Posts Tagged ‘family vacation planning’

October 11, 2012

Five Things to Think About Before You Book Online

Oh, China!

Do you wonder why experts say you should book an international adventure through a professional based in your home country? Maybe you think you will save by going direct to someone ‘at the source’? After all, the internet gives us access to millions of options. Too many! But when you travel to exotic locales it really makes a difference to plan with someone who understands your own ‘native culture’, as well as the place you are traveling to. Think about:

5) Oh the misunderstandings you can encounter! A Five Star hotel in another country is not necessarily a Five Star hotel to our North American standards. Even ‘clean and comfortable’ can mean something very different in another culture. In fact, many countries cannot even rate their hotels on any standardized system we know. (And believe me, peanut butter there is nothing like peanut butter here.)

4) Different cultures have different expectations, rules, and customs. Sometimes you don’t mind winging it, to see what you’ll find. It’s part of the adventure, especially when you are young, single and carefree. But when you’re with the kids it’s comforting to have a solid interpretation of what you are heading into – and a local guide with enough experience to manage your expectations appropriately.

3) Maybe you have a food allergy, a sleep disorder, an aversion to bugs in your room. You’ll fully appreciate discussing your concerns with a friendly expert who speaks your language and understands your sensibilities, someone who will give you straight answers and solid advice – not gloss over the particular challenges of your destination.

2) The currency, the packing list, the information on charging your iPod…don’t you want that from someone who understands what you expect and need? Don’t guess at what it will be like, or spend hours researching online. Just refer to the complete predeparture booklet we’ll send you!

1) Internet Advice? Fun to search for late at night, but does it really pertain to you? Remember, you don’t know who is reporting, what they value, and whether their comments accurately address your needs. It is so much more useful to have a conversation in your native language with a professional who has been where you’re going. Someone who can listen to your needs and interests, and deliver the right things to you.

How much risk do you want to take? You probably (hopefully) wouldn’t hand over your savings to something you read about in a Yahoo forum (no offense, Yahoo). Likewise, be sure you invest your valuable vacation dollars and time so you can get the best return available. Look for an expert who has been there. And always ask for references!



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.



April 14, 2011

Why not save for 2012?

Have you noticed the last minute planning isn’t working so well anymore? Flights have gotten too expensive, and hotel space fills up too. Why not plan ahead and save big?

Book your 2012 travel before May 31st, 2011 for significant savings as well as months of delicious anticipation and peace of mind. Did you know if you buy a flight right now from Chicago to Costa Rica for February 2012, the cost is about $500. If you wait until November, the same flight will cost you $1500 or more! Booking early could potentially save you a $1,000 per person on your air. Really!

It’s pretty simple: Plan ahead so you can take advantage of our discounts as well as better airfare.

Want some examples? OK: If you book a 2012 trip by May 31, 2011: for our Costa Rica Multi-Sport Adventure, we’ll give you $200 off per person; Ecuador and the Galapagos adventures, we’ll give you $300 off per person; Tanzania Family Safari, we’ll give you $500 off per person! Our flagship destination, this is an award winning adventure. In 2011 we’re celebrating 30 years in Tanzania! Don’t miss this personal and unique opportunity to discover Tanzania.

We have early booking discounts available on all departures to all destinations in 2012. Please note, these discounts are so spectacular that they cannot be used in combination with other discounts except for large group refunds (when they may apply).

This year we’ve already had many disappointed families hoping for a last minute vacation that couldn’t materialize. Plan now and get it right!

Again, our the rules:

Travel must be booked with deposit paid by May 31, 2011.

Discount is off the 2012 prices.

Discount cannot be used in conjunction with a travel survey, past guest reward or first family booked discount.

Discount is only valid on new bookings.

Travelers will be called and matched to a date when the 2012 dates and prices are announced – in the summer of 2011

Travelers must confirm their dates by August 31st, 2011.

If there is not a suitable 2012 date, your deposit is fully refundable.

Call us now! 800-262-6255



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