The Travel Insider: Enhanced encounters

Joe Maloney

AAA Colorado has created specially designed group travel packages, called AAA Colorado Discoveries, to bring you richer, more meaningful vacations.

Extensive detail goes into choreographing these special itineraries to ensure your experience is unlike anything else you’ll find on your own. You’ll stay in outstanding hotels, enjoy culinary delicacies, have private access to authentic experiences, and visit ideal locations. To enhance these trips even further, we often arrange to have special guides, who are subject matter and destination experts, accompany us to allow for a more informative and more intimate encounter.

Here are a couple examples of how our expert guides enhance your group vacation with AAA.

Polar Expert and Conservationist, Denise Landau

Elephant Island, Antarctica

Denise Landau is a renowned conservationist, naturalist, biologist, expedition guide, and educator, with an infectious passion for wild places, and her natural ability to connect with travelers will transform your adventure. She is also responsible for developing and implementing environmental legislation in Antarctica, and worldwide.

Denise Landau

When guiding our expedition trips to Antarctica, Denise strives to create those special “a-ha” moments to elevate your experience and help you understand this amazing destination—turning off the boat’s engine to hear the ice crackle, knowing the best spots to view wildlife, or even spending a day riding around in a Zodiac with fellow Coloradans, watching as they build lasting memories and friendships.

“I’m always looking at what’s different and getting people to really understand what they’re looking at,” says Denise. “Seeing what’s happening to glaciers is so prominent. You can actually see if they’ve shrunk, if they’ve grown, or if they’ve surged just by looking at the surrounding landscape.”

By creating a more experiential approach to a trip and a better understanding of a destination, Denise believes you will go home not just saying “I had a great trip,” but “that was one of the best trips ever!”

Alaska Experts and Explorers, Kim and Melanie Heacox

Denali National Park, Alaska

Kim Heacox is an award-winning author, novelist, and photographer. He has written more than a dozen books, including five published by National Geographic. His wife, Melanie Heacox, was a career naturalist with the U.S. National Park Service for more than 30 years. Their contagious passion for Alaska is what makes them the perfect expert guides on AAA Colorado’s upcoming Alaskan Adventure by Land and Sea in the summer of 2021.

Kim and Melanie Heacox finished each other’s sentences in a recent video call from their home in Gustavus, Alaska—a community at the entrance to Glacier Bay National Park. It’s where they met, fell in love, married, and made their home for 40 years. “It isn’t just a state to live in, it’s a whole state of mind, it’s a whole state of being to be some place so wild,” Melanie explains.

Storytellers at heart, Kim and Melanie bring their experiences from living in Alaska, historical anecdotes, and answers to questions about the northern lights, the midnight sun, and the Iditarod. They’ll also help you see beyond the obvious of what Alaska has to offer.

“There’s nothing like being out on the deck of the ship with a pair of binoculars, along with people bundled up waiting to see what’s going to happen next. It’s magic,” says Kim.

Melanie agrees, “We will never again have our “first time in Alaska” experience, but we get to live it through the people we meet. For so many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we get to relive it with them.”

So come with us and let AAA Colorado, and our team of experts, accompany you on a vacation you won’t find anywhere else—and just maybe you’ll say it was “one of the best trips ever!”

Joe Maloney is vice president travel and retail operations for AAA Colorado.