Posts Tagged ‘family travel’

March 11, 2011

We’ve hijacked the blog: Welcome to Baja!

Last minute call to the bank to let them know we're traveling out of the country

Traveling with our children is always a wonder. I haven’t been on an adventure alone with my daughter Mira since we went to China in 2005. She was 15 then, now she is turning 21.

Today I kissed my boys goodbye, and hugged Jessie too. We’ve flown from Boston to Dallas, then to San Jose del Cabo. We had a family beg to cut in line at check in because they were late, but found them on our flight anyway because they missed their earlier one (don’t go to airport late!)

We laughed heartily while waiting to board when Mira got an email from the passport office saying they had finished processing her application and would mail the passport to her (she had spent the whole day Thursday at the office in New Hampshire making them do it THEN.) Do you know all about the rules?

We stepped into the gloriously warm air of Mexico this evening, and are settled into a sweet hotel in San Jose. We went to the restaurant for ceviche and shrimp quesadilla (ok, maybe we had a local beer too). It’s Friday night – there was quite a crowd, and live music. Three local boys, doing really quite good renditions of American favorites such as Hotel California. It felt a bit — touristy? But still, a rousing good time.

We’ll explore this little town tomorrow, then meet up with the group for the journey to Todos Santos. But first, sleep.



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 11, 2011

New Year, Same Thought, Best Family Memories

Why Some Don't Visit Utah in Winter...

Happy New Year to Everyone. I like to keep saying this right through to February. Really we should continue it into March when those of us in inclement weather have moved past the bleakness of winter and then don’t have to work so hard at being cheerful. This is more than Happy Holidays. The New Year is universal, it stretches across the landscape of time and place, religion and tradition. Everyone steps into a new year of the calendar. So here we are, at 2011.

I am sure I am not alone when I become focused on what I did and didn’t do last year, and what I want to do this year; it’s called Making Resolutions. If you want some helpful clues about setting your goals for 2011, you might like this: http://margiewarrell.com/category/blog/

What are your resolutions? Where are you going in 2011?

I have had the best time over the last week listening to our families tell their stories of holiday adventure with their children and loved ones. Some made new friends and new discoveries on their exotic Thomson Family Adventure travels – and some just stayed home. A few were stuck in airports :( Boston shoveled out from two feet of snow!

But isn’t it glorious to slow down and appreciate where we are. Even if this year wasn’t your best family memory, I bet you talked about when that was, as you reminisced them all.

I love having all of our family adventures to remember, those involving travel and those that hit unexpectedly at home. And I love there will be new ones to look forward to. For me, 2011 is the year my youngest graduates from high school. Don’t worry, I’ve been assured the family travel isn’t over yet – my kids have the travel bug, and we still have many places to discover in this big bold world we live in.

So for now I am considering my resolutions, and planning for our next fabulous family adventure. Oh, and the next snowstorm, due tomorrow. Maybe even another two feet!

What are your resolutions? Where are you going in 2011? Share!



January 4, 2011

A Man, a Plan, a Canal – a New Family Adventure!

Land Crab in Isla Iguana - there are tons of them!

In August Beth went to Panama to check out some new ideas for 2011. We’ve been showing families the beauties of Panama for years, but we are always looking for the fresh perspective, and the places waiting to be discovered. So we decided to check out some new directions. Like El Valle de Anton, inside the crater of the world’s second largest extinct volcano. (Whoa!) And for beaches and snorkeling along with fascinating wildlife we explored the Azueros Peninsula with its artisans and Spanish influenced villages.

After witnessing troops of howler monkeys swinging through the trees, humpback whales breaching, and tropical land crabs swarming the beach, Beth feels pretty confident that we’re on the right track for a unique and wonderful new family adventure. Add to that: meeting a Diablo mask maker, pen pals with the local Embera kids, a walking tour of Casco Viejo, the old part of Panama City – and of course the Panama Canal. The perfect recipe for an awesome adventure for all generations.

Call us now to book! We have space for your vacation week in February, March and April 800-262-6255



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 1, 2010

If you waited for a Bargain, This is a Dream Come True

Galapagos Wonder

A Galapagos Wonder - the Blue Footed Booby

PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS AN OLD POST FROM DECEMBER 2010!

Due to unexpected circumstances a large family had to cancel their holiday adventure – very sad!

Now we have room for the Galapagos December 25 – January 2 2010. – so exciting!

We are offering this to you at almost 50% off full fare. Wowie!!

Even with international flights, your total cost will still be a significant savings

Adults $2990, Age 12 – 17 $2890, Child under 12 $2690

Call 800-262-6255 and you’ll be snorkeling with sea lions in just a few weeks



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.



November 17, 2010

How NOT to handle your passport renewals

Do you know when your passport expires?

I am a travel professional, have been for years. So one might think I would be on top of things like passport renewals. Think again.

I took my kids on their first passport-required adventure about 4.5 years ago. I am exact in that calculation because my son Leo needs his passport to travel in April 2011. This means it needs to be valid up until October 2011. Which it is not.

Minor children get a passport valid for 5 years. Adults, 10 years.

When passport control tells you a minor’s passport is valid for 5 years they are not quite telling the truth. Because it has to be valid for 6 months beyond the return date of the trip, it is really only good for 4.5 years. Or adults for 9.5 years.

What is the use of 6 months of passport when you can’t go anywhere?

Then we find out that a minor’s renewal is not a renewal. It’s a whole new application. This means digging up that original birth certificate again. AGAIN!

I admit I am categorically challenged. I cannot file things in a way to easily find them again years later. I have a big file drawer of folders. Is Birth Certificate under B? Or maybe under P for Passport application? Maybe it is I for Important papers…. or K for Kids? L for Leo? C for Certificates? L for Legal?

Tomorrow at school Leo needs to show he has submitted his passport application in order to qualify for the senior class trip to Eastern Europe in April. We did find the birth certificate (under B) so he has all the pieces of an un-submitted application. Hopefully that will be enough.

Don’t let this humiliation happen to you! Check your passports now.



November 7, 2010

Top 5 Reasons to take a Family Vacation

Family on safari!

In today’s busy world, it seems family vacations are some of the few times the entire family comes joins to spend time together and really connect over the course of consecutive days. And it’s not just that we’re busy – sometimes we’re just so spread out it requires travel and effort to see each other. So why not try a family adventure to a new place?

Whatever your situation, whatever the number of generations your family encompasses, the real benefits of a family getaway are endless. Here are some of the top reasons a vacation is worthwhile for your family:

1) It has been proven that experiences make us feel better than physical things. So if you’re contemplating new furniture for the living room or a family safari in Tanzania, take the trip. Your memories and satisfaction will last longer than anything you can buy.

2) Have you noticed there’s rarely an evening or day that goes by without someone in the family rushing off to a dinner, practice, game, or other commitment? Take a real break and unplug from the rest of the world, in a destination where your family can get to know each other well again.

3) Exploring a new culture and experience together will draw you closer to your family members than repeating a tradition you are familiar with.

4) There’s something for everyone on a vacation. This is time for you all together, but also time for everyone to relax from your own usual day-to-day whirlwind.

5) Break free of the schedule for a change. An itinerary ensures you accomplish some new things, but also can promise flexibility and options. After all, a vacation is supposed to relax and reconnect you all!

If the planning and logistics make you cringe, let us help you plan for a family vacation of a lifetime. What are you waiting for? Are you looking forward to an upcoming vacation and if so, where are you headed?



October 31, 2010

Are We There Yet? Choosing the Perfect Family Vacation

Family Adventure!

So you’ve decided to take the family on an adventure vacation. Maybe that means toting the kids along; perhaps it includes bringing Aunt Sally, your folks, or even a few friends. Maybe it’s grandparents treating their grandchildren to a special view of the world. Whoever your ‘family’ includes, it’s important that everyone’s needs are considered.

In most cases, you’ll want to ensure that the adults on your trip have some time to themselves to enjoy quiet conversation, fine dining, or other specific interests. But you also need to consider which activities will suit the younger folks on board. Though the children don’t need to be in charge, do sit down with them and listen to what they want too. Ideally, activities are planned so you can all discover some new things together on your family adventure – with a combination of family time and a little alone time for both kids and adults.

Here is some of our most common advice to families looking to book their best family adventure vacation:
** Let an expert help you determine which activities and destinations are best for your family. Many of our clients call us with a destination in mind, but after speaking with our expert advisors, learn another spot is even better suited for their families age and needs. We can help you figure out what will excite your teen, or where your 8 year old might blossom.
** Consider a destination that has a good mix of activities you know you’ll enjoy, along with those you look forward to trying for the first time. Our destinations have been chosen for all they offer to families of all ages, for a wonderful variety of fun.
** Try something new; discovering it for the first time with your children will always give the adults a new perspective. Even if you return to a favorite destination, branch out and meet the locals, try zip lining through the rainforest, or visit historical sites you haven’t seen before.
** Check airfare before booking your trip. We are happy to work with you whether you’re planning a trip in two months or eighteen months, but we often run into a lack of last minute seats on planes particularly around the holidays. Typically the earlier you can book flights the better the prices, too.
** When choosing a family adventure travel company, make sure you’re traveling with guides who are very experienced not only in the local culture, but also in leading tours with families. You’ll want a guide who is an expert, one who understands the needs and desires of foreign travelers, and someone who can relate to you, your child, AND your teen.
** Remember, utilizing a guide will help you discover the hidden secrets of your destination. And having someone else handle the logistics and planning each day makes your family adventure relaxing for everyone – you just show up and have fun!

Ready to book your trip, or just want more information about family adventure vacations? Give us call or visit our site today to check out our 2011 adventure catalogue