Thailand

May 23, 2012

Top Five Spots for Teens and Older

The 'kids' bonding in Tanzania

Want to know what’s hot for you and your teenagers and graduates? Here are some great ideas for you to consider while trying to keep everyone happy.

1) Panama. Now, we don’t CALL this a teen trip, but really older kids are perfect for this adventure. With excitement like zip lines and white water rafting it has adrenaline pumping action. And with the engineering marvel of the canal, and the cultural attraction of the Embera tribe there is plenty of sophistication for your kids, and you too! Our guides will engage your family, and you’ll go home with memories you never dreamt of.

2) Costa Rica. This stands by as our most popular family adventure, and the benefit of having older, more tolerant kids is your ability to head to the remote region of Corcovado National Park. It’s far away, out there, and oh so worth it to get to. Surfing, hiking, snorkeling

3) Tanzania. A safari is a sedentary adventure by nature but our Active Safari takes every opportunity for you to stretch your legs and challenge your pre-conceptions. Bike at Gibbs Farm, enjoy walks and village visits at our exclusive private nature refuge, and hike partway up Mount Meru to overnight in a hut before hiking back down the next day. Interspersed with world class wildlife viewing, this adventure will stay with you forever. (And if this isn’t enough you could always think about a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro…….)

4) Peru. You don’t need to fight the crowds on the famed Inca Trail hike into Machu Picchu in order to appreciate all of the wonders Peru has to offer. In fact, we beseech you to NOT join that rat race. Come try some undiscovered trails, and enjoy world class hiking and gorgeous landscapes on trails where you may not see any other people, short of local farmers and their llamas. A Peru Trek can be the way to reassess your life while your older children begin to define their own lives. Prefer the comforts of a hotel? It’s easy to avoid the camping and still enjoy daily explorations. Let the energetic, able bodied kids do the hiking, and you can simply sit and contemplate the beautiful landscape. Want top of the line? Try our Smithsonian Peru Adventure, including Lake Titicaca.

5) Galapagos! Whether you opt for a stint on a luxury catamaran or a unique opportunity to sleep in the islands themselves, the snorkeling, biking, and kayaking in the Galapagos is fabulous. Never just a beach vacation, this is a sophisticated exploration to challenge your mind. Did you know there is wildlife here you just won’t find anywhere else in the world? Come visit these volcanic islands for the chance to think differently.

6) You know me, it’s hard to stop myself. Last summer I went with my kids (18, 22, 25) to Thailand and we had the best time ever. Culture, cities, villages, hiking, zip lines, rafting, elephants, Buddhism, food, massage, wow. A fabulously exotic place that is so warm and welcoming, you might never want to leave.



February 26, 2012

Top Five Destinations for your Graduate. And You.

Who's bold enough to try grasshopper?

Many popular destinations are just plain fun for a young child, but can be revisited – or seen for the first time – with very different eyes once your child is out of high school. Here are our picks for the most sophisticated and exciting places to visit, or visit again, with your graduate.

5) Alaska. It’s pristine, and so different from the rest of the continental USA. And it’s changing so fast, there may well be species, habitats and glaciers that will be disappearing in the future. Take your graduate to explore up close, with plenty of physical activities to challenge you both while you all learn about how climate change is affecting this part of the country.

4) Galapagos. On select dates we offer families with older kids the opportunity to explore the islands from a 16 passenger catamaran. Or, if you prefer, you can join our MultiSport Adventure with real beach camping and up close experiences with those frigate birds, seal ions, and blue footed boobies. In both options you’ll also have the chance to learn something about rock climbing, early Incan ruins, and the delightful culture of mainland Ecuador.

3) Peru. Whether you like to camp in remote mountains with no one but your camp crew nearby, or you prefer, thank you very much, to sleep in a comfortable hotel…Peru offers mystery and culture you can dive into, and breathtaking scenery to explore. Both versions, the Trek and the Land of the Ancient Inca offer great hiking and plenty of time to contemplate the wonders of Machu Picchu.

2) Turkey. Whether you choose a photographic journey, our Secrets of Turkey, or the special Smithsonian Adventure, Turkey is full of inviting people, scenery, and culture. Oh, and the food! Turkey is an adventure of history and art, Roman ruins, miraculous landscape, and the smooth Mediterranean. So much more than just a vacation!

1) Thailand With a fascinating culture, gorgeous temples, and a philosophy that invites conversation…. plus verdant forest to hike, retired elephants to care for, and rivers to raft…. here is an adventure to change your life forever.

0) It’s hard to stop when I’m on a roll.. how about Morocco? Wander the souks, watch a snake charmer, trek in the High Atlas Mountains, and ride a camel on the beach… Practice your Arabic as well as your French, and tantalize your taste buds in this exotic land of couscous and fragrant tagines.

The truth is, any one of our destinations can be sophisticated and enriching for your older kids, and for you too! Our expert guides are ready to talk up to your level, and challenge you to take home in your heart a piece of their country. Come join the like minded and similar aged families traveling with us in 2012 and beyond.



February 12, 2012

Family Travel: Not Just for Kids

Traveling with the Graduates

With my third and last child up and off to college I find myself rethinking the definition of “Family Travel”. Of course we’re still a family even if we don’t have dinner together every night, if we don’t all live under the same roof, and even if my kids are more grown up than I ‘m ready for them to be. And we still love to travel together – none of us are too grown up to discover new places, thank goodness.

But when we call it Family Travel – it might seem too young for what you are really after. How about: Graduate Adventures.

Your children graduate from high school, or from college. Maybe even from graduate school. And you are graduating from a full house of responsibilities to spare time for thinking about what comes next. Just like dinnertime used to be the time to catch up on the day, now your Graduate Adventure can be the place to reconnect with your busy kids. A time to continue to grow together.

When your kids graduate from high school, college or graduate school you don’t stop wanting to travel together – you just want more sophisticated opportunities. Welcome to our Graduate Adventures. Full of history, mystery, and discovery. Great activities to challenge yourself AND your ‘kids’ (won’t we call them that forever??)

It makes sense that we began with 6 year olds 15 years ago, and now have families with 20-someting year old kids traveling with us. So give us a call and see what opportunities there might be for your graduated family. Turkey, Thailand, Tanzania, Peru, Costa Rica – we have older groups going almost everywhere!



August 16, 2011

Biking through Bangkok

Rubbing the Buddha's belly for good luck

What did we learn in Bangkok?

1) It is fabulous to stay in a hotel along the river. That way you can hop a water taxi to go places, rather than sit in dense road traffic for hours.

2)The floating market isn’t visible every day, but that doesn’t stop the river from being a fascinating slice of local life. The homes along the canals, the bustle of commuters on ferries, express the mix of ancient tradition with modern times. The long tail boats are cool to see – but you can get pretty wet on a fast ride in one!

3) Did you say temples? What a glorious display of magnificent temples, from Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) to Wat Pho, home to the reclining Buddha. These sacred places along with the passion and knowledge shared by our incredible guide, allowed Buddhism to add a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere to the entire adventure.

4) Biking through the city and markets gave a view of the inner workings of city life. In a city of skyscrapers, there are still families who cook in the streets and live simple lives in simple homes lining narrow allies. And you know what? Everyone pauses to watch the Thai soap operas every evening!

5) Now if you want to try the subway – easy to figure out – let me tell you it is spotless. No food or drink allowed, and not a sign of litter or dirt. In fact, on the platform everyone lines up, single file, to board the car as it pulls into the station. I just don’t think I will ever see that in Boston. And I loved that their priority seating is reserved for … monks!

6) Dinner in a local restaurant.. I would not have dared try this without our guide to – well – guide us, but what a fabulous dinner! We had pad thai, excellent coconut soup, and even roasted crickets and silkworms. Leo said the silkworm gushed too much for his taste, but the crickets were crunchy and tasted a bit like fried chicken…

7) That Flight of the Gibbon zip line outside of the city? Awesome, and longer and more exciting than the same-named one in Chiang Mai. Just like a team building exercise, this brought our group together – and, ok, maybe I was silly about being nervous about the heights and all.

8) If you plan right you can visit a local tailor and have an awesome suit custom made for you, to be ready for pick up in 10 days when you return to the city before flying home. For a fraction of what it would cost in the USA.

9) But would we have found any of this without the careful ministrations of our beloved guide? Not at all. We always say, the guide makes the experience and this was no exception in Bangkok!



August 4, 2011

Do you know where your kids are Planking?

I’ve been back from Thailand for almost two weeks now, and am finally beginning to feel like my old self. This jet lag laid a heavy cloak of exhaustion over me! Yet don’t think for a minute it wasn’t all worth it. Thailand is an absolute gem.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing more about this adventure, but for starters I want to relish in how great it was to travel with a terrific group of teenagers who all did their part in reminding me of the joys and challenges of parenting. You know how they love you but get embarassed by you most of the time?

Traveling with your own kids lets you see them in a different world; you often learn new things about them in a new environment where they can let their guard down a bit. But if you really want to know about what’s happening, travel with other families too. The interactions and conversations you can accidently overhear will teach you gobs about what is trending today.

Take PLANKING. Now, I like to think I am up to date on current trends but this one had escaped me. Is it going to the gym and building muscle as you hold yourself stiff as a board? No, not at all. Planking means lying yourself face down, arms at your side in any bizarre place you choose. Like at a temple, or on an elephant.

This is not a rock, it is an elephant

No kidding, there is even a whole Wiki page about it. Also, did you know about family traditions, like taking the same posed photo everywhere they go? Really, like in front of the bathroom signs. Imagine having a lifetime of photos of the kids in front of bathroom signs in every language. This is so cool! (and I’m sorry I do not have a sample to show you right now).

So get hip, stay young, and go on an adventure with a bunch of fun loving kids – and their parents – who can teach you everything you need to know about current fads.

And don’t forget to ask your kids where they’ve been planking lately.



July 7, 2011

How to Build an Adventure

Fly 6 hours to London – amazing how close it is, right?

Spend all day in London. Maybe you meet up with a friend like I did, maybe you head into Windsor Castle or maybe you hang at Heathrow. I do recommend paying 17.95 GBP for three hours in the Executive Lounge. Very civilized, and free wireless too.

Then fly 3 hours to Helsinki, Finland. Suddenly you are surrounded by blonde haired, blue eyed travel companions.

Connect smoothly to your flight to Bangkok; just another 7 or 8 hours.

Stumble into Suvarnabhami airport, one of the most bustling and perhaps chaotic airports I can remember. Go through customs and immigration, collect your bag (it made it!), find yourself surrounded by people wanting to get you a cab, a massage, a tour. But all you want is to figure out how to get back to check in for the next flight!

Up to the third floor to the check in desk. But they won’t take the ticket you bought online because you don’t have the same credit card with you. Go to a different counter to refund the original ticket, and buy a new one at the same price. Back to check in, through immigration again, through security again, to the gate for the 45 minute flight to Siem Reap.

I’ve learned the Airport Thais are indeed as gracious and soft spoken as I’d read. The Airport Cambodians are gruff and abrupt and have scowls on their faces. Tomorrow I am sure I will learn more as i venture out into the streets with my guide.

Right now? I hear the call of my choice of TWO channels of karaoke on the hotel television!

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April 18, 2011

Thailand for Families Happening Now

The Colors of Thailand

We are running our first group to Thailand July 9, 2011. I am going too, and we’re looking for of a couple of families with kids 7 – 12 to come along with our group. Space is limited! This 2 week event is being offered at cost, $3500 per person (no discounts apply); in addition we ask you to bring your sense of adventure and good spirit. There is no question we will have a great time! There are temples, elephants, rafting, biking, beaches and snorkeling. And lots of an interesting culture, and spicy spicy food (if you dare!)

What do you want to know about visiting Thailand?

Approximately 95% of Thai people are Buddhist. Their value system affects their dress and social behavior, and tends to be much more conservative than the average Westerner. So let’s be prepared to respect their culture.

Shorts are considered improper and low-class attire, only acceptable for schoolchildren. Except at beach resorts you should never wear skimpy shorts, halter tops, or low-cut blouses. In the temples long trousers or skirts must be worn. Think before you pack!

Thais believe the head is the most acred part of the body. Never pat a Thai on the head, not even a child. And the foot is the lowest part, considered dirty. Don’t point your foot at someone, it is a terrible insult. So… keep your hands and your feet to yourself.

Thailand has a non-confrontational society. No matter how frustrated you may feel, do not lose your temper or raise your voice. What a good thing to practice…

Come bring your jai yen (cool heart) to Thailand, bow your head in the wai(traditional greeting), and join a wonderful adventure with Thomson.