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Women’s History, In Person

March 13, 2020
Since 1987, the United States has recognized March as Women’s History Month, a time for Americans to learn about and recognize the contributions that women have made to our country’s founding and growth.

We’re big fans of using travel to educate, as we’ve mentioned before. And Women’s History Month is a great time for your supporters to hit the road and education their children (or grandchildren!) about the famous (and underrecognized) women heroes in this country. In addition, some of our favorite travel destinations lead the way in recognizing women’s contributions, meaning these places can be both educational and fun!

Some of our suggestions:

Of course, for all historical celebrations in America, Washington, D.C. is a must-visit. The nation’s capital is home to the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum and Archives documents and displays the history of the suffrage movement year-round. However, in March, museums and galleries around the city curate and showcase women, both historical and modern. The National Museum of African Art currently has an exhibit devoted to the women of Africa, for instance, and the Atlas Performing Arts Center is performing a play based on the unheralded, but important, work of Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein’s first wife.

Just up the Atlantic coast, Boston was the host city for so much of America’s shared history. It shouldn’t surprise, then, that the first National Women’s Rights Convention was held in nearby Worcester. The 1850 gathering brought so many together that the conventioneers overflowed from the hosting Brinley Hall. The emerging suffragettes returned in 1851 for a second gathering. A great activity, especially for families: Walk the Women’s Heritage Trail to see the historic sights of the city’s through a female lens.

One underrated tribute? Sometimes your donors might spend their money based on causes they want to help – not just at your fundraising auction, but where it buys groceries, maybe, or restaurants that contribute part of their proceeds to non-profits. If that’s the case, how about a trip to Jackson Hole! Why? When Wyoming joined the United States in 1890, it brought with it a state law that allowed women to vote. Even though that law jeopardized Wyoming’s statehood, the territory stood firm, and eventually it made Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote.


Maximum Spring

March 10, 2020
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you’re a little groggy after having lost an hour of sleep for no good reason. It’s almost spring!

As the weather changes, the faces of some of our favorite destinations change, too. Snow melts away, outdoor activities can become more attractive, and public parks are ready to host picnics. In fact, there are some locations that transform so much, they go from a tough sell to a best-seller in the time it takes to recover from St. Patrick’ Day.

If you’re looking to take advantage of spring fever to auction off a non-profit fundraising auction travel package, we’ve got some ideas for destinations that shine in the sun.

Spring Break:
Do we ever really grow out of spring break? When the coats get stashed back in the closets and the sun stays out into the evenings, there’s still no better place to be than the beach. Whether it’s the island sand of Hawaii or any of our destinations in Mexico or the Caribbean, destinations with surf are always eye-catchers, and offering one at your non-profit fundraising auction will certainly draw interest among people coming out of a winter hibernation.

Beat the Heat: The average high temperature in Las Vegas in July is 104 degrees. The average high temperature in Miami on August 8 is 90 degrees – and with oppressive humidity. Some of our favorite warm-weather places on the map may be a little too hot to see during the summer. But these spring days can bring more comfortable temperatures, allowing your donors to fully explore. Go hiking in the hills and mountains outside of Vegas, golfing in Palm Springs, or soak up the sun in Miami without the excess sweat.

The Bloom: There are few indicators of spring more colorful than blooming season. For those who live in colder climes, it can be worth a trip just to see the various hues explode from bushes, trees and vines. In Washington, D.C., that takes the form of the spring Cherry Blossom Festival, which kicks off on March 20. In Southern California it’s the poppies of Antelope Valley (located a short drive from Los Angeles). And in Arizona, two hours or so southwest of Phoenix, the Sonoma Desert gets bright in March; your donors can seek out the Catalina Scenic Highway for a day drive from the floor of the desert to a 9,000-foot elevation.


Five Reasons Why: San Francisco

February 29, 2020
Bracketed by wine country to its north and Los Angeles to its south, it is sometimes easy to overlook San Francisco as a travel destination in and of itself. It’s hard to say that about a city that’s in the news so often, but it’s true: while San Francisco attracted almost 26 million visitors in 2019, that was only good enough for 17th place in the country, outranked by San Diego (35 million), Los Angeles (50 million), and only barely beating out Anaheim (24.4 million).

What are those who skip to Southern California missing by not visiting San Francisco? Here are at least five reasons to head to the city by the Bay.

The Public Transit: When your donors land at San Francisco, they can still go to the car rental desk, like anywhere else. But life in the city is often best without an automobile. Instead of getting stuck in the traffic, moving at a snail’s pace, they can hop on and off buses, subway cars and, of course, streetcars. The last of those are considered such a part of the city that they show up on alternate versions of the Golden State Warriors’ jerseys.

The Views: If your donors consider a day walking through parks and taking in the scenery a day well spent, San Francisco may be a dream destination. Golden Gate Park and the nearby Golden Gate National Recreation Area give beautiful views of the water, and The Presidio has the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, which has one of the best sightlines down the Golden Gate Bridge. And nearby Muir Woods is postcard-worthy thanks to its giant Redwood trees.

The Landmarks: The Golden Gate Bridge is iconic, of course, but what often goes unmentioned is how it’s pedestrian friendly. The mile-long connector between the city and Marin County has sidewalks, meaning that someone can get to both sides of Golden Gate National Recreation Area without a drive. And the view from the bridge, looking back at the city, is stunning as well.

The Museums: Along with elevated modern art palaces like San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum, the city has several great options for families. Kids can make a stop-motion video at the Children’s Creativity Museum, walk through a “twisting, turning tactile sculpture” at the Exploratorium, and see the beginnings of a children’s entertainment behemoth at the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Cultural History: This is the city of the Summer of Love. The streets are where the car chase from the film “Bullitt,” maybe the best in movie history, was shot. The Beat poets met up here in the 1950s, writing works that would forever be associated with San Francisco (City Lights, almost 70 years old now, still stands both as a bookstore and a living monument to the Beat Generation). The city’s counter-cultural history may be unmatched.


Winter Activity Favorites

February 19, 2020
When it comes to winter vacations, the stereotypical images that come to mind might be goggled skiers, whipping their ways down mountains. Or maybe it’s a snowboarder, getting vertical off a jump or carving big tracks in the show. Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can certainly help your donors fit into those pictures.

But not every person who loves winter loves to go skiing. There are plenty of ways to interact with the season without strapping boards to feet and speeding down a hill. Below are a few ideas for how you can get your supporters in the seasonal spirit without lifts, bindings, and all the accoutrements of a day on the slopes.

Your donors may not get to experience that apres-ski life in New York or Las Vegas, but they can do the next best thing: Grab a drink at an igloo bar! The rooftops of New York are filling up with fake plastic igloos, domes that keep a little bit of the heat in (although 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar still provides bathrobes for some extra warmth). Your supporters can sit inside one and be merry while the snow falls all around. In Las Vegas, minus5 Ice Experience might be the only place in Sin City that requires coats; guests are provided parkas and gloves and taken to a bar where everything – the glasses, the seats, even the walls! – are made of ice.

The next Winter Olympics isn’t until 2022, which means your donors can start their roads to the Games with curling lessons. Yes, the sport that plays like shuffleboard on ice is a hit for TV audiences, but it’s even more fun to play. And any Canadian city bigger than a village likely has a curling club providing drop-in lessons. From the Royal Canadian Curling Club in Toronto to the Vancouver Curling Club (located in the facility that hosted the sport in the 2010 Winter Olympics), clubs across Canada have stones and brooms waiting for your supporters.

While the family’s innertubes may be packed away for the season, the summer favorite gets a snowy makeover in the mountains with snow tubing. It’s a favorite reason for a winter day-trip from Los Angeles; the nearby town of Big Bear Lake features several places to slide down the hill like you would ride down the river. It can be the perfect way for your donors to get their kids interested in the snowy outdoors, a sort of “bridge” activity to skiing or snowboarding.

For everything else – snowmobiling, sledding, winter wildlife tours, even dog sledding – there’s Jackson Hole. The Wyoming resort town is a winter wonderland, and while skiing and snowboarding are well represented at the nearby Grand Targhee Ski Resort, your donors do not have to enjoy either to step out into the crisp air.


Imagine a Better Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2020
It starts with the gift giving. Then it’s the dinner reservations and the flowers. Pick out the right outfit for the evening. Sit elbow to elbow with other couples in an overcrowded dining room. Swear to never do it again. Until next February 14th, of course.

It’s easy to fall into a routine for Valentine’s Day. Part of that is because it works: everyone likes gifts, flowers are pretty, and having a reason to go out for a good meal is wonderful. But the path of least resistance is rarely the most satisfying.

If you’ve got supporters who would love a romantic adventure – for Valentine’s Day or for any other special time – we can take them beyond the stereotypical and send them on a trip worthy of love.

For instance, falling in love helps release chemicals from the adrenal gland, according to CNN. One of them is adrenaline. That’s not to say that, racing in a plane across the Arizona sky or speeding around a NASCAR track is the same as a first kiss, but science tells us that each activity “turns on” similar receptors in the brain. Does that mean that the couple that skis together stays together? Maybe. But certainly those kind of heart-racing events can make love feel new again.

The Happiest Place on Earth is best known as a family destination, but there are thousands of couples who attend each year without little ones in tow. Heading to Disneyland without kids in tow means doing things like lingering a little longer over a slice of layered chocolate cake at Blue Bayou, or cocktails like the Nectar in the Rye and the Six Tentacles at the Lamplight Lounge. It also means enjoying the fireworks at the end of the day without little ones ready to fall asleep.

Finally, remember those first days of love? How it felt like you could do anything? It’s a feeling that can be hard to replicate – but at an all-inclusive resort, you actually *can* do anything, all without caring about cost. With food, drink, and even excursions all paid for, your donors can feel free – meaning that they can focus on just their loved ones, and try to get back those early feelings of freedom, too.



Dream Concerts Make Dream Trips!

February 06, 2020
We believe that some of the best travel packages for fundraising auctions combine a Destination of Excellence and a “reason” to go: Tickets for a big sporting event, for instance, or a behind-the-scenes tour of a museum, or ski lift passes. It’s why we have so many event- or activity-centric trips in our catalog.

One of those that allows for maximum customization is our “Any Concert – The Live Music Experiment” travel package. With it, you can choose a show anywhere in the contiguous United States and send your donors there, airfare and hotel included. If you’ve got some music fanatics in your donor base, it’s a great way of connecting your cause to their favorite music – and music certainly helps create emotional bonds.

For 2020, there are a few tours in particular that seem travelworthy:

Classic rock fans who haven’t gotten to see Elton John on his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” going-away tour will have a chance to see him during the spring. For those whose tastes run a little wilder, KISS is on the road, performing with original Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. And one big name is rumored to be announcing tour dates soon; Bruce Springsteen has talked about potential shows with the E Street Band. Can you imagine sending your donors to New Jersey to see the Boss on his home turf?

These packages make wonderful gifts, as well. If you’ve got donors looking for an experience to give to, say, a student graduating from high school, or as a “sweet 16” adventure, some of the biggest pop acts in the world will be on tour in 2020. Harry Styles, the standout from the British boy band One Direction, takes his Brit-pop tunes out to arenas across the country this year, while Justin Bieber returns for an international tour. Superstar Taylor Swift, meanwhile, is throwing a couple of major festivals this year; her “Lover East” and “Lover West” shows in Boston and Los Angeles, respectively, are expected to feature star-studded lineups, but it means there’ll only be four chances (two in each city) to see her in America this year.

Finally, kids of the 1990s are now at the age where they can be major donors, and two big tours this year are targeting those late Gen Xers/early Millennials specifically. Alanis Morissette is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her star-making album, “Jagged Little Pill.” She’s bringing with her two other acts from the ‘90s alternative scene, Garbage and Liz Phair. For the pop-punk survivors, Green Day embarks on its “Hell Mega” run alongside Weezer and ‘00s inheritors of the throne Fall Out Boy.


Five Reasons Why: Reykjavik

January 29, 2020
It’s hard to tell when the travel media’s obsession with Reykjavik began. Was it when Travel and Leisure named Iceland the Destination of the Year for 2018? Or maybe when Justin Bieber shot a music video there in 2015?

What we do know is that Iceland’s popularity makes it an eye-catching destination, so offering a trip to Reykjavik can attract a hefty number of bids. But what will your donors do when they get there? Here are five reasons to travel to Iceland’s capital.

The Phenomena: Iceland’s proximity to the North Pole doesn’t mean extra gifts from Santa, but it does mean that the country features unique marvels. Make Reykjavik a “home base” and go further north, away from city light pollution, and the Northern Lights are visible from as early as September to as late as April. Summer travelers, meanwhile, can be treated to the “midnight sun”; from the middle of May through late July, it’s light out 24 hours a day. Golfing at 2 a.m.? Sure!

The New Icelandic Cuisine: The spotlight on the country in the past five-plus years has attracted chefs with the goal of evolving the country’s food past fermented shark and skate. Now, blue mussels (once, for some reason, not seen as a go-to seafood) go with root vegetables, and dulse (red algae) is found in stews and soups. A restaurant like Dill, which specializes in getting as much out of the country’s land as possible, is more than a cultural oddity; it’s a new way of thinking about the products of Iceland.

The Beaches: No, really! Sure, those looking to get a tan and relax should probably still look at a Caribbean trip. But Iceland’s shores have their own interesting features as well. For instance, Reynisfjara, a beach in the town of Vik, is known for its black pebble and massive rock formations. It feels like a beach after the apocalypse, especially when the wind off the ocean is battering the shore, according to some. That black sand also combines with “ice diamonds,” boulder-and-smaller chunks of ice, at Diamond Beach (or Bredamerkursandur).

The Music: From pop music festivals to local folk to the national orchestra (which performs at the stunning Harpa, a concert hall worth checking out even when there’s no show), music seems to come from every corner of the island. This is where Bjork started, along with the band Sigur Ros; either of them would headline most festivals around the world.

…and Elf School! No, it won’t turn you into an elf. It won’t even turn you into Will Farrell from the movie “Elf.” But attending elf school will give your donors a crash course in Icelandic folk tales, including those about the small, supernatural beings (of which, supposedly, a small majority of Iceland’s population believes exists). Whether your supporters go out after and search for Tolkien’s One Ring is up to them.


Arizona is For Everyone

January 23, 2020
Hot. Cacti. Tumbleweeds. If there was a “Family Feud”-style ranking of the words most associated with the state of Arizona, those three might be at the top. But what should make that list: Sports Experiences. Natural Beauty. Relaxation.

Arizona can be a tremendous destination for many different types of traveler, so we’ve broken down each of the cities and paired activities in the Copper State that appear in our Destinations of Excellence catalog. From the surprising size of Phoenix to the natural wonders of Sedona, the state has a little something for everyone.

Let’s start with Phoenix, the state’s capital and largest city. People on the coast often underestimate Phoenix’s size; the city is the fifth largest in the country, with an estimated 1.6 million residents, and it’s the largest metropolis to also be a state capital. It doesn’t always feel that big, due to a low population density and a large network of suburbs, but when it comes to nightlife, museums, and fun, it rivals any of the country’s biggest cities.

The nearby suburbs provide many of the attractions that appear in our Destinations of Excellence catalog. Avondale, for instance, is the home of Phoenix Raceway, which will host NASCAR’s Championship Weekend late in 2020. That track also is where the Mario Andretti Racing Experience takes place, with visitors able to get behind the wheel of either a NASCAR or Indy-style vehicle for some turns around the track.

On the east side of Phoenix, opposite Avondale, is the city of Mesa, which is home of an aerial experience bar none. Fighter Combat International will get your donors in the air, flying planes and even simulating combat, competing for “Top Gun” honors. Combine that with plane acrobatics (barrel roll to your heart’s content) and even a film-worthy flyby of the flight tower, and anyone looking to let out their Maverick or Goose spirit will leap at the chance to bid on a trip to Mesa.

Scottsdale is practically next door to Mesa, and may be best known for its resorts, its restaurants and its golf. It’s why two of our packages to the city involve gift cards that will cover green fees at major courses like the TPC Scottsdale, host of the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open (considered a fan favorite of a tournament). It’s also a great city for relaxation, with spas, nightlife, and a thriving art scene.

But while the Phoenix area has plenty of different experiences, it’s possible to get away from it all, as well. For a trip into the heart of wellness, consider offering our trip to Sedona. While the city has earned a reputation over the years as a home for new-age philosophies, it’s also a great place for spa pampering and gorgeous sight-seeing against a backdrop of red rocks and blue skies. Your donors can take a jeep tour through the terrain during the day, then relax with a spa trip into the evening.


Fine Art for Refined Travelers

January 15, 2020
They’re weatherproof, they’re comfortable and they’re year-round: Fine art museums and galleries are not just spontaneous detours during a walk around a new city, but reasons themselves to travel. An art history major can see their studies come alive, and the novice can open themselves up to the masters of the form – which can spark a lifelong passion.

Most of our favorite destinations are widely known for more than one aspect. And for some, the local art scene – modern or otherwise – can be as big a magnet as a landmark, a food culture, or any other travel inspiration. If you’ve got donors looking to look at canvases, sculptures and other fine art around the world, these trips can make both their wanderlust and your non-profit happy.

Let’s start with the obvious: Paris is an art lover’s dream in so many different ways. Our travel packages can take your donors inside the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and the Centre George Pompidou (home of the Musee National d’Art Moderne). But there’s so much more, including galleries like Modus, Galerie Xippas, and Bugada & Cargnel. The opportunity for unique interaction is plentiful here; the Belleville artists’ studios, for instance, have open house days at the end of each May, where guests can see work and talk with the creators.

If the work of the Renaissance is more your donors’ speed, Florence, Italy is a must-see. The collection of the Medici family alone, with works from Michelangelo, Botticelli and Da Vinci, is worth the long flight; the Uffizi Gallery, the home of that assortment of pieces, is one of the most visited art museums in the world. Florence is also home to Michelangelo’s David, which sits at the Academia Gallery. Of course, like any other great art city rooted in a particular tradition, Florence also has a youthful modern art scene that seeks to deconstruct and rebel against what came before; the Centre for Contemporary Culture at Palazzo Strozzi is much more Al Weiwei than Raphael.

Finally, if you can get someone to stop thinking about Miami’s nearby beaches or amazing restaurant scene, they may at least mention Art Basel. The annual celebration of all things artistic take place in three different cities, with the American version in South Florida and usually held in the winter. But by hosting such an internationally-known event, the city has become a magnet for other artists as well. Art Basel’s presence has led to Miami Art Week, which features Basel alongside several other festivals. But local galleries like Locust Projects and the Bakehouse Art Complex are there year-round to serve art fans.


Travel Trends for 2020

January 09, 2020
2020 still sounds like a year in the future, doesn’t it? It sounds like a number we were never supposed to reach, one that will always be on the horizon. Yet, last week we made it one-fifth of the way through the 21st century.

The changes in travel over the last two decades have been tremendous, for both the good and the bad. It is easier than ever to book trips, thanks to the internet, but it’s harder to get to the destination, thanks to the added security put in place after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

But as we head into 2020, there are more changes coming. Here are a few of the trends that will make the year, and corresponding destinations or trips that will allow you to maximize the potential of your gala fundraising auction.

Motion-Based Travel: Forbes is using this slightly awkward term for one of the trends it sees coming – travel that builds in the chance for walking, hiking and running. When winter turns to spring, some of the best skiing destinations become great hiking cities, and walkable metropolises like New York and Boston allow travelers to stay on two legs throughout the trip.

Go Climate-Neutral: Many of the travel trends for 2020 are as much about how we travel as to where we’re traveling. An example: With companies making it easier to buy carbon offsets, many younger travelers in particular are very conscious of the type of ecological footprint they’re leaving. Combine that with the “staycation” and it might be that younger supporters are interested in bidding on trips close to home – especially if they have a great experiential hook (like game or theater tickets, private tours, etc.).

Ancestral Tourism: Traveling for the sake of discovering the family’s history has been on the rise consistently since home DNA kits started tracing bloodlines back generations. If you’ve got supporters who are constantly talking about their Ancestry.com results, a trip to the Old Country (particularly Ireland or Scotland) might catch their attention.

Family Travel – At All Ages: Parents don’t just travel with their young kids. According to the guidebook experts at Frommer’s, vacations shared between parents and their adult children are on the uptick. Whether its four tickets on a cruise or a villa in the Italian countryside, recreating childhood vacations (now with a lot less fighting and crying, we assume) has become a favorite way of spending time with the family.

Hotel Holidays – According to the Millennial whisperers at PopSugar, a greater number of younger people are heading on the road for holidays, going to resorts and elsewhere rather than having someone (a parent or friend) host. We’ve talked regularly about favorite destinations for certain celebrations – combine the right place with the right accommodations and your youthful supporters might be interested.