Enhance a Main Trip with a Cultural Stopover.

For some, the idea of a long haul flight to a place like India, Sri Lanka or the Maldives can be intimidating and downright daunting. But I like to think of a flight schedule that takes me through many countries and time zones as an opportunity to enhance a main trip at the end of the flight.

I’d like to think of my travels as a menu where getting there is the appetizer and the main trip is the entrée. Of course adding a relaxing post trip can always be considered the dessert. Take my recent trip to India and Sri Lanka. I cashed in beaucoup AAdvantage miles to fly in an Etihad First Class Apartment from New York to Abu Dhabi and then connect to India. For me the way I get to a destination and what happens during the journey to the final destination is just as important.

So I researched every amenity offered by Etihad to a First Class passenger in order to get the most out of the many miles I had spent, and discovered that if I arrived early enough I would have access to the Etihad First Class lounge at JFK and pre-dine on some delicious cuisine. I could also use a private suite in the lounge all to myself for a nominal fee. I also learned that in Abu Dhabi, Etihad’s First Class facilities include a spa, a gym, a sit-down restaurant and comfortable relaxing spaces. So when I landed after a wonderful first class 12 hour flight, which I will discuss some other time, I used the gym in the lounge to get my blood circulating and acclimate to the new time zone. Then I had a one hour long massage to help me relax my body from a relatively sedentary 12 hour flight. The massage also helped me to relax my mind so that I could get a restful nap or sleep after I landed. The sit-down restaurant in the First Class Lounge was the perfect place to enjoy yet another gourmet meal during the 16 hour layover I arranged in Abu Dhabi so that I could go check out the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.

Adding a stopover while traveling from point A to point B can be just as entertaining, informative and gratifying as the main trip which you’ve planned for so long.

So I started in mid February with a visit to Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Museum on my way to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The visit did not disappoint. I did not need a visa to visit Abu Dhabi, and getting from the airport to the Louvre Abu Dhabi cost only $25 each way in a very nice Mercedes taxi. Once I arrived at the museum I rented a audio tour that provided me with an iPad tablet and various ways to see and appreciate the billion dollar collection. I was blown away by the diversity, quality, and beauty of the valuable collection. I had planned on a two hour visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi but ended up saying about 4 to 5 hours. I returned to the airport and had a five course gourmet dinner with wine paring before my flight to India. I specifically decided to eat at the First Class Lounge so that I could get some rest on the connecting flight.

So as you can see adding a cultural stop over to a final destination is a great way to enhance a main vacation!

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