Planning Ahead for the Holidays

Winter may seem a long way off, but if you want to do something special this year, now is the time to make your plans. Leaving things till the last minute is not only more expensive, it also means you won’t get your top choices—the most desirable lodges and tours fill up quickly, and the best guides get snapped up early, too. Planning ahead is also essential if you want to arrange special access or a one-of-a-kind experience.

But first, you need to decide what kind of trip you want to take. Maybe you’re looking for a bit of summer in wintertime. We often head to the Southern Hemisphere at Christmas, to take advantage of the warmer weather—in past years, we’ve visited Australia and Argentina, and gone on safari in Africa.

If you’re thinking about an African safari this Christmas season, our partner Wilderness Safaris still has some openings at top lodges in Botswana, including Vumbura Plains, Kings Pool, Duba Plains and even Mombo (one of their most popular properties). Bookings are on a first come, first served basis, so act fast!

Tanzania Odyssey’s best East African camps still have a scattering of space, and can be combined with a beach holiday in Northern Mozambique, the Seychelles or Zanzibar. Royal African Safaris has one opening left for a tailor-made, mobile tented safari in Tanzania or Kenya—the true “Out of Africa” experience. But again, these spaces will fill up fast.

This is a rare opportunity—usually these safaris need to be booked a year to 18 months in advance, especially during the peak and holiday seasons. Mombo already has very limited space in June, July, August and September, 2011.

Maybe you’d like an old-fashioned white Christmas. Our new Montana partner, The Resort at Paws Up, is the perfect place for a cozy family holiday, complete with sleigh bells, snow-capped mountains and visits from Santa. The resort offers a big variety of winter activities and a beautiful collection of luxury vacation homes, surrounded by 37,000 acres of pristine wilderness. But there are only 28 homes to choose from, so book early.

Maybe you want to explore a different culture. One winter destination that’s on our list is Vietnam—the weather is cool and dry between December and May. American-style Christmas has recently become popular in Vietnam, and it’s especially memorable in Dalat, at the heart of the country’s Catholic region. If you plan to spend Christmas here, remember that December is high season, and flights fill up early. Tét (Feb 3, 2011), the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is Vietnam at its most celebratory—like the Fourth of July, Christmas and Thanksgiving all rolled into one. This week-long holiday is deservedly popular with travelers, and many families return home for Tét as well, so we recommend booking your air and tours at least 6 months in advance. Our Southeast Asia partner, Indochina Travel Company, offers an annual Tét cycling tour, which usually sells out by mid-summer, as well as a 10-day cultural tour.

These kinds of adventures are so memorable and special when they’re done right—and can be so disappointing when they go wrong. The key is not to put things off. If planning your ideal vacation seems daunting, get in touch with our travel partners and tell them what you’re thinking. They’ll make sure your trip is everything you want it to be. Just don’t wait too long—even our exceptional partners can only work so much magic!

Seeking Fans and Followers

Are you on Facebook? So is My Little Swans! By “Liking” My Little Swans you’ll get tips on how to travel like a celebrity—and you’ll get access to new site content, partners and travel deals before anyone else. Click here to make sure you’re getting the latest and greatest news in fabulous travel. You can also follow us on Twitter for real-time destination updates, the scoop on new hotels, restaurants, and exhibits, and other breaking travel news.

Photo Contest Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of our Monthly Photo contest. Our top picks for May are:

  • “Little Swan—Through Tree Leaves” by Dave Ohmer
  • “Lake of Dreams” by Bree Renz
  • “Matty and the Masters” by Seve Runfeldt
  • “Suzhou Bridge” by Mark McCauley
  • “Machu Picchu” by Kevin Tran
  • “Old Spanish Fort” by Bruce Fuller

Send your favorite travel photo along with its title and location to Each month we’ll choose our favorites from among the submissions. For more information, and to see the winning images from the May 2010 contest, visit the My Little Swans Monthly Photo Contest page.

Warm Regards,
Katrina Garnett

Portrait of Katrina Garnett