Friday, December 31, 2010

Family Destinations for 2011

At Quivertree we are always on the lookout for exciting family destinations.This year, we added Thailand, Turkey and Morocco to our original offerings. In 2011, we are most likely going to add a basket of European destinations, as we are finding increased demand for these. So expect to see Iceland, Portugal, France and Italy sometime in 2011! In addition, we will be adding a number of South American countries as well. Watch this space for details!

Monday, October 18, 2010 and CheapOair

Today I want to talk about two sites that have caught my eye lately.The first is
This is really a terrific site with a great idea. The author and creator, Marcella Ponsen, is someone who clearly sees family travel in the same way we do. is a series of guidebooks designed for kids to make their family travel more stimulating and interesting. The website has a lot of cool things, like child friendly cafes in intersting places, a tips and ideas section, and news items. I think this is a great idea. I've long been critical of the mainstream guidebooks (Frommers, Fodors etc.) who seem to believe family travel is restricted to theme parks, toyshops and malls with video arcades. We wish only the best success !

I'm currently researching a family trip for next summer. Top of our choice list Ecuador, Peru, Spain and Italy. Looks like it will be one of them. It used to be one could search airfares at the Big 3 (Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity) but that's changing. One site I've found to be very good is Cheapoair which is a little bit like Kayak but includes more news, a blog, deals etc. I think in the future these all encompassing search option sites will become more prevalent, and Cheapoair (I accept maybe not the best name) is in a good place to carve out a niche for itself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gideon's family visits Turkey

This summer I took my family to Turkey.

This wasn’t my first trip there- I’d been with my wife four times previously, but it was the first with the kids - my two boys of 5 and 9 and my daughter of 13.

Many people don’t really know what to expect from Turkey - just the sound of it is highly exotic - it resonates with the echos of the Ottoman Empire and much more ancient empires before it - it is a meeting place between East and West, a place where cultures clash and of course, a Muslim country. But is it modern or backwards? First world or third world? Are the people friendly or not? And what about the food?

The answer is that Turkey is exotic - but it is also modern and well developed and even in the middle of nowhere one feels safe and comfortable. The people are incredibly friendly, and the food is one of the great cuisines of the world.

Turkey has always been one of my favourite countries - It was even better with the family. To see any country through kids’ eyes is literally an eye opener - and a completely different experience from travel without kids -everything takes on new meaning, one’s perspective changes and you get to visit places you would never have gone to otherwise. A trip becomes less of a pure sightseeing tour and more of an immersion in the country and it’s culture - kids want to see things that interest kids - sure, some of the big sights, but also the playgrounds, the ice cream parlors, the parks, the markets, and sometimes the more off -beat places and sights.

Together we explored Istanbul, one of the great cities of the world, and then we journeyed through the almost unknown Black Sea region - the last great frontier of Turkey. It was awesome -first touring the great imperial city and seeing the remains of past civilizations and then visiting the smaller towns and villages and experiencing the magic of the Black Sea coast. Best of all, kids act as the perfect ice breaker with the locals, and we met so many people through our kids that we would never have net otherwise. Experiencing cultural differences with kids is fascinating too - they loved visiting mosques, and they really enjoyed exploring the new tastes of a culinary repetoire they had never come across before.

Turkey proved to be the perfect family vacation - adventurous, but with the right mix of first world amenities and comfort as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Turkey to any family, well traveled or not, looking for a great cultural experience without suffering any discomforts. Follow my blog at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eating and traveling in Turkey

One of the great highlights of Turkey is the food. And Turkish food is perfect for families traveling with kids.

Turkish food must rank as one of the great cuisines of the world – but it is not necessary to eat expensively nor exotically either. The most simple food is also some of the most delicious food - lentil soup (for breakfast!!), rice and beans, Turkish meatballs (kofte), salads. The fruit and the olives are simply outstanding, eat as you go sandwiches are commonplace (the whole world knows about doner kebap), and unusual sometimes – one of our favourites is Balik Ekmek – Fish Sandwich, a great Istanbul tradition. Pide (Turkish Pizza) is available everywhere and is cheap. The meat and fish are good, and the vegetables (whether cooked or raw) are simply outstanding. You don’t need to eat spicy food at all, though you’ll often find a pepper or two served with the food. The bread is great as well (so long as its fresh from the bakery).

And then we get to dessert! For the sweet tooth, Turkey is like heaven on earth. The range of Baklava is incredible – we have never eaten better baklava anywhere in the world. And the ice cream is great – for some reason, Turkey has excellent ice cream – from the sticky Maras Dondurma to the regular ice cream parlors, they are simply wonderful.

Bottom line – one can eat like a king and pay like a king in Turkey if you want, but since most families travel on a budget, one can eat simply as well, and they’ll be some of the

Colombia (again) and South Africa

Once again, the New York Times Travel section featured Colombia on Sunday 9/19/2010. This has become quite common lately. The feature was focused on Santa Marta, which is a great tourist hotspot, thanks to its excellent location. It is situated on the Caribbean,not far from Cartagena and Tayrona National Park, arguably the two biggest 'must see's' on a Colombian trip. Colombia is not yet a popular tourist destination in the way Costa Rica, or even Guatemala is (and in South America, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile) but as long as the country remains stable it will become a major tourist destination. It offers so much - beautiful beaches, fabulous, spirited, throbbing cities, South American flair and fashion, and gracious, friendly hosts. Definitely a place to go, now, before it is properly and rightfully 'discovered'.Here's the link to Sunday's article

We just returned from a family trip to South Africa.The country was definitely at its best as the host for the 2010 World Cup and everyone involved did a terrific job.There's no doubt in my mind that South Africa is a premiere destination : it really offers anything and everything a traveler could want - great infrastructure and roads (perfect for a self drive holiday), good accommodations, great food, friendly people, incredible natural attractions, top class wildlife/safari, Cape Town, consistently ranked in the top 10 cities in the world, wonderful coastline and beaches, and a fascinating mix of cultures, African and European. It cries out to be visited. We had the most wonderful trip - it's a country you cannot help but love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quivertree Destination survey

Thanks to everyone who has participated in our destination survey.It has been most interesting to see where you want us to take you next ! Based on the voting so far, it looks like these will be our upcoming Quivertree family destinations :
Spain & Portugal

Gideon just returned from a trip to Turkey. He has spent quite a lot of time there and his family just loves it ! Although I've only been there twice for very short periods, my wife, Liora, travelled in Turkey extensively before we met and loved it too. It has a great mix of culture, food, history, archeology and much of it child friendly. And it has the most gracious, welcoming hosts. We have long felt we would be adding this incredible country to our destinations and your survey responses just bear that out !

While Thailand is quite touristy, it can be travelled in many different ways. Sometimes it's not so bad being 'touristy' as the infrastructure, food and accommodations are of a certain standard that we would desire for our families.My family visited Thailand in 2007. I'll confess that I really wanted to go to the Thai beaches, but our kids chose culture over sunning and swimming. We spent a memorable night at Elephant nature park, a refuge for damaged or abused elephants, and it was one the highlights of our entire 3 month trip. Check it out at

I was last in Portugal in 2007. I have never understood why portugal is so underestimated. Possibly it's just overshadowed by france and spain, 2 giants of the European tourist circuit. I found portugal to be beautiful, with everything you could ask for in a travel destination - food, beaches, castles, ruins, good roads (mostly)and the chance almost everywhere to get off the beaten track. Our goal is to offer trips to both Portugal and spain, concentrating in part on staying in Posadas (castles or historic buildings of Portugal)or Paradores/Pazos of Spain.

I'm so excited to be adding these destinations as each offers so much in terms of family travel, but mostly the opportunity for a rich, thrilling, bonding family experience.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some great coverage for Quivertree !!

Recently we have been thrilled to be featured in a number of online publications and travel websites. It's clear (to us anyway) that what we are doing makes a lot of sense even in this very saturated world of online travel companies. There are a growing number of people who want to travel as a family with all the planning done by a professional, but they do not wish to join a larger group and be restricted by that group. They want their family unit to be THE group. We understand that.
So where have we featured lately ?

The first is
Simonseeks is a website where a community of travel enthusiasts, experts and celebrities can upload travel guides and share their tips on the best places to stay, eat and visit around the world so we were very pleased to be noticed there. Look at what they wrote at
Currently I see they're currently doing a special on
Rome hotels

Secondly we've been featured in, an online site featuring everything you want to know about, yes, travelling with kids.

Last, but not least, you can find us in, again an online resource for everything relating to family travel.

These are the places we want to be in - they're concentrating on exciting, fun, meaningful family travel, just as we aim to do.

Monday, June 7, 2010

TripAdvisor Travel Choice 2010 awards

Tripadvisor has just come out with its Travel Choice Awards for 2010. It's a great list, divided into numerous categories, like Best Beaches, Best Destinations, Best places for culture, Emerging Destinations, Top 25 by continent and so on. In fact, it's the kind of lists I love and probably spend too much time reading.

So I'm a little shocked to read the Top 10 Destinations in the World for families. Of the Top 10, four - yes, FOUR - are selected not only for their theme parks, but for Disney theme parks (EuroDisney, Disney Japan, plus Disneyland and Disneyworld)). Not that I have anything against Disney - I've been three times and even took my kids for a day the last time we were in LA - but is that really the best in Family Travel ? Are those really four of the best family travel destinations in the world ? Is Eurodisney really a better destination than other areas of France ? Is Disneyland really a superior destination in the USA, than say San Francisco, New York or the National Parks of Utah and Arizona ? Would you really prefer taking your family to Disney Japan than say the Great wall of China and the Forbidden City, or Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia etc. etc. You get the point. This is one of my favourite rants, and the main reason we started Quivertree. I would rather take my kids to a real destination, to learn culture, see and hear different people living real lives than a contrived theme park. I want to go on real travel and have genuine, authentic experiences with my family, and to think that it can't be done so just go for the Disney default is sadly misguided. OK, that's probably enough from me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Colombia featured in New York Times Travel section again !

Two of my very favorite destinations, Bogota, Colombia, and the Alentejo region of Portugal were featured in the New York Times special glossy travel magazine on 5/23/2010.
Firstly Bogota. It's the second time in the past 2 months that Colombia has been featured and I take it as further evidence that this once unthought of destination is quickly moving onto the traveller's hot list. Bogota's a fascinating city, and once there, you're likely to forget all the stories you once heard about Colombia, and revel in the passion and energy of the people. I loved the introduction to the piece. The author's first night in Bogota is rocked by the shocking news that the biggest event in town is a ...Coldplay concert ! How can this wild, untameable city be so mainstream ? Seriously, go to Colombia - you will not regret it.

Likewise the Alentejo in Portugal has often been overlooked, lagging behind Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve as top tourist destinations. The Alentejo is dry and very hot, and often very empty, BUT it has great beauty and charm as well. You could be driving along and seemingly in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly on a hilltop you'll spot a picture perfect white walled town with a medieval castle to boot. I would ALWAYS include this area for a few days and not only the tourist hub Evora, but the countryside as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

2 great travel related blogs to watch

Of course there are literally hundreds of travelblogs one could follow, and it all gets a little overwhelming. I try sift out the best or most interesting or at least the ones with the best photos ! When I start thinking about a destination to visit, I usually look at a lot of photos first as i tend to get excited by what I see.
Two really good sites are
They are very different resources. Melanie's Travelling Kid is a site dispensing huge amounts of terrific, valuable travel information for anyone, like us, travelling with kids. It's a great resource, and very interesting too.
LeBest focuses on everything Paris. It's a beautiful site with fabulous photos, light and color, and if you weren't sure about visiting Paris, you will be after checking out this site !

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cartagena, Colombia featured in Travel & Leisure Magazine

Just a week after being featured in the New York Times, Cartagena, Colombia has now been featured in Travel & Leisure magazine.Again, after a glowing report, it's hard to ignore this fascinating, resurgent city, a must see destination in my ipinion. Go there now - you'll be very pleasantly surprised !

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Quivertree Blog 5/4/2010
New Zealand, already one of our favorite family destinations, hosts the Rugby World Cup (RWC2011) in September and October 2011. So if you're a sporty type, a fabulous destination just got even better (of course if you're not interested in the rugby, the best time to visit New Zealand would be a few weeks after the tournament has ended).
New Zealand is a wonderful family destination, no matter what the ages of your children. Blessed with spectacular natural beauty and full of adventure activities, Quivertree is offering Rugby World Cup packages of 10 days to three weeks, combining some of New Zealand's most loved highlights with rugby weekends for the quarter finals, semi finals and final in Auckland. Because New Zealand is relatively compact with an exceptional transport infrastructure, it will be possible to see a lot of the country even while enjoying the country. And for those who don't want to go to the rugby, that leaves more time for a fantastic family trip to one of the world's great destinations !
For more on the Rugby World Cup 2011, go to the official tournament website at

Volcan Totumo, Colombia
Without doubt, one of the most bizarre and memorable travel experiences one can ever have is Volcan Totumo, a mud volcano about 45 minutes outside of Cartagena, Colombia. Nothing can prepare you for this. It really has to be personally experienced. First you climb up about 40 steps, wearing only your bathing suit and carrying nothing. Then you are helped into a mudbath by one of the 'stewards' - while another steward takes photos for you with your camera. You are placed horizontally in the pool - some say it is 1 1/2 miles deep - nobody seems to know - but you cannot sink, even if you try. The temperature is perfect, and while you are lying down, someone else gives you a full body massage. Now and then, the bath starts bubbling which just adds to the overall weirdness and entertainment. After about 45 minutes, you are instructed to get out, and run down the steps and into the lagoon a few meters away. There, a group of women wash you, even removing your bathing suit underwater, before you get out and return to Cartagena. For some photos see my blog at
It's really an incredible experience, not remotely strenuous and perfect for families and you'll be talking about it for a long time afterwards !
Cartagena, Colombia featured in the New York Times Travel section !
On Sunday May 2, 2010, Cartagena was the leading feature destination in the New York Times Travel section. Read the story at
I think it's completely natural for the NYT to feature Cartagena - it is a 'must see' city, a real gem, and probably the best example of a Spanish colonial city. Add the atmosphere of daily Colombian life and you have an incredible destination, one you'll never forget !