View of a typical street in Porto, Portugal.

In May 2018, my wife, Bernadette, and I began a unique self-drive tour of the Basque region in northern Spain. Our trip was arranged by Spain Trails (Cascais, Portugal; spaintrails.com), which offers custom travel packages that include hotel accommodations, a choice of transportation style (we chose a car with a preprogrammed GPS) and a comprehensive tour book of sights between and in the cities being visited.

Spain Trails offers different levels of service, depending on your chosen...

A mother and her COY (cub of the year).

When my husband, Alan, decided that we should see the polar bears in Churchill, Canada, with a stay at the Tundra Lodge, I agreed because this winter 2017 journey was "his" trip. (Alan likes all exotic locations and physically active itineraries.) We booked the 7-day "Tundra Lodge Adventure" (including an extra day in Winnipeg) with Natural Habitat Adventures (Boulder CO; 800/543-8917, www.nathab.com) for the first week in November, a prime time to see the polar bears...

A spice vendor in the market in Marrakech.

In May 2018, I joined nine other travelers, along with our tour leader (and professional photographer), Daniel, our local guide, Ali, and our driver, Abdul, on a photography tour of Morocco.

What sets a photography tour apart from a regular tour? Being given the opportunity to rise before dawn to capture the sunrise; setting up tripods during the "blue hour" after sunset, and getting up in the middle of the night to photograph the Milky Way, among other things.


Thatch-roofed croft houses in the village of Gearrannan on Lewis Island, the largest of the Outer Hebrides.

It takes a bit of research to find a cruise that carves out but a piece of the world.

Easy to find are those that offer a seafaring smorgasbord — go to bed in Naples, wake up in Marseilles, next stop the Canary Islands — but, when considered carefully, it becomes apparent that what's being offered is all appetizers, no main course. Lacking is the in-depth travel experience.

That type of cruise experience, I've learned, is more likely to occur when one steps...

What’s pho breakfast? Noodle bowls with beef, fresh greens and broth, known as pho bo, are popular in Hanoi.

There are people who merely like to cook, and then there are people who lay awake at night devising an entire menu for their next dinner party. I am one of the latter.

When you are obsessed with food, it plays a critical role in many facets of your life, including in deciding where to travel. In researching various destinations for a spring 2018 trip, I came across a passage that read, "Vietnam is the culinary capital of Southeast Asia (sorry, Thailand)." I was sold.


Enjoying the “world’s best” gelato in San Gimignano.

My wife, Marina, and I took a 2-week vacation to Tuscany in April 2018 and did the whole trip without a car. We wanted to avoid Italian roads and drivers and parking hassles in medieval towns, so we decided to "go green" with public transportation, using Italy's excellent train and bus system supplemented by the occasional taxi.

We started to prepare a year in advance, planning to use airline rewards for our round-trip flights to Rome. We wanted to stay in...

Trains run all day through the Dhaka slums.

Why Bangladesh?" That's what our friends asked us repeatedly when they found out about our planned visit. We didn't know anyone who had ever been to Bangladesh, and it was hard to even find a tour book (though we ultimately found guidebooks from both Lonely Planet and Bradt).

Several years ago I had planned to fly over to Dhaka, Bangladesh, for a 2-day of photo tour with Nijhoom Tours before a separately planned tour to India. Unfortunately, the photo tour got canceled,...

Impalas wandering through the tall green grass.

I was gifted a 6-night photo safari to Zulu Nyala Game Reserve near Kruger National Park in South Africa by my golfing buddy, Wanda. What she didn't know was that I had hosted two wine interns from South Africa four years earlier and had stayed in touch with them. (I live in Healdsburg, California, and during crush season, many of the local wineries employ interns from around the world.) I also had been friendly with a fellow from George, South Africa, named Gordon, who had sent...