Many parents put their love of adventure travel on hold after having kids. You could avoid that fate and enjoy traveling abroad again with a little bit of help from Adventures by Disney.
BURBANK, Calif. — After having children, many parents quietly put their love of adventure travel on hold. Certain types of trips sound OK with little ones in tow, but the prospect of hauling the kids to Egypt or China or the Galápagos Islands can seem like a gargantuan — and costly — mistake.
That, of course, could be true if you had to navigate an unfamiliar place while jet-lagged and keep your children happy at the same time. But what if you let a company like Disney take care of all the trip-planning and dream up unique ways to entertain kids every step of the way?
That's actually possible if you have a hankering to travel to numerous destinations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. Since 2005, Adventures by Disney has been providing guided group family vacations in places as far-flung as Cape Town, Paris, Costa Rica, Pompeii, Machu Picchu, Yellowstone National Park, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China. Egypt was added as a new destination this year.
The trips usually have minimum age requirements as well as suggested ages for children; a common minimum age is 4 and suggested age is 6+ or 7+. Friendly guides lead the trips — (two guides are assigned for every group of up to 44 people) — and local experts contribute significantly to each journey. Vacationers get to spend time with chefs in Italy, naturalists in Costa Rica and tai chi masters in China, to name just a few examples.
Karl Holz, president of Adventures by Disney, described the guided trips as "the perfect way to travel as a family."
"Adventures by Disney specifically designs each itinerary to entertain and enlighten every member of the family," Holz said.
Keeping kids engaged
One of the most appealing aspects of the trips is that they keep young people involved and engaged — even in places that might not normally be fun for kids. With the help of the tour guides and some rather ingenious activities, children are helped to see, hear and taste things they might not have experienced otherwise.
For example, at the Louvre in Paris, kids play an "art detective" game throughout the museum with their tour guides — all of whom have a special knack for telling stories and communicating effectively with young people. While that game is under way, adults take a privately guided tour with an art historian.
In addition, almost every trip includes a "Junior Adventurers night." The kids have a special evening experience with their guides while the adults get a quiet evening on their own at the resort.
Special access and accommodations
An added bonus of these trips: Travelers get to enjoy VIP access and experiences that would be practically impossible to arrange on their own.
For instance, they're granted special entry to crowded sites that are popular with tourists, and they're allowed to go backstage at celebrated performances such as "The Lion King" in London. And the accommodations tend to be unique and memorable. They include castles in Ireland and Germany, a dude ranch in Yellowstone and a hotel at the base of a live, active volcano in Costa Rica.
25 itineraries for 2011
A total of 25 global itineraries across six continents are available this year:
Africa, Asia and the Pacific
--China (10 nights): Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong
--China (12 nights): Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Xi'an, Shanghai and Hong Kong
--South Africa: Cape Town, The Garden Route and Kapama Game Reserve
--Australia: North Queensland, The Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and Sydney
--Egypt (7 nights): Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and the Nile
--Egypt (9 nights): Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, the Nile and Sharm el Sheikh
British Isles and Europe
--England and France: London and Paris
--Ireland: Dublin, Killarney and Shannon
--Germany: Heidelberg, Waldeck, Rothenburg and Munich
--Italy and Switzerland: Lake Como, Zermatt and Lake Luzern
--Italy: Rome, Tuscany and Venice
--Central Italy: Sorrento and Florence
--Costa Rica: San José, Tortuguero and Arenal National Parks
--Ecuador: Quito, Otavalo Valley and Galapagos Islands
--Peru: Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco and Lima
--"Spirit of America": Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, D.C., and Colonial Williamsburg, Va.
--Wyoming: Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks
--Arizona and Utah: Sedona, Grand Canyon and Moab
--Southern California: Hollywood and Disneyland Resort
--Alaska: Fairbanks, Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks
--Montana and Canada: Glacier and Banff National Parks
Costs range from about $2,100 to $6,700 per person, depending on the destination and the length of the trip. Prices do not include airfare to and from the starting point of each itinerary. To learn more, visit AdventuresbyDisney.com, call (877) 728-7282 or contact your travel agent.