France is a wonderful place to plan your European vacation around, and there is nowhere more French than Loire Valley. With its wonderful scenery, great cuisine, some of the best wines in the world and of course, almost three chateaus for every day of the year you are bound to have the adventure vacation you are looking for.
On top of these essentially French ingredients, there are plenty of options for those looking for a more outdoors adventure vacation. The area is perfect for cycling tours as the River Loire creates a wonderfully gentle route for biking as it meanders its way through the valley. It also provides plenty of opportunities for swimming, catching the sun on lovely sandy riverside beaches and canoeing. Canoeing novices need never fear. It’s not exactly white water rafting. Remember that you’re in France in summer, and at this time of year everything is gentle, even the River Loire.
The gentle pace of the river also gives rise to another opportunity. Sandy islands form in the middle of the river and in some places during high summer it reaches temperatures of 120°F. This warm environment creates a brilliant display of tropical plants and rich bird life.
Adventure trips to Europe are not complete without a good portion of local history, and rest assured, the Loire region does not disappoint. Renaissance chateaus that were summer lodges for Kings and Queens such as Charles VII and Anne of Brittany make wonderful photo opportunities. Learn more about our vacation adventures by visiting us online or calling our 24 hour support line at (800) 575-1540.
What you need to know not only before you go, but before you even start thinking about going!
To start our journey together I want to share an African proverb: The people sailing in the same boat share the goal.
When one thinks of Africa, the vision is that of beauty, wilderness, wildlife, exotic peoples, romance and so much more. Throughout history Africa’s people, its struggles and above all else its overwhelming beauty have created a romantic vision of a spectacular, yet mysterious continent. Since those first western explorers landed on its shores in the late 1800’s, Americans have been fascinated and drawn with wonder and intrigue to this diverse and complex land. Even today the stories and pictures that come out of Africa paint a picture of an untouched place where its people live as they have for centuries, a place where the wildlife is abundant and untamed and a place of conflict and opportunity…yet there is so much more than superlatives can describe and a ton of adventure vacation packages to discover when looking into a trip to Africa.
There is a saying in Africa…. It applies to planning your first trip as well: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Once you have your mind made up that you will visit this great continent, set aside the time to “study up” and educate yourself on at least the basics. The following is just an idea and an outline of things you might want to consider and how to get started eating that elephant called Africa.
The Continent and the Five Regions of Africa (This is One Big Continent)
Of our seven continents on the planet Africa ranks number two in size, second only to Asia. With its 11,677,791 square miles (give or take a few) you can fit all of Europe and South America within its footprint. In fact you could fit the United States something like five times within its coastlines. That is one large land mass. As you start thinking about the “where” keep this in mind…Picture talking to a distant relative in Europe and your response when they suggest they want to come visit for two weeks and they would like to see Maine, New York, Florida, Arizona and the California coast. You would quickly let them know that just isn’t possible! Now magnify that times five and well, you get the idea.
Africa and its 58 countries are broken up into five distinct “regions”:
o North Africa
o West Africa
o East Africa
o Central Africa
o Southern Africa
North Africa is typically considered dry and arid. It is made up of eight countries or territories and not frequently thought of as a “Safari” destination. Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and Western Sahara make up North Africa. North Africa is separated from the rest of Africa by the Sahara Desert to the South. These countries create a stronger connection to the seafaring countries of Europe more so than their southern neighbors.
West Africa is bordered on the west and south by the Atlantic, to the north by the Sahara, and to the east (roughly) by Mount Cameroon to Lake Chad. West Africa makes up roughly one-fifth of Africa and includes Liberia, Senegal, Togo, Niger, Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria, just to name a few of the eighteen countries, commonly considered West Africa. With the vast majority of its land mass as plains at less than 300 meters above sea level, it is considered “semi-arid”.
***East Africa is where we really start talking “safari country”! This region consists of nineteen countries and territories most commonly known for Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Mozambique, Madagascar, (although these last two are often referenced as Southern Africa), again just to hit the highlights. When talking “safari” Eastern Africa typically means Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Its stunning and scenic geography, dense vegetation and high peaks (Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya to be a name dropper), as well as Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water lake in the world should be “must-sees” in anyone’s book. It should be no surprise why the fabled Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) can be found here.
Central Africa (considered by most to be a “Republic”) is considered the “core” of the continent and includes the countries, regions or states of Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. This is a land rich in African history as well as minerals. Despite its significant mineral resources (gold, uranium, diamonds, etc.) the Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world and among the ten poorest countries in Africa. It should be no surprise that in no small part to the mineral wealth and the geographic “core” location, Central Africa has been a coveted territory by both African and foreign governments for centuries.
***Southern Africa (not to be confused with the country of South Africa). Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa (a successor country to the Union of South Africa); nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English. In the UN scheme of things, Southern Africa is made up of five countries: South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia (my favorite), Lesotho and Botswana. When we think or hear Africa, we are often hearing about Southern or even South Africa as it is a region rich with history, development, opportunities and struggles. South Africa stands out as the dominant economic superpower of the region. It can also “rival” East Africa with its wildlife opportunities.
(*** Regions commonly associated with safaris!)
Read Part 2: Visiting Africa 101- Part 2
Don't forget I am always here to help you plan the perfect African Safari
With 38 years of European cycling tour experience, Austin-Lehman offers you an incredible journey through Europe on two wheels. Pedal through the enchanting vineyards of France stopping to taste the world class local wines and pick fresh strawberries from the fields.
From beginner cyclists to expert or mountain biker, there is a route and ride time for all on this European vacation. Just ride at your own pace and enjoy the scenic beauty around you. Escape to the island of Mallorca and explore the picturesque villages on the way to the ancient pilgrimage route of Camino De Santiago. Visit Navarra and Rioja provinces of northern Spain. Sample the ultra-rich wines of Rioja and learn the remarkable history and vibrant past of the place by visiting the foothills of Pyrenees. The beauty of its landscape full of majestic castles, stone villages and colorful cloisters is truly magical. Olite village is known as the wine capital of Navarra.
Take a guided tour of Pamplona, the city of Europe’s most dangerous tradition – the frenzy of running with bulls. Marvel at the Baroque civil architecture of Pamplona and visit the medieval palace of Saint Peter. Indulge in the Spanish flamboyance and savor the local wine based drinks like sangria or kalimotxo. Bike along the cliffs on one of our exciting European vacations overlooking breathtaking Cidacos valley and wander through almond groves on your way to Calahorra to look for footprints of Dinosaurs.
Enjoy the scenic beauty of Europe on your vacation this year simply by giving us a call to learn more about our European destinations.
Discover some of the hottest destinations on a captivating European vacation in true Austin-Lehman style. Pedal through the enchanting vineyards of France or explore Holland’s famed “Venice of the north.” Marvel at the historical and royal castles of Denmark while pedaling along the rolling landscapes through both narrow and wide streets. Ride on the Baltic Sea route along the scenic beauty of green pastures, chalk cliffs, landscapes of little belt Fjord as your boat pulls up at the Island of Mon.
Cycling tours through Tuscany are unmatched. Historical old world charm of this place with graceful vineyards, hillside villas and vibrant cities is a magical experience. Check out the renaissance architecture with its beautiful landmarks like the Duomo, Uffizi and Pitti Palace.
The beautiful towers of San Gimignano surrounded by splendid Tuscany countryside fill you with art, culture and history of this small village. Bike through the village and visit the Duomo museum and its wooden statues, sculptures and frescoes that make it a very attractive place to both locals and travelers alike. As you pedal through the olive orchards of Tuscany, you’ll be lost in the beauty as you cross grounds dotted with sheep, cypress trees and hanging olive branches. Shop in the open air local market and look for marvelous art accessories, leather goods and stunning jewelry. Eat Tuscany’s local food cooked in virgin olive oil with use of local herbs and spices with a glass of bold Chianti.
Our adventure vacation packages to Europe can be found right online in our travel catalog so stop by for a visit to discover the perfect trip of a lifetime for you and your loved ones.
Imagine pedaling to Ceske Budejovice, famed for being a town filled with red roofs and while there, enjoying a delicious pint of beer at the brewery of the original Budweiser site. Then, picture yourself traveling along the longest Vltava River in the Czech Republic on a calm canoe trip as you admire stunning structures reminiscent of old-world charm.
European vacations provide experiences that just can’t be had anywhere else. Whether it is admiring a spectacular 18th century fountain or watching a classical concert in one of Prague or Vienna’s impressive venues including ancient churches, historic buildings, lavish concert halls and outdoor theatres, Europe is sure to offer unparalleled adventures for everyone.
Before you head back home, enjoy a mouthwatering dinner in Prague, considered by many to be one of Europe's most stunning cities. Be sure to get pictures of its fabulous structures– surely you will want to be reminded of your experience for many years to come. Then bid farewell to your comfortable hotel in Prague’s most historic area right by the Old Town Square.
Adventure travel companies take care of the hectic details so you can focus more on the little, fun details – like what toppings you want on your frankfurter or which type of pivo you would like to sample. Call Austin-Lehman Adventures today and plan your unforgettable European vacation.
A European vacation with adventure travel companies such as ours creates the perfect design for combining the diversity of Italy and Austria together.
The paths for road cycling are spread all over the beautiful valleys and plateaus with stunning Alps as the backdrop. Discover Tyrol pedaling around historical castles, fortresses and vibrant cities. Let the passionate cyclist in you bike along the Alpine river Inn and reach Innsbruck, the Alpine metropolis, and take a well deserved break to feast on finger licking local delicacies and traditional food.
Cycling tours in Europe are a pleasure for all senses as you marvel at the timeless beauty of historical monuments and pass through nature’s gifted sites. Being in the heart of the Austrian Alps is a pure heavenly experience. As you enjoy your day’s adventures pedaling through cities like Schwaz and Lienz, you can also enjoy the nightlife of Tyrol. Exploring the high Alpine landscape on a mountain bike will take your breath away.
Be sure to take your picture standing at the trio point where Austria, Switzerland and Italy meet together on their borders. Visit the church of St. Procolo that was once a Roman temple and now known as a “place of energy” as it stands amidst blossoming apple trees.
Check out the world famous extraordinary private collection of armor in the Churburg Castle. The museum of Archeology housed in the small village of Bolzano shows the harmony between modern and contemporary art. The adventure travel in Italy and Austria gives you an awe inspiring experience that allows adventurers to travel across cities that are both traditional and modern at the same time.
Few European countries lend themselves to family adventure vacations quite like Denmark. This unassuming country has everything families look for in a vacation. For children, the home of Hans Christian Anderson and the story of its Little Mermaid make Copenhagen, wonderful Copenhagen a perfect place to start. Copenhagen, the capital city, is a small city that punches well above its weight in history, dining and exploration.
Beer is the lifeblood of most western societies, and Copenhagen is home of one of Europe’s best known brands, Carlsberg Lager. A visit to the brewery will give a good night of history into beer production past and present. The Aroma Room explores the link between smell and taste and shows how varied beer tastes can be.
A capital city in Europe can hardly be called capital without a suitable royal touch, and Copenhagen doesn’t disappoint. Home of the House of Oldenberg and its current head Queen Margerethe II, the city is steeped in royal tradition. Perhaps the pinnacle highlight is the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace. No matter what the weather might be like, the guard change presents a display of pageantry that makes a European vacation worthwhile. Don’t forget though. It starts at 12 noon sharp and would be considered rude to be late.
European countries make close neighbors so turning your Danish vacation into a two nation adventure trip is accomplished very easily especially since in July 2000 the Öresund Bridge was opened. A massive 70 km long, this bridge links Denmark and close neighbor Sweden making it a short hop for yet another stamp in your passport.
If you are planning a vacation, why not try something entirely new and exciting like one of our adventure trips? Our adventure vacations are full of enthusiasm and passion for active travel. Whether hiking huge mountains or jumping off waterfalls, the raw and original experience of travel in this way is what makes our tours worthwhile.
Take a cycling tour through the narrow streets of Slovenia or pedal through the enchanting vineyards of Germany. Germany gives you a glimpse into the history of Roman culture with its royal castles and architecture of medieval era. We offer customized tours tailor-made to suit your preferences, and our guides give personal attention to everyone. The off beaten trails through the forests that are unknown to most other tourists give you a chance to watch wild animals in their natural abode. America’s first national park, Yellowstone, is home to wild animals like wolf, bison, elk and grizzly bears.
Our hiking vacations are organized in various locations across America, Africa and Europe. Travel solo or with a partner and hike a long stretch through the rough mountains of the stunning Grand Canyon and relax in the evening camping around a campfire. Imagine hiking alongside glaciers or erupting geysers, the fun and element of surprise in all our tours make your holiday time extra special. Visit us online to peruse our catalog to find the trip just right for your needs.
Are you bored of your routine life and feel it’s time to take a vacation? Try our adventure trips and change your definition of vacation forever. Adventure vacations for couples are a great way to learn your partner’s fears and experience the thrill of action together.
If you are going for your honeymoon, anniversary or just a yearly vacation, fill it with excitement and unexpected twists by taking an adventure trip coupled with romance. Austin Lehman adventures weave together hiking, cycling and rafting experiences along with candle light dinners and French wine. Enjoy skiing the Swiss Alps and throw snow balls at your partner or take a biking or hiking trip on the Greek Isles.
Stroll through the high fashion streets of Paris and savor fine French blue cheese and French wine. The magnificent monuments in France will keep you awe struck. There is so much to explore when you visit the lesser known destinations in Europe like Slovenia. Pedal through the vineyards admiring the renaissance architecture or walk through the narrow streets to explore the wonders of this hidden jewel. Snowcapped Julian Alps are away from any noise and provide unspoiled nature with beautiful flora and fauna.
Our European vacations are a complete package of fun, love and stimulation of your senses. Visit us online today to learn more.
When it comes to European vacations, Croatia seemed to fly under the radar. Geographically, Croatia faces the Adriatic Sea, the same sea where Venice is situated. Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is a traveler’s alternative to the expensive resorts of the Mediterranean coastline. The charming and photogenic Dalmatian coastline and quaint towns reflect its Venetian influence.
One of the favorite destinations in Croatia is the town of Hvar. Adventure vacations in Hvar are truly memorable ones. Its pleasant climate presents an opportunity for biking. The woody coves and shallow beaches welcome tourists for kayaking and snorkeling. Hvar has olive groves, vineyards, fortresses and churches. Its narrow walkways are ideal for hiking and strolling. You also have the option to bike around the town and discover little nooks for quick bites of the Croatian fare.
Explore the marbled streets of Dubrovnik. Visit museums and different architectural gems that make the city a stunning destination. Take your time to immerse in the sights and sounds of Dubrovnik by having coffee in one its bistros. Do not forget to sample local delicacies and cuisine. Try their seafood and truly savor their delightful gastronomic offerings.
Croatia remains steadfast and tough. Its tourism potential is the proof of its resilience. Its tumultuous past is but a memory. We offer adventure travel packages to Croatia with exciting itineraries to one of Europe’s best kept-secrets.
Northern Spain is a world away from the sun and sangria holidays that many people imagine when they think of Spain. Our cycling tours start in Pamplona which is one town that really does give northern Spain some true color. Once a year they have a festival that is gaining worldwide notoriety. Called “running the bulls,” it’s just that. In 2012 between July 6th and 14th a form of madness takes over the town of Pamplona. Its narrow streets become packed with young guns having some fun when the authorities release herds of angry bulls (and we mean angry, these bulls are bred to fight) into the crowds. The crowds run like crazy to get out of the way. It’s just the sort of thing that sane people do all over Europe.
Over a million people descend upon the area during the festival, but you don’t have to run with the bulls yourself. Locals with balconies will rent you a balcony for a reasonable sum while you watch the mayhem from above. Go on, you know you want to!
Biking tours of Spain are a much gentler event. A major highlight of these trips is heading up to the Rioja region. Home of one of the world’s most distinctive red wines, this is a must visit location to see how the Tempranillo grape is turned into the rich earthy red wine that is steeped in oaky vanilla flavours.
Now, this bull thing......perhaps your next European vacation can tie in with a certain weekend in July after all? Visit our online catalog today to book your adventure vacation to Pamplona this summer.
Austin-Lehman’s adventure trips are a treat for people who are passionate about traveling to unexplored and virgin territories. European vacations provide ample opportunities to go on hiking trips, cycling tours and treading on foot to discover the wonders from the medieval era.
Plan your family adventure vacations keeping everyone’s interest in mind as there is so much to do. Children watch Roman history come alive outside the classroom when they are surrounded by elegant Roman castles and artifacts in Germany. As you walk through serene gardens and the banks of the tranquil Mosel River, you will be overwhelmed with the feeling of oneness with nature.
Pedal through the vineyards of France with your family admiring the exquisite beauty of wine villages or just sneak into one of the least traveled European countries, Slovenia. Yet untouched by tourism, this destination has spectacular lakes and waterfalls. The biggest advantage of visiting Slovenia is that it touches the Alps and gives you the chance to ski in winters. As it also touches the Mediterranean, you can get to the sea for an unforgettable experience during summertime. Slovenia has a vast area covered by rich forests that is very enjoyable to view the landscape from above in a hot air balloon. There are more adventures as you bike through the real caves and abandoned mines.
Make Europe part of your travel plans this year by visiting us online to learn more about these wonderful destinations.
Although the Eiffel Tower has become a recognized symbol of France, there is so much more to see and do in this charming European country. Rich in cultural and architectural history, Provence is a great destination for your European vacation. Avignon, the capital of Provence, charms visitors when they come to this city, and one of the most exciting and unique ways to see the tourist spots in Provence is with our cycling tours.
You can first visit the Palais de Papes and marvel at its Gothic architecture. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest Gothic palace in Europe. Another UNESCO World Heritage to visit is the Pont du Gard aqueduct. Aqueducts are water channels that transport water from a source to the city. Pont du guard aqueduct, in particular, transported water from a spring in Uzi to the city of Nimes. Although this aqueduct has not been used since the 9th century, the structure still stands as resiliently as when it was first built in 19 B.C.
Beyond the great architectural wonders lie rolling hills and picturesque views. As you bike through the scenic paths, the sweet smell in the air will eventually lead your tired cycler’s legs to the busy markets for the tantalizing tastes of French culinary delights. Delectable creations to tickle your taste buds await you as you cycle your way to different French farms and farmers markets.
These are just a few of the wonderful experiences you can try in Provence. Visitors to this region of the world return home inspired, enriched and satisfied. We offer adventure vacation packages to this marvelous and enjoyable destination. Learn more today by visiting our online travel catalog.
If – during my 38 years of guiding bicycle tours – I would have gotten $10 for every time someone asked me what’s my favorite ride, I would no longer need to work. Not that I’d ever want to quit my job, because I love it so much!
Naturally, being the salesman that I am, my answer would always be a trip they hadn’t done yet.
But here it is, my official Top 10…, eh….Top 11 best bike rides in Europe (and there’s no way these can be ordered, because they all have their reasons why they should be #1)
1) France: Dordogne valley between Argentat and Beynac (110 miles); One of my favorite regions of France, for its authenticity, the peace, the great food, the old Romanesque churches, the castles and the history (such as the Hundred Years War between France and England). Make sure to divert from the valley every now and then to visit villages like St-Céré, Autoire, Loubressac, Rocamadour, as well as the lively town of Sarlat.
2) Italy: South-Tyrol from Reschen Pass to Merano(50 miles); Starting at the top of the pass, it’s all pretty much all downhill for about 50 miles on specially marked bike paths, and you’re always surrounded by some of the most majestic mountains of the Alps. Pass by villages, lakes, meadows, apple orchards and end your ride in the noble spa town of Merano.
3) Italy: The Tuscan hills around Siena; Tuscany has some of the prettiest hills in the world. Surely you have seen those epic photos of fields of red poppies, the cypresses, the ‘Siena’ colors of the soil, multiple horizons and hill-top towns like Monteriggioni and San Gimignano. Seeing it from the bicycle seat is like immerging into this landscape of Chianti Classico and the eternal ‘Le Crete’ hills.
4) Spain: Rioja vineyards between Logroño and Haro (35 miles); this is best done in the fall (October), when the leaves are turning. The colors are so incredible no matter in which direction you look. And you’ve got the roads to yourself. Villages/towns to include are La Puebla de la Barca, Laguardia, Navaridas, Elciego, Baños de Ebro, San Vicente, Rivas de Tereso, and of course Haro. Prepare yourself for some hills. And be sure to visit some of the tapas bars in Haro for an unforgettable and fun meal while mingling with the locals!
5) Germany: Tauber Valley from Rothenburg to Wertheim (63 miles); Take two days to follow the Tauber river until its confluence with the Main river. It’s easy to follow, and you’ll pass through many villages and medieval towns without having to study the map. Don’t forget to visit the splendidly carved Riemenschneider altar pieces in Rothenburg, Detwang and Creglingen.
6) Germany: Mosel Valley from Trier to Koblenz (132 miles); You’ll need four days to do this stretch. Every couple of miles you’ll pass another quaint wine village, each tempting you with its delicious white Riesling wine. Throughout the trip you will always be surrounded by the steep hills covered with vineyards, whereas you stay on you bicycle down by the river. Essentially, it can be considered as a downhill trip (very, very gently) and you are even making use of the prevailing winds. Numerous Roman buildings to be discovered in Trier, and a hilltop castle or ruin around every bend of the river .
7) Austria: Salzach Valley from Gerlos Pass/Krimml to Salzburg (115 miles); This could very easily be the most scenic of all the routes listed here. With the snowcapped Grossglockner and many other mountains by your side, enjoy lots of downhill and flat meadows (and a few ups) as you descend from Gerlos Pass (1628m = 5340 ft) to Salzburg (443m = 1450 ft).
8) Austria: Danube Valley from Linz or Enns to Krems (80 miles); Easy cycling along the wide river makes this an unforgettable experience. Especially the stretch through the wine region Wachau between Melk and Dürnstein (23 miles) is some of the most pleasant cycling you’ll encounter anywhere in Europe. And be sure to visit the Baroque abbey of Melk: it’s a masterpiece!
9) Netherlands: the canals of Giethoorn (4 miles); This community is nicknamed Venice of the North because there are no roads as all transportation takes place on the canals. One cyclable path passes through the village, consisting of an endless string of humpback bridges. Stay in low gear and do it either in early in the morning or evening. It’s outrageous! However, you should feel comfortable on the bike, because it does take some skill to negotiate the bridges.
10) Netherlands: Tulip fields near Keukenhof (in April: 20 miles); does this need any further explanation? The colors and the scents of the flowers (tulips, narcissus, hyacinth) get you high…, in a natural way! And the North-Sea is nearby, across over the dunes.
11) Denmark: Danish Riviera between Copenhagen and Helsingør (30 miles); the route consists of bike paths along Denmark’s ‘gold coast’, consisting of sumptuous villas, quaint fishing villages, and dotted with interesting museums such as the Karen Blixen Museum (author of Out of Africa), the Nivagaard art museum and the supreme Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in an incredible setting overlooking the Sound.
your friendly European expert,
Ron van Dijk
Fact is a week doesn’t go by where someone doesn’t ask me… ”how to I plan the perfect family adventure vacation?” Seems after 20 plus years in the adventure travel business I just take it for granted that everyone just “knows”.
Over the years we have published a lot of good help and planning resources for finding the perfect adventure vacation, well this time I am going to really try and focus on how to plan a family vacation and what it takes to make it all flow so seamlessly.
As I have mentioned in the past, the first thing I always suggest is to involve everyone. This is even more important with family vacations, give the kids a voice and even some responsibilities. Make a game out of it… with challenges and rewards. Maybe consider starting with a pizza party kick off (remember to surf the web and perhaps order some catalogs to have as idea generators)
Early on in the process start with keeping good notes and/or files. Consider a “questionnaire” a document that can be a baseline of Q&A as you march forward. Again, don’t forget the kids in this process…. Ask questions like:
From there start thinking about when you can best schedule your vacation around schools, sports, camp, etc… Try and pick as many dates as possible and don’t overlook early summer! That can often be a great time with fewer crowds and better weather.
Better add in some soul searching in the budget… we all know that traveling with a family of 4 can get expensive. In addition to the trip you also have airfares and more… (more on that in a minute). One way to look at it is on a “per night basis” this can lead you to either a 2-3 star or 4 and 5 star. You can often use 350-450 a night for a good higher-end program. Obviously a 5 Star Luxury Safari in Africa could cost you upwards of a thousand dollars a day…
Don’t overlook another budget option, do you want one or two rooms? Often tour operators are more inclined to offer a bit bigger child discounts if your children are sharing a room. Just remember at some point in life, little Johnny no longer wants to share a bed with his little sister and vice versa…
Once you have a budget and dates, you can start thinking duration. Be sure to allow a few days on either end for delays and/or just getting adjusted back to real life…
Now go back and start looking at all the “wish lists”, look for common themes. If you see that everyone is looking forward to horseback riding, well you better start looking at destinations and trips that include that element. Another big one is often water activities: rafting, snorkeling, etc… We don’t want to send you to the desert if everyone is looking forward to swimming every day.
Same concept applies to the destinations… Are you looking for a National Park like Yellowstone or Yosemite? Or are you looking into a more far off destination like a safari in Africa or a biking tour in Europe? Try your best to narrow it down to 3 options or less….
This is where establishing the rapport with a good tour operator or two now comes into play… Call them up and tell them what you are thinking, here is an example: “We are thinking of a few vacation options… Yellowstone National Park, maybe a camping trip in Montana or an adventure in the Canadian Rockies. We are thinking 5 or 6 nights and we really want at least a day of horseback riding and perhaps some white water rafting. We are looking for the first two weeks of June, we would like 2 rooms and our budget is about XXX a day each.”
Right there is enough to give any good tour operator enough insight to put a few options out in front of you (to take back to the pizza bargaining table with the entire crew)
Now that you have a really good idea of where, start looking at the host city. This is the city that the trip starts, if you’re on the east coast then just know that getting to the west coast can add a day and a bit of a higher price tag for flights. Do not overlook driving, some of my best memories and that of our guests have been on the 1-2 or 3 day road trip to the destination. Just be sure to ask your tour operator if there is a place you can park your car at the beginning of the trip at no charge.
OK with all this behind you, you should be close to picking your dream vacation. Now don’t make that the end of the experience and just wait for departure day. Suggest to all that they challenge themselves to learn a bit about the destination, this just makes it all come together that much more when you arrive (and it keeps your guides on their toes).
One last suggestion (for today anyways) make sure everyone has a camera, the little point and shoot digitals have gotten so cheap its not out of the question to have one for all. There are also the disposables and/or waterproof disposables. Maybe even one of those crazy “flip” video cameras. When you get home, everyone can relive the perfect family adventure vacation as they work together to put together the perfect vacation photo album!
Key is… just get out and enjoy this great big wonderful world we live in!
Bronson here with my first guest post to the Adventure Travel Blog at Austin-Lehman Adventures.
Dan Austin shared some interesting stats about adventure travel activity this year with us one of our annual review sessions, some stuff which I thought may make for a interesting blog post and some awesome adventure travel inspiration.
The info I’d like to share today is a list of the Top 5 Adventure Travel Destinations of 2011 ranked by popularity and also some of the awesome images from our ever growing collection of travel photography on Flickr. So, if you’re looking for reasons to put an adventure trip of a lifetime on your to-do list for 2012 then look no further than the list below.
If you’re still looking for more then please download your free copy of our 2012 Adventure Travel Catalog or browse through the digital version to discover more interesting adventure travel and luxury adventure vacation packages in Europe, Africa and the Americas – and what makes us the leaders in worldwide adventure vacations today.
Join the conversation by voting for your favorite in the comments below or commenting about your experience – who knows, you may just win a custom designed wallpaper pack featuring your favorites from us to say thanks.