Family Travel Hub, Travel Dreaming, Travel Fun, Travel Lifestyle, Travel Think Tank

So, ummm, what exactly is a travel coach?

A travel coach can be just what you are looking for to help plan your next adventure!

In the age of internet immediacy, today’s travelers can have tickets in hand for anywhere around the world within minutes just by clicking a few times. With Apps like Expedia, Trip Advisor, Hopper, and Booking, it seems like the age of the classic travel agent is coming to a close- or at least finding a new definition. But what was it about a classic travel agent that made them so helpful? Sure, they hard booked ticket after ticket and tour after tour but perhaps that wasn’t the only service that they provided. Perhaps it was was something so much more important.

Perhaps, the local travel agent offered peace of mind. Think about it, a customer happily walked out of a travel agency with paper tickets embossed with their name on them and a clear plan on how their vacation was going to play out. If you think about it, it was kind of win-win. But, time marches on and technology pushes us forward. The question now becomes not so much “what do I do?” but “is what I’m booking worth it?” Enter a travel coach!

Questions that plague the modern traveler range from: Will this be fun? Will my kids like it? Is this really the best activity to spend my time and effort on? Or: Is this website (or top ten list) really the best that this city has to offer?

It can be overwhelming to think that we are getting ready to spend our hard earned money and all too fleeting vacation time on a destination that needs to live up to everyone’s expectations. That overwhelming feeling can make even the most efficient personality feel indecisive! No bueno. So what strikes the right balance between self planning and good, experienced advice? This is where travel coaching can help!

Coaching is a four part process:

1- Intake- this can range from a quick survey to an in depth conversation that allows a traveler to express their likes and dislikes and travel dreams.

2- Research- now it’s time for your coach to put together suggestions and tips to match your intake and perhaps introduce a few new suggestions that you hadn’t thought of. This can be general itinerary suggestions or specific activities depending on where you are in the planning process.

3- Consultation- time to meet and pour over travel dreams and delights

4- Final Revisions- based on step three or the fact that you are moving from the dreaming phase into the planning phase, this step adds in any pertinent revisions and contains more up to date and specific booking information.

More importantly, here are three things that you should not expect from travel coaching:

1- Don’t expect a budget monitor. While any coach will put your budgetary concerns at the top of their list assist a customer (that’s just good business), don’t expect a coach to scour for hours to find the best price on a particular activity. In today’s travel world, look for apps and the web to keep you up to date on that. Do expect that a travel coach will let you know when to buy a city pass or not based on your chosen activities.

2-Don’t expect to just get run of the mill travel ideas. Do expect you likes and interests, diet and lifestyle will be well thought out. Travel coaches LOVE scouring the books and crannies of a city to find all the fun stuff that doesn’t just sit on the surface. (Conversely, it is prudent to remember how important it is that those icons of travel are icons for a reasons).

3- Don’t expect a long, drawn out experience. Instead, travel coaching is a quick, efficient, and inexpensive way to explore travel opportunities and feel out the right trip of a lifetime. Travel coaching can be a great way to choose two or three destinations and sort through their options to choose the best one for you!

Okay, I get it and I’m interested! Can we cut to the bottom line, please? Our services come in three tiers:

Continental Destination Analysis: {$80.00}. This is for the traveler that knows that they want to go to a particular area like Europe or Australia. But don’t know where to begin after that dream. We’ve got you covered! Let’s chat over a hot cup of tea and get started!

Dreaming of Destinations: {$50.00}. This option is for the traveler that has already narrowed down the big trip to two or three places. You want to either sift out the excess or link them together cohesively. If you are a researcher of your dreams, this is a good option for you!

Pre-planning Primers: {325.00}. This for the traveler with tickets in mind and they are ready to start filling in the calendar. Lists with activities, transportation choices, sleeping accommodations and sincere advice on a specific trip are what you’re looking for. You’ve got the vision and you are ready to execute! Let’s do it!

*Travel coaching is one aspect of TGC’s commitment to the global citizen. Please be sure to follow our blog on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, we have lots of great activities for kids at our Teacher Pay Teachers Store. For great travel inspiration, links to interesting destinations and experiences, as well as other aspects of TGC’s global vision. We appreciate your time and interest in bringing the global experience to life.

Travel Dreaming

Travel To Thailand: Enchanting and Controversial

Thailand. A country of extremes. A place where chaos reigns in big cities and beaches calm the soul with beautiful vistas. This South Asian tourist mecca layers itself with many personalities. Some are bright like Buddhist temples and floating markets. Others are a bit darker like the animal tourism industry or places called Sex Street. So, how can we travel to Thailand and find the right balance of vacation fun and broadened horizons? Let’s dig in!

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Lay Of The Land

Thailand has more coastline than Florida. In fact, it would take about 20 hours to drive from North to South. It’s safe to say that a typical two week holiday won’t let you see the entire country. The country is anchored by three famous hot spots. To the north is Chiang Mai, to the south is beachy Phuket and smack dab in the middle is Bangkok.

Lilies at the temple
Temple

Thailand’s Beaches

Nestled between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, Thailand prides itself on some pretty spectacular beaches. The winner of this beach beauty pageant is Phuket.

Pattaya used to be the beach of choice decades ago but now turns its worn eye toward more industrial needs. That industrial emphasis has taken its toll on the tourism industry here. Yet, due to its close proximity to Bangkok, Pattaya it seems to hang on.

Conversely, Phuket seems to be the darling of them all. While it has been in the news a bit because of over tourism, the Phuket area enjoys the bulk of the tourist influx and, therefore has a far better infrastructure to support those numbers.

The Icons

  • Half Buried Buddha
  • Marine Research Center
  • Gibbon Rehabilitation Center

The Experiences

  • Lay on the beach
  • Phangnga Bay
  • Thai Village

Bangkok

Exotic and chaotic. Those are the first words that come to mind as I think back to Bangkok. Each intersection seems like a starting point of a great migration of cars, trucks, motorcycles and tut-tuts. Intermingled in all of it a precious temples and markers of real heritage. Plan at least three days to see all that Bangkok has to offer.

Reclining Buddha
The Famous Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Alms
Giving Bhat to the temple in 100 little pots
Reclining Buddha
Learning about the Reclining Buddha
Outside the Grand Palace
The Grand Palace: Sleeves and long pants only here!
the architecture of Thailand
Thai temple architecture

The Icons

  • The Grand Palace
  • Wat Pho
  • Wat Arun
  • Dusit Park

The Experiences

  • Floating Market
  • Daily Alms
  • Chinatown
  • Thai Massage
temple kitty
A temple resident with a human do no disturb sign

Chiang Mai

About 700 KM to the north lies this second city of Thailand. While still chaotic and perhaps overwhelming, Chiang Mai has a certain gentleness to it that can not be denied. At a fraction of the size of sprawling Bangkok, Chiang Mai offers quite a few unique experiences.

The Icons

  • Wat Phra Sing
  • Wat Chedi Luang
  • Doi Suthep–Pui National Park

The Experiences

  • Warorot Market
  • Bo Sang Village
  • Yi Pang Lantern Festival
Monks walking

Animal Attractions

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Asian animal attractions, and for that matter attractions everywhere, are under great scrutiny. They are being scrutinized more and more as to the care they give and the purpose they rely on.

There is an undeniable curiosity about animals. Let’s face it, the bigger and more furry, the more we as a global society are attracted to them. At the top of Thailand’s attractions are tigers and elephants. Much has been reported about the treatment and conditions in which animal tourism in Asia and it’s not without merit. So, what is the right call? I think that it is possible that some attractions have the animal’s best interest in mind while others are far more interested in lining their pockets. Take these three examples:

Elephants taking a shortcut through the water

Sriracha Tiger Zoo

The Tiger Zoo was a cacophony of sounds and sites. To one side, was a fenced in gazebo with a pig, a dog, and a tiger chasing each other around in circles. To the other, the scorpion lady was covered in creepy crawlies. Straight ahead was the tiger nursery. About 100 juveniles were in “playpens” they eagerly awaited the visitors who they knew had milk to feed them. The place had the feel of a day care facility. Lessons were hastily given as to how to hold and feed these little ones. Once visitors have a chance to interact with the little ones, they were shown through to a circus like ring to watch the older tigers.

There were a lot of interactions with other animals- elephants, monkeys, snakes. They all were happily posed around visitors. I’m not sure how I feel all these years later about this particular venue. Maybe the correct word is uncomfortable. I guess I will leave the evaluation to wildlife experts.

Tiger Zoo Nursery
In the nursery
Tiger Zoo
With a newer resident, this elephant trotted over to us. She seemed very happy to hang around us.

Pattaya Elephant Village

For a different Thai experience, look toward facilities like this. The village is home to retired working elephants that seem happy to be in the peaceful patch of jungle. The village wants to allow these elephants to feel useful and educate visitors with the history of the role elephants played in this part of the world.

When you visit the Village, there are several animals to see and a few experiences to enjoy including an elephant ride. I felt like the elephants were given their space to roam the pathway at their own pace and I even saw the establishment change out an elephant that started showing concerns with one that seemed eager to participate.

One thing that surprised me was the wonderful lunch that was provided. Sitting under a lovely pavilion with that same soft music playing, local women had plate after plate of probably the best food I ate in the whole country. My feeling here was one of relief.

Retired elephant
One of the retired elephants who strayed a bit off the path. No one seemed to mind and he eventually joined back up with our group.
Thai musician
Lovely music played at the “base camp”

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Contrasting the two options above, this sanctuary seeks only to educate rather than blend in entertainment. Here, don’t expect to ride an elephant. Instead, visitors are encouraged to understand the natural habitat life of elephants. From half day tours to week long volunteering opportunities (look to “adopt” a friend for the week and literally handle all of their needs), this sanctuary is the future of animal tourism.

Thailand is known for flowers
Flowers grown and picked for offerings

While the sanctuary invites visitors in, it’s with caution. You are there to learn. There to understand how these gentle giants need our protection and there to understand the massive amount of work it takes to maintain the sanctuary itself.

Many of their packages come with meals, add on tours, and other options to make your time memorable. But then again, do you need much more than a baby elephant laying on your legs to be completely fulfilled?

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
elephant play time!

That Famous Bridge

One quest you may be interested in is the bridge that spans the Khwae Yai River. Known because of its infamy on the silver screen. The dark history of what happened on the Burma-Siam Railroad is sad. You can learn more about it by visiting the bridge that sits just over 100 KM from the capitol.

The Bridge over the River Kwai

The Mekong

In Thailand’s northeast, the Mekong River is king. This area perfect for nature enthusiasts, is known for its small villages, colorful festivals and impressive temples, this area may be the perfect area to enjoy many of Thailand’s treasures. Food for thought…

Thailand's Mekong River
One of the slow boats down the Mekong.

Two Thailand Tales

When I think back to visiting Thailand, I realize that I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m not too pleased with myself that I didn’t realize some of the travel choices I made weren’t the best. The Tiger Zoo comes to mind. I also was not prepared for having drivers who shuttled us down Sex Street without giving a second thought to the fact that I had children in the car. I was not the best traveler then and I learned lessons to make me better.

On the other hand, I loved Thailand for all of its gentleness. In fact, it’s that amazing aura that my kids remember most. I recently asked them about their favorite moment from that trip, and they all recall our time seeing the Reclining Buddha. It wasn’t the elephants and tigers that first pop to mind. Instead, they remember the moment we gave them each 100 Bhat.

There, at the reclining Buddha, 100 small pots are lined up. The goal is to say something you are grateful for at each pot wile you add a coin. As you move along, the soft ching-ching sound relaxes you. What a powerful way to start kids understanding the power of gratefulness and meditation. This was what they remember most.

Moments like this make Thailand a destination that is worth exploring again and again.

Buddha
Travel Dreaming

Road Trip: Dallas, Texas

YeeeeeHaw!!!!! We’re going to Texas!!! Recently my podcast bestie, Terri, shared her great trip to Dallas, Texas on our podcast. Her picks were so great that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share them with you! So, let’s take a trip to one of the great American cities the US has to offer. It’s time to travel to Dallas.

ancient architecture attraction bricks
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dallas Treats

The Lone Star State has plenty to offer any traveler, regardless of personal interests. From history and arts to sports and ranching culture, Dallas does not disappoint. Both stadiums in Dallas offer amazing tours for the sports lover (and perhaps their reluctant travel partners as well). While Daley Plaza takes you back to the events of November 22nd, 1963 when JFK was assassinated here. Meanwhile, not far away, the Fort Worth Stockyards give you a taste of the Texas ranching tradition that thrives outside of town.

field of texas bluebonnet
Photo by nagaraju gajula on Pexels.com

Local Eats

Like many metropolitan cities, Dallas is realizing the value of local food venues. With plenty of mom and pop set-ups that serve up great tex-mex as well as regional dishes like BBQ and chicken fried steak. Dallas has it’s share of yummy indulgences- they created the deep fried Oreo– so you will not be at a loss for local treats while you are in town.

Y’all Come Back Now, Ya’ Hear?

Beyond things to do and places to eat, Dallas offers the traveler the very thing we all search for- the people. The Lone Star State is famous for their down to earth attitude and friendly hellos to visitors. Soak in the great accent and the cozy feeling. So, whether it’s your first visit to Dallas or you’re back to enjoy more, Dallas wants you to explore and settle in!