Imagine inheriting an unexpected $100,000 with no strings attached. I wish it had happened to me, but instead it was my well-traveled, rather jaded friend on the receiving end. She asked where I would go if I were in her shoes, and I responded before she could say, “I only fly first class.”
My answer was a 21-day private jet tour around the globe called “Heaven & Earth Around the World.” Operated by TCS Starquest Expeditions, a Seattle-based tour operator that’s been in the business for 20 years, the tour takes travelers to exotic locations around the world.
This year, the tour is scheduled for Oct. 31 to Nov. 20. Locations range from the Dead Sea in Jordan, Aipa in Samoa and Easter Island off the coast of Chile. On Nov. 14, travelers will witness a solar eclipse in the wee hours of the morning in Australia before taking off for Yogyakarta on the island of Java, in Indonesia.
The tour is both luxurious and educational. Expeditions are limited to 78 passengers in a Boeing 757 private jet. A physician and private chef travel with the group from start to finish. The ratio of crew to traveler is one of the highest in the business at one to five.
Boredom is not part of the itinerary, which means this tour is a wise choice for anyone subject to attention deficit disorder. A world-class team of experts such as Michael Shara, curator of Astrophysics for the American Museum of Natural History, join the expedition from Australia to London. Shara and other guides utilize a special in-flight multimedia system for lectures.
The latest technology is used to prepare travelers for each site. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are provided for each passenger, destination briefings are given on 24 flat screen monitors and individual iPads are loaded to the gills with books and documentaries on the destinations.
This means that the educational briefing received by travelers before arriving at the Ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatamala or Jaipur, India’s “ Pink City,” is given by academic experts with the latest technology.
You get the picture; this private jet tour is choreographed for the traveler who has seen more of the world than Madonna. Getting in and out of these “not easily accessible” sites in record time is the brainchild of TCS.
“We use private airports closer to our destination; avoiding long transfers, arrivals and departures are a breeze compared to commercial carriers,” says Cathy Swift, director of marketing at TCS.
Hotels are chosen with comfort and luxury in mind such as the Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima and the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea in Jordan. The tour concludes in London with two nights at the Dorchester Hotel.
This jet tour is one of several, so if you can’t wait to fly until Oct. 31, consider Cultures & Cuisines from Sept. 17 to Oct. 5. The tour is equally irresistible, with wining and dining in Iceland, Hungary, India, China, Vietnam, Oman, Greece and France.
My flighty friend had only one question to ask after interrogating me about the Heaven & Earth Expedition.
“The trip is $72,000. What should I do with the rest of my inheritance?”
Without hesitating I said, “Did you consider a long gold filigree necklace in Jaipur’s ‘Pink City?’”
She said, “Why not? My last husband always said I was worth my weight in gold.”
Pam Price writes for blogs.forbes.com/pamprice/