Advice

March 6, 2011

FYI: Our Mission Statement

Ever wonder about the purpose of Thomson Family Adventures, and what drives us?

Product Mission

To be an industry leader in the creation, selling and operation of the finest family adventures that allow families to experience vacations to areas of the world in a fashion not yet done in the travel industry through the addition of new, exciting and unique family features.

Social Mission

To operate the division in a way that actively recognizes the central role that we as a tour operator play in the creation and maintenance of good job opportunities with fair wages here in the United States as well as all the countries to which we send families.



February 12, 2011

Top 10 Things About Traveling with Teens

Is your teen too cool for you?

Just because your child has become a teenager – or is acting like one – doesn’t mean you have to be intimidated by their demands or sacrifice your meaningful family vacation. Just remember these wise rules, and all will be well.

1) Choosing a destination that offers activities to challenge and excite – like a zip line, white water rafting, or kayaking – will keep your big kids active, engaged and satisfied. If they’ve done an activity before, try in a new environment for new excitement. Look for a variety of activities that give everyone a chance to try many things; don’t give them the chance to feel bored with the same old thing.

2) This is your family vacation, but diversions are very useful. Traveling in a small group of like minded and similar aged families gives you the chance to meet new people and make new friends. For many families, having company to share the fun with helps prevent the family bond from fraying under the stress of too much togetherness.

3) But don’t forget many teens suffer under the pressure to be Cool all the time in their peer group. For some kids, traveling as the oldest in a group will be the ticket to success. This gives them the opportunity to let down their guard, and remember how much fun it can be to just be a kid again.

4) If you let someone else be in control, the pressure is off! Your guide can call the shots, motivate the troops, get your teen to respond in ways you never could. Other kids in the group will inspire them to join in. Settle back and relax, this is your family adventure to enjoy too!

5) Don’t you want to get out of your all inclusive resort routine? Sure that was fun once, but in a resort you could be anywhere. Our kids are growing up, and rapidly forming their opinions and habits…What do you want to teach them? Your family vacation can be a fun and easy way to show them important things about the world. Step off the beaten path and discover the qualities special and unique to the destination – and local people – you are visiting. This makes everything more interesting – and more meaningful.

6) If you create a safe environment where where your kids can try new things – remember, these are the experimenting years – they will. But please, not at home in front of their friends! Karaoke? Salsa dancing? Noodle making? Weaving? Photography? Trekking? In the right context, and a more anonymous one, these unusual activities can be enthralling. And maybe your teen will discover a new talent!

7) If you let your kids be the askers, their natural inquisitiveness and leadership will blossom as they discover new cultures and lifestyles. When you travel with a local, expert guide you don’t have to know the answers – indeed, you will be learning too.

8) (I don’t know why a smiley face is in place instead of an eight, but I’m leaving it here!) Often it seems we work too hard to make everyone be the same – but we’re not, and that’s OK! Some are stronger, bigger, wiser. When you plan for things the younger kids can’t do, like bigger water on the rafting trip, or climbing Kilimanjaro, it shows your kids that growing up has its privileges, and they have earned the right to try new things.

9) Even teens get hungry all the time. Be sure there is a constant flow of food and water to keep them fueled. Full children are rarely cranky children, even with teenagers.

10) Sound overwhelming? Call the experts with your questions and concerns. A personable, knowledgeable advisor – not a phone bank – can make reaching your family travel goals a snap.



January 30, 2011

Wonder about a Family Safari?



December 28, 2010

Winter Storms and Why We Include Travel Insurance

The Beauty of a Blizzard

The dichotomy of a blizzard: It is beautiful, but at the holidays it is sure to ruin a lot of travel plans.

This particular holiday season was a traveler’s nightmare. In a small window of time we saw no fewer than 35 people lose their family holiday travel plans due to snowstorms, flight cancellations, and unexpected illness. That’s a lot of non refundable money!

You spend a lot of time, thought, and dollars on choosing your family adventure – you can’t let the unexpected ruin it. Whether it’s weather, or health, or even a home flood or fire, you have to protect your investment.

At Thomson Family Adventures, we know no one really likes to invest in insurance because it’s something you don’t want until you need it. And of course then it is too late. So we include comprehensive trip cancellation insurance in all of our adventures. And guess what? That insurance will reimburse all 35 of those disappointed travelers.

Sure there are procedures and paperwork to follow – but this really does help take the sting out of the unexpected. Getting your money back also gives you opportunity to recreate your adventure for another time. Like in the spring when it doesn’t blizzard…

What’s the fine print, what’s the catch you ask? For no additional cost we include trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance up to $8,000 per person, land and air cost. In addition, our insurance covers for a number of other losses or damages, including issues with baggage, medical expenses, and emergency medical evacuation.

When you travel with Thomson, you’ll always be in good hands not just leading up to your trip, but while on your trip as well. We try to think of everything! We hand-select guides in every locale, and work closely with these local operators to ensure they adhere to the high standards we promise our guests.

Have any questions? Just give us a call, or send an email. We’d be happy to provide you with more details about our reputable travel protection services.

Oh, and if you’re not traveling with Thomson, be sure to add on the cost of travel insurance to your travel plans!

Where did you get stuck this year?



December 18, 2010

6 International Vacation Tips for Family – or Anyone

You probably won't be holding a panda in December, but we like this photo!

Maybe you’re scambling to leave town next week, maybe you’re just mulling over a plan for next year… Either way here are some preparation tips to keep your travel planning smooth, easy and stress free.

1) Documentation: Have everything in hand including passports, itineraries, important phone numbers and flight information all in one folder or designated spot 2 weeks before your date of departure. Be sure to check your passport expiration when you first plan your trip, in case you need to renew (they have to be valid for 6 months after your return date!)

2) Get the cards ready: The ATM and credit cards that is. These days, with credit card firms and banks taking extra precaution against identity theft, if you don’t inform the institutions you’re going to be traveling out of the country in advance of your trip, you might run into hurdles when trying to use the cards or withdraw cash abroad. Call credit card companies and banks 1-2 weeks before your trip to let them know you’ll be traveling overseas.

3) Dress comfy and pack light: Though in the early years of air travel everyone donned their finest, these days there’s no need to dress up for an international flight. You’ll likely be on-the-go for several hours so wearing comfortable clothing will make the whole experience more enjoyable. And you won’t be worrying about wrinkled attire that way, either. Pack light and maybe you can even avoid checking a bag… more on that in another post.

4) Notify close friends or family of your trip: You may not want to shout it out on Facebook in some (most!) cases, but you will want to make sure a neighbor and family member or friend are aware you’ll be away from home for an extended amount of time. They’ll help keep an eye on your house, and watch for any untoward activity until your return.

5) Have a sense of local customs at your destination: At TFA, we’ll provide you with the essentials and prepare you for what to expect when you land, so there’s little to no research you have to do. But there’s a wealth of information on the internet and in book stores. It’s valuable to know about the local culture, traditions and everyday mannerisms to make you more comfortable – and more respectful of your host country – on your vacation.

6) Technology: Depending on where your travels take you, you’;ll likely need to bring electrical adaptors if US standards are not the norm. If you need to stay connected check with your mobile phone provider about service overseas – service is widely available but plans, costs, and coverage vary greatly.

Bon voyage! Wherever you go remember it’s all about the journey, and the unexpected is half the fun of any family adventure.



December 8, 2010

Secretly Stuck in a Vacation Rut? We Can Tow You Out.

family visiting waterfalls in Costa Rica

At the Waterfalls, Costa Rica

Hello Parents and Grandparents!I know you’ve been talking about taking your child / grandson on an adventure next year but something has stopped you from setting your plans. This year flights are limited and fares are up; let’s get going before you don’t have the choice anymore!

Being stuck is terrible; it stresses your brain and makes you feel unsettled. We can help!

If someone is concerned about safety, security, or comfort we’d love to to help you understand how a family adventure works. After all we’ve been running these trips designed exclusively for families longer than anyone else. We’re small and personal, but loaded with expertise. We’ll always take the time to be sure you understand the steps we take to ensure a safe and comfortable family adventure.

If the destination doesn’t feel quite right, we’d love to talk with you about other ideas. With all of our years specializing in family travel we’d love to help you choose just the right thing.

The perfect family adventure is an investment that you want to be sure will pay off for years to come. So don’t shop for price, rather look for the value for your money. This is a wonderful trip for both you and your child or grandchild. We know you want it to be perfect.

If you just can’t make a solid plan until after the first of the year we understand that too, but it doesn’t cost a cent to begin the research. Call us at 800-262-6255; we’re waiting for you!



November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday for Families

Big fish, small business

Today represents a wonderful American dream, achieved by supporting your local small business. It’s part of the movement of getting back to a simpler life. We all want a life that is simple and rewarding, don’t we?

Small businesses support families and provide jobs, without getting caught up in huge overhead, marketing spins, corporate boards or executive decisions. Well, we’re a small business too!

Family owned and operated, Thomson Family Adventures runs with a small staff who know you when you call – no voicemail or call centers at our place. We have minimal overhead and carry no debt which makes us financially stable. The dollars you spend with Thomson go towards providing you with expert, knowledgeable advice, personal attention, and a product we stand behind.

We care about you, and also about our local partners in the countries we travel to. We make sure they earn a decent wage, and rely on their destination knowledge to help us put together the family adventure of a lifetime for you.

Sorry, we’re not open today (you know, a weekend with the family…) but we’ll be back at our desks on Monday. Give us a call at 800-262- 6255, and try your next family adventure the small business way.



November 17, 2010

How NOT to handle your passport renewals

Do you know when your passport expires?

I am a travel professional, have been for years. So one might think I would be on top of things like passport renewals. Think again.

I took my kids on their first passport-required adventure about 4.5 years ago. I am exact in that calculation because my son Leo needs his passport to travel in April 2011. This means it needs to be valid up until October 2011. Which it is not.

Minor children get a passport valid for 5 years. Adults, 10 years.

When passport control tells you a minor’s passport is valid for 5 years they are not quite telling the truth. Because it has to be valid for 6 months beyond the return date of the trip, it is really only good for 4.5 years. Or adults for 9.5 years.

What is the use of 6 months of passport when you can’t go anywhere?

Then we find out that a minor’s renewal is not a renewal. It’s a whole new application. This means digging up that original birth certificate again. AGAIN!

I admit I am categorically challenged. I cannot file things in a way to easily find them again years later. I have a big file drawer of folders. Is Birth Certificate under B? Or maybe under P for Passport application? Maybe it is I for Important papers…. or K for Kids? L for Leo? C for Certificates? L for Legal?

Tomorrow at school Leo needs to show he has submitted his passport application in order to qualify for the senior class trip to Eastern Europe in April. We did find the birth certificate (under B) so he has all the pieces of an un-submitted application. Hopefully that will be enough.

Don’t let this humiliation happen to you! Check your passports now.



November 14, 2010

You Deserve This Because…

Looking for a carefree retreat?

…..You work hard. You cook, clean, handle the office, manage your children’s calendars and events. You attend meetings and meet deadlines. You don’t have enough hours to sleep. You are successful and productive and have everything you want in life. You’re just too busy to appreciate it all.

Well, we are here to treat you to the experience of a lifetime with your family, just because you deserve this.

Imagine making just a couple of phone calls, gathering your family, tossing a few things in a bag (don’t forget the bathing suit), and getting on a plane. OK, the security line is annoying, but you can do it. When you land in your chosen place you are met by someone who relieves you of all of your responsibilities, for the duration of your adventure. You are surrounded by fun, helpful, cheery people who are there to make sure you have the trip of a lifetime. What a blissful relief, and a true vacation.

You’re building memories that will last forever. And no effort from you – you’re relaxed too!

Your teens are pleasantly inspired by the guide, the exotic destination, the exciting activities. Your children look forward to popping out of bed in the morning, ready to join new friends for new adventures. You are served delicious meals, handed snacks and bottled water even before you know you need them. You are driven where you need to go, and you don’t have to worry about a thing.

Your itinerary is flexible, yet has just enough planned events to ensure you do something interesting every day. You get to learn something new right along with your children.

If this is appealing, if you don’t have time to research, plan, schedule and manage the details of a perfect family vacation, if you want some adventure that is relaxing and fun for your children and YOU TOO! then call Thomson Family Adventures at 800-262-6255.

We’ve small and personal, and we’ve done the work for you. We stand behind our family adventures; it is all we do. Call 800-262-6255. We’re there waiting to make your dreams come true.



November 7, 2010

Top 5 Reasons to take a Family Vacation

Family on safari!

In today’s busy world, it seems family vacations are some of the few times the entire family comes joins to spend time together and really connect over the course of consecutive days. And it’s not just that we’re busy – sometimes we’re just so spread out it requires travel and effort to see each other. So why not try a family adventure to a new place?

Whatever your situation, whatever the number of generations your family encompasses, the real benefits of a family getaway are endless. Here are some of the top reasons a vacation is worthwhile for your family:

1) It has been proven that experiences make us feel better than physical things. So if you’re contemplating new furniture for the living room or a family safari in Tanzania, take the trip. Your memories and satisfaction will last longer than anything you can buy.

2) Have you noticed there’s rarely an evening or day that goes by without someone in the family rushing off to a dinner, practice, game, or other commitment? Take a real break and unplug from the rest of the world, in a destination where your family can get to know each other well again.

3) Exploring a new culture and experience together will draw you closer to your family members than repeating a tradition you are familiar with.

4) There’s something for everyone on a vacation. This is time for you all together, but also time for everyone to relax from your own usual day-to-day whirlwind.

5) Break free of the schedule for a change. An itinerary ensures you accomplish some new things, but also can promise flexibility and options. After all, a vacation is supposed to relax and reconnect you all!

If the planning and logistics make you cringe, let us help you plan for a family vacation of a lifetime. What are you waiting for? Are you looking forward to an upcoming vacation and if so, where are you headed?