• By: Tom Wilmes

    10/20/2013

  • Open your children’s eyes to the world with an adventurous Family Journey you’ll talk about for years to come

    “Hey Cynthia, what was the name of that animal we spotted up in the trees in the rainforest?”

    Elizabeth Estey diverts from her account of a recent family trip to Costa Rica with Classic Journeys to ask her 10-year-old daughter for a missing detail.

    “A sloth!” Cynthia replies.

    “Oh yeah, a sloth,” Estey says. “Our guide was so knowledgeable about the animals and so good at spotting them. He’d even zoom in and photograph them for us so we could see them better.”

    Estey and her husband Steve—both attorneys—and their two daughters, Alex and Cynthia, traveled with Classic Journeys to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in 2012 and to Costa Rica last summer. And while they appreciated not having to worry about arranging daily logistics like lodging or where they would eat dinner, Estey says that it was the expertise and passion of the local guides that really made the trips special.

    “No matter how much research you do before you go, if it’s your first time visiting somewhere you’re going to miss things. But I don’t feel like we missed anything—we got the full and complete experience,” she says. “Every day was an amazing lesson, and the guides really give you the local flavor—you learn and experience a lot, and the activities are fun for kids, too. You’re not just walking through a museum, you’re out there seeing and doing things in a real and authentic way.”

    In Costa Rica, the Estey family enjoyed hiking to the top of an active volcano and peering into its caldera, visiting a coffee plantation and meeting with the farmer, and searching for exotic animals with a naturalist in a cloud forest—not to mention adrenaline-fueled excursions like whitewater rafting and ziplining through the rainforest canopy.

    Zip lining in Costa Rica
     

    The family did decide to opt out of an activity one day. Instead they took their guide’s recommendation to visit a series of natural mineral pools heated by geothermic activity from a nearby volcano. It was a great time to just be together as a family.

    The trip was filled with memorable moments that, taken together, add up to an amazing family bonding experience. Estey recalls their guide, Kenneth, pulling up to a roadside produce stand and ordering an array of delicious indigenous fruits and vegetables for them to try.

    Estey says one of her husband’s favorite memories is when they drove past a nondescript house and Kenneth mentioned that the man who lived there rolled great cigars.

    “We stopped and Kenneth and my husband went to the door, and the guy comes out with his face filled with shaving cream and sells him some cigars,” she says. “My husband is still talking about how good they were.”

    The girls particularly enjoyed the visit to a one-room schoolhouse, where they met local children their own age and learned about their curriculum and daily routine.

    “How often are my kids going to have those kinds of experiences? And here we were doing it all together—with no distractions or anything else to take us out of the moment,” says Estey. “We learned so much, and it really brought us closer as a family.”

    Family jumping at sunset
     

    Family Ties – Experiencing a new place with each other is a great way to bring the family together. Here are some Classic Journeys’ destinations that ensure a horizon-expanding experience for the whole family.

    Morocco: Ride a camel across Saharan dunes, overnight in a Berber encampment, see snake charmers in Marrakesh and more on this exotic, unforgettable family adventure.

    Galapagos: Get cozy with penguins, iguanas and other indigenous species on this multisport adventure through one of the world’s ecological hotspots.

    Peru & Machu Picchu: Meet llama herders, go mountain biking and follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incans on this fascinating trip to a World Heritage Site.

    Swiss Alps: Traverse a glacier, go dogsledding and river rafting, and soak in Switzerland’s stunning alpine beauty on this picture-perfect family trip.

    Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: Taste dragon fruit, ride an elephant into a river and explore the caves of Vietnam’s Halong Bay on this eye-opening trip that’s great for multigenerational travel.

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