Archive for January, 2011

January 30, 2011

Wonder about a Family Safari?



January 30, 2011

Exotic Family Adventure Means…?

Kayaking in Alaska

Exotic family adventure does not always mean foreign languages, unusual customs, and strange food.

Right here in the USA is a unique kind of magic just waiting for you, no matter what your age. Grandparents, parents, children as young as 6 can all fully appreciate and enjoy the views and activities Cruising the Inside Passage.

The hidden corners of the Inside Passage is a coastal route unlike any other. While the Inside Passage is widely traveled by a number of large passenger ships, rarely are many of the hidden, secret passages discovered. Seeing this up close, opening your senses to the wilderness is pure magic.

What else can you do in this magnificent state? You can travel deep inside Denali National Park for a few days of remote wilderness. Or continue to explore coastal regions with a visit to the Kenai Peninsula. Maybe a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier for dogsledding. Or how about a flight-see to visit the bears feeding on salmon in the rivers? Parents, grandparents, children will all be in awe of the great beauty here.

Join Thomson Family Adventures on one of just two departures this summer (it’s a short season!), on a boat small enough to get you up close like few families ever experience. Kayak, paddle board, fish, hike, even swim if you dare. Sea otters abound, whales breech, bald eagles soar over head. You may spot bear snoozing on the beach, or moose tromping through the forest – hey, I even saw a wolverine!

Thomson families join a newly refurbished and supremely comfortable boat that carries just 49 guests along this route. To the boat’s amenities and crew we add an expert mentor to enchant children and adults alike with his enthusiasm and love of adventure. Complete pre-departure information is provided by our personal in-house service team. And of course our trip cancellation insurance is included at no additional cost. You’re assured of traveling with like minded Thomson families, and have our promise that this is indeed a family adventure of a lifetime.

What will you do on your trip to Alaska?



January 23, 2011

Survey Says……

Mira enjoying a real experience in Tanzania

How are families planning on spending their money? On things, or on experiences? Thomson Family Adventures has complied the results of our 2010 family travel survey with interesting results. Compared to 2008 and 2009, we see that more families report they are planning on traveling in the future. Well, we didn’t need a survey to tell us that since we see it every day – but there are other travel trends that are interesting too. If you want to see the statistics we’ve compiled (yawn…) let us know, we’ll be happy to share.

Most interesting to me, as a parent, are the comments.

One family wrote that the economic crisis caused them to change their lifestyle for the better. “Our family has been living a minimalist lifestyle for the past 3+ years. We decided to live “below our means”, and pay off all our debt. I just made my last student loan payment, which was the last of our debt. Our plan has been to start putting our money towards traveling and adventuring as soon as we got debt free – and we’ve finally arrived! We initially became minimalist as a practical matter, but we have since come to realize that the less “stuff” we accumulate, the happier we are. New life experiences and building relationships, we have decided, are much better ways to spend our money than accumulating more “stuff”.”

Maybe all of us could learn something from their experience. I thought I was getting rid of my ‘stuff’ because I don’t have time to manage it all anymore – but really, it’s because I am spending my time on the experiences I’d rather be having than playing with my stuff. Right?

This got me thinking about the minimalist lifestyle. The truth is, I can see it may well not be less expensive, but it will result in less STUFF. And I am quite sure it encourages us to live within our means, which is always a good idea. ISn’t it amazing when you stop accumulating Stuff you have more means ?!?

When I head out for my Experience, be it dinner out or an adventure to another country, I would always rather spend a few dollars more for better value, or for a better purpose. I don’t mind paying for expertise that will improve my event. I like paying a travel agent for good advice on my flights. When I go out to eat I like to support my local restaurants (including those that employ my children :) ) and always plan on leaving a good tip for good service. Supporting people who work hard to help what I experience on my adventure is the best value of all.

What do you think….Are you spending less — or just being more careful about where you spend it?



January 21, 2011

Quinoa and Peru

No matter how many times you see it, this is amazing

Machu Picchu. Yes, it is amazing

KEEN-WAH. Yes, that’s how you pronounce QUINOA and if you are not yet familiar with this super food, let us tell you about it. Quinoa is gluten free and wheat free, and is very high in protein – and a complete protein at that. It’s a hardy grain-like plant with tasty nutritious seeds that are easily cooked like rice or couscous. Here is one of my favorite quinoa recipes .

OK, how does this relate to family adventure you might ask? Well quinoa, along with corn and potatoes, was a staple food of the Incas (who considered quinoa to be sacred) and is still a staple in Peru. And Peru happens to be one of my favorite places on this earth.

2011 is a big year for Peru, as it marks the centenary of Hiram Bingham’s ‘discovery’ of Machu Picchu. Admittedly many knew of its existence before him – but he was the one who brought this to the world. On July 24, 1911 he climbed up from his camp at Mandorpampa to discover for himself these magnificent ruins that he was really not so interested in until he saw them – and became inspired. He writes: “In the variety of its charms the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it.”

This will be true of most people arriving at Machu Picchu for the first time (or maybe even the second and third!) You know about it, you’ve seen photos – but you can’t quite imagine the reality of it. It is simply breathtaking.

I was lucky enough to see these ruins (can we really call them “ruins”????) up close and front on, but also from a unique back-view on an awesome trek. No, not the “Inca Trail Trek” as you know it (crowded! Littered! Hard to get permits!) – but something really special. Let me know if you want to know more about this.

So come this summer, at the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s discovery. Summer 2011 is a great time to reflect on the explorers of the olden days, while doing some exploring of your own.

Oh, by the way… you’ll find quinoa in Ecuador too, another amazing spot to visit….



January 19, 2011

Nancy is in Morocco!

Fez Morocco, at the medina

Nancy at the medina entrance in Fez

Nancy is exploring in Morocco. Ok, so we are mighty jealous. Boston is cold, damp, and slushy. Morocco is exotic, warmish, and exciting. So we hang on every photo, every report she sends us.

Thomson Family Adventures offers an awesome summer itinerary, hiking in the High Atlas Mountains.. but if you prefer something desert-ish, including Fez, just give us a call at 800-262-6255.

We love planning our personal, custom adventures too, and Nancy is collecting a lot of first hand experience to share. Get onboard!



January 15, 2011

Calling Out to the Grandest of Adventurers

Everyone loves the zip line!

You know what? The only person we’ve ever had to ask to get down from the zip line for misbehavior was 80 years old. He was having so much fun he was just acting too goofy!

Do your children have children? Then probably by now you’re a wiser and more relaxed parent. You are still active and adventurous, and you have lots more patience for the young ones than when your own children were young. Right?

Have you thought about a multi-generational trip? It’s becoming quite a family tradition for many, and for good reason too. Taking your children’s children on an adventure is not just a gift to them, but to you as well. Even when you see something familiar, sharing it with a child or teen seeing it for the first time is a unique opportunity. The new perspective, the view through the eyes of a child is such a WOW moment!

Over the years we’ve made experiences like these possible to almost all of our destinations, by providing the right mix of age-appropriate activities for ages 6 to infinity. Or from age zero on a private, custom adventure! Finding someone with the experience to handle all of the logistics, all of the issues, all of the planning – there is nothing left but for you to relax and have fun. And enjoy that zip line!

For instance, check out our Egypt Valley of the Nile, Galapagos Islands and Inca Ruins, Tanzania Family Safari and our Peru: Land of the Ancient Incas These are just a few of our opportunities to learn about new landscapes, fascinating wildlife, ancient history, and different cultures. If you’re after that zip line, try Costa Rica, Panama, or Belize

Whether it’s for just you and one child, or for three or four generations of your family, we have the expertise and understanding to create your adventure of a lifetime. Give us a call and we can talk about what adventure might be best for you.



January 11, 2011

New Year, Same Thought, Best Family Memories

Why Some Don't Visit Utah in Winter...

Happy New Year to Everyone. I like to keep saying this right through to February. Really we should continue it into March when those of us in inclement weather have moved past the bleakness of winter and then don’t have to work so hard at being cheerful. This is more than Happy Holidays. The New Year is universal, it stretches across the landscape of time and place, religion and tradition. Everyone steps into a new year of the calendar. So here we are, at 2011.

I am sure I am not alone when I become focused on what I did and didn’t do last year, and what I want to do this year; it’s called Making Resolutions. If you want some helpful clues about setting your goals for 2011, you might like this: http://margiewarrell.com/category/blog/

What are your resolutions? Where are you going in 2011?

I have had the best time over the last week listening to our families tell their stories of holiday adventure with their children and loved ones. Some made new friends and new discoveries on their exotic Thomson Family Adventure travels – and some just stayed home. A few were stuck in airports :( Boston shoveled out from two feet of snow!

But isn’t it glorious to slow down and appreciate where we are. Even if this year wasn’t your best family memory, I bet you talked about when that was, as you reminisced them all.

I love having all of our family adventures to remember, those involving travel and those that hit unexpectedly at home. And I love there will be new ones to look forward to. For me, 2011 is the year my youngest graduates from high school. Don’t worry, I’ve been assured the family travel isn’t over yet – my kids have the travel bug, and we still have many places to discover in this big bold world we live in.

So for now I am considering my resolutions, and planning for our next fabulous family adventure. Oh, and the next snowstorm, due tomorrow. Maybe even another two feet!

What are your resolutions? Where are you going in 2011? Share!



January 4, 2011

A Man, a Plan, a Canal – a New Family Adventure!

Land Crab in Isla Iguana - there are tons of them!

In August Beth went to Panama to check out some new ideas for 2011. We’ve been showing families the beauties of Panama for years, but we are always looking for the fresh perspective, and the places waiting to be discovered. So we decided to check out some new directions. Like El Valle de Anton, inside the crater of the world’s second largest extinct volcano. (Whoa!) And for beaches and snorkeling along with fascinating wildlife we explored the Azueros Peninsula with its artisans and Spanish influenced villages.

After witnessing troops of howler monkeys swinging through the trees, humpback whales breaching, and tropical land crabs swarming the beach, Beth feels pretty confident that we’re on the right track for a unique and wonderful new family adventure. Add to that: meeting a Diablo mask maker, pen pals with the local Embera kids, a walking tour of Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City – and of course the Panama Canal. The perfect recipe for an awesome adventure for all generations.

Call us now to book! We have space for your vacation week in February, March and April 800-262-6255