Summer is in full swing. That means it’s time to pack your bags and hop on a plane, train or cruise ship to travel to a new place where you can relax and explore.
So where do you go? These are some of our top bucket list vacations. How do yours compare?
Travel by Train on the West Coast
The west coast of the United States is known for its natural beauty, from Mount Rainier in Washington to the redwoods in Oregon and northern California to the waves crashing along the Pacific Coast Highway in southern California. For travelers who want to see it all, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route offers the trip of a lifetime and an opportunity to view all of these amazing sights.
On this six-day journey, travelers will experience the dramatic Pacific coastline as it transforms from ocean views to snowcapped mountains. Expect to see beautiful backdrops and idyllic scenery along the route and explore the cities of Los Angeles and Seattle during stops at each destination. The Coast Starlight features sleeper cars with private viewing windows as well dining and lounge cars to make the experience completely comfortable.
Consider spending a day on the Napa Valley Wine Train if you find yourself on a trip to wine country instead. This 36-mile, roundtrip journey takes travelers from Downtown Napa Valley to St. Helena and back. Along the route, travelers will see some of the most expensive, famous farm real estate in the country and some of the most sought-after vineyards as the train passes through the towns of Oak Knoll, Yountville and Rutherford.
There are several options for the full-day tour, including the Legacy Wine Tour, which includes a three-hour rail tour of Napa Valley, a four-course Napa-style meal and one-hour tastings at Mondavi, Charles Krug and V. Sattui vineyards. There are also lunch trains, dinner trains and half-day winery tours available as well as special events throughout the year.
Relax and Unplug on the East Coast
When you need time to unplug, a stay in a Bolt Farm Luxury Treehouse with five treehouses across two South Carolina locations – is in order. The original location, called The Majestic Treehouse, sits on 40 acres of farmland and forest in Walhalla, and the other four are at the newest site on 30 waterfront acres in Charleston. The cozy accommodations were recently part of a girl’s trip featured on Bravo’s “Southern Charm.”
While there are nearby attractions and restaurants to visit, the secluded treehouses allow you to leave the real world behind for a short time. They are fully furnished with electricity, heating and air conditioning as well as an indoor bathroom and a private outdoor shower. All accommodations have access to a grill, and the Charleston treehouses include a kitchenette with a mini fridge, cooktop and cookware, and access to an outdoors pizza oven. So you can bring the necessities, leave your worries at the door and relax in true southern style.
Next, travel up the coast to visit one of New England’s many picturesque seaside towns. Nantucket, a 50-square-mile island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts that National Geographic has called the “Best Island in the World,” is boasts a small-town vibe and big-time relaxation opportunities. Call a quaint bed and breakfast, a boutique hotel or, if you are traveling with a large party, a vacation rental home your home away from home on this rejuvenating getaway. From beach walks and water sports to winery visits and shopping along the historic Main Street, your days and your heart will be full with a trip to Nantucket.
Set Sail in Style
MSC Cruises, a Swiss-based luxury cruise line, sails all over the world. You can choose itineraries in the Mediterranean, Dubai and South Africa, among many others. Eastern and western Caribbean cruises on the MSC Seaside are also offered year-round if you want to stay closer to home. In November, the Caribbean itineraries will include a visit to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the cruise line’s private Bahamian Island.
The MSC Seaside was designed so guests could be closer to the sea. It features two glass floor catwalks that extend over the edge of both sides of the ship to give the sensation that you’re walking on water. The ship not only provides award-winning entertainment and internationally inspired cuisine, but it also features a 934-seat indoor theater, a full-size bowling alley, an interactive XD cinema, two 344-foot zip lines (the longest at sea) and a Balinese spa with saunas, a geyser area, a salt relax area and a snow room.
Disney Cruise Line brings the magic of Disney parks to the ocean. You will have the opportunity to meet and play with characters onboard, at deck parties and when they’re dressed in their beach gear at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, which is a stop on most Bahamian and Caribbean itineraries. In addition to the Caribbean, destinations include Europe, the Mediterranean, Alaska, Canada, the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and more.
Disney cruises are designed for families, with spacious staterooms that include extra storage, Broadway-style musicals and fireworks at sea. However, it’s also easy to take time to yourself. Each ship includes youth clubs so the kids are taken care of while parents explore upscale restaurants and nightclubs, and adults-only pool areas provide quiet time for parents while the kids can explore the family friendly pools.
5 Packing Tips for Your Next Trip
1. Plan ahead: Give yourself a couple days and up to a week to pack for a trip. Write out a list of items you want to bring before you start packing to ensure you have everything.
2. Utilize packing cubes: These handy storage cubes keep your suitcase organized and maximize space. You can break out what you want to bring by type (clothing, undergarments, shoes, toiletries) so you know exactly what is in each cube, making it easier to unpack when you arrive at your destination.
3. Add a dryer sheet to your suitcase: It will leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
4. Pack essentials in your carry-on bag: This includes medications, expensive jewelry and toiletry items that meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Consider adding an extra change of clothes as well just in case your luggage is lost.
5. Weigh your luggage before you get to the airport: Do this on both legs of your trip to make sure you’re within your airline’s designated weight limit. Weighing ahead of time will help you avoid the need to rearrange your bags at the airport. If you’re close or over the weight limit, wear some of your heavier items on the plane.