It’s easy to forget that travel can be about more than relaxation or adventure. We can expand our knowledge, significantly, in exhilarating settings. The holiday crush of family get-togethers provides unexpected inspiration for this sort of journey: Have a blowhard uncle who lectures endlessly on politics? Reconvene a year from now with impressive first-hand geopolitical knowledge, courtesy of The New York Times luxury tours. Snap-happy in-law orchestrates awkward group photos? National Geographic photographers will teach you to beat them at their own game. Pick a tour and arm yourself for next year: Whatever your destination, world-class experts await your arrival.
The 27 New York Times luxury tours are filled with sightseeing and spectacle: you can gape at Buddhist temples in Myanmar and marvel, pie-eyed, at the ceiling mosaics of the Silk Road’s medieval palaces. But what you can’t get anywhere else: small-group, 9- to 14-day immersions in the history and politics of regions that dominate international news. Examples include “Iran: Tales from Persia,” “The Israeli-Palestinian Conundrum,” “The Russia Situation,” and—most timely—“Cuba. The Time is Now: a People to People Experience.” Every tour group is joined by an expert, usually from the Times (almost exclusively Pulitzer Prize winners and bureau chiefs), but also academics and intelligence officials. From $2,600 to $15,700, visit nytimes.com/times-journeys to learn more.