exotrav

Exotic Travel Destinations for Families

Exotic Travel Destinations for Families
Jennifer M. Nichols and Bill Nichols
January 2004
312
$16.95
24 Photos; 6 Maps
Travel
9781891661365
6 x 9
softcover

Want to stare eye-to-eye with giant tortoises in the Galapagos? How about rent a luxurious castle in Italy? Or view prolific wildlife on safari in Tanzania? Interested in taking your children to Bora Bora, Cambodia, or Iceland? Exotic Travel Destinations for Families is your passport to exhilarating family travel to 23 exciting countries in six different regions: Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, and French Polynesia. Explore the world with first person accounts of parents and their children traveling in harmony and discovering exotic cultures, experiencing eye-opening adventures, and meeting fascinating people from around the globe.

In addition to the humorous and informative first-person stories of families traveling in each of the included countries, Exotic Travel Destinations for Families features everything you need to know to appropriately plan and prepare for your trip: When to go, what to bring, how to get there, and how to get around once you've arrived. Additionally, medical and safety concerns and planning are thoroughly addressed for each destination.

Recommendations for exciting things to do and see, and suggestions for hotels, restaurants, and other travel literature are also included. And there's a section on sending your teens to language immersion courses as well as one on community service in foreign countries. So grab your passports and gather your children . . . and get ready to explore the world!

Jennifer M. Nichols and her husband, Bill, believe in global family travel. In fact, once their children were born they gave each one a three-month respite, then bundled them up to travel across continents and oceans. Now teenagers, these two children have journeyed to 27 countries on 5 continents, and have participated in safaris, animal treks, sports adventures, historical trips, eco-tourism, camping, cruises, hiking, farm holidays, visits to indigenous cultures . . . and just relaxing. These traveling children provided their mother with broad-based experiences of the rigors, challenges, and joys of traveling with children.

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Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1: Traveling with Your Kids to Exotic Destinations
Benefits of Foreign Travel with Children
Plan Educational Experiences for Your Trips
Don’t Push the Limits

Chapter 2: Planning Your Trip and Things to Do at Your Destination
Acknowledge Changing Priorities
Map Magic
Foreign Languages
Pack a Small Backpack
Writing About Travel for Kids and Adults
Photography for Children (Kerry McDonell Halasz)
Chapter 3: Family Travel Resources on the Web

Europe

Chapter 4: Tuscany, Italy: Regal Retreats
Family Travel to a Castle
Italy Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 5: Les Eyzies, France: Exploring Cro-Magnon Art Caves
Family travel to Les Eyzies, France
France Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 6: Sofia, Bulgaria: On the Cusp of Capitalism
Overcoming Communism
Family Travel to Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 7: Prague, Czech Republic: Memories from a Mom’s Escape
Family Travel to Prague, Czech Republic (Sonia Ehrlich Sachs)
Czech Republic Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 8: Portugal: History, Beaches, and Grilled Sardines
Family Travel to Portugal (Mary Nichols Sandoval)
Portugal Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources

South and Central America

Chapter 9: Belize: Escapades on Land and Sea
Family Travel to Belize
Belize Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 10: Ecuador: Rainforest Retreat
Family Travel to the Ecuadorian Rainforest
Ecuador Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources

Africa

Chapter 11: Morocco: On the Road Through Morocco, Family Style
Family Travel to Morocco
Morocco Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 12: Tanzania: Safari, Wildlife, and Culture
Family Travel to Tanzania
Tanzania Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 13: Namibia: Skeletons on the Coast
Family Travel to Namibia (Cindy McDonell Mitchell)
Namibia Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 14: Egypt: Cruising the Nile
Family Travel to Egypt (Cindy McDonell Mitchell)
Egypt Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 15: Tunisia: Modern and Ancient Civilizations
Family Travel to Tunisia (Mary Nichols Sandoval)
Tunisia Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources

Islands

Chapter 16: Bora Bora: Tropical Paradise for Active Families
Family Travel to Bora Bora
Bora Bora Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 17: Iceland: It’s So Cool, It’s Hot
Family Travel to Iceland
Iceland Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 18: Cuba: Revolution and Resorts
Family Travel to Cuba (Mary Nichols Sandoval)
Cuba Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 19: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Evolution s Classroom
Family Travel to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos Overview
Planning and Preparation
Thing to See and Do
Resources

Asia

Chapter 20: Thailand: Beaches, Buddhism, and Bargains
Family Travel to Thailand
Thailand Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 21: Cambodia: Visiting the Khmer Court
Family Travel to Cambodia (Sonia Ehrlich Sachs)
Cambodia Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 22: Tibet: Pilgrimages and Hot Pots
Family Travel to Tibet (Sonia Ehrlich Sachs)
Tibet Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 23: China: From the Far East to the Far West in China
Family Travel to China (Sonia Ehrlich Sachs)
China Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 24: India: Crowded, Chaotic, and Charming
Family Travel to India (Sonia Ehrlich Sachs)
India Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 25: Ephesus and Cappadocia, Turkey: Historical Havens
Family Travel to Ephesus and Cappadocia, Turkey
Turkey Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Chapter 26: Qatar: Dunes, Water, and Souks
Family Travel to Qatar (Mary Nichols Sandoval)
Qatar Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources

Straddling Two Continents

Chapter 27: Istanbul, Turkey: Europe/Asia’s Most Intriguing City
Family Travel to Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul Overview
Planning and Preparation
Things to See and Do
Resources
Teens Traveling Abroad
Chapter 28: Teen Trips around the World
Selecting the Right Trip
Language Trips for Teens (Will Nichols)
Community Service for Teens (Alison McDonell Nichols)
Resources

Chapter 1: Traveling with Your Kids to Exotic Destinations.

No one can label my two children picky eaters. After all, how many kids lick tart lemon ants off of trees in a steamy Ecuadorian rainforest? And try counting on one hand the number of young diners who lunch on sautéed bamboo worms in an exotic Bangkok restaurant. (Okay. So they didn’t clean their plates….)

Ah, the delectable joys of travel with the kids.

We’ve bumped along on camels in the Sahara, elephants in Thailand, and lawn chairs ferried on the back of a pick-up truck in Belize. We’ve hunkered down in an eco-tourist lodge in the Ecuadorian rainforest, luxuriated in an Italian castle, and cozied up in a dolphin reserve in Belize. We’ve posed with giant tortoises in the Galapagos, fed sharks in Bora Bora, and unwound snakes from our daughter’s neck in Morocco. We’ve viewed the sole survivor of a tortoise species in the Galapagos, participated in an Islamic wedding feast in Morocco, and visited a Maasai school tucked in the hills of Tanzania. Our memories are laden with gracious people, magnificent sites, and startling customs.

Our travels with our children are not only graced with extraordinary experiences, but they have served to educate our family about culture, customs, languages, geography, architecture, history, current events, and traditional arts.

We are part of the ever-expanding segment of Americans who, each year, pocket their passports, gather their children, and head off to experience the world beyond their own backyards.

Benefits of Foreign Travel with Children

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” When kids travel the globe, they learn to appreciate and celebrate the many ways people all over the world conduct their lives. They observe the ways people dwell—some crammed together in mud huts, others surviving in camel hair tents in the desert, some subsisting on top of an open platform in the rainforest, and some living in mansions. They view various religions and the ways other people worship as they enter a Buddhist temple, a Moslem mosque, or watch a sacred tribal ceremony. They see extreme poverty, blatant wealth and observe the jobs people do to make a living. They realize that not everyone has a computer, a TV, a phone, electricity, or even running water. And they scrutinize the way other children live, some with no toys other than the ones they make themselves, and others working long hours for minimal wages in small stores and markets. These observations serve to make children value other cultures, lifestyles, and people. Mark Twain was right.

When viewing distinct cultures, children learn to celebrate global differences, increase their awareness of world issues, and achieve a new perspective on their own way of living. Additionally, taking your children to foreign destinations has a permanent impact on their interests, skills, and intellectual life.

For example, when my daughter Alison was five, we carted her off to Spain. While there we went to a flamenco dance and Alison drew all the elements she observed, to include the flowing dress, the dangly earrings, the pointy shoes, and even the hair combs. And she added a special element to her artwork: she insisted on labeling each item in Spanish. We queried the friendly waiters who were happy to help her. Throughout her younger travel years, she continued to draw elements that intrigued her and label her artwork in the language of the country. This curiosity soon developed into a lifelong love for learning languages. Now 18, she is fluent in 2 languages and proficient in another.

Plan Educational Experiences for Your Trips

When better for our son, Will, to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution than in kindergarten? And where better place to learn than the Galapagos Islands—the remote, equatorial archipelago 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Aboard a 38-foot motorized sailboat with a crew of three, we weaved to 6 islands. Here animals remain just as Darwin reported in 1835, unafraid of their human interlopers. For the kids, tiptoeing over lazing sea lions, nosing up with blue-footed boobies, and peering into the eyes of giant sea tortoises were the stuff of fairy tales. And evolution? By viewing species such as Darwin’s finches—whose beak shapes vary from island to island depending on the vegetation—the concept was so simple, even a kindergartner could understand it.

When families travel to exotic destinations, there is great opportunity for educational adventures. Find out what’s available by checking resources such as travel books, videos, National Geographic, the Internet, and a top-notch travel agent. Also, contact the place you are staying to find options. Inform your kids of your itinerary and the possibilities for activities and find out what interests them—animals, historical sites, traditional arts, natural wonders? Then involve your children in choosing the possibilities.

Once at your destination, you can also arrange educational intrigues. In the Galapagos, we asked our naturalist guide to point out the distinct differences in the finches and he willingly complied. Most hotels or lodges can arrange activities that range from short, simple offerings to all-day events. And don’t be shy about asking individuals who work at the sites to provide additional information.

Educational experiences can also be spontaneous. While camping in the Sahara, we awakened at the crack of dawn to follow the tracks of scarab beetles across the undulating dunes. This event is seared in our children’s memory. Take time for the small pleasures.

Have your children keep a travel journal. Purchase one that has lines for writing and blank pages for drawing. One activity your kids might enjoy is finding an element of the country for each letter of the alphabet, such as in Tanzania…Maasai for “M” and Serengeti for “S.”

Don’t Push the Limits

Sometimes, it takes a bonk! on the head to knock sense into travel parents. It’s a 12-hour time change between Boston and Bangkok. No problem. We piled into a cab the day we arrived, sat an hour in gridlock traffic, and then dragged our groggy kids to a restaurant. Alison hit her head on a plate glass window and Will, after ordering, fell off his chair in a sleep-deprived stupor. All survived, including the glass window. Two unhappy kids. Two guilty parents. Lesson learned? The restaurant can wait. Give in to jet lag—especially with kids.

The error of our ways also came through loud and clear in Morocco when Alison suddenly shrieked, “We would have been much better off in Disneyworld!” Three days of driving thrust her over the edge. Although Bill and I reveled in seeing the less explored parts of this mesmerizing country, the kids had had enough. So, we paused. Two unplanned days in a cool hotel to relax, swim, and eat pizza at the hotel restaurant provided respite.

Sometimes parents need to slow the pace and give in to the kids’ needs and interests. Examine your itinerary. Too much driving? Too many historical sites? Not enough time to just “chill?” If possible, revamp your schedule to slow the pace and integrate activities that appeal to the kids.

©2004 by Jennifer M. Nichols and Bill Nichols

Author Information

Jennifer M. Nichols

The author of Exotic Travel Destinations for Families published travel articles on global family adventures in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, Kansas City Star, and Diversion Magazine. She traveled to 55 countries and lived in Europe and Central America, and her two teenagers traveled to 27 countries on 5 continents.

Bill Nichols

The author of Exotic Travel Destinations for Families has been the travel partner and writing collaborator of Jennifer M. Nichols for the past 31 years. As a child he traveled domestically with his family, but after marrying Jennifer, he began his global explorations. He has now visited 58 countries. When he’s not globetrotting, Bill works as a marketing strategy consultant. He lives in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.

Reviews

“The book differs from most travel guides in that it’s highly personal and shares loads of first-person commentary. Readers embarking on similar trips have much to learn from the Nichols family.”
Publishers Weekly

“Have you ever wished to see the ‘other’ Africa, or India, or Europe? Jennifer and Bill Nichols have done an exemplary job of providing readers with detailed accounts of the most exciting, and safe, locations for family travel. Bulgaria, Tanzania, Bora Bora, Cuba, Cambodia-they are all here. For those weary of the boardwalks of New Jersey, or the cottages of New Hampshire, this might be just the volume to study. Reading these exciting accounts is enough to make anyone reach for the passport!”
The Bloomsbury Review

Exotic Travel Destinations for Families is a must-read for parents who want to broaden their children’s horizons. . . A thorough guide to off-the-beaten-track adventures in 24 countries, with everything from tips to choosing a destination to when to go, what to pack and how to get there. . . The Nichols have produced a book that inspires wanderlust. Whether the family is exploring Cro-Magnon art in caves in France or riding camels at the pyramids at Giza, Egypt, they’re having fun. And you’ll have a ball reading about their discoveries.”
Atlanta Journal Constitution

“If you’ve ever dreamed of taking your kids on safari, sleeping in a jungle lodge in central America or cruising down the Nile, then this is the book for you.”
Toronto Sun