So,'s what's new on the travel front for 2013? The pundits have gone gaga with their anticipated year-in-review round-ups. Even travel guru Rick Steves has shared his travel bloopers of 2012. Check out his clip. It's definitely worth a chuckle. Apart from my unforgettable attempts to buy men's underwear in a Muslim city on a holy day last year (long story - lost luggage), I can't compete with Rick on the laugh factor. Rather, instead of a retro of 2012, I'm more eager to think about what's in store for 2013. My curiosity has been piqued by the new offerings travel operators have on their list for 2013. Two popular group travel outfits, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel, have crafted some trips with a few twists. Local Living is the branding term G Adventures (founded by the frenetically energetic Bruce Poon Tip) uses for a slightly new style of travel that invites visitors to really get down with the locals, and establish a daily routine during an extended stay. These are no hand-held, one-day walking tours with a drink at the end of the afternoon. The Local Living trips are intended for people "who prefer to slowly slip into a destination and let it get under their skin." So if planting yourself in a neighbourhood on foreign soil is your thing, read on. For those who are more into wine than white-water rafting, G Adventure's Local Living: Provence option is probably more to your liking.
"This Local Living adventure sets you up in a charming and traditional house then leaves you free to create the perfect holiday. Wander lavender fields, visit vineyards, marvel at the Pont du Gard—it's your call. You'll share the kitchen and living areas with other like-minded travellers, and a CEO is there to recommend local favourites. Take it slow and fall in love with this seductive corner of France."[caption id="attachment_14487" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Rambling throughout the countryside in Provence (Photo: WikiCommons)[/caption]
•••Into something more active? The Iceland: Local Living could be just the ticket.
"This experience introduces you to the unique populace of this tiny island nation as they lead you around their exotic, volcano-forged homeland, dotted with hot springs, calving glaciers, crystal-clear rivers and crashing waterfalls. Active options include everything from ice-snorkelling and whale watching tours to whitewater canoeing trips and ATV excursions, so come prepared to do all sorts of everything."[caption id="attachment_14488" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Living like a local in rural Iceland (Photo: Roger McLassus)[/caption]
•••Checking out the 'What's New in 2013 at Intrepid Travel" I hit upon a couple nuggets that offer a variation on the Aussie-based company's usual offerings. One is a Wonders of Egypt & Jordan, which isn't in itself a real shocker, but what impressed me here is the diversity of travel modes: Along with the three-night cruise on the historic Nile, participants overnight on a sleeper train, spend time in a four-wheel-drive jeep for a safari and and then camp overnight in the desert. (Something tells me a camel ride could be involved here. Smelly creatures but when in Rome...) Another trip on Intrepid's fresh offerings for 2013 that lept out at me is the 9-day Explore Ukraine package. The modes of transport on this excursion are less romantic than the Egypt-Jordan trip. On this adventure you join locals on a bus, metro and minibus. But don't be daunted. Local transit can be a lark when travelling abroad. [caption id="attachment_14492" align="aligncenter" width="360"] Cultural and political journey throughout Ukraine (Photo: Elke Wetzig)[/caption]
•••I think the real magnet for this Ukraine trip is the breadth of activities: Not only can you visit the mummified monks at the Caves Monastery and attend a classical concert, but you get to visit Chernobyl Museum to pay tribute to those killed during – and better understand – the 1986 nuclear disaster. Do any of these travel opportunities grab your attention? Let us know and you could win a free copy of our latest Canadian Living cookbook on international cuisine!