Time to Prepare Next Winter's Trips to Europe

Spring has barely begun, but it's already time to start planning next winter's getaways. Here are a few European options to keep in mind:

Insight Vacations has launched its 2014/15 Autumn, Winter & Spring Europe Collection, including the Eastern Mediterranean and Christmas Markets brochure. The new program includes 34 itineraries with several Signature Experiences that will include meeting a market stall holder in Dresden and learning about Glühwein and Stollen bread. Other Signature Experiences include a paella cooking demonstration in Valencia with a master chef and a visit to a strudel house in Budapest to learn the art of making the Hungarian delicacy. As a bonus, the winter program costs up to 30 percent less than the summer offerings.

Crown Cruise Vacations, meanwhile, highlighted several European river cruises to top Christmas Market destinations, including AmaWaterways, Uniworld and Viking itineraries to cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France. 

And Tauck is offering travelers the opportunity to ring in 2015 in grand style at “The Tauck Paris Event,” a one-time-only six-day cultural exploration of Paris highlighted by a New Year’s Eve gala. 

The Paris event (from December 29, 2014 – January 3, 2015) will include some unique experiences that would not be possible for a repeated departure. Count Jean-Charles de Vogüé has been slated to personally take guests on a tour of his 17th-century chateau, Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte, which inspired Louis XIV to build the Palace of Versailles. Guests will also go on a private after-hours tour with a cocktail reception and dinner inside the Musée d'Orsay, and an interactive evening with Susan Herrmann Loomis, a personal friend of the late Julia Child who is a French culinary expert and author of six cookbooks in her own right.

Not sure of vacation dates for the winter holidays? Here's a handy checklist

Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 27: To avoid skyrocket prices on air, ask months ahead if kids are flying home from college or if clients need to fly somewhere. Suggest as well that it’s a great four-day weekend for those who can forego the turkey and family get-together.

Hanukkah starts Wednesday, December 17, and continues for eight days.

Christmas, Thursday, December 25, and New Year's Eve, Wednesday, December 31, are just screaming for long weekends in 2014. Advise clients they may want to ask for January 2 off ahead of time since it will fall on a Friday.