Advice

May 24, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to Travel in Summer

Go for it!

Well, Well, Well. Why should you travel in the summer months? I mean June , July, and even August if you don’t begin school again that month. And maybe I mean the month of May, if your kids are out that early. The point is, this is an extended break from a school calendar and you have more flexibility, more time on your family’s schedule, to get away.

Some families want to shoot out of town the moment school is done; some families plan for camp first, then vacation. Regardless, these reasonable reasons apply:

1) You have time. Why not take 2 or 3 weeks and explore the world? You can travel further, and take more time to recover once you’re home before the kids have to ‘perform’ again. You, the parents? Well, you can make do, right?

2) In some regions this is ‘low season‘. In Central America – Costa Rica and Panama for instance – it is still a great time to visit, but it will be less crowded and flights will be more reasonable. Come see whales migrating, or Green Sea Turtles nesting on the ‘off season’.

3) You can reach faraway lands. Maybe it is too hard to think about an 18 hour flight over your precious February or March break, but in the summer, not so bad. Destinations like Tanzania, China, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco become a more relaxed and reasonable goal.

4) Christmas, Hanukah, Easter, Passover…. you probably have a focused family plan for the holidays. But what do you do in the summer? When there isn’t a specific focus to your vacation, an adventure plan can be just the right thing.

5) Big celebrations. OK, I myself am suffering from thinking about my last child heading off to college. Do I want to plan something for all of us together? You bet. This feels like a last chance – I have several family adventures planned for this summer! Why don’t you?

6) But maybe it’s an important anniversary or another milestone… summertime can be a less expensive and more convenient time to gather the family together for a kind of celebratory reunion. This is the best time to ask us to plan for something person and precious just for you.

7) Are you looking to escape the heat of your hometown? Destinations near the Equator like Ecuador and Peru in South America, or Tanzania in Africa, offer wonderful family adventures in a moderate climate – warm days and cool nights. Hike, swim, commune with unique wildlife…it’s just waiting for you.

8) I admit, I’ve run out of ideas. All I can say is, summer is an awesome time to pull the family together and go for it. What a time of discovery and growth, from end of one school year stretching to the beginning of the next. Be it your garden, or your family together — Just like me, I know you have time for both.

9) Oh, one more thing I’ll add here – you’re not too late to pull something together for summer 2011. We’ve gotten used to the ‘last minute’ calls so come along and add your request. There might just be the family adventure of a lifetime waiting for you this summer.

10) And you have just until May 31 2011 to secure some serious early booking savings (up to $500 per person!) for 2012. Call us now and we’ll tell you how 800-262-6255



April 14, 2011

Why not save for 2012?

Have you noticed the last minute planning isn’t working so well anymore? Flights have gotten too expensive, and hotel space fills up too. Why not plan ahead and save big?

Book your 2012 travel before May 31st, 2011 for significant savings as well as months of delicious anticipation and peace of mind. Did you know if you buy a flight right now from Chicago to Costa Rica for February 2012, the cost is about $500. If you wait until November, the same flight will cost you $1500 or more! Booking early could potentially save you a $1,000 per person on your air. Really!

It’s pretty simple: Plan ahead so you can take advantage of our discounts as well as better airfare.

Want some examples? OK: If you book a 2012 trip by May 31, 2011: for our Costa Rica Multi-Sport Adventure, we’ll give you $200 off per person; Ecuador and the Galapagos adventures, we’ll give you $300 off per person; Tanzania Family Safari, we’ll give you $500 off per person! Our flagship destination, this is an award winning adventure. In 2011 we’re celebrating 30 years in Tanzania! Don’t miss this personal and unique opportunity to discover Tanzania.

We have early booking discounts available on all departures to all destinations in 2012. Please note, these discounts are so spectacular that they cannot be used in combination with other discounts except for large group refunds (when they may apply).

This year we’ve already had many disappointed families hoping for a last minute vacation that couldn’t materialize. Plan now and get it right!

Again, our the rules:

Travel must be booked with deposit paid by May 31, 2011.

Discount is off the 2012 prices.

Discount cannot be used in conjunction with a travel survey, past guest reward or first family booked discount.

Discount is only valid on new bookings.

Travelers will be called and matched to a date when the 2012 dates and prices are announced – in the summer of 2011

Travelers must confirm their dates by August 31st, 2011.

If there is not a suitable 2012 date, your deposit is fully refundable.

Call us now! 800-262-6255



March 7, 2011

Top 10 reasons – Why Thomson Family Adventures?

A Family Reunion to Remember

Who are we you might ask? Well, let us tell you what makes us so great. And fun too.

1) We were the first company to champion the spirit of family adventure travel. Not just inviting the kids along on an adult trip, but really figuring out how it works best so all ages can try new things, and love every minute together. It’s our specialty, it’s all we live and breathe.

2) No voice mail, phone banks, or complicated calling options. Just real live people ready to help you.

3) We offer a limited number of destinations - about a dozen. We know them intimately and regularly visit them ourselves. When you call Thomson Family Adventures you can always speak with a knowledgeable person who will help you choose the right adventure for your family.

4) We’ve chosen these destinations because of what they have to offer in the way of interesting landscapes, history, wildlife, and culture – and because they are places you probably won’t be able to navigate off the beaten path, or really get to know without one of our guides leading the way. But we can show you an amazing time!

5) We work with local colleagues in each of our destinations. Part of our mission is to support those communities by employing people who live there, and supporting their schools and businesses. We visit them, they visit us. We’re like family! We work especially closely with our guides, ensuring you the best English speaking, family friendly leaders.

6) When you travel with us it’s not a tour, it’s a family adventure experience. Anyone can plan an itinerary outline – but what do you get between the lines?

7) We offer travel in small groups (15 – 20 people) of like minded people, all families, during all school vacation weeks as well as through the summer months. We have no minimums, and will not cancel a departure for ‘under enrollment’. When you make reservations with us, your family plans are secure.

8) (once again, the #8 is a smiley face, and I don’t know why…) We are also the experts at planning your personal, private adventure for any size group . Anything from a huge family reunion, to an intimate family getaway. We can create the right trip for you, for any age from infancy on up.

9) We’re easy on your time. We take care of you from the moment you land in-country, until you leave again for home. Every detail, every logistic, every question, every activity, every bottle of water – all taken care of. You just show up and have a great time.

10) This isn’t just an adventure – you’ll learn things too (shhh, you might not want to advertise this). Your kids will write ahead to pen pals and meet those children when you travel. You’ll discover how other people live in this world. You’ll come away enriched for having blended with another culture, if only for a week. It might even just change your life.

11) (Sorry, I ran over!) We always include trip cancellation insurance at no additional cost.



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.