Traditional Dress Around the Globe

Though your journey getting in touch with local life may begin upon your arrival in a new destination with a cautious, perhaps foreign, “Hello,” it’s helpful to remember that the culture you’ll be exploring has been developing for centuries. Often a quick glance into the past can broaden your understanding about modern life, wherever you may be. And one of the best ways (and easily the most colorful way) to explore the past is through Traditional Dress.


chiang mai, hill tribes, travel thailand

Most hill tribes in Northern Thailand have been residing in the areas around Chiang Rai for hundreds of years. Yet, most of these ethnicities can trace their roots back to surrounding lands, ranging from the neighboring countries of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos to as far off as Tibet and China. Making use of the lush soil at higher elevations, Thailand’s hill tribes keep their heritages alive not only through agricultural tradition, but also through the garments they wear. Akha women pass along the skills necessary to make their family’s clothes, which usually feature wide leggings, black skirts, embroidered black shirts and a detailed hat adorned with silver trinkets and coins.


Vietnam Tour, Travel Vietnam, bike Vietnam, Ao Dai

The Ao dai is a long dress traditionally worn by women in Vietnam. The basic attire was initially only for Chinese imperials and aristocracy in Vietnam, but by the early 20th century the fashion had caught on through all classes. Though the fabric can be a number of different colors, the garments are often a simple, solid white. Eventually the presence of the Ao dai waned, as it was reserved only for formal occasions. However, a revitalized national spirit and the introduction of the Ao dai as a girl’s school uniform has led to a resurgence of the traditional dress, even in relatively casual settings like work or small get-togethers.


Travel Peru, Peru Tours, Machu Picchu Tours

Hats have many uses, beyond keeping your head dry or showing support for your favorite team. In the Peruvian Andes, a hat can almost say a thousand words, but in what language? A montera, a red and black hat, is also known as the “Native Hat” because wearing it suggests that you are very connected to Quecha culture, and you likely only speak the original language of the Inca. Brown bowlers can be found throughout the Sacred Valley. These are usually worn by people that are bilingual and have had some formal education as well as a bit of western exposure. Locals that don a purely white hat are proclaiming to the world that they’re full-on scholars, having completed 11 years of school. How much does your hat say about you?


Touring the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires, you’re unlikely to find anyone dressed in gaucho garb; soccer jerseys, Levis and a few high fashion sightings are more probable. However, as you make your way south, into Patagonia you may find residents decked out in these eye-catching vintage vestments. A rough equivalent to the American cowboy, the gaucho dates back to the 19th century when cattle ranchers spread themselves across Patagonian plains, forging out a living through hunting and herding. Though the dress is generally reserved for special celebrations, the figure of the gaucho persists perennially as a symbol of the free, adventurous spirit that lives on in Patagonia.


Spain Tours, Spain bike, Tour to Spain, Flamenco Dress

Flamenco stands as one of the most prominent features of Spanish culture. A derivative art that draws on influences from Moorish, Jewish and indigenous Andalusian people, its origins are cloaked in mystery. Yet its accompanying apparel has a much more public history. The draped sheaths worn by modern Flamenco dancers stem from the work dresses that women wore to livestock markets in 18th century Seville. Colorful and form-fitting, the dresses certainly turn a few heads, but there’s a reason for that. They have evolved along with the art form to draw attention to the performer’s every subtle step, assuring that the audience doesn’t miss a beat.

Costa Rica

Tico, Ticos, Costa Rica Dress, Costa Rica vacation, Costa Rica tourHistorical dress can vary quite a bit from region to region in Costa Rica. While many traditional outfits feature bold, solid colors, others are made up of white tops and colorful bottoms, or even all black clothing. Because the Costa Rican climate can fluctuate quickly, layers remain one of the most ubiquitous features of traditional dress throughout various regions. For women you’ll often note the common, loose blouse and draped skirt. Most Ticos have adopted the typical western-style dress that you see at home, but ancestral frocks are often sported during festivals and celebrations. And thankfully, Costa Rica has no shortage on reasons to celebrate!

New Line of Cross-Country Skiing Vacations

Cross-Country Skiing in the Alps, the Dolomites, and the Canadian Rockies Provides a Perfect Blend of Outdoor Activity and World Travel with VBT’s Tradition of Excellence

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations has announced a new line of cross-country skiing vacations, a wonderful way to bring together an active traveler’s love for the beautiful winter landscape with VBT’s long commitment of providing warm encounters with local people, access to fascinating cultural traditions, and stays in superb accommodations around the world.

“This is the perfect way for VBT to offer a terrific outdoor activity, spectacular scenery, and our proven excellence in creating itineraries filled with unforgettable people, regional customs and cuisine, and excellent local Trips Leaders who are thrilled to share their knowledge and experience with our travelers,” said VBT President Gregg Marston.

“This new line of three cross-country skiing vacations is a natural extension into a new season of the year—winter, and all of its thrilling beauty—using a model we have perfected for thousands of travelers over 42 years,” Marston said. “Winter provides a whole new world of breathtaking natural beauty, and, as ever, we’ve designed these unique vacations to engage our travelers’ bodies, minds, and spirits.

“The result is a travel experience that, as with all of VBT’s vacations around the world, is so much more rewarding than ordinary sightseeing tours,” he said. “And the activity level is yours to choose—from easy skiing loops to moderate and every level in between. We’ve included some delightful and really enjoyable après-ski features, as well.”

VBT’s three new cross-country skiing vacations are:

VBT associate Garrott Kuzzy, a 2010 Olympic skier, former member of the US Ski Team on the World Cup circuit and a VBT Leader Operations Manager was the driving force behind VBT’s new cross-country skiing vacations. In addition to his ski expertise he brings a keen understanding of how to meet travelers’ needs creating itineraries in these superb winter locations that combine thrilling mountain landscapes, outdoor activities with flexible trail options, and plenty to do when the skis are put away. Kuzzy knows his way around a trail and knows a few things about après-ski, too. So travelers can look forward to some relaxation, friendly pubs, and great cuisine.

“In other words, more fun than a school snow day,” Marston said. “Caroline and I love cross-country skiing and it doesn’t require athletic prowess—it’s safe and easy and so enjoyable. There’s nothing like the fresh, brisk winter air in your lungs, the trail and the mountains spread out before you, and a nice drink and warm fire back at the lodge afterward.”

On all cross-country skiing vacations, VBT provides free use of all the skiing equipment a traveler would need—top-quality skis, boots, and poles—with a choice of skate skis, classic skis, or waxless skis, depending on the traveler’s level of proficiency. Since there will be a variety of daily trail options, travelers can pace themselves as they wish, and the lodge or hotel will usually be very close to the trails. VBT also provides two expert local Trip Leaders to provide fascinating insights into the culture and assistance on and off the trail.

As always, VBT’s travel experts have selected unforgettable accommodations in beautiful natural settings—framed by the jagged peaks of the Southern Limestone Alps, to Alberta’s spectacular Rocky Mountains—including Deer Lodge, in Lake Louise, Canada; Hotel Maria in Cavalese, Italy; and Hotel Vitranc in Kranjska-Gora, Slovenia.

Travelers can extend their discoveries and their value by adding affordable optional extensions. On Slovenia, Italy & Austria: Cross-Country Skiing the Alps, travelers can add a pre-trip extension in romantic Venice and a post-trip extension in Salzburg, the city of Mozart. Italy & Austria: Cross-Country Skiing the Dolomites offers a pre-trip extension in Salzburg and a post-trip extension in Verona. Banff & Beyond: Cross-Country Skiing the Canadian Rockies features a pre-trip extension in rollicking Calgary.

On one departure only—January 18, 2013—travelers on VBT’s Italy & Austria: Cross-Country Skiing the Dolomites will have a rare opportunity to attend the Dolomitenlauf in Austria and the Marcialonga in Italy. Both are events in the Worldloppet, a series of 15 international cross-country ski competitions sponsored by the Worldloppet Ski Federation.

Join Garrott at a Nordic Ski Clinic Near You

Milwaukee- September 18

St. Paul- September 19

Minneapolis- September 20

Call us at 800-245-3868 for more details about these fun clinics!

Founded in 1971 by a Middlebury College professor, VBT offers deluxe, small group bicycling, walking and cross-country skiing tours worldwide, including destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Argentina, Canada and the U.S.A. Each trip includes all accommodations, many meals, two expert local Trip Leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities, and full vehicle support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes international airfare in its trip cost.

For reservations or more information, and to receive the new 2012-13 cross-country skiing vacations catalog, call 1-800-245-3868 or log on to the company’s website at