About 10 years ago, many rail companies were winding down their sleeper trains. With budget airlines offering unbeatably low prices for short-haul flights, especially in Europe, most travellers flocked to the skies for quick getaways. But increasing understanding of the climate crisis, air travel headaches and countries such as France banning domestic short-haul flights, means sleeper trains are once again in vogue. “We are closely watching the expanding overnight options being introduced by different European state railways, which are improving their sleeper services every year,” says Eleanor Flagler Hardy, president of the Society of International Railway Travelers, a Virtuoso travel agency. “They’re not the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express by any means. But there is a coziness, a uniqueness of travelling by overnight sleeper.” Austrian national railway OBB is leading the comeback with a route between Vienna and Paris via Salzburg and Munich. There are other rail companies offering, among other routes, Prague to Zurich, Paris to Berlin, Paris to Venice, Berlin to Stockholm and Ljubljana to Budapest. “Travellers are eager to do the right thing for the environment. And they’re also eager to enjoy one of the very best experiences in travel. They’re not only more environmentally benign, they’re fun and affordable as well,” Hardy says.
Women, who represent 56 per cent of leisure travellers globally, make 85 per cent of travel decisions when planning a holiday for friends or family, according to Afar magazine. Increasingly, they are using that power to call on companies to offer more equitable and responsible options. A recent survey commissioned by tour operator Intrepid Travel found that 75 per cent of women aged 18 to 34 believe there needs to be more equity in travel. This includes tour companies creating more experiences specifically for women and designing them to have a positive impact, environmentally and economically, on local communities at the destination. “We’re very aware that women are pushing for change in the travel industry, and we’re working hard to try and respond,” says Intrepid CEO James Thornton. Intrepid’s own collection of female-only trips, called Women’s Expeditions, is expanding this year to include guided tours in Pakistan and Nepal. Other destinations include Morocco, India, Jordan and Iran.
Falling under the category of “go big or stay home,” the Distilleries of the World private tour by TCS World Travel offers spirits lovers an incredible opportunity to visit some of the planet’s top distilleries during a 34-day itinerary. Starting in New York, travellers will go to Louisville, Ken. (bourbon), Oaxaca, Mexico (mezcal), Peru (Pisco), Martinique (rhum), Madeira (fortified wine), Scotland (whisky) and Poland (vodka) before ending in London. Time in each stop will include tours, private tastings and access to spirit expressions never released before, as well as location-specific experiences such as a hot-air balloon ride over Teotihuacan and a guided flight over the Nazca Lines in Peru.
From US$270,000 per person based on six travellers through tcsworldtravel.com
I’m a frequent enough flyer that compression socks should be an item that I always have in my bag, but vanity has gotten the best of me. Most options are boring – dowdy even – and I kept putting the purchase off until very recently. Liza Egbogah, a Toronto-based osteopath and chiropractor who travels often herself, has designed her own version of compression socks in bright royal and sky blues that are now my go to stockings. They also incorporate arch support and the knit material is moisture wicking – good things to have in any kind of sock, and very beneficial on long travel days. Plus, proceeds from her sock collection go toward providing socks for Toronto’s unhoused population.
Cloud Collection Socks, $35 through drlizashoes.com.
Even before the recent chaos with checked luggage, I was a staunch advocate for carry-on only. The key is to find one that fits the range of airline size restrictions, while making the most of the space inside the case. I was skeptical when I first saw the size of this Monos bag. The company’s standard carry-on suitcase is designed to fit every airline’s carry-on guidelines, and so it runs a bit smaller than other bags. Inside though, the design doesn’t disappoint. Compression straps on one side keeps clothes as flat as possible, two zipped flaps (one over each side) as well as a small zipped pocket provide storage for loose items, such as power cords or reading material. The suitcase also comes with a laundry bag and two shoe bags. I used it for a 12-day trip and everything had its place – with some room left for souvenirs.
Carry-On suitcase, $306 through monos.com.
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