Christmas in...April?

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

I realise it’s usually Christmas in July, I do. I realise that planning anything for Christmas at this point is kinda..well..insane. But it all started with my friend who found round trip airfares to the US for Christmas for $850.00. Yes, you saw that right. $850.00. $850.00. THAT’S INSANE. I don’t think it’s been that cheap since 2004 when I came to Japan the first time. Thank you oil prices and inflation, thank you. So, it got me thinking...what do I want to do for Christmas? (I went on a fabulous trip to the Bavarian Christmas Markets last year.) Do I want to go back to the States? Do I want to travel the world? I mean, at this point I don’t want to do anything. I just want to sit and watch television and not ride the Narita Express for a verrrrry long time. (I’ve travelled a lot this year) But it’s Christmas break. It’s three weeks of unadulterated freedom. FREE-DOM. Freeeeee-dom! If I go to the states I want to get my ticket for cheap, I have the dates I can travel. But, I hadn’t really researched my options.

The autumn is the busiest time of year for me. I am coaching, counseling, hosting visitors, and teaching classes all in a 24 hours a day. It’s a balancing act of time management, sleep, adrenaline management, passion, organisation, Google Docs, and a little crazy. This nutty schedule eventually takes it out of me, where I just want to sit by the pool and relax with a book. Or spend some time with good people over a nice glass or two..or three of wine. I don’t really have the chance to plan anything for the holidays so I really have to do it before the school year starts. So, why not plan now?

Over all my breaks I like to explore my different options. Tours? Solo travel? Go back to the states? I tend to like tour options--they eliminate the need for me to plan the small logistical travel and allow me to do the big picture planning. I started with Intrepid tours, then looked at the Contiki offerings, and then just started to Google “tour groups for 30 somethings” “luxury travel for 30 somethings” “solo travel offerings”  just to see what was out there and if there was anything new. I looked at all sorts of companies, read articles, and was losing hope that I would find anything good. At this point I had ruled out going back to the states because I found some decent tours I wouldn’t mind. I have liked the Intrepid and Contiki tours that I went on in the past, but I am just ready for something a little more my style. I like sustainable travel, where the hotels are owned by locals and employ locals, they use local sourced food, and offer traditional non-westernized cuisine. I am over hostels. I recently turned 30 and this girl is over the wearing flip flops in the shower and the questionable bed linens. I want affordable luxury, higher accommodation standards, reasonable prices, and a crowd like me. Professional, full time job, 30’s-40’s, single, adventure traveller. I may not choose to go on the offered bike ride or hike, I may opt for staying longer at the market, or walk behind everyone to take pictures of the sunset, but I want the choice because I don’t need to be shuffled around with the rest of the crowd. So far I had not found anything that comes close to what I am looking for. Intrepid and Contiki have been great, but I just was hoping for something a little more suitable to me.

Sometimes I like to stop and take pictures of sunsets okay? Thailand 2014

Sometimes I like to stop and take pictures of sunsets okay? Thailand 2014

And then….while reading the comments on one article I came across a new tour company. (I have to say, comments usually break my faith in humanity, but this one was a gem) The Flash Pack was recommended to a traveller looking for a little older crowd than the partying 18-29 year olds. I looked them up and all the searching I had done paid off. The Flash Pack caters to professionals in their 30’s-40’s who are looking for more than clubs and drinking, but rather experiences and good company. It’s not a “singles” tour company which in my world equates to one big meat market. From what I can tell it’s for those travellers who are looking for a no-single supplement, boutique accommodations, unique excursions, and traveling off the typical tourist track tour company. Which, in all honesty, is exactly what I needed and wanted for my Christmas break and for my travel style. After reading their blog, looking up their mission statement, and contacting their enquiry team--I was sold. Big time sold. Responses within 24 hours about what we would probably be doing for Christmas dinner, possible extensions, deposit questions, and budget questions, I was a total fan. The Flash Pack promises a different tour company experience and so far it has lived up to its promises.
 

I booked. Christmas in April and South East Asia!