A Beginner’s Guide to Religious Travel

by JuJuB

SOURCE: TravelPulse

Religious travel, often also called faith-based travel, is a unique subcategory of the travel industry that focuses on connecting travelers with religious travel experiences around the world, from experiencing the Holy Land or hiking along the famed El Camino de Santiago to pilgrimages to Mecca and beyond.

Faith-based travel is estimated by ETS Tours, a leader in faith-based group travel, to be worth around $50 to $100 billion. The World Tourism Organization estimates 330 million travelers visit the world’s largest religious sites each year, while millions more stop into historic churches and temples during their travels and wander along ancient pilgrimage paths to connect deeper with Christian saints, Buddhist philosophers or other religious figures.

But if you’re a traveler looking to take your first faith-based trip or a travel advisor looking to learn more about selling faith-based travel, it can be difficult to know where to begin. So before you look further, check out this beginner’s guide to religious travel to learn how to begin!

What You Need to Know – Traveler Edition
Faith-based travel is often a group affair, but whether you’ll be traveling solo, with family or with a church group, tour operators often offer the best opportunities to enjoy a truly faith-based journey.

Reputable land tour operators are often going to be the easiest way to get an in-depth connection to the destination in question, whether it be in Jerusalem experiencing the three major world religions coexisting within one ancient city or following in the Apostle Paul’s footsteps across Greece or Italy along ancient Roman roads.

Tour operators are unique in that your itinerary is set with a faith-based approach to your trip, led by a knowledgeable guide who can provide the historical and religious insights to each destination and attraction, as well as provide enough time for prayer and reflection in between seeing the sights.

Many tour operators offer religious or faith-based tours. Collette and Globus, for example, offer group tours with others or private touring options for church groups, families and more. ETS Tours, which specializes in faith-based travel, is a great choice for travelers taking church groups or larger groups on a faith-based trip.

If you’re more inclined to go your own way without the benefit of a guide and other additions like included transportation, check out some tour operators’ itineraries to get a good look at what you want to visit during your own trip. They can be great starting points for your own trips, which may be longer or visit different countries depending on your travel desires.

Lastly, check in with a travel advisor. They’re great resources for planning trips of all kinds, and will be able to guide you through your vacation planning process no matter if they’re faith-based travel experts or not. Whether you’ll be leading your own tour group or joining in with a tour operator’s group, advisors will be able to guide you every step of the way.

“Planning ahead is the best – you can make payments and you can really plan a great trip if you have time in advance,” said Tammy Levent, President of Elite Travel Management Group. “Make sure to go with an agency that is familiar and knows what visas to get to all the countries you are visiting.”

What You Need to Know – Travel Advisor Edition

Travel advisors know that specialization can often be a superpower in their field. Whether it be specializing in faith-based travel in general, a specific destination that offers plenty of religious or faith-based travel opportunities or in a tour operator that offers faith-based travel as a tour category, specializing can give advisors the tools they need to successfully plan travel for their clients, while giving their clients the confidence they need knowing they’re working with a specialist.

But how to begin?

“Find a reputable tour operator that specializes in faith-based travel – I like ETS. Reach out to their sales team with questions, look over their itineraries, and do their trainings,” said Nicole Lovell of NML Travel, who planned a Catholic group pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

ETS Tours routinely offers webinars for travel advisors looking to begin getting into the faith-based travel category, as well as plenty of tour options for groups to choose from.

Advisors can also research tour operators to learn which ones offer training or expert programs for advisors, which can help, or check into the Travel Agent Academy, which partners with destinations like Jordan, Japan and Malta to offer travel advisor specialty programs. They offer training and resources to help advisors plan all sorts of travel, including religious travel.

Travel advisors who are part of a religious community should also consider talking with the leaders of their communities about tours to a specific destination. For example, many Christian churches will offer pastor- or priest-led tours to the Holy Land, visiting Christian sites in Israel and Jordan.

One consideration that advisors should also have is to plan well in advance, especially for group travel.

“Faith-based travel needs to be planned well in advance,” said Lovell. “If it is a group trip (as most are), I recommend that you begin promoting it 16-18 months ahead of time. This gives the pastor plenty of time to promote the trip within their congregation, it gives you time to host information sessions (in person or virtually), and more people will be available to travel on the chosen dates, as they probably haven’t scheduled much that far in advance.”

The Faith Travel Association is another great resource and way to learn and showcase your expertise with planning religious travel. For a fee of $49 a year, travel advisors can become a member of the world’s leading network of advisors, tour operators, destinations and travel suppliers focusing on faith-based travel.

Advisors who belong to the association will enjoy access to the member-only newsletter, seminars, webinars, exposure as an FTA-member travel advisor and much more.

Faith-based travel is an important subcategory of the travel industry, and advisors who belong to religious communities can benefit greatly from learning how to sell religious travel. Travelers themselves who want to begin planning a religious trip should consider getting in touch with a travel advisor and familiarize themselves with different tour operators and travel styles far ahead of their prospective travel date.

Do People Even Care About CDC Travel Warnings?

by Tammy

In an article I wrote for TravelPulse last week about the latest travel warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I noted it would be easier to count the few nations and territories that were not on the list than the plethora of countries that were in the CDC’s crosshairs.

I wasn’t trying to be glib; there’s nothing even remotely humorous about a pandemic that has caused millions of deaths over the last two years. Rather, I was trying to point out the disparity between countries that the CDC considers safe, and the areas that they don’t.

But it got me wondering: At this point, do people even care about the CDC travel warnings anymore?

In a word … Nope.

Not at all.

If these travel warnings are giving travelers pause and concern, they are in the definite minority. I say that from personal conviction, from the thoughts of friends and family and from trusted travel advisors.

We are exactly two years removed from the onset of the pandemic. There was the initial period of almost nine months of trying to evade the virus, the subsequent introduction of the vaccines, the Delta variant and the Omicron variant.

Now the number of cases is dropping, we have a better understanding of how to deal with the virus, and even the CDC revised its guidance here in the U.S. to the point where 70 percent of the country can ditch the masks.

I won’t say the warnings are being ignored now; tolerated is probably the better word. We’re taking these ‘do not travel’ advisories under advisement, for lack of a better term.

Oh, heck, who are we kidding. We’re throwing caution to the wind because, well, it’s been too long, and we are better equipped to handle the outbreak.

“People don’t care,” said TravelPulse contributor and travel advisor Tammy Levent, owner of Elite Travel Management Group in Palm Harbor, Fla. “I have full families traveling together overseas.”

Tammy added that not only are people traveling, but they are spending. A lot – including taking multiple-city European trips. Her most popular itineraries right now include London-Dublin-Scotland, as well as Egypt-Italy-Greece.

“I have a lot of customers definitely traveling quite a bit and they are spending the money they didn’t spend the last two years,” Tammy said.

In my own circle, I have four family members heading to Morocco and three friends just days away from a trip to Vietnam.

Me? Describe it any way you want – apathy, indifference, fearlessness, thoughtlessness, whatever – but I have my own bucket list item. I have seen 143 Bruce Springsteen concerts over my 57 years, but none in a foreign country. I have only read and seen video clips of some of his amazing shows overseas.

If and when he tours again, my plane tickets and my concert tickets will be booked for Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, known more colloquially as San Siro, in Milan.

Because, well … I just don’t care about CDC warnings anymore.

Discover Ireland adventure

by JuJuB

elite adventure travel

You’re sure to have a ‘whale of a time’ when you book your ultimate vacation to the beautiful country of Ireland. Known for its music, lush landscapes, majestic castles and craft beer, there’s so much to see and do.

Craft beer: The Irish love their ale, so, while you are there, try a pint of Gat at the Guinness Storehouse, one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. Other breweries, including Metalman Brewing, and Blacks of Kinsale, offer tours of their facilities and taste tests.

Whiskey tours: If you prefer a little Irish whiskey instead, make sure to visit the Irish Whiskey Museum, where you can learn all about one of this country’s favorite drinks. This whiskey museum tour is an interactive, modern experience that has Irish whiskey memorabilia dating back to the 1800s. Sample Irish whiskey, Irish Coffee or whiskey cocktails. Sign up for a guided tour and tastings.

Castles: Castles aren’t just for princes and princesses. There are more than 30,000 castles and castle ruins of all shapes and sizes throughout Ireland to see, so make to check out a few of these fascinating structures. Top of the list should be Bunratty Castle, a former Viking trading camp, or the Ross Castle, which was built somewhere around the 15th century. Don’t miss Parke’s Castle in County Leitrim, a restored medieval castle. If you loved the television show The Tudors, then check out The Irish Castle at Cahir in County Tipperary where some of the show was filmed. Of course, a trip to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the famous Blarney Castle and a upside down kiss on the Blarney Stone.

Mountain-biking: Get out and explore the plush Ireland countryside, but do it on a mountain bike at Ballyhoura, the largest trail network in Ireland. Some spots of the trail are easy, while some are extremely challenging, so be ready. Adventure seekers can also go cycling or kayaking in Kilkenny, take a cliff walk at the Greystones, hike at Wicklow Mountains or hike Ireland’s remote and rugged Cliffs of Moher.

Spelunking: Cave lovers will want to explore Ireland’s many hollows, such as Aillwee Caves where you can tour chasms and see unique formations and frozen waterfalls.

Elite Adventure Travel


When isn’t a trip to Italy a good incentive? It would be very hard to convince anyone that a trip to Italy isn’t worth working hard for, but if you need some encouraging, how about this:

Wine and Food: Food, wine and Italy all go hand in hand and you can’t go to Italy without a sip of wine or a taste of pasta and pizza. Stroll the Mercato San Lorenzo food market where you can shop for your favorite Italian spices and other delicacies as well. Make sure you also try bigoli, the pasta of Venice. Wine connoisseurs will love the fact that Italy has 20 major grape growing regions, so leave room for a wine tasting in your tour schedule. Stop by Perche’ No, which has been owned and operated by the same family since 1939, and enjoy some gelato.

History: From the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church to the Colosseum in Rome and such famous artwork as Michelangelo’s David and the Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, Italy is filled with history. The Vatican Museums have an entire history of the pontiffs as well. Soccer also plays a big part in Italy’s history and is an important pastime in Italy. There are also many architectural sites to visit, including the Climb the Duomo and Bell Tower, where you can climb the 476 stairs and see a view of the entire city. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world and has collections of paintings of the fourteenth century and especially from Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Romance: Ah mi amore! Italy is all about the love and romance and one of the most romantic places in Italy is adore Amalfi, which includes nine other beautiful towns. Visit Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, and the Paper Museum or explore the passages of Positano. Tuscany’s beautiful landscapes are beautiful enough to enjoy with your loved one and, when you are done, take a dip for two in Saturnia, one of Tuscany’s thermal baths, with sulphurous waters.

Tuscany: One of the most beautiful regions of Italy, Tuscany’s winding country roads and the rolling hills are breathtaking. Here you can enjoy cooking classes, a lush landscape and amazing art at The Duomo.\

So much to do, so little time, so enjoy Italy!

Elite Incentive Travel

Game of Thrones

by JuJuB


If you can’t get enough of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen and eagerly await the next Game of Thrones episode, then consider going on an GOT inspired vacation.

There have been six seasons of the popular HBO fantasy series drama and so far it has been filmed in some of the most beautiful locations around the world. Scenes have been filmed in Girona, Spain at the stunning Girona Cathedral, which was built between the 11th and 18th centuries. The Battle of Castle Black, a battle during the Conflict Beyond the Wall and the War of the Five Kings, was filmed in Northern Island. The towers of Winterfell were filmed at The Stangford Castle Ward Estate and the Castle Ward towers, also in Northern Ireland. One of the most striking locations is used as the Road From King’s Landing, which is filled at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. It is a romantic tunnel of these gorgeous intertwined beech trees.

There are organized tours for dedicated GOT fans where you can tour filming locations from other season as wells, such as Cushendun Caves which are thought to be more than 400 million years old, and Shane’s Castle, a ruined castle near Randalstown in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, all used as scenes in the show. In Dublin, scenes were shot in the Cistercian Abbey of St. Mary’s Dublin, which was founded in 1139 by the Benedictine monks of Savigny. Visit Ballintoy Harbour, a location where Theon Greyjoy came ashore on Pyke Island.

You can also visit the locations on your own and tour at your own pace. For example, an excursion to Sibenik, a historic city in Croatia, will uncover Braavos, a city against the Freehold. Visit Azure Window in Malta where Daenery’s and Dragos wedding has taken place. The Azure Window is a gorgeous limestone natural arch that was created after two limestone sea caves collapsed. It is located on the Maltese island of Gozo, near Dwejra Bay on the Inland Sea.

The Long Bridge is a GOT structure that is said to be located in the Free City of Volantis. In real life, it is the Roman Bridge located in Cordoba, Spain.

The good news is that there’s more Game of Thrones to come, which means more areas to explore.

Elite Adventure Travel

If you’re a roller coaster junkie and you have a need for speed, then taking a tour of the top rollercoasters around the country is a great way to feed your coaster cravings.

Head West Young Man: Here you will find the scariest 116-degree drop and 70mph ride on Cannibal at Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah. A one-day visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, gets the coaster lover 18 rides to try, including the Green Lantern, which comes with a 144-foot drop, followed immediately by a 121-foot loop. And of course, you have to ride Superman: Escape from Krypton, where you’ll launch right out of the gate at 100mph … backwards.

Or go East: Your northeast rollercoaster tour should include stops at Jackson, New Jersey, where the wooden coaster, the El Toro, which has a maximum velocity of 70mph, is one of the most popular rides at Six Flags Great Adventure. If you’re spending the day at Six Flags, then spend some time on line at Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster in the world, where you shoot out at 128mph and head down a staggering 418ft drop! A short drive into Pennsylvania and you’ll be on Skyrush at

Hersheypark in Hershey, where you will reach five Gs on the first drop alone. Then head over to The GateKeeper at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, the tallest and fastest wing coaster that inverts a harrowing six times at 67mph.

Going South: If you’re heading down south to try the coasters, then Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina must be on your list. It is home to the Fury 325, the tallest chain-lift roller coaster in the world at 325ft and a whopping 95 mph. Walt Disney World has must-rides in the dark Space Mountain, even though it’s only 27 mph, and Mission: SPACE, a realistic simulated liftoff and flight. In Doswell, Virginia, the Intimidator 305 is at the Kings Dominion and, hang on, it has multiple low-to-the-ground hairpin turns and is a 90mph challenge for the best of the best rollercoaster lovers.

Midwest: Finally, are you the Davy to Six Flags’ Goliath? In Gurnee, Illinois, you can give it a shot on the Goliath, which has the longest (180ft) and steepest (85 degrees) drop of any wooden roller coaster in the country.

There are almost 500 rollercoasters of varying shapes, sizes and speeds, so plan your US tour for this upcoming summer season.

Elite Adventure Travel

Adventure in Jamaica

by JuJuB

Jamaica is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Whether you just love to put your toes in the sand and soak up some sun or you are more of an adventurist, there is always something to do.

Beaches: Take your pick. There’s Treasure Beach, a six-mile stretch of coral-colored and black sands, private coves and rocky shores. Montego Bay, a major cruise ship port has Doctor’s Cave Beach and Walter Fletcher Beach. Founded in 1906, Doctor’s Cave Beach Club is nestled between the Marine Park and the Hip Strip. Explore Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica’s hot spot for sunbathers, including a few nudies in designated areas. You can also go horseback riding to see Jamaica’s trails and then take the horses right into the Caribbean.

Water fun: The green and blue ocean water shouldn’t just be watched from the shoreline, it should be explored. Located in Ocho Rios, the Rio Nuevo Wall is a diver’s paradise, with a 25-foot dive. Dunn’s River Falls is also a must-see for visitors where you can climb 600-foot cascades and snorkel below. Surfers can’t go to Jamaica without hanging 10 on Boston Bay Beach, one of the bluest, most beautiful beaches on the island.

Safari: Take a trip in a safari jeep up to the highest viewpoint of Ocho Rios, “Murphy Hill” (2000 feet above sea level) to really see what this beautiful country is all about. Ziplining is across the island is another way to see the stunning sights.

Hiking: The Blue Mountain Peak Trail takes approximately several hours to hike, ending at Blue Mountain Peak. Known for its Blue Mountain coffee, the Peak is the highest mountain in Jamaica at 7,402 ft., making it a prime location for trekkers. If you want to maximize trail time, Portland Gap is a convenient overnight stay on the trail.

Music: Get your groove on, because July 1 is International Reggae Day. Jamaica reveres this day with a 24-hour celebration of its reggae culture and influence. If that’s not long enough of a celebration, the Jamaica Festival is a one-week celebration honoring Jamaica’s independence.

Eat: Tasting the Jamaican delicacies is always an adventure in itself. Be sure to try their famous Jerk chicken, curry goat, fried dumplings, fried plantain, and steamed cabbage. Of course, a little Jamaican rum is a great way to top off a wonderful vacation.

So much to do, so little time!


Employees want to feel appreciated when they are working hard. They want to know that their bosses like the work they are doing and the hard work they are putting in. You should want to show your employees how much you appreciate and value them too. Maybe they pulled in a big fish who wants to have a family reunion with hundreds of his closest relatives, or maybe they landed a huge corporate client and you will be handling all of the travel arrangements. If you’re looking for more of a reward than an honorary certificate or an ‘Employee of the Month” picture and applause, there are several ways that you can do it:

Money: Everyone likes cash, but it really is just temporary. When the money is gone, the reward feels like it’s over. Unfortunately, it has been known to backfire too. For example, while you might think that employees could always use more money, employers that use straight cash to motivate employees might find that their employees think that money matters more to employers than anything else. However, money can be used in different forms as a rewards. Think of gift certificates to local restaurants, movie theaters, or stores.  Want to think larger? How about a gift certificate for a weekend away?

Gifts: Sometimes a small token of appreciation is the perfect way to reward a job well done. Perhaps the latest in music technology, a television, a big batch of books from their favorite author, a Netflix subscription, box of decadent Swiss chocolate or a beautiful bouquet of flowers is just enough to say ‘thanks,’ without breaking the budget.

Trips:  Being in the travel industry it would make sense to give a trip as an incentive reward to your employees. These trips do not have to be luxury trips to a private island or a 15-day cruise around Europe. If your employee deserves a big reward for a job well done, then perhaps a weekend getaway to a bed and breakfast, or an overnight cruise to nowhere might be appropriate. An all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, depending on your location, could be an option or even a night in a luxury hotel with room service and an in-room massage could be exactly what your employee needs after putting in hours upon hours helping you to grow your business.

Elite Incentive Travel

Cycling Across Country

by JuJuB

Many people have dreams of touring across the country on a bike, but aren’t sure where or how to start. Maybe they don’t know what kind of bike to get, or what kind of route they should plan. Here are some helpful tips to help you get started on your cycling tour across the country.

Consider buying a touring bike. While they can be pricier than standard bikes, there are benefits to buying a bicycle specifically geared towards touring, especially if you think you might do more than one tour in your life. They’re generally more durable, can handle tougher terrain, and can support more loadings than most other bikes. You don’t necessarily need a top-of-the-line touring bike for your trip, and there are some pretty inexpensive ones out there if you look for deals. If you don’t want to buy an entirely new bike, you can still upgrade your current bike to have the tools you’ll need, such as methods of carrying your luggage or better tires.

Start exercising. You might cycle a lot, but it’s likely that your body isn’t used to taking 6- to 8-hour bike rides every day, so it’s important to start exercising and conditioning your body. Depending on the type of tour you’re choosing, your workout routine could change. For more casual tours, you can probably get away with easier workouts, while tougher workouts could require more rigorous training. If you’re unsure what type of workout to do, ask an expert at your local gym.

In a tour or by yourself? A big part of prepping for your cross country journey is deciding if you want to go in an organized tour or make your own route by yourself. There are certain benefits to both, but it depends on your personal preference. If you’re not confident enough to go solo, a group is a good starting option. For example, America by Bicycle is one tour company with different routes for all skill levels. Trek Travel is another organization that offers individual, family tours and pro cycling tours.

Planning your route. If you choose to go by yourself instead of in a group, planning out your route will be the most important part of your trip. If you’re not sure where to start, considering choosing some tourist attractions or other such places that you’ve always wanted to see and mark them on a map. From there, you can start to connect the roads between them and plan your stops along the way, whether they be at hotels or camp grounds. It’s important to have a detailed plan before you leave, a map in case you get lost (and you’re not in a Wi-Fi area) and adequate supplies.

Don’t overpack. Like most other vacations, packing can be quite the hassle when it comes to biking across country. Taking a minimalistic view on packing can help lessen your load and make traveling easier. Two things you can easily pack less of is food and clothes. Pack outfits that can be used in multiple ways and also help to save space. .


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