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Spring Break Inspiration Part 2 – Adventure

Looking for a family vacation that’s full of adventure?  Love wildlife encounters and spectacular natural scenery?  Here are 4 popular destinations for families who like to be on the go and get up close to nature.

Galapagos

Don’t let the small geographic footprint fool you.  It’s packed with incredibly diverse scenery and wildlife, some which cannot be seen anywhere else on the planet.   A Galapagos cruise offers the best variety for families with different interests and ability levels.  You can be on the go from breakfast to dinner,  or take some time to relax on deck and enjoy the scenery.   You can explore underwater or sightsee from a boat, choose between a hike or a paddle, or even get up early for yoga.

Getting the toys ready!

Showing us the love

I had the opportunity to experience Lindblad Expeditions’ new ship in the Galapagos in March, which is great for multi-generational groups because it offers the broadest range of activities, including a glass bottom boat for non-snorkelers.  And their new children’s program developed in partnership with National Geographic is fantastic, even the adults wanted to participate.

Kids are kept busy with scavenger hunts, zodiac driving lessons, photography and video workshops, and even a pizza & movie night.

Mexico

I firmly believe Mexico is underrated as an adventure destination.  If you want to stay at a traditional full service beach resort, yet have some off-property adventures, then this is the place to be.  And there are so many choices for places to stay, you can go back again and again.

The Riviera Maya offers archaeological ruins, cenotes, and fantastic snorkeling, and a huge selection of resorts from large all-inclusives to luxury boutique hotels.

This snorkel trip requires a hard hat!

The Baja peninsula has a more arid climate, and some of the best whale watching and snorkeling in the world.  Other outdoor activities include ATV tours, hiking, and kayaking.

How many kids can brag that they got to pet a gray whale on vacation?

Travelers who aren’t interested in the beach can go on a hiking expedition visiting wilderness lodges in the Copper Canyon, or enjoy cultural sites in colonial cities such as Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende.

Oaxaca is world famous for its food, my son wants to go back just for these street tacos.

Costa Rica

Sloths and monkeys and iguanas, oh my!  If you want nonstop action and scenery ranging from volcanoes to rainforests to beaches, this is the place to go.  Clients never complain about being bored, if anything they have trouble fitting everything in!

So ugly he’s cute.

Most clients can visit 2 or 3 locations during a 8-10 day trip, if they don’t mind moving around. This allows them to experience a variety of locations like Arenal volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park.  But the resort area of Guanacaste is great for families who prefer to stay in one location, have a traditional resort vacation, but still have access to adventure activities like rafting and ziplining.

Even little ones can have big adventures!

Peru

If you like to combine cultural exploration with outdoor activities, then consider a trip to Peru including visits to Cuzco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu, which can be done in a 7-10 day itinerary. Families can enjoy short nature walks to full day hikes, purchase crafts at local markets, explore archaeological ruins and temples, or paddle around a lake spotting wildlife.

I don’t want to feed the llama.    Said nobody ever.

 

They won’t ever forget this view.

And if you have the time, this is a great add-on to a Galapagos cruise!

Contact me to start designing a fantastic adventure for your family!

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Why Families Love Lindblad Expeditions in the Galapagos

When I was given the opportunity to travel on Lindblad’s new ship, the National Geographic Endeavour II, I jumped at it.  Not just because they pioneered tourism in the Galapagos. (It’s their 50th anniversary this year!) Or that they are a leader in expedition cruising.  But because they also have a reputation for exceptional family experiences, and I wanted to see for myself what families could expect.

Our beautiful ship!
Excited to board!  And one of my colleagues can confirm
that these do inflate when dropped in the water. (Oops!)

Here are the features that make Lindblad Expeditions a great choice for families, including multi-generational groups:

 
Personal Service – Every crew member pitched in to make sure all guests were cared for. Above and beyond gestures were common, such as soup being delivered to a passenger confined to his cabin because of a severe cold, or my roommate’s camera being retrieved after she left it on the plane from the mainland. One guide even made it his personal mission to ensure a guest got over her fear of snorkeling, and she did! So parents can be assured the staff will go out of their way to accommodate their special needs.

Embarrassed to admit I spent a good hour hunting for my reading glasses.
First snorkel of the trip for me and my buddies!


Onboard amenities
 – Being one of the largest ships in the islands, the Nat Geo Endeavour II offered lots of common areas for people to spread out including:
  

– A library with equipped with books, board games, puzzles, and computers. It was a favorite place for kids to gather.
 
– A spacious lounge at the front of the ship which offered a gathering place to socialize, with beautiful views, and a fully stocked bar.

Early risers got this view stepping outside from the lounge.


– A fitness center so nobody had to miss a workout, and even a spa so parents could get some pampering.

I will confess this is the only time I was in this room.


– A spacious top deck equipped with tables, umbrellas, and chairs, chaise lounges, and couches.  It was perfect for sunbathing, socializing, and a “pirate” cocktail party held at sunset while crossing the equator. It was a fantastic location for early morning yoga classes, too.  


They daily loading and unloading of equipment can be fascinating for kids to watch.
A typical afternoon before dinner.
My reading nook 

Family-friendly cabins – There was plenty of room for storing belongings, including ample space under the bed for empty suitcases. Connecting cabins are available on all decks, plus there are larger suites that sleep three. All beds can push together to form a queen or split apart into two singles. 

The floor stayed this clear the entire trip!
Book this suite if you want more elbow room in the bathroom


Activities for everyone – The broad variety of activities ensured everyone could find something to do, no matter their age or fitness level. There were usually two hiking options of varying length and difficulty.  Water sports included kayaking, paddle boarding, and of course snorkeling, sometimes twice a day.  Zodiac and glass bottom boat rides were available for anyone who wasn’t comfortable being in the water.

Yes, you could get this close, and sometimes closer.
Zodiac boats rides are fun for all ages!

And of course,


The children’s program – Already regarded as one of the best in the industry, it was re-introduced this year as the National Geographic Global Explorers program. Kids received an expedition guide, had daily challenges, and participated in photography and video workshops. (Even parents wanted to sit in on these!) There were other onboard activities led by the staff, culminating in zodiac driving lessons.

Hot off the presses!
Nobody seemed to mind this homework
Learning how the islands formed

Though it is the largest boat allowed in the Galapagos (96 passengers) it didn’t feel too crowded, and we became one big happy family.  We got to know other passengers by name, and the kids had soon started reserving their own table in the dining room. At the farewell party, we hugged and thanked our guides as we laughed over shared memories.

Javier, one of our fantastic guides.
Families who want to travel to the Galapagos need to plan aheadHoliday periods and summer months book up early, often more than a year in advance, and connecting cabins and suites are very limited.

Selfies with giant tortoises are a must!
Families also need to be aware of the travel logistics before committing to flights.  Working with a Galapagos specialist can help ensure a seamless and hassle-free trip, plus you’ll get insider tips on packing, what to expect, and more.  They can also advise on relatively easy “add-on” destinations like the Amazon or Machu Picchu.


For more information about travel to the Galapagos, send an email to suzette@family-treks.com.

This youngster agrees, the Galapagos is great for families!