Christmas maybe, as it's summer down there. How about the former home and production HQ of the family of American film director Francis Ford Coppola? It's now Be Jardín Escondido, a gorgeous boutique hotel (above and below).

Buenos Aires, Argentina Boutique hotel for Christmas travel

5. Japan
Japan hosts the Summer Olympics next year in Tokyo and the world is going to be treated to a month long travel TV advert that will undoubtedly catapult tourism over the coming years. It's a country of such beauty, and such contrast between modern pop culture and centuries old traditions (below), that, in my mind, it remains a complete enigma. I need to return at length in order to figure Japan out. Of course, if you want to visit while the Games are on, then you need to get your skates on, but also consider planning early for 2021, as I'm convinced that after next summer there will be a huge surge in demand.

Japan Summer olympics Tokyo.

If you need help planning your next trip, let us know here. We can't wait to get started with you.

Virtuoso Travel Advisor, luxury travel expert.

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