Christmas overseas: Our private family adventure

For many of us, Christmas is about more than just the food and the swapping of gifts - it's about being with family. And what better way to reconnect with one another than creating a tailored itinerary and visiting the destination of your dreams!

Michelle McCallum spent Christmas 2010 with her husband and kids in Borneo. They decided on a Private Group tour with Peregrine, which means they chose the dates then worked with us to create their perfect itinerary. Here is their story:

Tell us how the idea of taking a Private Group tour with Peregrine came about. Was it something you’d always wanted to do as a family?
We researched a variety of organised tours with different travel groups. Although they each offered a diverse range of itineraries I couldn’t find one that covered all the areas that I was hoping to explore. 

What were your expectations before heading off on the tour?
We had never travelled on an organised trip or with a tour leader before, so we were a little curious and apprehensive about how it would all work for us. But we needn’t have worried. It was a pleasure to work with such lovely people, and we had fantastic assistance in planning a very special trip for our family.

How many of you went on the trip?
There were four of us on the trip – Rob (my husband), Lilly (our 14 year
old daughter), Blaine (our 13 year old son) and me.

Why did you choose to travel at Christmas?
We didn’t initially choose to travel at Christmas. But we own our own business, and the industry we work in has a general shut down period between Christmas and New Year. There was a bit of concern on my part about travelling away from our family at this time of the year and how that would affect the kids. But I needn’t have worried. We had such a fantastic time that the family has declared Christmas will never be as good again!

Describe Christmas Day on another country for us...
Christmas morning we woke to the sounds of the Gibbons in the trees at Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Sabah. After breakfast on the balcony overlooking the Kinabatangan River we travelled up the river in one of the traditional open boats. Our next stop was the Gomantong Caves where we were fortunate enough to see the birds’ nests being harvested (something we had seen many times in documentaries but did not expect to ever see for ourselves. How lucky!). The caves were massive, smelly and buzzing with activity.

We spent the afternoon trekking out to the Lapid Mud Volcano and while we didn’t spot any wildlife trekking back through the quiet jungle in the rain and mud was something which we all enjoyed. A truly remarkable and unforgettable Christmas!

Do you think it brought your family closer together?
Most definitely. Generally, being on holidays is a time for our family to reconnect after running in different directions with school, work and other activities during the year. Travelling to such a magnificent area only enhanced this for our family. We had so many amazing experiences together and we all got the chance to remember the qualities that we love and admire about each other, eg. kindness to others, funny sense of humour, ability to be resilient and embrace new challenges.

What were some of the lessons you think your kids may have learnt, eg. accepting other cultures etc. Do you think it was hard or easy for them?
Rob and I had always wanted to travel with the kids, but waited until they were old enough to appreciate the places we visited and also remember more of what they had seen and experienced. The kids were resilient, curious ad daring. They took everything in their stride and embraced the challenges of the trip. They enjoyed the diversity of the wildlife, the food and the people we came across. They attempted all the things we asked of them - even when they were tired from travelling. While the kids learnt an enormous amount about the different cultures within Borneo & Brunei an how other people live I think they also learnt quite a lot about themselves and their family.

Any final words?
If you are thinking of organising a private tour or even just attempting some adventure travel, we would certainly suggest that you talk to the lovely people at Peregrine. The experience and knowledge of the staff is exceptional. Peregrine are a wonderful travel company who delivered everything that we asked for and we can’t recommend them highly enough!

Feeling inspired? Why not take a look through our list of destinations and find the one that best suits you. Our Private Groups consultants can help you tailor the perfect trip, or you can choose one of our existing tours and take it privately with the travel companions of your choice.

Our family adventures offer many exciting possibilites with the needs and interests of children in mind.

If you've taken a private trip with Peregrine, why not tell us about it in the comments section below. Or you can head to twitter and Facebook to share stories and images with the rest of the Peregrine community.

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