A Custom Adventure in Morocco

Alyssa and her mom Jo were heading to Morocco for a wedding and wanted to make the most of their experience by spending a little extra time exploring someplace new and unique. Their focus was on food, culture, and connection. We knew that a visit to the less-touristy Fes was a perfect start. Then we teamed up with Goway Travel to find local guides who could provide that extra personal touch! Here are their thoughts on their custom Moroccan adventure:


I can’t begin to describe how much of an incredible experience we had in Morocco. The hotel in Fes was simply a dream, and all of the experiences were catered precisely to our taste.

One of the most noteworthy parts of this experience was our Shared Adventures agent, Liz. Her responsiveness, organization, and true understanding of our requests were uncanny and reflected directly throughout our trip. She did not hesitate to find practical solutions for mishaps (like me missing my flight)!

Riad Salam Fes

Riad Salam Fes still leaves me completely breathless. Apart from the breathtaking beauty of the structure, we felt immersed in the cultural glory of Fes, while feeling confident in our safety. The staff was, without a doubt, the most hospitable and friendly staff I have ever met on a trip (and I travel quite a bunch!)

The restaurant in the hotel was so good we couldn’t resist eating there twice! Which is normally a cardinal rule of mine not easy to break.

Around Fes

Our tour guides and driver were precise, so kind and welcoming, and FUN! They took such good care of us and were flexible to last-minute questions and changes. All of the stops we made while in Fes were met by extremely knowledgeable and genuine co-guides. I really appreciated that Karim briefed us before entering places that we were not obligated to buy anything, but rather enjoy the cultural experience. 

Hidden Gem: Bhalil

The tour of Bhalil was so unexpected and fascinating.

* Bhalil is a tranquil small town south of Fes, notable for its unique historic cave houses, exquisite hand-crafted wares, and traditional bread ovens.*

Our guide took us to his family home where his grandmother was preparing fresh bread, and on the way, we got to meet some of the amazing women who make the buttons for caftans for all of Morocco.

Traveller Alyssa learns the traditional bread making techniques from her guide's grandmother in Morocco

Overall

Once we arrived in Rabat, we were actually quite sad despite having a weekend of wedding festivities ahead! Our expectations of the trip were beyond surpassed, and the trip left me wanting to visit the area much more frequently. 

Thank you so much for an unforgettable experience!! 

Top 5 Destinations to Celebrate Halloween

Whether you adore dressing up for the day, can’t wait to take the kids trick-or-treating, revel in scary stories, or just enjoy a great themed party – Halloween is a perfect time to celebrate Fall. Although it feels like a modern holiday, Halloween can trace its roots back to the ancient pagan festival of Samhain. Samhain celebrates the change of seasons and the transition from summer to winter — a time when the veil between our world and the other world is at its thinnest. While every destination that celebrates Halloween will have the traditional core elements, there are a few destinations that stand above the rest for their Halloween style.

Fire performer at the Derry Halloween Festival [Photo Credit: Mitch Hodge via Unsplash]

Ireland

Since Halloween can trace its origins back to Gaelic and Celtic culture, it seems fitting to celebrate in Ireland! Wander through historic castle ruins, and feel the lines of magic and reality blur at the edges of the ancient forests and in the soft steps of the meadows. In Ireland, you’ll enjoy bonfires, folk stories, light shows, and music — all centered around a spirit of celebration, the changing of the seasons, and a little bit of myth. Dublin offers perfectly spooky haunted tours and Bram Stoker-esque castles. Check out the Púca Festival. which concentrates on storytelling, music, and food in the historic Boyne Valley. Or, make your way to Northern Ireland for Europe’s biggest Halloween festival in Derry! This giant marvel invites you to explore different worlds, enjoy interactive light shows circus & fire performers, and take part in costume parades. Ireland offers something for everyone from parties into the wee hours of the morning to kid-friendly apple bobbing and face painting. With all the festivals rooted in tradition, this is a great addition to your Irish adventure.

New Orleans

Second only to Mardi Gras, Halloween in one of the country’s most haunted cities is a big to-do. At any time of year, New Orleans offers voodoo shops, ghost tours, and haunted sites, but Halloween magnifies all these historic, frightening, and gothic elements tenfold. The haunted atmosphere of the city is given an extra boost with towering skeletons, ghostly horsemen, and endless themed parties. The famous parades are complete with frightening floats where revelers throw candy into the crowds. New Orleans does have a few kid-friendly activities, but this is primarily a holiday geared toward adults. Celebrate with your friends at elegant weekend-long parties. Elaborate costumes, exciting galas, and incredible balls grace the streets of the French Quarter, and the houses are decorated to the nines! If you can’t visit New Orleans in February for Mardi Gras, but are still looking for that party vibe, October is the time to go.  

London

Full of history and tradition, but with all the trimmings of a big city, London offers something unique. It seems like in every corner of London from October 22nd- 31st there’s a Halloween celebration. Enjoy a modern Halloween with themed menus in restaurants and bars, Madame Tussaud’s Alien Escape Experience, Crystal Maze experiences, countless themed escape rooms, and endless costume parties. But London also boasts a long, dark, and storied past, with plenty of ghost tours, serial killer walks, graveyards, underground passages, and dungeons. Throughout the last week of October, London will allow you to immerse yourself in an interactive Halloween, blending historical and modern scares.

[Photo Credit: Andrei via Pexels]

Disney

[Photo credit: Aiden Craver via Unsplash]

Trying to celebrate Halloween in the most kid-friendly way possible? Look no further than Disney! All of the Disney Parks and cruises worldwide celebrate Halloween in style. Marvel at specialty shows, meet-and-greets, and fireworks displays that you won’t see at any other time of year. The kids will love meeting their favorite Villains who only come out for Halloween. Or getting unique photos of the other characters in specialty Halloween costumes. Mickey himself hosts a Not-So-Scary Halloween Party which requires advance tickets. Your favorite rides also get a makeover adding spooky — but not-too-scary — Halloween elements. When you tire of rides, parties, and villains, you can enjoy specialty foods or head into the shops for some seasonal merch. In Disney World, Halloween brings in a huge foodie element with lots of new specialties to try and enjoy. The kids will love the Coco-themed installation! Running through the 2nd of November, it teaches them more about the Day of the Dead. With all sorts of things you’ll never see any other time of year, Halloween is a great time to enjoy a Disney experience.

Canada

Canada is one of the best destinations for leaf-peeping, getting out into nature, and enjoying Halloween in a quaint, kid-friendly way. Canadians celebrate Halloween very similarly to Americans with scary movies, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, and autumn festivals. You can enjoy small-town fairs, as well as carnival rides, pumpkin patches, or apple bobbing for the kids. Victoria on Vancouver Island is British Columbia’s most haunted city. They celebrate with a lot of spookier activities including haunted night ziplining. The bigger cities like Toronto and Vancouver are dotted with parties and Zombie walks. All over Canada, there are plenty of events for all ages. Infuse your Halloween with a little bit of wholesome, light-hearted fun. This is the perfect place if you don’t want Halloween to be the main focus of your Autumn outdoor adventure but just have it sprinkled into the great outdoors.


Are you ready to add a little travel to next year’s Halloween celebrations? Let us know! If you’re considering a late-October or early-November adventure, it’s worth adding these incredible Halloween experiences to your trip!

Spotlight on: Dubai

Top Reasons to Visit Dubai Pin
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Dubai is a city of contrasts. Between the old and new, between the glitzy and the humble, and the modern skyscrapers and the expansive desert. Whether you prefer a fast-moving pace or a slow quiet walk, you can find a little bit of everything in Dubai. Originally a trading port, Dubai’s culture is imbued with a deep sense of acceptance, hospitality, and growth. Don’t let the heat deter you. Dubai is a city that is carefully crafted for visitors. With plenty of indoor, sheltered, and water activities, Dubai’s bright sunny skies turn into a paradise. And, with winter temperatures in the 80s, you’ll be able to enjoy everything the city has to offer. Here is our little introductory guide to Dubai.


Getting Around

Dubai is a long, spread-out city on the gulf coast. Here you won’t find a traditional city center as much as a conglomeration of different neighborhoods to explore. Where you stay and spend most of your time will depend on what kind of trip you want to have, but the city accommodates getting from one end to the other.

It’s easy to walk within neighborhoods but it’s not so walkable between them. However, they have a fantastic metro system with wifi and comfortable seats. The metro is mostly above ground so you’ll pass by many of the iconic landmarks and it’s a great way to sightsee as you travel from place to place.

The city also boasts a decent bus line and an extensive network of taxis which you can hail or order through apps. 

So what kind of things can you do in Dubai?

[Photo Credit:Fredrik Ohlander via Unsplash]

Downtown Dubai

Downtown Dubai is an impressive jungle of glistening modern skyscrapers, promenades, luxury shopping, and pop-up markets. The modern construction is incredibly intentional, with a pedestrian-friendly design. While you walk down the boardwalk, with the fountain on one side, you’ll pass tempting restaurants and inviting stores, sprinkled with pockets of greenery and sculpture. Downtown Dubai is home to a unique concentration of world-record breakers — here you will find the largest observation wheel, the tallest fountain, and the tallest building.

Top Sites

The Burj Khalifa – At 160 stories tall, the world’s tallest building is an incredible feat of engineering. Visitors can ride the elevator to the 124th floor for breathtaking views. Or, head to the 148th floor to marvel at the views from the world’s highest observation deck. Because it sells out quickly, purchase your tickets in advance.

Ain Dubai – The world’s largest observation wheel allows you to enjoy sweeping views from over 250 meters in the air. It’s a perfect way to get a constantly shifting, unique perspective of the city.

Dubai Fountain with multiple, incredible shows every day, the Dubai fountain even outshines Vegas. Reaching unprecedented heights there are now viewing platforms allowing you to get even closer to the action.

Old Dubai

Just as Downtown Dubai is full of modern wonders, Old Dubai is bursting with key heritage sites. A collection of neighborhoods winds its way along Dubai creek, with low gypsum and coral buildings. They mark the site where the city was originally settled. And today they are a historic hub of typical Emirati culture. Wander the narrow winding streets, soaking in the fragrant spice souk and traditional cuisine. Here you can discover the traditional wind towers, art galleries, markets, and museums. You can dine in cafes tucked into scenic courtyards and in the evening, unwind with a sunset ride on an abra.

Top Sites

Al Fahidi Fort – built in 1787 for defense purposes, it now houses the Dubai Museum. Journey through the history of Dubai from its beginnings as a trade port to the glittering hub it is today. Learn about Emirati culture and the customs of the region.

XVA Art Gallery Hotel& Café an internationally acclaimed art gallery and restaurant. Specializing in contemporary works from established and emerging artists from the Arab world.

 Abra– a traditional wooden boat. Boats carry about 20 people. Gently float along Dubai Creek with the city as your backdrop. The trip is relatively quick and is particularly stunning at sunset.

[Photo Credit: Nikhita Singhal via Unsplash]

Luxury Shopping

Shopping in Dubai is its own adventure. Malls here are more than just a collection of shops. They have gaming zones, ski slopes, ice rinks, aquariums, cinemas, and VR experiences. You can spend an entire day exploring a wide range of exclusive shops and high-end brands. The Dubai Mall in downtown features over 1200 retail stores and hundreds of restaurants. The slightly smaller Mall of The Emirates promises a “shopping-resort” experience. This mall features fashion shows, family events, and the latest haute couture on display. Anyone who enjoys shopping will have an incredible time in Dubai.

Visit in January to enjoy the Shopping Festival and get in on all the best deals.

Souk Shopping

Souks or Bazaars are open marketplaces with multiple small stalls and shops. Bursting with sights, smells, and activity, you can find these traditional markets in the historic Bur Dubai neighborhood. Souks allow you to indulge all of your senses in a shopping experience. Run your hand over soft silk and delicately embroidered fabrics in the Textile Souk. Soak in the glittering lights and irresistible reflections as you browse the jewelry and watches in the Gold Souk. Or follow your nose to the aromatic Spice and Perfume Souks. Some souks hold specific wares, and some feature a little bit of everything. But, in all the markets, you’ll find friendly vendors waiting to haggle with you. In addition to a local bargain shopping experience, you can enjoy an expansive variety of street food and traditional restaurants.

[Photo Credit: Fadi al Shami via Unsplash]

Beach

Sitting on the gulf coast, Dubai has gone from a humble trading port to a vibrant beach destination. Adding to their already impressive soft sand beaches, they’ve created a series of man-made archipelagos. So, whether you prefer the luxurious Palm Islands full of underwater villas, overwater bungalows, and high-end beach resorts, or something with more of a chill So-Cal vibe, you can find it here. Stroll past bright-pink bougainvillea villas, trendy cafes, and chic beachfront shopping in the Jumeirah neighborhood. Make a beeline for Kite or Sunset beach to try your hand at a myriad of watersports. Or, spend the day with your family at the waterpark!

Top Sites

Palm Jumeirah – Soak up the sun as you lounge in luxury at the exclusive beach clubs. Watch the sea life swim past your villa. Or take in the stunning views from the world’s highest infinity pool. This palm-shaped archipelago spares no expense.

Palm Jebel Ali – This not-quite-completed archipelago is for adventurists. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you embark on the shooting range or motocross track. Then, cool down in the bright blue waters by kite-surfing or on a jet ski.

Deep-Dive Pool Enter another world, an underwater fantasy, in the world’s deepest diving pool. Descending 60.02 meters this pool offers divers a unique sunken city to explore. You can explore up to 12 meters down without any certification.

Desert

Contrasting the blue coastal waters are the brilliantly orange-red desert sands. The Dubai desert is both quintessential and full of surprises. Within the Dubai Conservation Reserve, you can step into ancient traditions with a camel ride and an Arabian feast in a Bedouin tent. Get your adrenaline pumping with quad bikes and sandboarding. Or relish the romance of luxury glamping under the stars and hot air balloon rides at sunrise.

Top Sites

Glamping Resorts – There are a few luxury glamping resorts in the Dubai desert. Featuring beautiful tents, private pools, and access to the best activities.

Safari– Your guide maneuvers over the dunes in a four-wheel drive Jeep while you keep a watchful eye on the sands. You’ll see the striking Oryx with their long, straight horns, herds of graceful gazelle, and many rare bird species.

Camel Racing– Dubai’s favorite sport and a unique experience. From the grandstand, you can cheer on your favorite as sixty camels rush down the track. Arrive before the race and take the opportunity to pet the camels and take photos.

Tips & Customs

Dubai is a very safe city to visit even as a solo traveler. As with any city or country, Dubai does have its own customs, traditions, and social rules. And, it is important to be respectful. Try to follow some of the unspoken rules to avoid social faux pas.

– Modesty is important. Try to wear clothing that doesn’t show too much skin, tattoos, or other body mods. Women should wear a headscarf when visiting a mosque. And tone down the PDA in public locations.

– Don’t take photos of the locals without asking their permission. Unsolicited pictures posted online can result in major fines.

– Because they take public safety seriously, public drunkenness isn’t allowed. It’s best not to ‘bar hop’ but rather stay in one licensed establishment as you party with the locals till 3 am.

– Electronic cigarettes and vapes will be confiscated at the airport.

– Remember to drink lots and lots of water. Even in winter, the temperatures are high. Therefore, it’s easy to underestimate what you need to stay hydrated.

– The weekend is Friday & Saturday while the work week begins on Sunday. It’s good to keep in mind when you’re planning popular weekend activities.

– The Dubai airport is huge. Therefore, it takes quite a bit of time to get from one side to the other, which is why we never plan any activities immediately after arriving.

Are you ready to explore the many sides of Dubai? Let us know! We’d love to help you plan the perfect itinerary.

No Need to “Rough it” in the Rockies

Finding Luxury in the Canadian Rockies pin
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The Canadian Rocky Mountains should be on any travel bucket list. Blue glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, and an abundance of wildlife stretch across five national parks. The Rockies truly are that beautiful, and you’ll find Instagram-worthy vistas around every corner!

While visiting the area you can experience a whole range of activities, during all four seasons, and for all ages and skill levels. But the best part of visiting the Rockies is getting to enjoy true luxury and relaxation in such a breath-taking natural setting. 

Banff

One of the most popular parks, Banff is about a two-hour drive from Calgary and makes an excellent home-base for a week in the Rockies.

Enjoy the view of huge snow-capped mountains and lush evergreen forest when you hikethe Canadian Rockies

Banff offers some of the best hiking trails (leading to awe-inspiring views), beautiful forests, and waterfalls.

[Photo Credit: Chris Rees via Unsplash]

You can paddle on the Bow River or Lake Minnewanka in your kayak, canoe, or stand-up-paddle board. Go stargazing, take a boat cruise, or a gondola ride up to a spectacular panoramic observation deck, cafe, and restaurant.

after climbing up the rock face you can sit back an enjoy the stunning view of the Canadian Rockies

Whether you enjoy an easy stroll, a round of golf with a mountainous backdrop or scaling the side of a cliff, Banff has adventures for all levels.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

And when you return from your outdoor adventures each evening? Kick off your boots, enjoy a hot soak and a gourmet meal in the “Castle of the Rockies”: The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  Built in 1888 and modeled after a Scottish Castle, the Banff Springs Hotel is a destination in itself that combines luxury and history!

the Banff Springs Hotel of the Canadian Rockies in summer
[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]
a bed with a view at the Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rockies

Under the eaves of this impressive building, you’ll have picture-perfect views when you wake up in your luxurious bed.  Head out for an easy morning hike to the roaring waterfalls. Return to Banff for your choice from dozens of restaurants, each with delicious, locally inspired menus.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Take the rest of the day to relax in their spa, or head to the concierge to look through their 26-page activities book! End your day chilling out on their front terrace, with the light cutting across the crevices of the huge mountains and dancing across the tops of the trees as you breathe the wonderfully fresh, crisp mountain air. 

Lake Louise

an areal view of Chateau Lake Louise Hotel and it's stunningly blue lake in the Canadian Rockies
[Photo Credit: Wenhao Ji via Unsplash]

If a lake view is more your idea of bliss, we recommend heading a bit further north to Lake Louise. And what better way to enjoy the lake than with a view from your balcony? The luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a grand hotel situated right on the lake. It has been a luxury vacation destination since its opening in the 1890’s. Paddle on the stunning blue waters surrounded by mountain peaks or go ice skating in the winter!

a horse-drawn sliegh ride set in the white fluffy snow, towering mountains and evergreen forest of the Canadian Rockies

In winter, you can also enjoy dog sled tours, sleigh rides, and skiing in the quintessential winter wonderland. Soft fluffy snow, evergreen trees, and hot chocolate by the fire waiting for you when you return.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

horseback riding along the lake with a beautiful mountainous backdrop in the Canadian Rockies

Summer and Fall at Lake Louise are equally enticing. You can enjoy a variety of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding alongside the lake, and white water rafting.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Wherever you look, amazing views and pampering service await your stay at Lake Louise. Staying here at the Fairmont saves you the hassle of trying to find lake-side parking, or even worse, having to park a few miles away!

a dining room table with a view of the stunning blue waters and huge snow-capped mountains at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies

Their many restaurants offer table-side views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The interior is elegant and polished, calm and inviting. Picnic on the dock, or enjoy a glass of wine on the expansive verandas that the Fairmont offers.

This is taking your classic lake vacation to the next level of scenery and luxury.

[Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels]

Getting There

While flying into Victoria or Calgary and renting a car to drive yourself up to the Rockies is always an option, one of the best ways to get to the Canadian Rockies is to take the train! Any of the two or three-day routes from Victoria into the mountains are the perfect way to fully enjoy the views and learn about the local wildlife without having to worry about car rentals or traffic.

the Rocky Mountaineer train winding its way next to a blue lake in the Canadian Rockies
[Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer]

The Rocky Mountaineer offers 360-degree views on your journey through lush forests, over deep river gorges, through mountain tunnels, and alongside blue lakes. You can travel from Victoria to Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper (with a stop or two along the way), then stay a few days in the destination before flying home. Or, consider making it a round-trip train extravaganza!

the interior of the Rocky Mountaineer train with domed glass giving passengers a 360 degree view of the Canadian Rockies

Any seat on the Rocky Mountaineer has stunning views, overhead windows, and access to an outdoor viewing platform. Splurging a little extra for their Goldleaf seats will give you complete 360-degree rounded domes so you don’t miss a thing. Both levels (silver and gold) have hosts to answers questions, tell you stories about the landscape, and point out the wildlife. 

[Photo Credit: Rocky Mountaineer]

The Rocky Mountaineer doesn’t travel at night so you won’t miss a single moment of the beautiful scenery. Instead, included in your trip, are stays in lovely hotels along the way. Taking the train ensures luxury throughout the journey — not just at the final destination. 


You shouldn’t have to choose between incredible outdoorsy experiences and luxurious relaxation. The Rocky Mountains offer the best of all worlds, bringing luxury into your journey, your stay, and your surroundings. While we can’t yet travel to Canada from the US (due to current COVID restrictions) advance planning for a bucket list trip like this is always recommended!

Let us know if you were inspired by this post when you plan with us and we can offer special perks at both of the Fairmont properties — such as extended check in/out hours, a room upgrade if available; $100 CAD food and beverage credit (Banff) OR a professional portrait taken during stay with souvenir photo frame (Lake Louise)! We’re excited to help plan your ‘escape’ to the Canadian Rockies!

You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)