Posts Tagged ‘family adventure’

June 24, 2016

5 Must Do Things in China

China is one of the oldest and most ancient cultures in the world. For nearly 5,000 years, since the Xia Dynasty, China has been a major player on the international scale. It has influenced the world in numerous ways and will continue to do so. What this means for us as travelers, is that is a place with tremendous sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and excitement!  With so much to see and a lot of ground to cover it’s hard to prioritize what to see on your family vacation. China can be a great place for multigenerational families with a great mix of culture and excitement. Families with teens can also have an age appropriate adventure in China. This is a great culture for teens to embed themselves in. They will undoubtedly begin comparing their life growing up to what they see in China. We promise this will be fascinating for them and for you to watch! Cultivating this experience for teens, younger kids, or yourself, can be overwhelming when looking at all that China has to offer. Here are five things that you shouldn’t miss.

Acrobat Show

This form of entertainment is almost as old as China itself. It dates back to 4,000 years ago and its popularity exploded around 2,500 years ago. The acrobatic shows in Beijing will look similar to Cirque du Soleil, but will be much different. You’ll experience traditional lion dancing, stunning cycling acts, fire stunts, and contortionists among much more amazing feats that will leave your family in awe.

Tiananmen Square


This is the largest public square in the world. Now four times its original size, Tiananmen Square was originally constructed in the 15th Century. Since then, it has been a place for celebration and expression. In the square you can find the Monument to the People’s House, the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Tiananmen Tower, the National Museum and the gate to the Forbidden City.

T’ai Chi Class


This ancient Chinese martial art is known for teaching graceful movements that have major health benefits for its practitioners. Take a T’ai Chi lesson in its most basic form, focusing on spiritual and mental strength. Your family will find it calming and peaceful while learning this meditative martial art from a T’ai Chi master.


This is one of the most fascinating cities in China. Shanghai has one of the most distinct and recognized skylines in the world. It has fully embraced architectural advancement and creativity. Walking around this economic epicenter gives unlimited people watching opportunities, lessons in culture, and a window into a futuristic city within an ancient country. Walk around the city, take a boat ride down the main river, and explore the many international neighborhoods in the Huangpu waterfront area.


Cormorant Fishing

The cormorant is a type of bird that has traditionally been trained to catch fish. Li River fisherman will start to train these birds at just six months old. In the evening they will take the grown birds out onto the river to help them catch fish to sell the next day. It’s unique to watch man and bird work together to catch fish. This traditional fishing technique is definitely something to see!

June 17, 2016

5 Airport Security Tips


Make getting here that much easier. Photo taken in Turkey.

One of the most stressful and annoying parts of traveling is going through security. Is it necessary? Yes. Are we happy that it’s part of the drill? Yes. But that doesn’t mean we have to enjoy it. There is nothing worse than hitting traffic and running through the airport with your multi-generational family to make your flight only to find yourself stuck in what seems to be a never ending line that won’t move. Well, the good news is that there are a few things that you and your family can do to make sure that your family vacation starts off right with a no hassle and speedy trip from the car to the airplane. Here are 5 airport security tips to get you started.

Have Things you need on Hand

We all know too well how easy it is to misplace something— like a passport or a boarding pass. Don’t be the person searching through a hand bag, back pack, or every jacket pocket to get the documents you need to proceed. Make sure that your kids have theirs ready too, if you’re holding them, place each person’s boarding pass within the pages of their passport so that everything matches up for the TSA agent.

Dress for the Part

You know exactly what you need to do to get through security. You’ll have to pass all metals and electronics through the x-ray machine and take off your shoes. Make sure everyone is wearing shoes that are easy enough to slip on and slip off (also wear socks, no one wants to walk barefoot in an airport!). Here’s a pro tip, place jewelry, belts, watches, and the like in a jacket pocket so it all goes through the x-ray machine together and you won’t have to scramble after you get your bin back.

Pay Attention

Sometimes the shortest line isn’t always the fastest line. Look ahead to find any travelers you think may take a long time. If you see a family, try for another line (unless they’ve read this article and breeze through security like you will) because unfortunately, families do tend to take a bit longer to make their way through.

Look into Security Programs

There are airlines that offer First Class passengers the opportunity to go through a fast line in security. This could be worth it if you’re traveling around the holiday season when airport traffic is busiest.  There is also the TSA Pre Check program which is available in over 160 airports with 16 airlines participating. Another program that is great for international travel is the Global Entry Program. Participants that join this program get to skip an extra step going through customs.  Finally, CLEAR is a program that will let you skip security all together in participating airports in the US.

Be Patient and Polite

We can’t stress this enough. Being polite, not complaining, and having a smile on your face will work wonders for your family. Remember, TSA can screen upwards of a million people a day, many of which won’t be polite, and they’ll be a bit stressed. Try not to add to it!

May 18, 2016

The Galapagos Alphabet

Every family has some kind of tradition that works its way into every adventure that they go on. One family that just traveled to the Galapagos for a family vacation has shared with us one of their traditions! This alphabet is not only a list that is fun to put together, it helps create a list of memories that you will always be able to look back on. We’ll be incorporating this into our next family vacations! What kind of fun traditions does your family have for when on vacation?


A – AWESOME ADVENTURE! Albatross Hotel, a’a’ lava, ani (invasive black bird), airplanes that were big and very small


B – Blue-footed booby (yes, Eric, their feet are really blue), big bees, brown pelicans, Bartoleme Island, brackish pools on Isabela, Baltra (an island with only an airport), biking twice (Eric thrice), brachycereus (lava) cactus


C – Caipirinha drink (lime, sugar cane and rum), cows, carpenter bees, Cheryl looking for her glasses when they were on her head, Charles Darwin traveled here, candlebra cactus, coffee (the good stuff is exported), cilantro (not for Susan and Cheryl), Cuenca! (Wilson’s hometown)


D – “Daco pull your shade!” diving boobies, “don’t drink the water!”, dolphins jumping, Daphne Major (site of Beak of the Finch book), delicious fish dishes


E- Ecuador, equator nearby, El Nino weather (we had no rain), egrets, endemic (only found in one place), El Garrapatero Bay (we biked there, swam, and rambled among the rocks), EARTHQUAKE (7.8) which we felt during dinner in Quito


F – Fabio our fabulous Santa Cruz guide, frigate birds, finches (13 kinds), ferry to Santa Cruz, fantastically colored flamingos, flying fish, Favian and Maria’s house for dinner, flan frequently for dessert, friendly people


G – GALAPAGOS, geckos, Guayaquil (largest city in Ecuador), Gabe rolling off the boat seat and staying asleep, green sea turtles slowly swimming, ghost crabs


H – Hermit crab, HOT and HOTTER (the two seasons), high humidity, hibiscus flowers, hiking on marked trails, Himalayan blackberry (invasive on Santa Cruz – very sad!)


I – Isabela- our favorite island, Iguana Crossing Hotel, internet access sometimes, iguanas of all sizes, iguana crossing sign where the iguanas really crossed – can they read?


J – Jon eating four large servings of paella, Junior teaching everyone how to surf (lie down, paddle, paddle, paddle, stand up. Easy)


K – Kayaking on Academy Bay (Wilson and Susan, Gabe and Fabio, Tony and Jon, Eric and Cheryl), king angelfish


L – Lighted lava tunnel, lava gull, land iguana (only seen at the Darwin Research Center), lava lizards doing pushups, lichens, the lobster, Lava Java coffee


M – MULTI SPORT ADVENTURE, marine iguanas, mockingbirds, mangroves, magma, moss (hanging from the trees), monarch butterfly, matrimonial rooms in the hotel,


N – Nazca Booby (the black and white one), night sky with tons of stars, noddy (brown), no shadow at noon (since the sun is right overhead)


O – Omelets, opuntia (prickly-pear) cactus, orange Fanta, overweight luggage


P – Perfect Paella, panga with a sleeping sea lion, Puerto Ayora, potato soup (sopa de pata – good for hangovers), puffer fish who didn’t puff, pens of baby tortoises, penguinos at the equator, pahoehoe lava, Pablo (Eric’s snorkel helper)


Q – Quito, questions for our guides, constantly!


R – Reef sharks (white and black tipped which nap during the day and hunt at night – we hope), red-billed tropicbird


S – Stingrays, storm petrols, snorkeling three times! Speedboat, sunburn, Sacajewa one dollar coins, Santa Cruz Island, Susan and Gabe’s ocean walk, stargazing with Wilson, Southern Cross constellation, swimming with sea lions, no seasickness, swallow tailed gull that flies at night, swimming in the hotel pools


T – Tortugas (tortoises)! Texas t-shirt, Tintoreras Island, tiny 10 seater plane with earmuffs, Tortoise Breeding Center

Batch 2 131

U – Underwater camera, used TP goes in wastebasket, use USA money everywhere


V – Very, very humid! vast ocean views

Mancuso 2

W – WILSON– our wonderful guide, wahoo (delicious fish), Wall of Tears (built by convicts), Whale Bay walk and snorkel, wading in the ocean


X – eXtra biking by Eric


Y – Yellow warbler, yellow-tailed surgeon fish, yellow-crowned night heron.


Z – Zandoli (word for lizard in Creole)


So there are at least 26 memories that come with going to the Galapagos on a family vacation!

February 2, 2016

Affordable Family Vacations: Big Change for Thailand, Ireland, and Canada

It isn’t often that things become cheaper but the quality stays the same, or in this case gets even better. We’ve updated our itineraries for Thailand and Ireland to show more of the places that you want to see with more fun and adventures along the way. As the US Dollar has gotten stronger in the global economy, specifically against the Euro, the Thai Baht, and the Canadian Dollar, and we wanted to pass any savings we could on to our traveling families. After adjusting for the strength of the US Dollar, some of these trips are as much as $800 lower per person. Thailand, Ireland, and Canada are three very different destinations, all special in their own way, that all make for a great affordable family vacation!


affordable family vacation to Thailand

This is a country that is great for all travelers, but older kids tend to appreciate the cultural differences more than our younger travelers. Visiting temples, participating in traditional alms-giving with monks, and meeting hill tribe villagers are just a few of the ways that cultural exchanges take the driver’s seat on this recently-more-affordable family vacation option. Everyone also enjoys fun activities like jungle hikes, zip-lining, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This is an awesome adventure in Southeast Asia.


affordable Ireland family vacation

The Emerald Isle is a great spot to take an family vacation. This is particularly great for younger travelers that are starting to get their exploration experience in.  You’ll see Ireland in ways that you never thought you would— ride a bike through the Slieve Mish Mountains on the Dingle Peninsula and learn how to sail in Kinsale Harbor. Kids will also enjoy hearing tales of pirates, taking a friendly ghost tour around Kinsale, and exploring the star shaped Charles Fort. Plus, part of this adventure is staying in your very own castle. If that isn’t enough of a reason to go to Ireland than we don’t know what is!


affordable canada family vacation

Our neighbor to the North is home to an incredible stretch of the Rocky Mountains. This adventure is great for families that like to be more active than usual on their vacations. Spend time exploring scenic Banff and Yoho National Parks. Hike to Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks to see this awe inspiring region by foot. The adventurers in the family will also enjoy rafting down the Kicking Horse River. There’s no reason not to vacation up North for an affordable family vacation that’s close to home!

These are all just a snapshot of the fun and excitement that can come on your next family vacation.

January 26, 2016

Costa Rica: The Perfect Destination for the Whole Family

It can be difficult to find a place for your family vacation that everyone can get on board with. Your older kids may not want to do what your younger kids want to do. Or you might be looking for a bit more action and adventure for yourself and one of your kids, but not the other. Maybe you’re a grandparent or traveling with a grandparent and you’re worried about finding an active trip that you can also have fun with. Look no further, Costa Rica is the place you need to go. Costa Rica is an incredible country that has a little bit of something for everyone.


The wildlife in Costa Rica is enough to get anyone excited about a vacation. Younger kids get especially excited by the wildlife. Costa Rica is home to over half a million different wildlife species. As you leisurely kayak through mangroves or hike through jungles, your youngsters are sure to see monkeys hanging out on tree limbs, colorful toucans and bright red scarlet macaws flying through the air, and iguanas lying in the sun. These encounters will get them excited and they’ll never forget it!

TFA Trip 3-22-14 Costa Rica-204

Teens and Older Kids

We know it can be hard to convince a teenager what cool and fun is, but we’ve never had a problem getting approval for the adventures in Costa Rica. Some of the more exhilarating activities you can do in Costa Rica range from zip-lining high in the sky to white-water rafting on the rivers below. These activities are an adrenaline rush, but also very safe. It isn’t only teens that will have fun with this either, parents and grandparents also think it’s a blast!


Parents, we know you can hang on the zip-lines and paddle around in the kayaks. But sometimes isn’t it nice to just relax? One thing that our parents love is the eco-thermal hot springs. The Eco Termales hot springs are the only true natural hot springs in Arenal. The fun and relaxed atmosphere is wildly beautiful among green gardens and steamy cascades. It’s your family vacation; you should get some time to relax!


Chris Gamel 2

The one constant thing that we here from grandparent travelers is how thrilling it was for them to show their grandkids the world. Costa Rica is a place where grandparents can be with the family and see colorful and animated wildlife, fly through the treetops, and make memories that will last forever. Nothing compares to exploring a place with the entire family where everyone can have fun.

November 17, 2015

10 Reasons to Take a Family Vacation in Baja

Baja, Mexico is one of our favorite spots to send families for fun-filled and unforgettable vacations. It’s a top destination for families to visit and once you go there you’ll know why. Many of the reasons to visit Baja are unique in their own right. The peninsula also has a storied and famous history of exploration that we love. Baja has an aura to it that can inspire any family to adventure in ways they never thought they would. Here are ten reasons that Baja is the perfect place for a family vacation.

Horseback Riding

Check out the whale blow in the background!

Baja is a great place to stroll around by horseback. One of the best reasons is that it makes you feel like a modern day cowboy or cowgirl. Ride through a desert landscape with dunes and cacti dotted plains that stretch as far as the eye can see until you reach the beach and the deep blue water of the Pacific Ocean. This is a great family fun adventure!




The culture of Baja is slightly different than that of the rest of Mexico. The peninsula is very laid back and has small towns that all have their own personality. The artistic town of Todos Santos has been a haven for artists, surfers, painters, and writers for years. It has even spawned the Todos Santos Music Festival put on each January by Peter Buck of R.E.M.


Ceviche. Tacos. Guacamole. Tortillas. The list of food goes on. Baja is a haven for tasty treats that will leave you with a feeling of wanting to eat and do nothing else. The ingredients are fresh and flavorful; we promise you’ve never had Mexican cuisine like this before!

Sea Turtles

kinds playing with sea turtles while on a family vacation to Baja

During the months of October and November Baja is a hatching ground for baby sea turtles. This is an opportunity for your family to take part in the conservation effort of sea turtles that is not only fulfilling but a lot of fun! Staying up late to watch the turtles hatch and make their way to the water for the first time is unforgettable.


Baja has a different history than the rest of Mexico. After being settled by the Jesuits and operating separately from the rest of mainland Mexico, Baja was able to shape its own identity and stay out of major conflicts. Baja was cultivated on the foundation of kindness, honesty, and strong family values. These are still part of Baja’s personality and this is extended to and recognized by all that go to visit!

Whale Watching

Simply put, in the month of February there is no better place to be whale watching than in Baja. Thousands of whales arrive in Baja every year for mating and birthing. The whales are in a safe space from predators in the waters around Baja. The new babies are so curious they may swim right up to your boat to say hi!


baja landscape

The landscape in Baja is reminiscent of times more simple than what we have now. Baja has always stayed Baja, not compromising some of its most scenic spots for development projects. This authenticity is one of the largest charms that Baja has.


This is a Thomson Family Adventure classic. We love to kayak and we love sharing this fun with families travelling with us. Some of the best kayaking in the world is in Baja simply because it takes place in the Sea of Cortez, one of the most biologically diverse and beautiful places in the world.



The sun is always kind to the Baja peninsula. More often than not, visitors are able to explore in comfortable and beautiful weather. Having the sun shine on your family vacation always gives it an extra pop to make sure your vacation a happy one!



October 13, 2015

Four Incredible Things to See While on a China Family Vacation

China is an ever evolving country trying, and often succeeding, to stay ahead of the curve in design and innovation. Some of the places where this is most prominent are Beijing and Shanghai. These global cities are nothing short of imaginative and ambitious. But China is also a place filled with natural wonder and a deep and long history. It’s the natural and the historic that will capture your heart on your China family vacation!

Gumdrop Mountains

Gumdrop Mountains as seen from our China Family Vacations

This has routinely been called one of the most beautiful and picturesque places in the whole world. This is a bold claim, but the second you see the landscape of Yangshuo and the karst formations that make up the Gumdrop Mountains you’ll understand why. There are plenty of ways to see the mountains to get an exceptional view. We like to take float trips down the Yulong River and go for bike rides through the winding hills to see the mountains from every angle.

Terracotta Warriors

Well over 6,000 hand crafted clay warriors protect the tomb and afterlife of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty. The army was crafted in the late 3rd century BCE and discovered in the modern age by farmers in 1974. Archaeologists have determined that the tallest sculptures of the warriors were probably generals and that the smaller the figures got, the less important a role they played in the army. You can also see clay sculptures of horses, chariots, acrobats, and musicians. This display is fascinating and will definitely inspire your kids to ask questions about the Qin Dynasty!

Great Wall of China

Not much need to be said about this site. The Great Wall of China is one of the most recognizable and famous places in the world. Its popularity is no reason to pass it over if on a family vacation in China. The wall stretches thousands of miles and is the largest man made structure in the world. Standing on top of the wall can really put the size of things into perspective; you’ll realize how small people actually are!

Giant Pandas

see giant pandas on a china family vacation

Maybe the cutest and most cuddly things to see in China are the giant pandas. The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family and is highly endangered. There are only an estimated 1,800 pandas left in the world and they are all in China. While visiting Chengdu, stopping in at the giant panda breeding center is a must. This is a safe and responsible way to see the beautiful animals up close and for great photo ops!

China is an incredible country with an endless amount of chances for adventure and excitement. This is without a doubt at great place to take your family on your next vacation!

September 1, 2015

Be an Explorer in the Sea of Cortez

One of the most magical, bio-diverse, and unimaginably beautiful family vacation destinations in the world is the Sea of Cortez. While there is much to love about Baja, Mexico, the Sea of Cortez is definitely something that stands out. It sets a scene that anyone who lays eyes on it won’t ever forget. What is so captivating about the Sea of Cortez isn’t the beauty on the surface, but the wonder below it. It’s a body of water that has been explored in the past and will continue to be explored in the future. A few expeditions have become more well known than others and hearing about two of these famous journeys will make anyone excited to book a family vacation out to Baja and dive head first into the Sea of Cortez.

John Steinbeck

dolphins bajaIn 1940, author John Steinbeck went on a six-week expedition in the Sea of Cortez to collect marine specimens. What was an author doing on a marine biology expedition? Good question! Essentially, Steinbeck was looking for a new start after he gained fame for Tortilla Flat and The Grapes of Wrath. He was interested in marine biology and his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts, was looking for a new adventure. Steinbeck’s exploration of the Sea of Cortez served as an important journey. You can read all about this expedition in Steinbeck’s book The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck was not just a fan of the Sea of Cortez, but of the Baja peninsula as whole.

Jacques Cousteau


One of the most famous modern day explorers, the Frenchman Jacques Cousteau led more than one expedition to the Sea of Cortez.  He did much of his exploring in the 1960’s and felt strongly enough about what he saw that he called the Sea of Cortez the “Aquarium of the World.” It’s no secret any more that the waters in the sea are full of rich and biodiverse marine life. Many locals refer to Cortez as the “whale highway” because of the migration path of whales during the winter months (visitors during this time can normally see dozens of whales at a time!). Whales aren’t all that can be found here. People should keep an eye peeled for dolphins, sea lions, manta rays, and over 900 species of fish that come in all colors and sizes!

You don’t need to be a famous author or explorer to enjoy the natural treasures of the Sea of Cortez. All you need to do is go!

August 26, 2015

4 Reasons Panama Is Great for Kids

Some places in the world are great for you to travel to and some are great to for you travel to with your kids. Panama is definitely the latter! Panama is rich with history, culture, innovation, wildlife, and adventure. There are plenty of opportunities for fun and education while on a family vacation in Panama. What we find kids love about Panama, you will too!


Bird in Panama

There is nothing kids love more than seeing wildlife up close and personal! Panama is home to over 900 species of birds, making it somewhat of a must-visit destination for bird lovers. Being able to watch as colorful toucans or quetzals leave their perch in a tree to take off and glide and streak through the sky is nothing short of amazing. White-faced capuchin monkeys stare as you make your way through jungles and down rivers because they are just as curious as your kids are! Seeing animals in their natural habitats create an excitement that no screen or device can.


Nothing says family vacation like a little adrenaline pumping fun! Panama is a great place to let out your inner daredevil (in a safe and organized fashion) and make some memories. The Chiriqui Highlands are a playground for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Kids won’t ever forget seeing streams and waterfalls beneath them as they fly through a treetop canopy on a zip-line! Another fun adventure in the highlands is white-water rafting. Your kids will love taking on Class II and III rapids with plenty of breaks for swimming!

Meeting an Embera Tribe

Embera Canoe

No trip abroad is complete without a chance to meet the locals and Panama has some of the best. Imagine a scene where you take your kids into a dugout canoe and slowly begin to paddle up the Charges River in the middle of a jungle. Along the way you pass thatched houses that blend perfectly into the fabric of the environment. This is what a journey to an Embera village looks like. This journey back in time to when things were simpler and technology didn’t rule the day will be an education your kids won’t soon forget and can’t get anywhere else!

Visit a Panamanian Farm

Visiting a Panamanian farm is a great way to show your kids how a modern day rural Panamanian family lives. Boquete is an exceptionally beautiful region and nothing proves this more than the local farms. Try your hand at milking cows and feeding pigs and chickens while taking in sweeping views of mountains and fields. Learning to make jams from rare tropical fruits and traditional tamales is a life skill that will stay in your family forever!

Take the family vacation you deserve and call us to visit Panama today!

August 18, 2015

20 Reasons Not to Go to Peru

Peru is obviously a terrible place to take a family vacation and we don’t know what good things to say about it, if there are any.

1. There’s nothing beautiful or magical about Machu Picchu

beautiful Machu Picchu - a perfect family vacation destination

2. Really, there isn’t anything worth seeing

Machu Picchu

3. Everything is old, who likes finding ancient Incan ruins anyway?

Incan Ruins

4. Llamas aren’t cool or fun animals at all

Llamas in Peru

5. And why would you ever want to meet one?

up close with llamas on a family vacation to peru

6. The weaving isn’t colorful or artistic

Peruvian art

7. There isn’t anything good to buy in the markets

shopping at the markets while on a Peru family vacation

8. The fruit doesn’t look appetizing either

delicious looking fruit at a market in Peru

9. San Blas seems like a drag and unoriginal

San Blas

10. All of the cities seem pretty bland

Peru City

11. The churches aren’t beautiful by any means

a church in Peru

12. Or unique

Peru churches

13. Nothing exciting, fun, or different ever happens

a performance in Peru

14. No one ever has fun river rafting

a family river rafting while vacationing in Peru

15. Or taking mountain valley train rides

riding the train while on a family vacation in Peru

16. All of the birds are boring

Colorful birds in Peru

17. And who would want to see this?

Peruvian reed boats

18. Or hike here?

hiking in Peru

19. Or sleep next to this terrible view?

a family camping in Peru

20. There is also no way your family has fun

family having fun while on vacation in Peru

Check out these Peru itineraries to see what you won’t be missing out on!