Posts Tagged ‘family adventure’

January 9, 2012

Top Five Reasons to go to the Galapagos (aka ECUADOR!)

Happiness in Ecuador

Funny, none of these particular reasons have to do with the Galapagos Islands. For years we’ve fielded calls from families wanting to go to the Galapagos. Yes, it is a really cool place to go. Do you want to spend your whole vacation in the islands? No. Why? Because mainland Ecuador has so much to offer – and you are flying through there anyway . Don’t miss out on what most of our families say is the very best part of their adventure! Why?

1) If you buzz right through to get to the islands you’re wasting no-value travel time and overnights to your precious vacation schedule. Stop and smell the roses – literally! Ecuador is one of the world’s biggest exporter of roses. See rose plantations and orchid gardens en your way to some real adventure. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to drag you through museums.

2) Did you know some of the world’s coolest rock climbing is right here in mainland Ecuador? We have an expert climber who has prepared a really cool beginner spot – just for us – for you to try your hand at rock climbing. Are you experienced in this sport? We have an option to knock your socks off.

3) While you are investing in your family memories you may also be interested in showing your kids how meaningful it can be to give back to the world. We’ve partnered with a school full of gleeful children – and a school in need of support from those of us who have something to give. Come visit and start up a game of soccer with these great kids! We’re building a play ground and delivering supplies to the classroom – you can help!

4) Villages, markets, artisans, cobblestone streets, country lanes… the local people of Ecuador are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet. The opportunity to learn about their traditions and crafts is a highlight of our family adventure in Ecuador.

5) SURPRISE! This is the best part. No one expects it, almost everyone loves it best of all. Mainland Ecuador is full of opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, tasting great food, learning a new craft, and meeting interesting people. But we don’t want to tell you everything you might see and do…come be surprised in Ecuador. We’ll add you to our long list of families who found the adventure of a lifetime in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.



January 3, 2012

Five Fabulous Family Multi-Sport Adventures

Surf's Up!

When we talk about Multi Sport Adventures we mean something active with plenty of variety. This helps kids – and parents and grandparents too – to try new activities, learn new skills – and maybe discover a new passion to pursue. What have our kids loved best for lots of action to compliment the cultural and wildlife opportunities? In alphabetical order….

1) Baja. A true adventurer’s paradise, Baja is ideal for hiking, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking. Get out there with our expert instructors for some exciting action, then replace those calories with some awesome Mexican food.

2) Belize. Mayan ruins for climbing, river caves for tubing (sometimes scary for the younger set!), barrier reef for snorkeling and diving. Paradise!

3) Costa Rica. Not boring! Rainforest, beaches, volcanoes and monkeys. Rafting, zip lines, kayaking, canyoning, SUP (know what that is??), surfing. You can try just about everything here, and meet some of the nicest people ever.

4) Galapagos. Between the highlands of mainland Ecuador and the volcanic Galapagos Islands your family can try horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, biking, snorkeling – and real camping for a couple of nights too! Seeing that Southern hemisphere sky from your beach front campsite is about as awe-inspiring as it gets.

5) Panama. The canal, of course, and the great story that goes with it. But also a fascinating native culture to learn about. Then rafting, zip lines, awesome snorkeling and pristine beaches, birds and wildlife galore, biking … and the thrill of going someplace not many have been before. Come discover Panama!!



December 12, 2011

The Grey Whales of Baja

Families love the curious grey whales migrating through Baja

Oh, to pat a young grey whale!

Whether you spell it grey or gray, these whales are mighty interesting.

Descended from filter feeding whales that developed over 30 million years ago (30 MILLION!!), grey whales consume ocean worms and crustaceans from the ocean floor and filtered through their baleen.

Growing to 50+ feet long, and weighing as much as 80,000 pounds they are certainly formidable. But curious and friendly too as you can see. Grey whales can live up to 50 years or more, and every year they perform the longest known migration of any other mammal. Their summer feeding grounds are in the icy Arctic waters of the Bering Sea, and in winter they move to their breeding grounds, the warmer waters off the coast of California and Mexico. All along the Pacific coast you can watch their glorious journey.

Thus, thousands of grey whales arrive each year in Baja California. The warm temperature, shallow depth, and limited access to the open sea make the lagoons the ideal places for these marine mammals to mate and to give birth. This environment protects them from the Orcas who use speed when hunting – and speed is hard to obtain in these conditions. A perfect safe haven for the grey whales and their young!

The gestation period for grey whales is 11 – 13 months. The dimply, shortened face is typical of young grey whales, and up close you can see the facial hair on the babies. They can be so curious, they will leap from the water to get a closer look at you – and yes, move in for contact too. A February vacation week is the ideal time to catch this migration in Baja, when the moms and babies are plentiful.

There is someting about the mystery, magic, and curiosity of these giant beings that just makes me want to hug them. How about you?



December 7, 2011

Is it the Right Time to Visit Egypt? If You are the Right Family, YES!

kids at the pyramid

How big is the Great Pyramid?

We had a family visit Egypt over Thanksgiving. Just a mom and a daughter, determined to realize their dream of witnessing history as it stands, as pyramids and temples and desert. They were just plain old excited to be going. When they got back, this is what mom Liz had to say:

“We had a FABULOUS trip to Egypt!

In a nutshell — NOW IS A TERRIFIC TIME TO GO TO EGYPT! It seems counter-intuitive with demonstrations so frequently in the news but it’s true! The demonstrations tend to take place only in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. My 10 year old daughter and I were actually in Egypt during the most recent demonstrations and we NEVER ONCE felt the least bit concerned or nervous. First of all, the first few days of our trip we were staying at the Mena House Oberoi in Giza outside of Cairo. One day we drove through Cairo to see the Citadel, the Alabaster mosque of Mohammed Ali and the Khan el-Khalili bazaar — none of which is near Tahrir Square. On another day we went to the Egyptian Museum to see the mummies of the pharaohs and treasures of Tutankhamun. The museum is right off of Tahrir Square but our excellent driver was clever and took us to/from the museum on a small side street. My daughter didn’t even know there were people in the square and we had the museum practically to ourselves! In the room full of the actual Tutankhamun treasures there were only 2 other tourists! We had a similar experience at the pyramids of Giza. When we climbed up inside the Great Pyramid to the actual tomb we were the only ones there! We saw two other tourists as we were climbing back down. I have pictures of Abu Simbel, the pyramids and other famous sites without a single tourist in them.

All of the Egyptian people were incredibly friendly and gracious and English was spoken by practically everyone we met. Some of the highlights for us were dinner with my daughter’s pen pal in their home, climbing up inside the Great Pyramid, sailing in a felucca at sunset on the Nile, seeing the treasures of Tutankhamun in a quiet and relaxed environment, and the visit to the carpet school where we got to do a few stitches ourselves and my daughter played soccer with 4 or 5 Egyptian girls.

Our guide, Amira, was TOTALLY AWESOME. Her English was outstanding and her knowledge of all things Egyptian was incredible. Moreover she was thoughtful. For example, realizing that we were totally exhausted one day she suggested we get some Egyptian koshari (a type of macaroni casserole) for dinner in containers to take back to our room. Another example — I said I was interested in buying some spices and she called ahead to a local store that she knew of to make sure it was open and then we swung by for 15 minutes where I bought my spices and took several pictures. She even negotiated the prices of our souvenirs for us!

Roughly 50% of Egypt’s economy is driven by tourism. One way to help Egypt get back on it’s feet is to go there!”

What more can we say?



November 7, 2011

Egypt! A Miracle Offer for December Travelers.

Imagine

If you are bold, adventurous and you really want to get off the beaten path… if you don’t yet have plans for your December holiday…How about something extraordinary? How about visiting Egypt at a super serious discount? How about below cost?!

Like, $2990 per person, plus the local flights of $400 adult, and $300 under age 12 for 9 days in Egypt, on our scheduled itinerary. Why would we do this? Here is our story.

We know the scoop. We know there has been some stuff going on in Egypt. Since last January we’ve watched this exotic and wonderful destination slide from one of our most popular to one of our most avoided. Well not completely – families still ask about it, and want to know about it – but they aren’t quite comfortable enough to go for it. Even though the travel warnings are lifted, and our colleagues in Egypt are confident they can provide something safe, comfortable, easy, and oh-so-special for your family. And for $700 less per person this year over December 2010! But still, it feels hard for most of you (exception: the excited family heading there for Thanksgiving! Yay!)

Case in Point: Not a single tourist has been harmed since the January 25, 2011 uprising, and Egypt has consistently and publicly declared that tourists will be safe. Because tourism is their biggest economy, and because they really want us to come visit.

So we decided to Go For It. We’re going to step up and help our friends. The heck with Margins and Spreadsheets and Business. We love our colleagues in Egypt, and they’ve been waiting for too long for the opportunity to have honorable work to support their families. So we’ve decided to send you off at Below Our Cost.

This means you still have a US partner who speaks your language and will help you prepare for this great adventure For Free. We’ll spend time on the phone, we’ll mail you information. For Free. Because we want to support our local colleagues in Egypt right now, when they are ready for work.

You’ll have every perk we normally include – airport transfers, included visas, bottled water, fabulous hotels, entrance to the Great Pyramid, access to the most wonderful sites, delicious food, trip insurance. You’ll be cared for every step of the way. We’ll organize all of this for you. You’ll pay only for the effort our colleagues in Egypt – who need this work so much – will provide. Thomson Family Adventures will donate our time, our resources, our postage, and our knowledge of the glories of Egypt, to help you plan for a real trip of a lifetime.

Is this for you? Do you want to be one of the first to visit this burgeoning new Egypt, without the crowds of past years? Do you love a bargain?? Call us now. This offer is good for any date planned for our family itinerary December 2011 or January 2012. We want to help you have a great time in Egypt! 800-262-6255



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!

20110708-103958.jpg



June 29, 2011

Lessons from an Awesome Packer

What's in Your Suitcase?

My family has had the great pleasure of traveling with the two Friedlanders many times. Such fun traveling companions, and every time I have been secretly, obsessively jealous of their tiny canvas bags.

No matter what the length of the trip, they each carry something small enough to be a carry on. As I am packing for a three week trip and not interested in hauling around a huge suitcase full of so much stuff I can never find anything on the road, I thought I would go to them for some tips. Yes, I actually asked for help and guidance from a client! This is what they said:

‎1. Take only left-foot sneakers. They are smaller.

2. If you are going some place cold, such as the Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania, pack nothing warm.

‎3. If you are hiking, such as in Morocco in the High Atlas Mountains, bring no raincoat; instead, take an odd-looking green plastic wrapping that makes you look something like a Christo art project. Rely on family and friends for cover.

When I registered something akin to sarcasm to their response, Sam said “Moo. clearly we have mastered the art of packing. did you not just read the list?”

Really?

What is your best packing secret?



June 24, 2011

A Rite of Passage with Aunt Nancy

Sometimes I just want to write about the wonderful people we get to know via phone and email – and sometimes in person – in our work. Nancy Wilkinson is certainly one of them, a gem we have known for more than 10 years as she has taken her 5 nieces and nephews, one at a time, on a 14th birthday adventure.

I LOVE these photos! And we look forward to finding the right thing for nephew Michael in 2012.

Nancy and James in Egypt, 2000

Nancy and James in Egypt, 2000

Nancy and Evan in Guatemala, 2003

A family safari

Nancy and Brett in Tanzania, 2005

Nancy and Ben in Venice, 2006

Nancy and Hannah in Istanbul, 2009