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Elevate Destinations
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Established in 2005, Elevate Destinations has become an industry leader in designing travel that gives back. Focused on three main areas -- Donor Travel, Private Travel and Urgent Service Travel -- Elevate Destinations has pioneered innovative ways to connect altruistic resources and travelers with communities in need worldwide.

Entries by Elevate Destinations

Planning Your Perfect Safari

(1) Comments | Posted June 3, 2016 | 10:58 AM

The decision is made - it's officially, finally time to take that bucket list safari. But with that one decision comes a hundred doubts. How best to plan your perfect once-in-a-lifetime trip? Where to even start? You've got security issues on your mind. There are the vaccinations that might be...

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The Art of the Second Honeymoon

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2016 | 10:42 AM

Who says honeymoons have to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip? Healthy, long-lasting couples know that traveling together keeps relationships strong over time. Reconnecting with the world outside the walls of your home has a way of reconnecting people too. Who knows? Maybe a second honeymoon will be the first of many....

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Vacation Trend: Slow Travel for Families Living in the Fast Lane

(0) Comments | Posted November 25, 2015 | 12:50 PM

"It's the only time we connect," said the mother on the other end of the phone, who had called me for help with her family's spring break travel plans.

"You are not alone," I answered.

Family life is more fractured than ever. Work and homework schedules have accelerated and are...

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Travel Destination or Travel Devastation?

(1) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 11:29 AM

What will happen to the world's travel destinations as more and more countries face ecological destruction?

As the owner of Elevate Destinations, I travel a lot. In the past 12 months, I have logged miles to Belize, Haiti, Ireland, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar....

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Star Watch Etiquette: Top 5 Ways to Deal with Celebrity Sightings When You Are on Vacation

(0) Comments | Posted August 8, 2014 | 9:06 AM

August is vacation month -- for celebrities as well as for the rest of us! With so many clients reporting celebrity sightings from all over the world, I have put together this brief etiquette guide in case a star crosses your path!

Upon arrival at the vacation destination where I will be spending August, I found myself in line at the country grocery store behind an A-list world famous actress and director and her partner. While I recognized her immediately, I tried to instantly conceal the fact of my recognition. The island on which we both found ourselves is known for the discretion and privacy it offers many celebrities.

As the star fumbled with the crackers and skim milk in her grocery basket, exchanging mundane conversation with her mate, I let my eyes roam upon the aisles of food and the other people in the store, all while my mind was laser-fastened on thoughts of her amazing talent and film making as well as the less than red carpet appearance before me.

I stood awkwardly behind her for a good 10 minutes, wondering if it was weird not to look at her at all--did this signal that I had in fact recognized her? I periodically glanced at her grocery basket as I might any civilian's, to avoid detection of my "sighting". I wondered if the people behind me -- a mother and her roughly nine-year old son -- had recognized her. If so, they were behaving well. The son was probably clueless. Too young. Everyone else in the store behaved normally. While checking out, the cashier did not seem in the know. Was she also too young? Or was she too concealing her secret euphoria at being 6 inches from one of most renowned actresses in the world? I could not tell from the way she bagged her groceries, though perhaps she did fondle the star's tomatoes a little too long...

This was the first sighting of the summer. Last August, we had dined at the same restaurant as President Obama--a last minute reservation and sheer fluke. Along with the other tony clientele at the restaurant, we attempted to continue to eat casually while being on high alert for the moment when the President (and Michelle!) would emerge from their private room in the interior and head towards the fleet of black SUVs blocking the small town street outside. At the first rumor of POTUS movement, every sophisticated diner stood up, smart phones raised high, to catch their presidential portrait. Hardly a class act for a distinguished crowd.

Like the rest of us, celebs need vacations. And it is natural for them to tire of their mountain retreats in Idaho and want to vary their leisure time. For muggles who may be tempted to oggle at a star who looks quite different than they do in People Magazine, some decorum and etiquette is called for. Here are a few strategies that will safeguard celebrity privacy as well as your own self-respect!

1. Ignore the celebrity. This is a classic approach that has stood the test of time. Upon recognition of the individual, adopt a stony, indifferent expression and fasten your gaze on a completely unrelated focus point until the moment has passed and the celebrity has moved away.

  • Dividend: You have not stooped to the sway of fame.
  • Bonus points: For not acknowledging their presence in any way.
  • Downside: They may be a celeb who thrives on being recognized, in which case you chose the wrong strategy.

2. Embrace the celebrity. Upon recognition, find your moment to casually and sincerely acknowledge the individual's accomplishments and appeal. Your conversation must be terminated within a minute of its initiation or is in danger of turning into a stalking encounter.

  • Dividend: You get to speak to your idol and they might even respond!
  • Bonus points: For getting in a sentence or two about yourself or referring to a common acquaintance.
  • Downside: They may hate you for speaking to them and ignore you completely which will make you feel worse than adopting Strategy #1. Whatever you do, don't ask for an autograph!

3. Luring the celebrity. A quasi-effective, passive aggressive approach is to position yourself in proximity to the celebrity and while seeming to ignore them, enliven and louden your own conversation so as to make yourself and your entourage irresistible. Once you have attracted their attention, smile broadly, as if to communicate a willingness to adopt the celebrity and see if they respond.

  • Dividend: Possibility of celebrity joining your dinner table.
  • Bonus points: For getting a return invite to celebrity's exclusive gathering.
  • Downside: Misinterpreting celebrity's glances towards you as positive, whereby they may just be wishing you would keep your voice down.

4. Use your kids. If you and celebrity both have kids (perhaps the sighting is taking place at a sweetly rustic local playground?) don't hesitate to use your kids' proximity to full advantage.

  • Dividend: Potential of unlimited playdates.
  • Bonus points: For not being the one to initate them.
  • Downside: Kids being friends doesn't necessarily lead to a relationship between their parents.

5. Intellectual charisma. If your celebrity resides in the intellectual sphere, you can resort, of course, to the ultimate prop--a book. In a kindle-driven age--nothing attracts like a solid hardback title. Avoid "beach reading" and go for controversy. All serious questions are legitimate conversation starters.

  • Dividend: Summer reading!
  • Bonus points: Summer reading!
  • Downside: Your literary tastes may diverge considerably from your target celebrity's, in which case be prepared to castigate the book in hand.

All the above strategies of course depend on your actually recognizing a celebrity. Years ago, I was walking down a town beach minding my own business when an attractive couple crossed my path. "Excuse me--we are really just trying to have some privacy while we're on vacation," the wife said. Confused, I said "Sure, no problem," not quite understanding why they were drawing this to my attention.

Later I learned the woman of the couple was Uma Thurman. The incident called my attention to the fact that many celebs may be going around in certitude that everyone that sees them recognizes them (even without make up). That's a hard bubble to escape from--even by going on vacation.

Dominique Callimanopulos is the Founder of Elevate Destinations, a philanthropic travel company. In August, she can be found on an island off the coast of...
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Why Your Kids Need to Travel: Reflections From Haiti

(2) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 3:16 PM

Since 2010, my company, Elevate Destinations, has been running "Urgent Service" trips to Haiti -- helping communities rebuild infrastructure and staging a mobile "leadership camp" for youth. Last week I accompanied 10 other volunteers to the island of Ile a Vache, off the southern coast of Haiti.

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Online on Vacation

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 9:31 AM

An Anthropologist Reflects on our Inability to Unplug

My past week in Belize -- traveling with a small tribe of colleagues in the travel industry -- was a revelation in the ways electronics have wormed their way into the way we travel. Everyone's electronic devices were within easy reach the...

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What Kind of Village Does It Take?

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 8:17 AM

In search of African authenticity, the author finds much to reflect on.

It is easy to be struck by paradox during a two-month trip through Africa, but the night I stayed in a small village near Liwonde Park in Malawi brought it all home.

Njobvu Cultural Lodge has been organized...

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The Freedom of a Solo Safari (If You Are Over 50)

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 6:10 PM

By Dominique Callimanopulos, Founder of Elevate Destinations

When I was 20 I vowed that I would never again travel in Africa alone. Jostling overland in the back of a mini-bus, squeezed between two pungent Malian men, each of who vied for a side of me during a nighttime...

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How to Take Better Travel Photos - Tips From a Professional

(2) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 10:43 AM

By Lisa Limer, professional photographer and travel guide

As a professional travel photographer whose work often appears in nationally-acclaimed magazines such as Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times, and Sophisticated Traveler, I have had the privilege to travel and work in over 48 countries. The circumstances are...

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Traveling on Thanksgiving - But Not to Grandma's

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2013 | 8:36 AM

It's getting to be the end of August, and thus the end of summer. It's that time of year when people are breaking out the boots, jeans, and flannel on "cool" 70 degree days in eager anticipation of fall weather. Nostalgic thoughts of Thanksgiving creep in, and plans start to...

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Who Volunteers in Haiti?

(1) Comments | Posted May 21, 2013 | 4:41 PM

I remember the first time I prepared to go to Haiti -- I told an acquaintance about the trip and they responded with a sincerely puzzled, "why are you going there?"

I didn't have a good answer other than that it felt right to take action around the events...

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Why Young People Should Use Travel Agents

(24) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 7:13 AM

Hello there, fellow young, adventurous travelers. I know you. You probably stumbled onto this post in the midst of reading hundreds of reviews and blog posts in anticipation of your next trip to Peru, or Thailand, or Mexico. You're planning on booking and organizing the whole thing on your own...

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Packing for Safari: What You Need and What You Don't

(1) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 3:50 PM

Congratulations! You're going on the trip of a lifetime! Whether you've selected your safari in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania or some other exotic location, at this point you've been dreaming of your itinerary for months. But now it's getting closer and you actually have to pack something. Hopefully you're not...

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Family Voluntourism - Thoughts to Help You Start Planning!

(2) Comments | Posted April 7, 2013 | 11:40 AM

With daylight savings behind us and an extra hour of sunlight in our days, families are looking forward to summer and their summer travels. More than ever before parents are considering jumping in on the fast growing "voluntourism" trend. In case you've missed the boat on the hottest thing in...

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Climbing To Reach Everyone, Forever In Bolivia

(1) Comments | Posted July 24, 2012 | 7:00 AM

Since moving to Peru four years ago, my husband Matt and I have lived without water more frequently than either of us ever imagined. While the minor inconveniences of dishes piling up, toilets going unflushed and no showers after morning runs are irritating, they also allow us empathize with people...

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Travel Matters: Making Meaning In Faraway Places

(1) Comments | Posted July 17, 2012 | 7:00 AM

Contradictory economic forces have merged to intensify a growing trend in travel: the mass pursuit of meaningful experiences.

Pre-recession, the pursuit of la dolce vita meant tearing through the Mediterranean on a chartered yacht, renting a Bahamian island, upgrading to a presidential suite.

Post-recession, those who...

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Costa Rica And The Return Of The Black Turtle

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 7:00 AM

The growing trend toward conscious travel reflects an increasing desire by independent travelers to experience new places and people in ways that are sustainable, responsible and most importantly meaningful. Marco Bollinger and Eytan Elterman, founders of iSeeiTravel, share one such experience from their travels to the Corcovado Foundation in Costa...

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From Poachers To Protectors: How Tourism Is Inspiring Community-Based Conservation In Namibia

(4) Comments | Posted June 19, 2012 | 7:00 AM

"We Will Live With Wildlife."

These five words, adopted extensively across Namibia's vast and beautiful rural landscapes, have instigated one of the greatest conservation stories ever told, happening right now in this quiet corner of Southern Africa. Namibia is in the midst of a conservation revolution, exchanging generations of wildlife...

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Green Travel On The Rise

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2012 | 7:00 AM

These days just about everyone is aware of the impact humankind is having on our fragile environment. As such, we've seen a global shift toward more "green" living, from homes to businesses and now to travel. More and more people are taking a more sustainable approach to their vacation plans....

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