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When I travelled to Mexico this past summer, I arrived in sunny Cancun as part of an all-inclusive package since we were there for a destination wedding. I loved the quick, direct flight, the fact that transfers and accommodation had all been arranged, and the joys of poolside butler service. But as I relaxed on the pristine white sand beach and watched the turquoise waves lap the shore, I realized something was missing—the thrill of getting off the beaten path, and exploring the country away from the picture-perfect resort. Fortunately, Air Transat is now giving travellers the best of both worlds.
The Canadian company recently introduced a new way to travel south, by offering vacation packages which are perfect for cultural immersion: think a casa located in a residential area of Varadero, Cuba, or a four-bedroom holiday home in Florida with enough room for the whole family—complete with private pool and a car rental. Whether you plan to stay for one week or one month, there are all types of accommodation options available, ranging from à la carte apartments to high-end resort properties.
For those who can’t decide between being pampered at a five-star resort or exploring the surrounding jungle, that’s where Air Transat’s brilliant Experience Duo packages come in. These stays combine a few nights in a main city or resort area with a nearby spot off the beaten path. For example, travellers can spend two nights in glittering Panama City, then escape to the palm-fringed beaches of Costa Blanca for the rest of the week. Or, beach it in Varadero before heading to historic Havana, Cuba. Or perhaps spending three nights in pastel-hued, colonial Cartagena then relaxing on a Colombian beach is more up your alley? There’s no question the Experience Duo packages a perfect way to explore and get the authentic flavour of a region, with the convenience of booking a tour package.
As much fun as I had celebrating my friend’s wedding and playing daily beach volleyball games, the highlight of my time in Mexico was the spontaneous road trip my husband and I took near the end of our vacation. We spent a day exploring the cosmopolitan streets in Playa del Carmen, drove out to Chichén Itzá to explore the famous ruins, and finished with the most incredible excursion in Isla Holbox where we snorkelled with majestic whale sharks and saw flamingos, dolphins and turtles.
It’s safe to say most people don’t manage to pack all that into a package holiday, which is why Transat’s guided south tours are so popular. Along with flights, hotel, meals and transfers, they include guided tours of historical and natural wonders in countries like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Cuba—all without the hassle of trying to book everything on your own. If you’ve dreamed of seeing Costa Rica’s towering Arenal Volcano or beach hopping in Panama but don’t know how to even begin working out the logistics, then these tours are for you.
The next time you plan on heading to the Caribbean but are looking for more of a cultural experience than the mariachi band can offer, be sure to check out Air Transat’s offerings for a different way to travel south.
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Globe Guide is a Transat Ambassador, and produced this article with the support of Air Transat.