Journey with Jo

Follow me as I blog about my various journeys across the globe, making budget travel look luxurious!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Best Sites for Epic Excursions

If you’ve read my blog post, Solo Travel Over Everything, then you’ve heard me mention some of this before and if you haven’t read it, read it now!

Excursions! My travels would be much more, how do I say this ummm, BORING, without them. Excursions are an easy way for me to do something I enjoy, in a foreign country and to make personal connections all in one. 
Walking through Medievil Spain during an excursion in 2017 
As the lone ranger on the majority of my travel itineraries, it’s imperative for me to do things that bring me joy while away. The options for things to do this day and age are limitless, so being able to cater to the many sides of my being (adventurer, foodie, lounger, humanitarian, etc.) is an absolute treat while I’m on vacation.

There are two main sites I use to book these: AirBnb and Viator. I love them both for many different reasons and here’s why you should as well.

AirBnb
AirBnb has a separate platform within their site called Experiences. This allows you to have a certain encounter with a local that has something to offer within the city you’re visiting. It’s just like an excursion, but much more intimate and isn’t something that would take up your whole day.

For example, while visiting Cancun this past June, I booked an experience in which I took a cooking class at a local restaurant. The host was a native of the Cancun area and had personal ties to this specific restaurant. My experience included being able to be in the cooking/prep areas with the cooking staff in which they showed me how to prepare the most popular items on their menu. 
The amazing chefs that showed me the cooking ropes
Cancún, 2018
It concluded with me consuming it all, while having a wonderful conversation with the host, in which we got to know each other and found out that we have a lot of commonalities. And the best thing about this experience is that I was the only one! So I got one on one access to the staff and a whole bunch of leftovers to take home with me :)

The most recent experience I did was a hiking trip about an hour outside of Madrid. Myself and my best friend were accompanied by four other travelers on a 3 hour excursion that gave us a chance to be in nature and to see some great views of the Spanish countryside. Our host, Marco, was an excellent guide and he brought along a four-legged friend with him named Bob.
Marco & Bob
Spain, 2018
The cool thing about Marco is that he goes to a local shelter and brings a different dog out with him on these trips so that they have the opportunity to get some fresh air, stretch their legs, and be outside the shelter for a few hours. How cool is that???

Again, I love “Experiences” because it truly gives you the opportunity to do something you love in a smaller group setting. And another thing is that it’s offered literally everywhere, all over the globe. 
In Los Angeles, on an 'Experience' that took me on a walking tour in the Venice Area
I plan on trying a few at home, in NYC, before the year closes out, because I know it will offer me a chance to do something new and cool in my own city. Check out excursions here.

Viator
Viator is a site I’ve been using since I first started my avid #solotravellife. I previously blogged about this as a reason that makes solo travel do-able. This platform offers your more grander tours/excursions/trips. Things like a full day tour of a city, a dinner boat cruise, a hot air balloon tour, or early morning access to a museum or temple are things you’d find on Viator. 

Some of my greatest times while away, I accredit to Viator. For example:

  • a 10 tour multi-city tour outside of Rome that included with an Italian grandmother making lunch in her family owned vineyard
Part 1 of our several course meal in Italy
July 2016
  • a catamaran tour in Barbados filled with wonderful soca music, a delicious buffet spread, unlimited drinks, snorkeling and beach time
Right before I jumped in to swim with the fish
June 2017
  • an evening cruise down the Thames River (FACT CHECK) with awesome views of the Eiffel Tour
Eiffel views from our cruise boat
June 2016
  • hiking almost 16,000 feet up a mountain in La Joya, Mexico
The elevation was a KILLER, but so glad I did this trip
November 2017

They even do airport transfers in most places, which has the potential to save you some coins depending on where you’re at in the world (because sometimes cabs are more expensive and Uber isn’t available in that particular area). 

I implore you to check Viator out if you’re looking to spend more of your day out doing something, are looking for something super specific, and don’t mind being in bigger groups.
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I truly hope this information is helpful to any and everyone that reads this. These two platforms have been instrumental in making my travels amazing and I truly hope it does the same for you!

So, have you used any of these websites to book activities while away?
What kind of things interest you when abroad?
Let me know below and of course thanks for reading!

xo,
Jo

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