Travel with Kids Family Adventure Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a TWK Travel With Kids Family Adventure?
With an emphasis on real travel experiences, our focus is not rushing through tourist sites to snap vacation photos. Travel with Kids Family Adventures are quality travel experiences designed by our family based on the many years of traveling with our kids on our own. This travel occurred while producing the popular Travel With Kids TV show (PBS, Amazon, YouTube). The travel journeys are custom designed based on our decades of experience to bring your family unique travel moments in a safe environment while immersing in local culture and history. We have established relationships with local guides, hotels and know the best activities to do and most interesting places to see.
We also incorporate local immersion in Travel with Kids Family Adventures and meeting local school kids into travel plans when possible. Each geographic itinerary can be traveled as a scheduled group departure or individually on your own at any time that fits your schedule. A TWK experience brings real authentic contact with locals and wildlife. You can experience everything from African township schools to early morning Buddhist monk visits, to volunteering at a Soweto kitchen to playing soccer with locals in the Amazon jungle. Our clients have called our journeys Life Changing Experiences. This is not your typical tourist vacation.
I usually plan everything, but don’t have the time. What does your service provide?
We plan, you go! You can trust that the TWK team will put together the best itinerary with the right mix of comfort and experiences in a safe environment. We work with hotels and resorts we have personally stayed at with our kids, along with activities and experiences that we have done. We balance the right amount of time spent in each location and each activity and add unique experiences that the big tour companies don’t do. We can even book your airfare and extend your stay. All itineraries can be customized to meet your needs.
Is Airfare Included in the cost seen on the website?
Typically International Airfare is Not included. Most of the time Domestic (in country) airfare is included if that is part of the tour. We will help source the best airfare for your trip and try to get many of the families on the same international flight so they can meet and begin their fun journey at the airport together. We look at LAX or NYC as gateways, but can work with your home city. We have an air desk consolidator who looks for the best rates.
Why is the cost for a Travel With Kids trip lower than other tour companies advertised?
We work very hard to source the best local guides and local hotels and experiences. We don’t inflate our costs with large margins. TWK Tours does not focus on fancy upscale accommodations. We don’t believe your travel stories should be about the hotel you stayed in. We work with local family run hotels that are clean, comfortable and in safe areas.
What’s included in the group and private trips?
Our travel experiences include:
ALL lodging (hotels, resorts, unique stays)
ALL Main activities and experiences (Safari drives, Monument entrances, Cooking Classes, Rafting, Township Visits, Museums, Guided walks and tours, jungle canopy experiences, wildlife interactions, village visits, temple visits, etc)
Transportation (bus, train, boat, domestic airfare)
Expert local guides
Some meals (breakfast usually included, all meals included during Safari and Amazon Lodge stay)
Activity kit for the kids, plus one-on-one trip planning and support by the TWK team before and during the tour.
What is Not included?
International Airfare (though we can assist in booking), Guide Tips, Some Meals, optional activities and museum visits, laundry, beverages and alcohol, souvenirs.
Group travel or Private Tour?
This is a good question. We are not group travel people. We enjoy independent off the tourist track experiences. This is why we spent 8 months traveling around the world on our own independent without a guide or hotel reservations (and no phones!). TWK group tours are for people that don’t like group tours. We are flexible and you can do what you want with or without the group. However, we have found the group experience of families is very rewarding and fun with a great sense of community and camaraderie. The kids all become great friends and keep in contact for years. Many of our customers are repeat clients and the kids enjoy seeing each other every year.
The group experience gives parents time to themselves, or to relax and have a drink with other parents while the kids play. As everyone on the trip has a shared experience, it enhances the journey and the memories. When mom and dad need a break, there are other kids to play with, and often the older kids will look after the younger kids while parents enjoy a dinner together or with new friends they’ve met on the trip.
Private Tours with just your family have their benefits as well. Sometimes the cost is higher because there aren’t group discounts available as there are with group family tours. A private tour does not mean you have to have a guide with you at all times or at all. We can book our itineraries for your family with or without a guide. You may just require a driver to get you from location to location or to and activity. Driver/guides are also available.
We Don’t like Group Tours
Neither do we. Our trips are not “follow the umbrella” single file tours with a name badge on. We keep it very fun and loose. The guides help with airport logistics, checking into hotels, getting past lines at attractions, and of course giving lots of information about the destination if needed. We build in lots of down time, relax time, and explore on your own time. The kids all make friends (its great to see kids becoming friends with others kids they wouldn’t normally hang out with at home). A TWK tour is like a fun summer camp with laughs, music, discovery and new friends.
I have dietary restrictions. What about Vegetarian, Vegan, Celiac, Gluten Free and food allergies?
Everyone is welcome. As much as we would like to think we are off the grid jungle explorers of the 1930s, in reality most of the destinations we offer are modern, advanced and clean. South Africa, Peru and Thailand survive on tourism. They cater to all dietary needs including gluten free and allergies. You will find modern high-end fancy restaurants with everything on the menu. You can find pizza, pasta, french fries, salads, Asian food, Indian food, burger and fries, noodles and more, on every street corner and in trendy restaurants. Gluten free menus and requests are easy to accommodate. Peru is a potato and corn based diet. Thailand is rice noodles and tofu. Bottled water is everywhere. Starbucks, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut to trendy rooftop restaurants with bean bag couches, chill out music and fusion cuisine are easy to find in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bangkok, Cusco, Lima, Hanoi, Saigon, Dublin and everywhere in between.
My child is on the spectrum.
While we don’t have kids on the spectrum ourselves, we have had many travelers that do. In our experience it is life changing for them and really brings them out of their shell, they make new friends and realize they can do amazing things. Within a few days, a lot of the concern for schedules, routines and cleanliness go away and we see kids trying new things and new experiences without worry or concerns.
What about Wi Fi and internet?
Unfortunately most of these countries are actually more advanced than the US in terms of WiFi access. In other words, you can’t escape it, but we have found that after a few days all the kids (and parents) forget about their phones and just play, play, play, (even the teenagers). We see the phone use drop to a minimum. The kids become kids again and play in the jungles, on the beaches, talk, get creative, interact with locals, and discover new things.
What about travel insurance and medical attention?
While we hope you never need it, Travel Insurance is required. We partner with RoamRight, which offers plans with coverage for kids for free. This covers trip interruption, missed connections and some medical coverage. We have had to visit doctors in Fiji, Vietnam and other places. We had guests visit the doctor in Fiji on our last group trip. We have found medical care for basic things to be as good as anywhere. Doctors are usually Western medicine educated and the facilities are clean. Our son Seamus broke his foot on a boat in North Vietnam. We had to do have Xrays done and a cast put on. For us personally, we had to cancel flights, extend our hotel stay, etc. Travel Insurance covered it all and the medical care in Hanoi was top notch. Most countries have pharmacies on every street corner and out of pocket costs are minimal for anything you need.
I want to take the trip of a lifetime. I can’t decide where to go.
This is a question we get a lot. The South Africa experience is still our favorite on the planet. There is nothing else like it. We also recommend Thailand for its beaches and elephants, Peru for the culture, Machu Picchu and Amazon Rainforest. Thailand will be cheaper, followed by Peru then Africa. Are you a beach and jungle person, or has the African Safari experience been your life dream experience with your family? Do you want active adventure or a more relaxed pace? We specialize in family travel to South Africa, Peru, Thailand, but also Fiji, Vietnam, Cambodia, Ireland, Belize, Costa Rica and Mexico. These are all destinations we have visited many times with our family, and we can help you decide where to go.
I want to go but I’m I am afraid of the plane ride with the kids.
No one ever gets home from a South African Safari experience and says “I wish I hadn’t done that because of the airplane ride with the kids.” Actually nobody gets home and says, “I wish I hadn’t done that.” Will every second of the journey be perfect and fun? No. Will you remember the incredible experiences, memories and photos or that the kids were annoying on the long plane ride for a few hours. After the trip is over, that part wont matter. You will be sharing and telling stories about everything except about the flight there and back.
On group trips the kids all hang out together, have fun, watch movies, have a meal together and sleep. They pal around with each other in the airport while waiting. This takes the pressure off of Mom and Dad. The group travel experiences are easier with kids with their built in new playmates.
I want to give back. What is the Re-Pack Project and how can I help?
In most countries we bring families to visit, you will see the local children in nice school uniforms. They all go to school, but many of them have NO school supplies. So they just sit there in class but can’t do anything. The Re-Pack project brings hundreds of school supplies directly from our kids to kids from local small mud hut, tin shack villages. The amazing thing is that the Re-Pack school supplies that our groups donate are not brand new. They are recycled school items that were about to be thrown away at the end of the school year! Thousands of items and backpacks are collected every year to bring to less fortunate children in many different foreign countries that we travel to.
Our volunteer day in the townships is said to be one of the best days of a TWK Family Adventure Tour. Our group of traveling kids get to meet kids at a local school, and personally hand them backpacks full of school supplies.
A pen and a notebook can literally change a kid’s life.
Families that join our trips will be given a general guideline of what to put into used backpacks. Each family typically brings 10 backpacks for delivery to impoverished mud hut or township schools. We have brought hundreds of backpacks to schools in South Africa, Peru, Thailand and Peru. After the families meet the local kids and families, the kids all play games, tag, chase, rugby, or do crafts together.
How do I sign up?
Once you’ve chosen a travel location, TWK Family Adventure Tours starts with a non-refundable deposit. This can be paid by check, through PayPal, or our website. There is a payment schedule that is spread out over several months to help make payment for your trip more affordable. We are flexible and can work with you if you can’t keep the set schedule. We can also book airline tickets and additional hotel stays and trip extensions.
What are the Passport Requirements? What about Visas and Vaccinations, shots?
Please make sure your passport is good for 6 months past the trip departure date and you have at least two blank pages left in your passport. Travel Insurance is mandatory. We offer great plans with RoamRight that provides free coverage for kids. Most of our destinations have recommended vaccines, not required, but this changes often. TWK Tours South Africa visits to Madikwe game reserve, which is Malaria free. There are some recommendations for Victoria Falls Zimbabwe, Thailand and Peru. Bring mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves in the jungles. We have seen more mosquitoes at home than in Africa or the Amazon Rainforest. We will keep you up to date on shots and vaccinations. Most are recommended but not mandatory.
Should I bring dollars or use local currency? What about Credit/Debit Cards?
Bring some dollars, but ATM machines for local currency are widely available. Its fun for the kids to use in the markets to bargain and use math / exchange rate skills. Credit / Debit cards are accepted everywhere. Notify your bank that you are traveling and activate fraud monitoring. Bring money to tip guides.
How do I plan for the weather?
Most of our group departures travel in the summer.
South Africa is winter. Safari mornings and evenings are cold. Dress warm. Days are bright and sunny with highs in the 70s.
Thailand is hot and humid.
Peru is varied. The rainforest can get warm in the afternoon, but it is not sweltering or high humidity. However, Cusco is chilly especially at night. Machu Picchu is actually lower in elevation than Cusco and can get warm in the jungles in the afternoon, but evenings are pleasant.
What if forget to pack something on the trip?
As mentioned above in terms of restaurants and dining, while it would be great if it were 1930s Indiana Jones, but those days are gone. South Africa and Thailand have some of the largest upscale shopping complexes on the continent. Huge. There are western / American style stores on every street corner. Other countries love to shop just like Americans. Clothes, food, medicine, electronics. You name it, you can get it. Plan for remote trips into the Jungles or Safari for 3 or 4 nights, but if you need something, usually a hotel staff can go get it with a taxi, boat or bus ride.
What can I expect after I sign up for a Travel With Kids Family Adventure Tour?
We are happy to welcome you to our family travel experiences! After we receive your deposit you will receive the payment schedule, and travel insurance information. We are always available for any questions you may have. You will receive packing lists, lists of movies and books to get you excited, visa and passport requirements, electric plug information, itineraries and more. Kids will receive a free TWK Tours activity kit and backpack with books, DVDs, and a few travel doodles to keep them busy, including pens, water bottles and travel buffs.
We also have jackets and South Pacific Sarongs available. TWK Tours has many repeat family travelers that become life long friends and keep in contact long after the trip is over. We hope to inspire you to travel more a bit out of your comfort zone, try new things and interact with local customs and cultures while showing your kids the world. It would be our pleasure to have you join us.