Language Classes and Travel: a truly unforgettable gift

The holiday season is here again and with it the usual scramble to find meaningful gifts for your loves ones. Really it’s quite simple. The key to a good gift is longevity. In other words, what will be fulfilling and useful to them far past the holiday season? We have a humble suggestion, which makes dinner and a movie look altogether regular: give that special someone language classes they can use on an upcoming trip. Ideally, you can take both together.
To further spark your imagination, we’ve rounded up some great travel suggestions. Whether you and your friend are adventurous backpackers, art & design junkies, or coffee lovers, we’re sure there’s something on the list that’ll get you thinking.



The Colombian Coffee Triangle

Do you know where your cup of morning coffee is from? There’s a decent chance it’s from Colombia. Most Colombian coffee comes from the Coffee Triangle or Triángulo del Cafe. While Cartagena has stolen the tourism spotlight in Colombia, the Triángulo del Cafe is definitely worth spending time in. Nestled in between gorgeous mountain ranges and the Andean rainforest, you can enjoy some of the tastiest, high-quality coffee while taking in the beautiful landscape. This region is made up of three areas, with the most visited cities being Armenia, Manizales, and Pereira. In more touristy spots, you’ll find that you’ll be able to communicate in English. But if you want the real Colombian experience, you should probably brush up on your Spanish—you may even get yourself invited to a private *finca, *or estate.

FC PRO TIP: Feeling adventurous? You can also go white water rafting in Montenegro or Calarca. Or zip lining through coffee plants!

MOST AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET THERE: Round trip flights from New York or D.C. or Chicago to Medellin average around $400 – $500, though you can sometimes get lucky and find ones for less! From there, you can take a bus to one of the main cities like Manizales and Pereira. A bus ticket will cost you only about $10 – $20.

travel gift experiences morocco


Markets, Cafes, and the World’s Oldest Library in Fez

In Morocco, you’ll be surrounded by a whirlwind of colors, scents, and different languages. You may be put to shame by multilingual Moroccans—but, you know, before you go, you could always brush up on your Arabic, French, or Spanish, since they speak all of these beautiful languages there. While most people get stuck on Marrakesh’s touristic highlights, Fez is arguably the real cultural capital of Morocco. There are countless cafes and markets in the gorgeous city. Some of our faves are Cafe Clock, where people bring their guitars to play live music and the Medina of Fez, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you’ll find all the spices you’ve ever dreamed of. Fez is also home to the world’s oldest functional library, the Al-Qarawiyyin Library, which was recently restored.

FC PRO TIP: When you’re there, be sure to take a step back and notice the interesting juxtaposition of old traditions and new trends. Even areas of the city are divided into “Fez El-Bali”, or the old town, and “Fez Jdid,” the new town, based on different historical periods of construction and architecture.

MOST AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET THERE: Flights to Fez range from $700 – $1000. But check for cheaper flights from the states to either Marrakesh or Casablanca; flights are bit cheaper! From those cities, it’s easy to catch a bus to Fez.

travel gift experiences china


Hike & Chill in Yunnan

As soon as you step off the plane in one of Yunnan Province’s airports in Kunming or Lijiang, you’ll discover an entire part of China that you don’t see in the Western media. You won’t find any smog or China’s infamous manufacturing plants here. Instead, you’ll enter into amazingly green mountains and breathe some of the cleanest air in the world. Welcome to China’s most diverse province. Located in Southwest China, this area is home to an incredible mix of ethnic minority groups with rich heritage and beautiful landscapes with rolling hills. If you’re looking to be among diverse landscapes but also want to experience the vibrant culture of China, Yunnan is the perfect place to go. Popular destinations include Shaxi, a small village known for its temples, monasteries, and markets; and Dali, a city with a beautiful old town. Want to see some glaciers? Head to Dêqên County.

FC PRO TIP: To get around, bigger cities in Yunnan are connected by bus routes—but avoid taking the train. We’re told it takes ages! Also, knowing Chinese will make getting around on your trip that much easier.

MOST AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET THERE: Alright, you’re going halfway around the world. Remember to book early. Flight prices are significantly lower if you book in advance. Chances are, if you’re traveling from NYC, Chicago, or D.C., you’ll have to connect through Hong Kong or Beijing. We did a check for flights, which can get as low as $670 (we’re serious!) between March and May, flying from NYC to Kunming.

travel gift experiences cuba


Drive Down the Malecón

“Go before it’s too late.” That’s what we’re hearing in the states now when Americans talk about Cuba. Cuba is changing—and fast. This is one of those travel experiences you’ll want to add to your bucket list asap. Havana is one of the world’s most amazing cities, full of beautifully decaying architecture, colorful buildings, and smiling people. And the Malecón is one of the most famous parts of the city; it’s the stretch of road right on the water. If you want to save $$$ and are cool with not going in one of those souped up, iconic cars, you can actually just grab a normal taxi from Habana Viejo or Centro Habana to Vedado or Miramar. If you know Spanish (which we hope you do!), just say you want to drive around the Malecón to get there.

FC PRO TIP: Many people get caught up on the fact that it’s like stepping back in time to the 1950s. But don’t let that overshadow all the awesome, contemporary things that are happening. For a glimpse into the direction Havana is headed, you should check out La Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a new art gallery and nightlife hotspot, converted from an old factory.

MOST AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET THERE: From New York or D.C., flights range from $200 – $350 on airlines like Jetblue, American, and Spirit. Just be aware that the visa situation is still a little bit sticky, depending on what airline you take! And be prepared to present any related paperwork needed.

travel experiences berlin


Architecture, Art & Community in Berlin

Wir lieben Berlin 🙂 Yes, we* really* love Berlin. Say hello to Germany’s (some say, Europe’s) cultural capital. This city is also pretty damn weird—and in the best ways. Due to its tumultuous history — bombed out, divided by a wall, reconstructed — Berlin’s two halves developed very differently. In the West, you’ll find a lot of traditional European architecture, while in the East, you’ll come across many more stoic, Stalinist structures. Today, Berlin is home to countless artists and designers from everywhere around the world. You’ll find galleries in most neighborhoods; a few of our favorites in the favorite Mitte area are the Sammlung Boros, me Collectors Room, and Neurotitan.

**FC PRO TIP: **To see Berlin at its best, try going in late Spring or early Summer, when the otherwise cold, grey city explodes in infectious exuberance. Go to Mauerpark for an awesome flea market and outdoor Karaoke. And if you think you can handle Berghain — the best club in the world — do as Berliners do: go early (at like 10pm), get your stamp, and return at 5am.

MOST AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET THERE: Flights from New York, Chicago, or D.C. average around $350 – $600. We found some cheap flights via Norwegian Airlines from NYC to Berlin priced at $340 in March. And if you’re headed over there soon, you may want to brush up on your German…just saying.