When was the last time you took a vacation?
I don’t mean the long-weekend that left you more exhausted than before you left. I’m talking about a real vacation where you come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle work and life with renewed optimism and vigor. I’m talking about the kind of trip where you learn about a new culture, see memorable sites, and take a step back from the daily grind.
If you’re ready to plan that vacation, follow the nine rules outlined below.
By full week we mean 7-9 days – departing on a Thursday or Friday and returning the following Saturday or Sunday. Use your PTO, turn on your out of office, and tell your coworkers you plan to disconnect. Make this a priority and you can thank me later. As for the logistics of a week vacation, if taking Friday off is an option then consider a Thursday overnight or Friday morning departure. If flying more than eight hours overnight flights make the most sense, just prepare accordingly. If traveling less than eight hours you might consider the cheaper fares on Saturday morning.
The old real estate adage applies to travel because picking the right location is critical. Do you have any friends living abroad? If so, visit them! Benefits include having a local tour guide and possibly even a free place to stay. Don’t have friends traveling abroad? The world is your oyster, see rule #3 below.
When are you taking vacation? Avoiding hurricane, monsoon, and rainy seasons should be a priority. See flight & hotel prices too good to be true? It’s probably off-season, which isn’t a bad thing, but know in advance what you’re getting into. If you plan to take vacation at a specific time, take the top three places on your list and figure out the best time to visit. If you’re set on visiting a specific place, figure out the best time of year to do so. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, edges of peak season are recommended.
Taking an overnight flight? Don’t plan your first tour the moment you land. Give yourself time to get checked-in, unpack, walk around and get a good meal. Don’t plan an early morning tour your first day if you know you’ll be feeling the jetlag. Worst case you wake up ready to go and don’t have a tour planned, you can walk around the neighborhood.
While it may seem like a good idea while planning your trip, the last thing you want is to spend more time traveling between places than actually visiting them. If you only have seven nights (with travel days on either end) you should only plan to visit two cities; spend 4-5 nights in the first and 2-3 in the second. Depending on the country and type of travel you can consider 3-2-2, but just remember you’ll be unpacking/repacking up to six times! If your trip requires multiple packing/unpacking, consider picking up Eagle Creek Pack-It bags to keep you organized. Also, if you’re traveling between cities, designate the entire day so you don’t feel stressed and you’ve got
While it may seem like a good idea while planning your trip, the last thing you want is to spend more time traveling between places than actually visiting them. If you only have seven nights (with travel days on either end) you should only plan to visit two cities; spend 4-5 nights in the first and 2-3 in the second. Depending on the country and type of travel you can consider 3-2-2, but just remember you’ll be unpacking/repacking up to six times! If your trip requires multiple packing/unpacking, consider picking up Eagle Creek Pack-It bags to keep you organized. Also, if you’re traveling between cities, designate the entire day so you don’t feel stressed and you’ve got flexibility to take a detour (sometimes exploring places you didn’t plan on seeing are the most memorable).
The ability to have a “home base” really depends on where you’re going and how long you’re staying. Similar to rule #5, the idea of vacation is to relax and not to pack up and move every couple days. If you’re going to a big city, research the neighborhoods before finding accommodations. Stay downtown (or in old town) to get the most authentic experience. Ideally you can walk (or bike) to the more popular areas or to some public transit so you have easy access. If you like cities but want to explore the country, find great accommodations and then make your way to the country for a night. In some cases, even if you have to pay double for a night outside the city, having the home base will be worth it.
Take tours and do activities early in your trip but also give yourself free time towards the end to circle back on things you enjoyed or to explore new things you learned about on the trip. If you’re spending five days in a city, make the first three active (after allowing time to adjust) and keep day’s four and five light. Not sure where to begin or don’t have the time? Ask friends or research travel companies with local knowledge. For instance, if you’re going to Paris, AmericanConcierge.com will help you create a unique and balanced itinerary that includes a variety of private tours.
While you’ll want to see the highlights of any city I’m a huge fan of finding unique experiences. For instance, booking a meal with Traveling Spoon is the perfect way to learn about culture, experience local fare, and get suggestions on what to do. Get off the beaten path as best you can, private tours are great for this.
Taking an overnight flight home is NOT recommended, especially if you plan on going straight to work. If you’re traveling west the ideal flights depart midday and land that same before midnight because they allow time for a morning activity (pack the night before) or a stress free morning of packing and getting to the airport. If you must take an overnight flight home, plan to leave Saturday so you have Sunday to recover and rest up for work the next day.
Your concierge will pick you up and take you to the top of Montmartre for its breath-taking views of Paris. You’ll visit the beautiful Sacre Coeur basilica and see the artists who still gather to sell their wares in the Place Du Tertre, stroll through cobblestone streets where Van Gogh, Toulouse Lautrec, Renoir and Picasso painted their famous works and see the oldest working vineyard in Paris.
Experience the Paris jazz scene with a Paris jazz singer/musician. Learn about the history of jazz, from its origins in the deep south USA to its sensational arrival and enthusiastic reception in Paris, France. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and escorted by our Jazz expert to a cool locale (bar/ cafe) for an enlightening discussion over a round of drinks. After that they will take you to a Parisian jazz venue where you can enjoy live jazz for as long as you wish. You’ll also receive directions for a second venue should you want to extend your evening into the wee hours.
A self–proclaimed foodie, Debbie has been living in Paris for 20+ years and offers a unique opportunity to go with her to her favorite Paris cheese mongers. Together, you’ll select a handful of cheeses for a tasting lunch, which she hosts in her lovely apartment in the 16éme arrondisment. In addition to cheese, lunch includes fabulous breads from Desgranges, meat from a local charcuterie, salad, fruit, paired wines… and lively conversation all about the history of French cheeses from the various regions.
Learn how to select top quality produce from the market and meet local merchants while your chef purchases everything from starters to dessert. Back at the school – aprons, chopping boards and chef’s knives provided – you will cook together from start to finish and enjoy the delectable gourmet meal together with your fellow sous-chefs.
If you’ve already experienced the grandeur of the Louvre and the D’Orsay museums, you will appreciate the calm ambiance, elegant surroundings and private collections offered at the Jacquemart-André Museum, the Marmottan-Monet Museum or the Nissim de Camondo Museum. These ‘maison-musées’ hold extraordinary private collections in 19th century mansions.
Discover the charming Ile St Louis with its splendid river views, famous ice cream and lovely shops, and hear stories about those who lived there, from Voltaire to Hemingway. Crossing over to the Ile de la Cité, with its atmospheric backstreets, you’ll visit the majestic Notre Dame cathedral, the flower market and gilded outdoor clock. Afterward, we will take you to the lively market streets of Les Halles, the Pompidu Center and whimsical Stravinsky Fountain.
Jefferson & Franklin… Relive Paris at the end of the 18th Century and imagine the influence these American Founding Fathers had over international politics at that time. Visit historic sites they frequented and hear the stories of 1778 and the American struggle for international recognition of independence, first by our French allies in Paris, just prior to France’s own bloody Revolution.
Paris is called the city of lights and there is no better way than to see it than at night. Your personal guide will chauffer you to the all the best vantage points: Trocadero, for the most sparkling view of the Eiffel Tower reflecting off the Seine; Pont-Neuf for views of Notre Dame; and Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre, one of the highest points in Paris, to see it all in one gorgeous view. [antique car available]
Your concierge will guide you to the main Palace, the ornamental gardens and Marie Antoinette’s getaway residence at the other end of the park. After touring the Palace, your concierge will walk with you through the gardens and stop at a restaurant halfway to the Petit Trianon called “la Flotille.” After lunch, you’ll go on to the Petit Trianon where Marie Antoinette held her private parties and where she built a little village of cottages as backdrop for her picnics.
Begin your tour with a rendezvous at Angelina’s to enjoy THE best hot chocolate in Paris in its original Belle Époque decor, followed by a skip-the-line, 2-hour tour of the Louvre. Once inside, your private guide will get you up close and personal with sculptures and paintings by world renowned artists.
Looking for a specific collectible to add to your home furnishings or curious to see another kind of previously owned treasure? An abundance of French antiques from furniture to jewelry and everything in between can be found in one of the many alleyways and stalls in the infamous Paris Antique Markets. Explore the limitless rows of unique treasures at Marche aux Puces with your private guide.
This is a twice a year opportunity to view Paris exactly as our founder envisioned it. To participate in this one-of-a-kind experience, fill out the form on our website with a comment about “Six Shades” of Paris.
Day 1: Airport Pick Up
– Introduction to Paris
– Walking tour of Montmartre
– Paris Night lights Tour
Day 2: Shades of Architecture
– Notre Dame & St. Eustache
– Discover the Angles of Paris
Day 3: Shades of History
– Liberté, Egalite, Fraternite: Their revolution and ours.
– Le Marais
Day 4: Shades of Gourmet
– Food Markets
– Wine and Cheese Tasting
– Jazz Night Out
Day 5: Royal Shades
– Walking tour of Versailles
– Moulin Rouge Dinner and Show
Day 6: Shades of Art
– The Louvre, The D’ Orsay, and Musee de L’Orangerie
– Lunch at the Eiffel Tower
– Contemporary Art Crawl
– Dinner at le George
Day 7: Shades of Fashion
– Inspirational women from Marie Antoinette to Coco Chanel
– Artisanal Chocolate
– Farewell Dinner Cruise on the Seine
P.S. Sharon hosts this for only 10 guests, we recommend inquiring and reserving your spot ASAP.