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More Good Gay Travel Writing

Savvy Navigator just stumbled upon this interesting new volume of gay travel writing, Big Trips, More Good Gay Travel Writing. Edited by Raphael Kadushin, and a sequel to his earlier volume, Wonderlands, Good Gay Travel Writing, this compilation is a must-read for both the gay armchair, as well as the intrepid traveler.

All the stories are gripping and a fairly quick, easy read, but Savvy Navigator’s favorite story was Andrew Holleran’s account of Florida (a place SN loves to hate).

Book critic Amos Lassen sums it up nicely is his review:

“Kadushin brings together some of the A-list gay authors including Edmund White, Trebor Healey, Dale Peck and Brian Bouldrey. The book rests somewhere between memoir and travel fiction and each selection is a gem. The selections are straight forward and fascinating to read and are very different from each other. There is a great deal of literary talent in this volume and the places written about range from Corfu to Italy to Britain to America. Yet they all have one thing in common–a new kind of travel writing and a sense of love.”

For your next long-haul flight, beach vacation, or a good new-year’s-resolution read, grab yourself a copy of Big Trips. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted in: Savvy Recommends

Trying to run two businesses sometimes has its challenges. Planning and conducting gay tours to South Africa on one hand, while deploying a team of executive coaches on the other, has periodic challenges. What’s the best way to stay organized? Savvy Navigator is a huge fan of Barbara Hemphill, a professional organizer and the publisher of the Taming the Paper Tiger organizing system. He’s used the system for nearly a decade, stays totally organized, and also thoroughly enjoys Barbara’s musings. In a recent newsletter, she has some excellent perspectives on vacation:

  1. Always have a specific vacation in your future.  Recently a colleague shared a practice he learned from a friend and has implemented in his life. Before your vacation is over, block out the dates on your calendar for the next vacation.  Great advice – and I’ve already scheduled next year! The vacation planning experience itself can be a rewarding exercise as you explore all the exciting places in the world you can go – some of them very close to home!
  2. Spend more time experiencing your vacation than capturing it. One of the things I realized was that every time I was trying to take a photograph of an experience, I missed the experience.  Of course, I wanted memories – but not at the expense of missing the action.  My solution was to block out specific time on each segment of the trip for photography, and enjoy the rest.  Extra payoff:  fewer photographs to organize when I returned!
  3. Allow space in your vacation for doing nothing.  One of the biggest joys of this vacation for me was not having any appointments.  Although there were plenty of opportunities to schedule side excursions ahead of time, I decided to just wait and see what I felt like doing.  (Of course, I took the risk of missing something I really wanted to do, but there were so many options, it didn’t matter.) I don’t know how to use words to express the peace I experienced just sitting on the stateroom deck, watching the whales bounding and the glaciers “calving.” 
  4. Avoid the crowd whenever possible. One of the things I discovered was that staying on shipboard on a day we were in dock offered great opportunities. Prices at the spa were reduced and so were the crowds – but the customer service increased because the experts were less rushed. 
  5. Pack light!  The purpose of a vacation for me is to experience freedom.  That’s difficult to do if you’re lugging around lots of “stuff” that you in fact never use.  In fact, my traveling partner decided that the next time she took a trip, she would take fewer clothes than she needed and an empty suitcase, so she could buy things along the way.  Great idea!
  6. Use your vacation as an opportunity to share time with the people you love.  This was the greatest joy of all about my vacation – my husband, my mother, and my best friend for two weeks.  It doesn’t get any better as far as I’m concerned. What’s especially heartwarming is that we will enjoy it again and again in the years to come as we share our memories with each other and with friends and family.  (Note:  This doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute together.)
  7. Be sure to say “thank you” to the people who made your vacation possible.  In my case, a big hug to my husband who made this dream a reality for us, and to our travel agent who did an awesome job of helping select exactly the right cruise experience for us.  I also owe a thank you to the great people we met along the way, from the cabin steward who sent me home with a suitcase of clean clothes – imagine! – to the interesting people (business owners, ironically!) who shared our dining table.  Finally, it was indeed a blessing to leave my business behind for two weeks, knowing that the HPI team could handle anything that happened – and they did!

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Posted in: Savvy Recommends


Savvy Navigator, purveyor of gay tours the world over, was quoted in a recent issue of Smart Money magazine in an article about Luxury Travel for Less to the wine country in Mendoza, Argentina. With the US dollar bouncing back this week, traveling south of the Equator will provide an unsurpassed luxury vacation experience. Here are some highlights from Kristen Bellstrom’s article in the June 23rd issue:

“Jeffrey Ward rarely takes a vacation that doesn’t involve serious consumption, and last winter was no different, with the Washington, D.C., executive coach and his partner jetting away for nine days of wine buzzes and decadent alfresco dinners. But where the couple is used to scrumming with other oenophiles for a prime spot in the tasting rooms, on this trip they were given intimate private tours by vineyard owners, who offered samples straight from the barrel and would happily chat for hours. What changed? This time Ward wasn’t quaffing Bordeaux in France or Chianti in Tuscany. He was in Mendoza, Argentina, famous for its Malbec wine and a newbie on the gourmet travel scene. With one in six U.S. travelers now enrolling in a cooking class, touring a vineyard, or otherwise including food and wine activities in their vacation since 2004, epicurean travel is no longer just for foodies and wine snobs. Clearly, the unabashed gluttony and hedonism of some of these trips doesn’t hurt. Ward’s trip, for example, was at the Cavas Wine Lodge, a tony Relais & Châteaux property where he and his companion ate succulent Argentine steak under the stars and had massages on their private patio in the shadow of the snow-peaked Andes mountains. Indeed, guests there who don’t get their fill of grapes by imbibing can drop $450 on a “wine therapy” spa package, which includes soaking in a giant tub of Malbec and wine-yeast body wrap.

But despite all the indulgence, gourmet travel is feeling the impact of the fading dollar, with culinary hot spots like Italy and France taking the biggest hit. The International Kitchen, a cooking-vacation outfit that does more than 70 percent of its business in Europe, saw bookings drop about 20 percent this year. Some companies have responded by dishing out new deals. Chicago-based travel agency Select Italy, for one, which used to offer tours like its daylong Chocolate, Wine and Cheese of Piemonte ($537) exclusively on a private basis, now allows travelers to join groups of up to eight, reducing prices by about 25 percent. And new destinations are jumping into the market, with companies like Poland Culinary Vacations hoping to turn pork rolls and pierogies into the next gourmet superfoods.”

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