Posts Tagged ‘family travel’

August 20, 2012

10 Things Kids Bring Home from a Family Trip

Jessie, Ed, and Lillie in their front yard.

Thanks to Jessie Voigts, our special Guest Blogger for this excellent perspective on family travel:

You spend a lot of time planning family trips – and coordinating said trips! Between teens off with their ipods to dealing with toddlers and diapers, how do you KNOW that these family trips are worth it? But wait – your kids bring home a lot more from family trips than you think. Take a look…

1) Memories. Of course! But it might not be the memories you suspect – of whitewater rafting, or seeing the Eiffel Tower, or hanging with their cousins. It might be the cute squirrels at the local park, the best meal ever, discovering a new food they love, or learning something new.

2) Photos. Be sure to give your kids a camera to take photos. You will be surprised at both the angles (closer to the ground? Or super high, if you’ve got a teen taller than you are!), and the subject matter. Our daughter takes a little stuffed ugly with her, and photographs it wherever we go. Little Ugly has been in a lot of strange places.

3) Humanity. Whether your kids are upset about the stray or mistreated dogs in Nepal, Barbados, or Bahrain; or visibly learn about animal and human rights wherever you are (we’ve all fielded the homeless question), travel is a great chance to teach about humanity. By learning that others are less fortunate than we are, and trying to act on such knowledge, they are on their way to becoming good global citizens.

4) Funny stories. Nothing brings a family together more than camaraderie, which is, in turn, fostered by going through experiences together. From the funny assistant at the airport, to ordering a meal in a foreign language (mostly via sign language), to finding out that people in a certain country just LOVE babies and will hold them for hours and parade them around like a rock star, travel is packed with experiences that will provide great stories…for life.

5) A desire for peace. Our daughter, when seeing cultural differences up close, has gained a strong desire for peace and people to get along. She thinks that intercultural differences are fascinating, and has pledged to learn more about different people and cultures around the world, firsthand.

6) New Experiences, new friends. Whether it’s ziplining, scuba diving, hiking, camping, snorkeling with turtles, or viewing great art, new experiences bring people together and can foster a lifelong fascination or hobby. As well, you can make new friends from group travel, or through meeting locals. These can become friends for life.

7) Learning more about your family. You can learn a lot about people from being in close proximity to each other for an extended period of time. You can also learn about how people react in any situation – often surprising us, how well they can deal with a crisis. By learning more about your family, everyone becomes closer due to these shared experiences. Your teen might ask you to read and talk together about a book about a place you’ve visited, or your 5 year old might surprise you by painting, from memory, a piece of art they saw in an art museum on your travels. You might surprise your kids and husband by jumping first off the cliff into the deep water below, or your father might show unexpected depths while riding a chicken bus.

8) New cultures. Our daughter’s best friend, when asked this question, noted that in Hawaii, she was amazed to learn of the Hawaiian culture. She loved the luaus, the colorful fabrics, and how they utilized the hibiscus flowers in welcoming people. Our daughter loved watching kids tv shows in Ireland – she learned some Gaelic, as well as how kids learn and play in a different country.

9) Love of new foods. It might be roasted tarantula (doubt it), Thai food, boiled peanuts in the south, new jams and pickles, or recipes. Wherever you go, I’m sure you’re eating locally – and shopping at the grocery store whenever possible! You’ll find new foods you love (and probably new foods you dislike). Bring them home, and incorporate these new foods into your meals and snacks!

10) A desire to travel more. Long after the sand has disappeared from your swimsuits and suitcases, and the special candy you brought back is digested, you’ll find something not so surprising. Your whole family will have a desire to travel more – to learn and play and experience the world together. And that’s what family travel is all about – having new experiences, and discovering new cultures and people – together.

Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.

July 31, 2012

Look Who is Multi Sporting in the Galapagos…

Karen, Elaine, Rachel, and Ben – Let’s Go!

Meet Karen and her fabulous kids Rachel, Ben, and Elaine. They’re excitedly getting ready to explore the Galapagos Islands in December. They’ll fly into Quito and spend a few nights on the mailand. They’ll horseback ride, hike, and visit the Equator, small villages and famed Otovalo Market. Then off to the Galapagos Islands for a unique land -based discovery: kayaking, snorkeling, communing with fascinating sea life and watching soaring birds like they”ve never seen before. With two nights in a hotel and two nights camping under the Southern sky, plus a private catamaran to cruise the best spots for snorkeling this is a fantastic, up-close way to play in these islands. They’re looking forward to being a small flexible group, avoiding the crowds, finding unique adventure in out of the way places.

Now, who wouldn’t want to join them?

You can!!! December 25 – January 2. Call us now!


April 7, 2012

Art in Adventure

You can do better, right?

Does the fresh smell of spring and the renewed warmth of the sun ever make you think of poetry?

Did you know Billy Collins (two time Poet Laureate) is Smithsonian’s poetry consultant? In a recent posting in the Arts and Culture section of their online magazine, Billy Collins wrote a wonderful poem (below) describing a traveler’s anguish with a camera.

But on our Smithsonian Family Adventure in Photography you’ll have help! With a professional photographer and all kinds of support traveling with you, every one of you can be sure to take home photos like you’ve never done before, along with a lifetime of memories from your family safari.

Meanwhile, for more Billy Collins to lighten and brighten your day, you’ll find it all here.

The Unfortunate Traveler by Billy Collins

Because I was off to France, I packed
my camera along with my shaving kit,
some colorful boxer shorts, and a sweater with a zipper,

but every time I tried to take a picture
of a bridge, a famous plaza,
or the bronze equestrian statue of a general,

there was a woman standing in front of me
taking a picture of the very same thing,
or the odd pedestrian blocked my view,

someone or something always getting between me
and the flying buttress, the river boat,
a bright café awning, an unexpected pillar.

So into the little door of the lens
came not the kiosk or the altarpiece.
No fresco or baptistry slipped by the quick shutter.

Instead, my memories of that glorious summer
of my youth are awakened now,
like an ember fanned into brightness,

by a shoulder, the back of a raincoat,
a wide hat or towering hairdo—
lost time miraculously recovered

by the buttons on a gendarme’s coat
and my favorite,
the palm of that vigilant guard at the Louvre.

March 22, 2012

A Few Reasons to Discover a Family Art Adventure

Narda Boughton, Fabulous Artist

1) Your kids are open books, blank slates soaking up new ideas. Why not expose them to a new way of seeing the world around them? They might already love to draw and paint, or they might never have thought of it before; isn’t this an important thing to learn? And have fun in Costa Rica at the same time.

2) We’ve had adults go on an art adventure thinking they will never participate in the art, and they end up being the star creative forces. You never know what new thing you might discover about yourself when you step into something new. Try it.

3) Meet Narda Boughton, our favorite visual artist, who will take you along on these journeys of wonder and discovery. Here’s what we recently learned from her:

Where are you from? Originally from Bayside, WI.

How long have you worked in travel / and how long with TFA? I started working with Thomson Family Adventures in 2009.

What is your favorite part of the job? I love teaching art (and making art)- combining that with exploring fascinating places and meeting interesting people- well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Thomson takes the “work” out of travel. Every detail is thought of and prearranged. All of your needs are taken care of- which allows you to enjoy everything to the fullest.

What is your favorite food, and favorite color? This changes all the time~ but today I’d have to say eggplant and yellow :)

Do you have children / pets? No kids, but always a lot of students. For pets I have 2 Australian parakeets and 2 cats with a Burmese Mountain Dog puppy on its way. Given the right set-up, I’d have a whole menagerie if I could. Love animals!!

Anything else you want us to know? One of the most satisfying things about my experience of teaching Art Tours with Thomson has been teaching people who didn’t plan on painting or drawing at all. Many times, parents will join us because their kids love art. More often than not, they’ll end up painting, too, only to find out how much they enjoy it. They walk away saying…”Wow!! I can do this!!”

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!

February 7, 2012

Crocodiles in Egypt!

This guy is not mummified. Yet.

Who knew crocodiles had such a revered place in history??

The first “Museum of Crocodiles” is to open in front of the Temple of Kom Ombo in Aswan, Egypt coinciding with Aswan’s National Day. The museum will display a collection of mummified crocodiles, and statues of the god Sobek, the crocodile god, as the Ancient Egyptian worshipped him believing that he was the creator of the world who arose from the “Dark Water”. For that reason they built the temples in Kom Ombo, Esna, Fayoum and in other areas.

A total of twenty two mummified crocodiles of various sizes: from the smallest, 1.5 meters long, to the real giants of almost five meters of length will be exhibited. The display shows the crocodiles in its natural environment, as well as another display of a burial place for the crocodiles, showing how they were mummified and buried, eyes and teeth from gold and ivory that replaced the crocodile’s own after its death, as well as coffins from clay and an altar where the crocodiles were placed for worship.

In the museum, visitors will also view twenty statues and plaques on the worshipping of the crocodiles including the god Sobek. This museum is considered one of the largest in the world for crocodiles.


February 5, 2012

An Ancient Story from China

Floating on the river

Thanks to the Linden Centre for their retelling of this story about the Chinese New Year.

Long ago, the world was not a safe place; monsters dominated the world. There was one horrifying monster that came out on the same day each year to eat people. This monster was named Nian, and the people marked the end of a year by his visits to the human civilization. That is where the Chinese word for year came from.

This monster was the most feared by the people because every time it came out, whole villages would be destroyed at a time. So, every time the monster came, people would huddle together in their homes and stay up all night, wanting not to be eaten. This happened for many years until a wise man thought up a plan to scare the monster away.

This man proposed that the people should light bamboo. The bamboo would crack and make a lot of noise, possibly scaring the monster away. The villagers thought this was a very good idea and started to light the bamboo. The noise was tremendous. The monster was scared by the loud noise and ran back to its cave without eating any people.

The next morning, everyone was present. They were all elated. The people congratulated each other for executing the plan effectively. So, from then on, people stayed up late, lit firecrackers (to simulate the lighting of the bamboo), and congratulated each other when the new year came.

This is a well-known story among China, The origin of the Chinese New Year itself is centuries old, it can be traced back to Xia Dynasty, which is around 4,000 years ago.

You can stay at the Linden Centre on our Smithsonian Family Adventure

November 7, 2011

Egypt! A Miracle Offer for December Travelers.


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

June 27, 2011

Listen to Me!

Always good to check in at a travel clinic before you travel

I’ve worked in travel for over 16 years, and I’ve been to Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. So you might think I have this travel thing down, right? Heh.

I leave for Cambodia and Thailand in 10 days. I’m asking people for packing tips. Worrying about exchanging money. Wondering how long my shorts need to be. Thinking about vaccines. So I called my trusty travel clinic. I like using the travel clinic. Usually covered by my health insurance, they have everything you need right on the spot and the specialists know everything. Of course it’s a bit of a downer too – it is, after all, their job to protect you from every conceivable deadly disease and most of them you just don’t really want to even know about. I often wonder what they would recommend for travel to my neighborhood. But I digress….

Long story short… No available appointments until after I return. Beth (who is headed to China) uses a different clinic that doesn’t have anything until August. If you’re interested in learning from my mistakes (I encourage this) you will not put off making that appointment until it is too late. Please call WAY in advance, and make an appointment for about a month before you travel.

As for me, I’ll take plenty of bug spray along with me and muddle through.