Started thinking about your family’s next great adventure? Do you dream of travelling abroad but can’t imagine how to do it with young children? It is not too late to start planning for this coming summer! When I learned about Third Culture Travel, a travel agency that caters to families with children, I was excited to connect them with my friend Annie who had plans to go to Paris and Vienna with her husband and their two-year-old son, Alex. They were taking advantage of her husband having a work obligation in France, but as she had never been there (especially not with a toddler), and she wasn’t sure how to make it a good time. I wanted to see how it worked and so offered to write this review in exchange for her giving Annie a sample of her services. Annie said afterwards, “It’s not the kind of thing I normally would have chosen to spend money on– I’m used to more fly-by-the-seat of my pants type travelling– but after [this experience], I will spend the extra money because it was so unbelievably helpful.”
Third Culture Travel. She is the mother of two young children, whom she and her husband have literally taken around the world. She knows from experience what the challenges (and rewards) are at various ages and is passionate about helping other families realize their travel dreams.
The first thing Malee did for Annie was to have her fill out an online questionnaire about her needs and preferences. She asks what you want to focus on and any goals for your trip, such as cultural, wildlife, or scenery. From this, Malee creates a custom itinerary, which a client can provide feedback on before a final version is delivered.
Annie already had a basic travel itinerary, so Malee created a menu of options for her to choose from each day. These included both kid-friendly options and grown-up time. Malee can even help you get a babysitter, to facilitate the latter. “It was basically a choose-your-own adventure,” explained Annie, which she preferred over a set program, which Third Culture Travel can also provide for clients who want more structure.
The itineraries are delivered via a visually appealing and easy to use website that included a description of each activity, a map, and loads of other information such as cost and hours of operation, and links to businesses that were recommended. In Annie’s case, these included a link to walking tours with a company Malee has first-hand experience with. Annie had said that they wanted to go to a beer garden in Vienna, so Malee mapped out all of the ones that were within walking distance of the place where they stayed. All itineraries are downloadable as pdf documents, so that you can store and access them in your phone with or without internet.
Annie said that these packets were also full of invaluable insider tips, such as to visit the Louve (the iconic museum in Paris) in the evening. She said, “It was amazing. The Louve was one of these things you have to cross off the list but that I wasn’t excited about. But as a date-night it was perfect. We were able to walk right up to the rope of the Mona Lisa. This turned out to be one of my favorite things from the trip.” Other information includes weather and information about currencies. “Vienna had a very different tipping culture than Paris, so we were especially glad for the information on that.”
Because Third Culture Travel specializes on families with children, there were features that you would not generally get from other travel agencies- the one most valuable to Annie was that Malee had mapped out the playgrounds nearby. “There was a playground a 10 min walk from where we were staying, and we ended up going there every day. It was great for in-between activities, such as after nap time, when we didn’t have anything else we could do. She also showed where playgrounds were near other places we were going, so we could do a more grownup thing and then burn off steam at a nearby playground.”
Their son’s favorite thing from the trip was the butterfly house in Paris- something that Malee had recommended based on the questionnaire. Annie felt understood and supported throughout: “She emailed me so see how it was going after we arrived. I really appreciated that.” Annie also felt she could ask her parent-specific questions; “I could ask her, ‘Do you think a 2 year old could handle this?’ She is a mom who travels a lot, so it was good to be able to get her advice. That was really helpful.”
Whether you want a fully-scheduled-and-booked itinerary or just some expert help, Third Culture Travel has you covered. Said Annie about her choice “I had more guidance than if it was just me. It was a good blend of flexibility and guidance – it was pretty awesome.”
For more information:
Third Culture Travel
Within the US: (720) 441-3631
Outside the US, contact us on Skype @malee_371