My spiel is to encourage families with children to travel to all sorts of destinations…and still remain sane! At the same time, I realize there are certain locations that would require so much work, planning, schlepping, and research because of the exotic or geographic nature, that we all need a little help.
Enter, stage right : Disney. They own the family brand, and rule the theme parks, but did you know they have a whole family travel division? The Disney cruises are probably the most well-known.
For the next week or so of posts, I am going to blog about the bucket list trip I took to Peru with a lesser known Disney travel area: Adventures by Disney guided vacations. Yes! We took the kids to Peru ….
Machu Picchu, Peru
…climbed the Inca Trail… and got spiritual at Machu Picchu…
Awana Kancha Llama Farm, Peru
….and went loco for llamas at a llama farm.
Was it easy? Surprisingly, yes. If you don’ t believe me, just ask my husband who is a little more the reserved roamer than the passionate pilgrim that I am.
Adventures by Disney organizes tours around the world: See the Great Wall in China…. cruise down the Nile in Egypt… or search for the Big Five in South Africa.
Let me just say that I have never been attracted to organized tours because I have traveled a lot, and like doing things on my own time. But I was impressed with how much easier an organized tour makes family travel. Do you get to pick your own hotels? No. The restaurants? Not all of the time. Make your own schedule? Nope.
However… Travel stress melts away as everything is organized for you – your hotels booked: Check. Luggage picked up at airport and you don’t have to even TOUCH it : Check. Transportation from airport to hotels, to attractions: Check . Check. Check. Key in a third world country like Peru.
Pisac Market, Peru
You also save countless hours in planning and researching every activity and hotel…and with a little Disney magic, you can avoid crowds at some of the most packed tourist attractions, and have access to true treasures otherwise off the tourist trail.
If your idea of vacation is to move around a lot, learn a bout other cultures, be chauffeured around the world without a worry, and mingle with other families – then this is something you might want to consider.
If you like slower pace with lounging at a pool – that is a different trip, and frankly, you don’ t need to pay to have guides show you that. There was little down time on the tour I took - This is a special immersive experience for which you have to have the energy.
Disney Guide and Jr Adventurer
If you don’t think you have the energy, you almost certainly will once you arrive because if Disneyland is the happiest place on earth…then the Disney adventure guides are definitely the happiest people on earth. They have the personalities and patience to have fun with the kids from all different time zones, and at the same time work hard to make sure the adults have ever single thing they need, without ever breaking a sweat.
In our group, an American Disney guide was paired with a couple local Peruvian, Disney-trained guides. The American guide is the heart and soul if you will…. and the local guides are well versed in their country’s history, know the language and customs, and can answer all questions. We tried really hard to stump ours – it became a game – “Stump Ernesto.”
If you do consider a guided tour for any trip, here are some things to think about:
1) Make sure the destination is age appropriate for your children. Only you know your child best. For example, I would recommend waiting until your child is 7 or 8 to go to Peru. Not only will they get more out of it, but if they are bored or fidgety, you will not have a great time.
2) If you think the price sounds expensive, try itemizing what it would cost to go it alone at comparable quality hotels and attractions. Often these tours sound expensive, but are better-priced because they have the power to negotiate good rates since they bring in more business… and some mistakes you may make with transportation, etc could cost you more in the long run. Plus, you have little extras that you may not even think about when calculating the cost of your trip- Disney had water bottles for us whenever we needed.
3) Find a tour group that fits your personality. Adventure? Scholarly? Volunteer-oriented? Family? Disney for example, makes family the focus.
4) If it is an international trip, I would highly recommend flying in a day before the tour begins to adjust to any time difference. Trust me, it is worth any extra money. If you are a zombie at the beginning of the trip, it is hard to recover.
Now that you have a general idea of a family vacation option, the next few days will take you on a more personal look at my vacation of epic proportions…a day by day journal of our adventure through Peru. From river rafting, to hiking the Inca Trail overlooking Machu Picchu, it was a trip we will always carry with us.