Viewing the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a travel secret discussed in Travel Secrets For A Vacation To RememberHave you dreamed of peaceful moments in the Sistine Chapel?  Have a hankering for Havana? Or are you seeking spiritual solitude in the Sacred Valley of the Incas?

SageVest Wealth Management recognizes the unique opportunities that financial success can provide, including the freedom to travel and the cherished memories it can create for you, your family, and friends. Join us on a whirlwind tour, as ABC News Travel Editor, Genevieve Shaw Brown, offers an insider’s guide to some of the world’s most uncommon cultural sites – and tips on experiencing them for yourself. So kick off your shoes, relax, and see where your wealth can take you.

Behind-the-scenes, After-hours Access, and Exclusive Content:

Tired of crowds? Want to see more?  We’re talking about the ‘Director’s Cut’ equivalent of guided tours! Here’s a handful of options that offer no crowds, special access, and other bonus features to some of the world’s most interesting places:

  • Make the Sistine Chapel Your Own: Avoid the other 25,000 daily visitors to Vatican City! You and 10-30 others can stroll through the Vatican with a guide and a Vatican Guard escort. Relish up 30 minutes of peaceful contemplation in the Sistine Chapel, view rooms not open to the public, and take photos throughout (not allowed in daytime/general admission). Tour operators include Italy With Us, Dark Rome, and Viator Tours.  Costs range from $250 to $350 per person.Tip: Access to certain rooms is at the guard’s whim and often depends on the relationship between the guard and tour guide, so call ahead to select the best duo with a chummy relationship.
  • Royalty for a Day: Why not be treated like royalty while visiting Windsor Castle? Royal Collection Trust offers personalized, after-hours tours. Journey through 1,000 years of royal history, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II, in about two and a half hours. Cost is about $100 per person.
  • Travel Back in Time: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, offers all-day, docent-led tours, including access to artifacts not on public display, a private luncheon with a Curator, and an evening dinner and show in the museum’s ‘Stage Door Canteen’, a 1940’s-inspired entertainment venue.  Tours are limited to 12 people, are availably only on Fridays, and cost around $345 per person.

Top Level Tours:

If you’re considering a guided vacation, sometimes paying a little more goes a long way toward personalizing your experience. There’s a whole world of luxury travel that caters to specific interests, offering expert guides and options to tailor your tour to suit you.  Genevieve strongly recommends Abercrombie & Kent as a premier tour group operator, with costs often ranging between $5,000 to $7,000 per person.  Examples include:

  • World War II on the Rhine: A seven-night cruise down the Rhine River, accompanied by a specialist in WWII history, with exclusive excursions to Arnhem, Cologne, Remagen and Heidelberg.
  • Machu Picchu and The Sacred Valley, Peru: The kind of experience that can’t be Googled.  This tour includes an overnight stay at the only hotel onsite at Machu Picchu and the following private events: a talk from a renowned scholar in Incan history; a tour of the Incan ruins, accompanied by a local expert; a visit to the local village; and a performance of Andean music.

Live Like a Local:

There are also plenty of less expensive ways to immerse yourself in local cultures. Two newer options are:

  • EatWith: Sit tableside with other food-loving travelers to enjoy a private meal, hosted and prepared by a carefully selected culinary expert – anything from a Michelin-starred chef to a passionate, yet practiced, home cook. They choose the menu, along with fresh local ingredients, to create a meal you won’t find anywhere else in town.  For example, if you’re in Barcelona, be sure to consider the Gaudí themed Hidden Dinner!
  • Vayable: Locals use their time and knowledge to earn a living by offering travelers one-of-a-kind experiences. Guides include artists, designer, foodies, teachers, filmmakers, chefs and photographers who create, curate and operate independent regional experiences, centered on your interests.

Travel Trends:

If you’re looking for the up-and-coming travel destination before the mainstream masses descend, you might wish to consider:

  • Cuba: People-To-People, a tour from Abercrombie & Kent, immerses you in Cuban culture. Explore the country’s rich history through one-on-one experiences with residents; engage in stimulating discussion on US-Cuban relations with a former Cuban Foreign Services Scholar in Havana; and, discover Cuba’s shared passion for baseball with a special game featuring a meet-and-greet with players and the chance to play a few innings yourself!
  • Iceland: An ideal long weekend!  You can fly direct from several US cities in just a few hours to enjoy a nature lover’s paradise of hot springs, glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls and surreal landscapes.
  • Service / Volunteer Vacations: Charity-sponsored humanitarian holidays allow you to experience new cultures, while volunteering your skills, knowledge or muscle-power to benefit others.
  • Wellness Tourism: Themed vacations centered on physical and spiritual wellbeing (anything from weight-loss weekends to yoga-with-everything retreats) are the new version of ‘foodie’ trips.

Last But Not Least:

A mixed bag round-up of Genevieve’s other travel suggestions and tips:

  • Capture the Memories:  Plan ahead and hire a local photographer or photo-journalist to snap enduring images of your visit, wherever your travels take you.
  • Cultural Sites:  World Heritage Sites are assigned by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and are sites of special cultural or physical significance. Italy is home to the most designated sites, followed by China, Spain and France. Some, like The Statue of Liberty and Westminster Abbey are easier to visit than others, but all are worthy of exploration.
  • Hiking holidays: The Appalachian Trail is about 2,100 miles long, extending from Georgia to Maine. It takes 5-7 months to traverse. ‘The Way of Saint James’, also knowns as ‘Camino de Santiago’, is shorter and quicker, but still challenging. It should take you about 30 days to walk the 500 mile pilgrimage route.
  • A Night At The Museum: Instead of jostling the crowds, wander virtually empty galleries after-hours. Several institutions (including the Smithsonian and the National Zoo in Washington, DC) offer family-friendly and/or adult-only sleepovers. The American Museum of Natural History in New York offers after-dark fossil searches by flashlight and live animal shows to share with your kids or grandkids, or champagne receptions and jazz music for adults.  Cost is about $350 per person.Eastern Seaboard:  Suggested options include the Civil War sites for history buffs, the Adirondacks for the outdoorsy type, and peaceful Lake Placid.

Reputable Travel Providers:

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Prepared by SageVest Wealth Management. Copyright 2015.

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