The spooky & ghoulies holiday is sneaking up on us. Yes, Halloween is Tuesday, and all our little masked miniature munchkins will take to the streets seeking candy dressed as Batman, Wonder Woman, unicorns, bunnies, zombies, pirates, aliens and other creatures that we can scarce imagine. While you’re prowling the neighborhoods with your kids for Tootsie Rolls and tiny Snickers, think about your next family vacation.

Wait… what?

If you’re lucky, you get only about 273 days of holiday time with your family when the kids are between 5 and 13 years old. That is not a lot of time.

Some people have the attitude that during a family vacation, parents need a timeout of their own get away from the kids, who need to be kept busy. They opt for a beach or cruise vacation where the kids and parents are more or less separate, coming together for meals and bedtime.

In that case, you can stop reading now.

Children don’t need to be entertained. They need to be inspired, involved, impassioned. And so do the parents. We created Precious Journeys® and Precious Journeys® College Edition because we believe that the family experience can be one where the entire family is immersed and enchanted by the experience. And, where kids might be introduced to new ideas that may affect their futures.

For example, during the Guatemala, Colombia & Argentina: Graffiti Art Experience in the College Edition collection, aspiring artists can explore the fascinating world of graffiti art on this unique journey through Guatemala, Colombia and Argentina, meeting some of today’s recognized artists in the medium. They learn how Colombia has embraced graffiti as the artistic expression of its people and discover the street art of Buenos Aires, a city that has becomes a flourishing center for restriction-free graffiti and other art that is attracting both local and international artists. They travel to villages in Guatemala with artistic traditions that reflect the indigenous Kaqchikel and Tz’utujil peoples.

The Precious Journeys® India: Saving Tigers offers younger children the opportunity to learn what it mean to be a park ranger. In Satpura National Park. The Junior Naturalist Program, is designed for children and interested adults, who want to learn the basic knowledge of jungle to derive greater enjoyment and understanding of any wilderness. Spread over three days, the course operates for about two hours a day with sessions held between safaris and in the evening for 30 – 40 minutes, covering topics including basics of ecology, learning how to identify different species, how to use field guides, make field notes and sketches, identify tracks, and basics of nature photography.  You learn how to identify different habitats, forest types and the animals that inhabit them. Learn to identify tracks and signs of animal presence as well as how to measure prints, identify droppings and other jungle craft.

The point is that you want those precious 273 days to mean something, to be a time when your entire family can play as well as learn, be productive as well as relaxed… together.

After the trick-or-treating, discover more about Big Five’s ideas of family travel, please explore Kids.

Resetting the bar For Sustainable Tourism

No matter how often the subject comes up at conferences, meetings and one-on-ones, the conversation often comes back to some of the same basic questions. Is it real? What is it? Where do I begin if I want to do it?

We launched the new about sustainable travel not to lecture, and, certainly not to sell. So what gives?  Why do this now?

Over the years, even decades, many voices have been talking about responsible tourism; and how, when done right, it has the power to change societies and even nations.

That is exactly the reason behind We have come to understand that travel today is as much about the why as it is about the where.  It is time to reset the bar and talk about the importance of sustainable travel in a real, everyday context.  Not to preach but to inform; to answer the vital where do I begin question.

If you think about it, the same general questions can be applied to anything from buying a new car to creating a new world.

Some might think we are taking a risk with this site; some country leaders may take issue with a particular ranking. aims to reach beyond the fabled islands to focus on Latin America, and offers ranking based on our experience. We hope this becomes a platform where you can come to understand the exciting global sustainable tourism transformation underway, and how you as a fellow traveler can be part of this.

Guatemala & Panama Tours

You have to take a helicopter to get there – unless of course you’d rather hike a few days along a rugged path through thick jungle. At first, you see nothing but lush rainforest treetops. As you fly closer, an island of trees seems to stand a bit taller than the rest. Then, you see it – the jagged top of a temple with a wooden staircase – the first hint of what’s coming.

“I have never felt more like Indiana Jones,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five, “than when I trekked the ruins this summer. The contrast with a site like Tikal is truly amazing.  A thousand tourists swarmed over that site, while only ten people, including my group of six, were here to witness this ancient Mayan city. The hardest places to get to have the most to offer and this is a pure example of that!”

Well, he has a point. Even after landing you still have to hike a bit to get there. This remote archeological site deep in the Guatemalan jungle flourished as a trade center from about 300 BCE to 150 CE, with a peak population of perhaps between 100,000 and 250,000 people. It is fascinating for its two large pyramid complexes, El Tigre and La Danta. The La Danta temple rises 236 feet above the forest floor with a total volume of 2,800,000 cubic meters. Add to that the large manmade platform beneath the temple, another 18,000 square meters, and that makes this one of the largest pyramids found anywhere; possibly one of the most massive ancient structures in the world, according to some archeologists.

It is remarkable to think that a site this massive was not discovered by the outside world until 1926, even then, the remote site gained little attention until Ian Graham made the first map of the area in 1962.

Then, in 2003, Richard D. Hansen, an archeologist from Idaho State University, initiated major investigation, stabilization, and conservation programs here with a multi-disciplinary team gathered from 52 universities and research institutions from throughout the world.

As you maneuver around trees that grow from nearly every crevice and crack in the rocky landscape, you come upon gray tarps strung above sections of stones where the archeologists are actively working.

According to Hansen, director of the Mirador Basin Project, the more than 45 mapped sites in the Mirador Basin may have formed the earliest well-defined political state in Mesoamerica. And, it appears that a large amount of construction predates other Mayan sites including Tikal.

El Mirador Basin in the far northern Petén region of Guatemala is known for its abundance of sites, many of which are among the largest and earliest in the Maya world. Of 26 known sites, only 14 have been studied, with an estimated 30 more on the list to be explored, which we hope can be protected from looters until the researchers can explore them.

You can now discover this incredible archeological wonder on our 18-day President’s Pick: Adventure Guatemala & Panama.

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.

It seems that most of us fall into one of two basic categories – Not Leaving Home without My Plan and Oh, Come on Take a Chance. The differences are obvious, with pros and cons on both sides. Planning promises that you will get the room you want in the hotel you want in the place you want. Spontaneity, on the other hand, might mean that you may have an unexpected but lovely hotel in a surprising place you had not realized you might want to be.

What makes this fascinating is when Strategizer A travels with Free Spirit B. Each has his or her own ideas about what makes a rewarding travel adventure. We encounter this frequently and making both happy can be an interesting challenge. But it’s doable.

Even with a last-minute getaway vacation, you and your family can enjoy spur-of-the-moment activities within an overall plan as long as you remain flexible. Last-minute anything requires us to be malleable to the sometimes limited but no less intriguing choices and possibilities.

We currently have limited holiday space available in Kenya, Indonesia, Thailand and India as well as several Latin America destinations, including Guatemala, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Maybe you had not thought about escaping to one of these exotic locales, or just maybe one of them is exactly what you had been thinking about. Either way, this may be the perfect time to do some unexpected exploration.

“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” – Gael Attal.

Neither were those of us born to explore the world. A new unplanned place can offer us fresh adventures. Indonesia, for example, is a country of islands… more than 17,000! Here you find not only warm, pristine sands for the beachcomber in you, but also a wealth of traditional cultures, unique and rare wildlife, and adventures from exploring cave systems to spectacular diving. And, few countries in the world can rival Peru for the sheer drama of its archeological sites and the awesome physical beauty of its landscape as well as distinctive cultures.

Well planned or on the fly, you can count on us to help you make the most of your last-minute holiday vacation. Contact us for more places that still have some space available. And stay tuned. We will keep you updated to last-minute availability as we have it.

Checkout our new Sustainable travel educational site.

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