You can now quell your curiosity thanks to Private Brand travel, offered by retailers such as Whole Foods. Last fall, the upscale grocer launched Whole Journeys, a travel venture that “allows active foodies to connect with worldwide cultures and food traditions.”
“We’re all about authentic experiences and rich cultural connections,” said Kathy Dragon, executive director of Whole Journeys. “Why we travel, where we travel, what we do and who we meet while we are there, and how we share the experiences when we return home, can affect positive change in the world. Guests come away from their trips with a wider worldview and, hopefully, a deeper appreciation for global diversity.”
Itineraries run from five days to two weeks. Most trips accommodate a maximum of 16 guests. Pricing is competitive, usually between $3,000 and $4,500. Travelers book their own airfare; guides, visits, hotels and most meals are included and are sometimes prepared with Whole Foods private brand products. Programs can also be customized for private groups with a focus on a specific interest or region based on the company’s network of trusted guides and producers. 2013 itineraries currently available for booking include:
- May 5-11; Sept. 8-14: The Savory Trails of Tuscany, Italy – A Food Lover’s Journey on Foot
- June 23-28, Oct. 6-11: Tuscan Farm to Table, Italy – The Taste of Tradition
- July 13-19; Aug. 24-30: La Dolce Dolomites, Italy – Hiking at Its Peak, Tasting to Perfection
- July 14-20; Aug. 7-13 (Family Trip); Aug. 23-29: Savor the Salmon River, Idaho, USA – Epicurean adventure along the main salmon river, in partnership with O.A.R.S.
- July 28-Aug. 4; Sept. 1-8 (Wine Festival departure): Treasures of Ticino, Switzerland – Alps, Castles, Lakes and Vineyards
- Sept. 28-Oct. 9: Ancient Tea & Horse Route, China – Ceremonies & Culture in a Cup
- Sept. 28-Oct. 5: Toscana in Bicicletta, Italy – Epicurean Tuscany by Bike
- Oct. 6-12: Pathways through Provence, France – Inspiring Artisans to Artists
- Oct. 11-18: Pedaling Provence, France – From Villages to Vineyards
- Oct. 19-26: Create the Taste of Tuscany, Italy – Cooking by the Fireside “La Cucina al Focolare”
- Oct. 5-11 (Harvest Festival): The Historic Basque Country, Spain – Pais Vasco: Old World, New Discoveries
Traditional retailers that can’t afford to offer such extensive travel ventures could do something on more of a local or regional scale, says Dr. Richard George, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
“You could focus the tour on something like regional festivals or regional wines and have promotions for the event in-store,” George says. “Really, the only limit is your imagination.”