Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

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Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by Scooter57 » Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:11 pm

I love "off the beaten path" travel experiences, but I have some physical limitations that, while they don't rise to the level of making me handicapped do rule out travel that requires a lot of walking, climbing, or biking. The best vacation I've taken was a Windjammer sailing cruise out of Camden ME, which provided beautiful scenery, wonderful home cooked but unpretentious food, and the company of like minded people from around the U.S. I loved that I didn't have to do anything but be there and take in the whole experience.

I'd love to find some more trips that would have the same kinds of qualities--relaxed circumstances, beautiful or interesting surroundings, like-minded companions, delicious food, but I haven't been able to find them on my own.

So I'm wondering if any of you have worked with a specialty travel agent you'd recommend who might be able to help us come up with some ideas for travel that we would enjoy.

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by Cottage » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:18 am

Their name might turn you off initially, but I know that Disney is excellent at assisting with special needs travel. Friends of mine took another severely disabled friend (stroke) on their Mediterranean cruise a couple years ago and loved it. Our disabled friend was wheelchair bound, so the friend who coordinated things had researched and arranged for private tours in several ports.

I know there are some excellent online discussion boards that she used to assist with her research and bookings. Unfortunately I don't know the names of them off-hand. I do think re: Disney, that there's a board on a site (want to say DisBoards ) that discusses handicap travel & Disney extensively, but I don't know if it's focused more on the theme parks or covers their cruises.

Good luck and great travels!

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by noyopacific » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:17 pm

You might check Road Scholar (formerly ElderHostel.)
Wikipedia says participants are supposed to be over 60.
Several of my relatives have traveled with them and always returned very pleased. When we went to the Galapagos, there was a RoadScolar or ElderHostel group along on our ship. They had evening orientations explaining what would be seen the next day. I wished we could have sat in but the evening sessions were only open to people in the group.
With the advent of web-based travel services, it seems that traditional travel agents have become quite scarce. I know of someone who has a business as a "Destination Travel Specialist" and organizes group and individual trips to Italy exclusively. She isn't a travel agent but I believe that she occasionally works cooperatively with a travel agency.
The information contained herein, while not guaranteed by us, has been obtained from from sources which have not in the past proved particularly reliable.

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by vveat » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:54 pm

A classmate of mine founded a travel agency 5 years ago that offers customized tours through a network of travel agents. I haven't used them yet, though I am planning to do it next year when I'll need a gift for my husband in the form of a distillery-visiting trip in Scottland. I have seen a lot of wine and food tasting trips on their website, which may be along the lines of what you are looking for
Here is the link to their website, have a look and see if you like what's there

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by Scooter57 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:44 am

Very helpful suggestions. Keep them coming. Thanks!

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by German Expat » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:12 am

Are you looking more for somebody to plan the whole trip and book it (then a travel agency will add value) or are you more interested in ideas (then travel forums might work as well) but are willing to book them yourself ? For Europe a river cruise could be interesting, the boats are a lot smaller then the big cruise ships. But not sure how much you can or can not walk since they do stop at various cities to explore them.

There seems to be some operators out that specialize in disabled travelers. While I understand you are not on this level yet the operator should have more experience though.

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by Scooter57 » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:05 pm

I'm open to ideas for unusual short vacations, too, as well as interested in finding an agency that would come up with a whole trip.

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Re: Do you know of a good specialty travel agent?

Post by Gretchen » Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:29 pm

If you can manage long-distance travel as long as you don't have to walk much, I can highly recommend an African safari. Several years ago we went to Tanzania on a college alumni tour put together by Thomson Safaris (Watertown, MA, with a Tanzanian branch), and it was one of the high points of my life. We saw all the "charismatic megafauna" -- lions, leopards, hippos, rhinos, Cape buffalo, giraffes, elephants -- plus hilarious packs of baboons that love to mug for the tourist vans, dozens of bird species I'd never seen before, and so many zebras that we got bored with them.

The groups are small (we were about thirteen, plus three local driver/guides, each with his own van.) The guides are multilingual and highly knowledgeable about the plant and animal life. You get shuttled from place to place in safari vans with pop-tops, and the only required walking is to and from the food tent at mealtime. Great meals -- somewhat local but Americanized, of course, and really good. The tents are luxurious, with beds and toilets and washbasins and showers. There's an "electricity tent" every evening before dinner, so everyone can recharge their electronics. And if our tour was typical, some of the other travelers will be physicians!

The only caveats are -- it's not cheap, of course. (This was our blowout gift to ourselves when my old company sold and my stock paid off.) And you have to be able to tolerate long airline flights. We went from California via Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro Airport, so we had two twelve-hour flights each way. But the actual safari is very relaxing and not physically demanding.

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