Our Specialty:
Customized Luxury Travel

Photo Credit: Guido Adelfio

WHO WE ARE

Boutique Custom Vacation Specialists

With More Than 50

Years of Experience

Fully Personalized

Vacation Planning

 
 

OUR SPECIALTY

With over 50 years of experience,

Bethesda Travel Center will custom-design your trip of a lifetime!

 

We offer carefully crafted personalized vacations custom-tailored to your interests, the ideal time of year, budget and energy level. Whether your vacation plans will take you to Italy (our favorite!), plus France, England, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Holland, Greece, Israel, South Africa and more,

together we can plan the Best Vacation of your Life! 

Either in person or over the phone, we invite you to share your dreams, wishes, style of travel, and of course the practical considerations: your preferred modes of transportation, finances and schedule. After a detailed consultation, Guido and the team will carefully plan your itinerary to tailor a fully customized vacation, taking all of your individual preferences to heart! We will create a personalized travel app for you, ensuring that you stay organized with all trip details at your fingertips! Before departure, you will meet with Guido to discuss the details of your trip, as well as helpful travel tips, and off you go!

Your homework? 

Check your passport, learn some colloquial phrases and plan your luggage as the excitement builds!

HOW WE WORK

Traveling with us is easy, it all starts with a conversation!

Planning

Creating a Vision

Itinerary

Schedule a consultation to launch your dream vacation

After our conversation, we provide your plan of action

Once everything is in place

we will prepare a personalized  mobile phone app for you

Bon Voyage!

Grab your passport and you'll be ready to embark on your very own trip of a lifetime!

OUR

STORY

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Like many great vacations,  the history of Bethesda Travel Center started with a love story.

Once upon a time, Antonio, a law student from Palermo, and Margaret, an American working in Paris under the Marshall Plan, just happened to be vacationing in the same place at the same time... They met, fell in love, and not long afterward were married!  Seven years later, they settled in Bethesda, Maryland, and founded Bethesda Travel Center LLC in 1961 with the goal of providing expert travel itineraries to Italy, Europe and the rest of the world.

Today, their son Guido, who was born in Italy is a true visionary in the world of travel. He and his dedicated staff continue to carry BTC's legacy by delivering exceptional personalized service to our clients. After more than 50 years, our passion remains the same. It is to provide our clients with the trip of a lifetime where every moment becomes a joyful memory. 

Our privilege for these many years has been serving generations of individuals, couples, friends and families just like yours — it all adds up to thousands of satisfied and loyal clients. You have my personal promise; we call it Guido’s Guarantee!

 

We look forward to our conversation and can’t wait to get your vacation planning started! Grazie Mille from the Adelfio family!

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 Guido Adelfio

Professionally, I plan enriching experiences for our clients. My hobby is photography, capturing images to inspire you. Most of the photos on this site and your very own personalized travel app are mine - hope you enjoy them. 

Your vacation is our passion! 

Growing up the conversation at the dinner table almost always revolved around Bethesda Travel, and now 50-some years later I’ve experienced 100 countries, logged millions of kilometers by plane, boat, train and car (hot air balloon too!), taken over 20,000 pic’s and spent 1,000’s of hotel and cruise ship nights. Truly, we hardly ever book a hotel I have not visited myself!

Ciao! Thank You for Visiting our Site
 

TRAVEL TIPS

Trains & Taxis


  • The Italian Train System is extensive. AV or high speed are modern and fast. We will reserve for you. Local style trains may have paper tickets. Remember to validate on the platform!
  • Overhead and storage space is very limited. Travel light!
  • Taxis wait at taxi stands. You can also call a taxi, in which case the meter will already be activated. No UBER or LYFT in Italy. Never hand a taxi driver anything larger than a 20€ bill! (Remember to break larger bills!)​​​​​​
  • Pickpocketing can be an issue, especially in Rome . Take precautions on local subways/buses!




Behind the Wheel


  • Be sure you know when and where a car is necessary. Don’t need it; Don’t rent it!
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP) is mandatory when renting a car (issued through AAA)
  • Most cars use diesel fuel and stick shift. Great gas mileage!
  • In-town parking: Big cities are NOT car-friendly and smaller towns offer municipal “pay & display” lots on the outskirts of town
  • Small town car rental agencies usually close on Saturdays around 1 PM and reopen Monday morning. Plan accordingly!
  • On the Autostrada: Keep right except to pass! Passing on the right is a big no-no!
  • Avoid the TELEPASS and credit card toll lanes on the Autostrada. They may not accept your offshore credit cards!
  • The same goes for gas station credit card terminals! Best to gas up during normal business hours & avoid Sundays! (Or pre-purchase the “full tank guarantee”)
  • The speed & reliability of Google Maps/Waze depends on your data plan ​
  • We recommend a portable GPS with European software
  • Keep your headlights on—even in the daytime!
  • Sorry folks, NO right on red!
  • Familiarize yourself with European road signs: speed limits, ZTLs, etc. are commonly enforced by camera and fines are hefty! (Refer to BTC video)
  • Highway rest stops, notably AUTOGRILL & CIAO, are a cut above. Italians almost NEVER eat in the car. (Remember: dining is an art form!)




Dining


  • Italian espresso is ristretta e forte (short and strong!). An Americano is basically an espresso with hot water added
  • Italians are growing accustomed to the American-style all-day cappuccino, but traditionally drink it only in the morning! Take cream in your coffee? Order a CAFFÈ latte! Asking for a latte will get you a glass of milk!
  • Italians don’t like ice and hotels do not have ice makers in the hallways
  • Tipping at restaurants is generally optional, but we suggest leaving a 5%-10% tip in cash–there is no gratuity line on credit card slips
  • Some restaurants add a mandatory tip–perfectly legit. No need to tip beyond that
  • Many restaurants charge a “coperto,” or cover, typically 2-3€/person (also legit-courtesy tip please!)
  • Expect to see a BAR on every corner; they’re Italy’s version of a café. Prepay the cashier (cassa) then order from the barista by showing your receipt (scontrino)
  • When using a bathroom (bagno) in a BAR, it’s a courtesy to make a purchase – a coffee or a bottle of water should suffice! (Also: Please travel with handy pocket tissues!)
  • Some BARs have dining tables. They may be reserved for table service. Ask before sitting down!
  • The evening stroll (passeggiata) is a lovely Italian tradition, great people-watching, and a good excuse for a pre-dinner gelato!!
  • Another lovely tradition is the aperitivo. BARS serve light snacks to accompany a glass of wine or Italian-style bubbly!
  • When ordering vino, try locally grown vintages!
  • At restaurants, ask what’s in season. Italians pride themselves on fresh ingredients and have limited the use of GMOs, antibiotics and steroids in food production!
  • Dining Hours: Lunch is generally served from ~12:00-2:00 PM. Most eateries close for the afternoon. Show up for a late lunch/early dinner at your own risk!
  • Italian meals traditionally consist of several sequenced courses:
    • Antipasto (starters or samplers)
    • Primo (a starch, like pasta or risotto)
    • Secondo (usually meat or fish)
    • Dolce (dessert)
  • Europeans don’t do sweet ‘n’ sour. Traditionally savory (salato) precedes sweet (dolce)
  • Someone gluten-intolerant is celiaco/a and vegetarian is vegetariano/a




Shopping


  • Retail stores and offices, including small-town car rental agencies, often close for lunch. The duration of lunch-breaks varies, but can be 2.5-3 hours
  • Many boutique shops are closed on Sunday and occasionally on Monday mornings
  • Carry cash for smaller purchases
  • Sales tax (VAT) is already included in the price . The VAT refund (look for a TAX-FREE decal in the window) can be a big savings on major purchases (above ~750€) but be prepared for paperwork




Logistics


  • Many towns have fun annual festivals (a festa, sagra, or in the case of medieval festivals; palio). Festivals normally occur in summer/fall and often revolve around a theme (handcrafts, saints, or local foods like truffles or olives)
  • Many towns and villages also have weekly markets, which can include (fresh!!) food, clothing, accoutrements and more!
  • Specialty markets (antiques, furniture, etc.) occur less frequently (every month or so). Keep an ear to the ground!
  • Day-month-year: In most of Europe, the month appears AFTER the day, e.g. 07-11-18 stands for November 7, 2018
  • Italians also use 24-hour format, e.g. 18h00 is 6pm! (One easy trick to convert: subtract 12!)
  • Italy has a slew of holidays: 01JAN, 06JAN, Easter Sunday & Monday, 25APR, 01MAY, 02JUN, 15AUG, 01NOV, 08DEC, 25DEC & 26DEC
  • Towns and cities also celebrate their patron Saint’s Day, e.g. 24JUN in Florence, 29JUN in Rome
  • Italy uses the metric system; start converting!




Italy Fun Facts


  • Italy is a mountainous peninsula about 1,600KM long from top to bottom – that is about 1,000 miles and a lot of shoreline ​
  • The country is divided into 20 Regions and subdivided into 100 Provinces
  • The population is about 60 million
  • Other than in German-speaking Alto Adige, Italian is the official language. This charming and expressive language also features multiple local dialects!
  • Most of the year Italy is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. (Exceptions are the transitions to/from DST in March and October)
  • The climate in Italy varies considerably. Northern Italy is generally cold in winter and hot & humid in summer. Southern Italy has mild winters and hot summers. The climate of central Italy is comparable to the DC area. Uncrowded off-season travel has many advantages!





Trains & Taxis


  • The Italian Train System is extensive. AV or high speed are modern and fast. We will reserve for you. Local style trains may have paper tickets. Remember to validate on the platform!
  • Overhead and storage space is very limited. Travel light!
  • Taxis wait at taxi stands. You can also call a taxi, in which case the meter will already be activated. No UBER or LYFT in Italy. Never hand a taxi driver anything larger than a 20€ bill! (Remember to break larger bills!)​​​​​​
  • Pickpocketing can be an issue, especially in Rome . Take precautions on local subways/buses!




Behind the Wheel


  • Be sure you know when and where a car is necessary. Don’t need it; Don’t rent it!
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP) is mandatory when renting a car (issued through AAA)
  • Most cars use diesel fuel and stick shift. Great gas mileage!
  • In-town parking: Big cities are NOT car-friendly and smaller towns offer municipal “pay & display” lots on the outskirts of town
  • Small town car rental agencies usually close on Saturdays around 1 PM and reopen Monday morning. Plan accordingly!
  • On the Autostrada: Keep right except to pass! Passing on the right is a big no-no!
  • Avoid the TELEPASS and credit card toll lanes on the Autostrada. They may not accept your offshore credit cards!
  • The same goes for gas station credit card terminals! Best to gas up during normal business hours & avoid Sundays! (Or pre-purchase the “full tank guarantee”)
  • The speed & reliability of Google Maps/Waze depends on your data plan ​
  • We recommend a portable GPS with European software
  • Keep your headlights on—even in the daytime!
  • Sorry folks, NO right on red!
  • Familiarize yourself with European road signs: speed limits, ZTLs, etc. are commonly enforced by camera and fines are hefty! (Refer to BTC video)
  • Highway rest stops, notably AUTOGRILL & CIAO, are a cut above. Italians almost NEVER eat in the car. (Remember: dining is an art form!)




Dining


  • Italian espresso is ristretta e forte (short and strong!). An Americano is basically an espresso with hot water added
  • Italians are growing accustomed to the American-style all-day cappuccino, but traditionally drink it only in the morning! Take cream in your coffee? Order a CAFFÈ latte! Asking for a latte will get you a glass of milk!
  • Italians don’t like ice and hotels do not have ice makers in the hallways
  • Tipping at restaurants is generally optional, but we suggest leaving a 5%-10% tip in cash–there is no gratuity line on credit card slips
  • Some restaurants add a mandatory tip–perfectly legit. No need to tip beyond that
  • Many restaurants charge a “coperto,” or cover, typically 2-3€/person (also legit-courtesy tip please!)
  • Expect to see a BAR on every corner; they’re Italy’s version of a café. Prepay the cashier (cassa) then order from the barista by showing your receipt (scontrino)
  • When using a bathroom (bagno) in a BAR, it’s a courtesy to make a purchase – a coffee or a bottle of water should suffice! (Also: Please travel with handy pocket tissues!)
  • Some BARs have dining tables. They may be reserved for table service. Ask before sitting down!
  • The evening stroll (passeggiata) is a lovely Italian tradition, great people-watching, and a good excuse for a pre-dinner gelato!!
  • Another lovely tradition is the aperitivo. BARS serve light snacks to accompany a glass of wine or Italian-style bubbly!
  • When ordering vino, try locally grown vintages!
  • At restaurants, ask what’s in season. Italians pride themselves on fresh ingredients and have limited the use of GMOs, antibiotics and steroids in food production!
  • Dining Hours: Lunch is generally served from ~12:00-2:00 PM. Most eateries close for the afternoon. Show up for a late lunch/early dinner at your own risk!
  • Italian meals traditionally consist of several sequenced courses:
    • Antipasto (starters or samplers)
    • Primo (a starch, like pasta or risotto)
    • Secondo (usually meat or fish)
    • Dolce (dessert)
  • Europeans don’t do sweet ‘n’ sour. Traditionally savory (salato) precedes sweet (dolce)
  • Someone gluten-intolerant is celiaco/a and vegetarian is vegetariano/a




Shopping


  • Retail stores and offices, including small-town car rental agencies, often close for lunch. The duration of lunch-breaks varies, but can be 2.5-3 hours
  • Many boutique shops are closed on Sunday and occasionally on Monday mornings
  • Carry cash for smaller purchases
  • Sales tax (VAT) is already included in the price . The VAT refund (look for a TAX-FREE decal in the window) can be a big savings on major purchases (above ~750€) but be prepared for paperwork




Logistics


  • Many towns have fun annual festivals (a festa, sagra, or in the case of medieval festivals; palio). Festivals normally occur in summer/fall and often revolve around a theme (handcrafts, saints, or local foods like truffles or olives)
  • Many towns and villages also have weekly markets, which can include (fresh!!) food, clothing, accoutrements and more!
  • Specialty markets (antiques, furniture, etc.) occur less frequently (every month or so). Keep an ear to the ground!
  • Day-month-year: In most of Europe, the month appears AFTER the day, e.g. 07-11-18 stands for November 7, 2018
  • Italians also use 24-hour format, e.g. 18h00 is 6pm! (One easy trick to convert: subtract 12!)
  • Italy has a slew of holidays: 01JAN, 06JAN, Easter Sunday & Monday, 25APR, 01MAY, 02JUN, 15AUG, 01NOV, 08DEC, 25DEC & 26DEC
  • Towns and cities also celebrate their patron Saint’s Day, e.g. 24JUN in Florence, 29JUN in Rome
  • Italy uses the metric system; start converting!




Italy Fun Facts


  • Italy is a mountainous peninsula about 1,600KM long from top to bottom – that is about 1,000 miles and a lot of shoreline ​
  • The country is divided into 20 Regions and subdivided into 100 Provinces
  • The population is about 60 million
  • Other than in German-speaking Alto Adige, Italian is the official language. This charming and expressive language also features multiple local dialects!
  • Most of the year Italy is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. (Exceptions are the transitions to/from DST in March and October)
  • The climate in Italy varies considerably. Northern Italy is generally cold in winter and hot & humid in summer. Southern Italy has mild winters and hot summers. The climate of central Italy is comparable to the DC area. Uncrowded off-season travel has many advantages!





 

Corkey & Scott D. 

The research you’ve done and the relationships you’ve built are quite extraordinary. From the drivers, to the guides and the hosts, each person and place was genuine and full of personality. All of the small details added so much to our experience, and each leg of the journey was beautifully curated. It was a trip of a lifetime. We are now officially spoiled!

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

When is your next vacation?

Start planning today! 

4422 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814   

Tel: (301) 656-1670  |  Email: ciao@bethesdatravel.com 

Let's Talk

4422 East West Hwy, Bethesda MD 20814   

Tel: +1 301.656.1670 | Email: ciao@bethesdatravel.com

Office Hours: 

  • Monday - Friday: 9:00am - 5:30pm 

  • Saturday: By Appointment 

Thanks For Getting in Touch!