17-year-old Euan and his family have travelled numerous times with us, from the hiking trails of Peru to historical cities in India and lush landscapes of Vietnam. Nowadays when reading blog posts and inspiration pages for family holidays, usually – they’re from a parent’s perspective. But here, Euan tells us what he, as a teen, wants from a family adventure and talks through the experiences of travelling to different parts of the world with his mum, dad and younger brother.
As a teen, I’m not one for those classic all-inclusive packaged holidays where the kids are shifted off to kid’s club and adults head out to do what they want all day. I want to keep myself entertained by having plenty of different activities along the way, both physical and non-physical; doing something different that I can’t just do at home. I know a lot of people my age enjoy lounging around by the pool all day with nothing to do, but for me – I want to be adventurous, explore different places and be active. But of course, a couple of days of relaxation at the end of my trip on a serene beach goes down a treat.
When booking a holiday with Rickshaw, I expected it to run smoothly, especially looking at the amazing reviews on trust pilot. However, one thing I didn’t expect to have was the level of trust in the company, even when we had never travelled with them before. We experienced this when we were called by Rickshaw to tell us that we were unable to travel via car to the following destination due to unforeseen weather conditions. Without us having to stress about sorting other means of transport, Rickshaw had already booked us on a flight at no extra charge to ensure that we did not miss out on experiences as a result. This demonstrated to us that they really value their customers and they aren’t just in the business purely for profit.
Another aspect I didn’t expect was the personal side of things. Rickshaw use local partners in each destination to create their trips, and it feels like each tour has been tried, tested and adapted for each person’s needs. It’s certainly not something you could just book on TripAdvisor.
From my experience, Bai Tu Long bay is a must-see for any first trip to Vietnam. The 1,600 or so limestone peaks, emerald waters and floating markets means it more than deserves its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. However, one of the most admirable aspects of Rickshaw is its focus on responsible travel. Ha Long Bay is currently experiencing environmental degradation and overcapacity issues, which has led Rickshaw to change their trip to the lesser-known Bai Tu Long Bay. Don’t worry though, Bai Tu Long Bay is every bit as beautiful as Ha Long Bay but with fewer tourist boats and a more real experience.
The Ho Chi Minh evening street food tour was my favourite trip out of the lot. We hopped on the back of a vintage Vespa and got led around safely through the traffic by professional drivers. We stopped off at local restaurants on the way round to sample the delicious local delicacies and enjoy the music and drinks as we became part of the famous Vietnamese motorbike traffic.
There was no way I wasn’t going to include the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu as my top highlight for Peru. It’s very much a challenge even for the fittest people, but this makes it that much better when you finally arrive. Spare a thought for your porters and chef who will no doubt put you to shame as they speed past you with up to 20KG weight on their back. Our chef managed to bake a cake on our final night, to this day we still wonder how that was possible!
After a day spotting condor in the Colca Canyon, we went to a small town called Corporaque. The first night we spent in the La Casa de Mamayacchi, which was a lovely place to overcome mild altitude sickness. Following a hot springs experience, it was time for us to return to a local homestay on a farm. If rustic is not for you then you may want to opt-out, but for us, it was one of the highlights of our trip. Josefina and Oswaldo were very welcoming and despite them not speaking English we were able to have a conversation through the power of google translate.
When many people think of Agra they think of the Taj Mahal, but Agra is so much more than that. We visited ‘Baby Taj’, or Itmad-ud-Daulah as it is officially called. The architecture is very similar to the Taj Mahal, but it doesn’t have the same level of crowds and people trying to sell you stuff. Our very passionate guide also educated us about the history of the Black Taj Mahal and why it was never built, but I will leave this to you to find out. We somewhat enjoyed this tour more than the Taj Mahal itself, even though that is a must when coming to Agra.
After experiencing the hectic streets of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, there wasn’t a better place for us to visit than the Samode Palace. When you stay in the Samode you are not only getting a blush hotel but also a museum, with the stunning intricate architecture. It offers two swimming pools, a hot tub and a spa; an all-round a perfect place to unwind and process your trip before ending your experience.
How Rickshaw Travel is different
We found that Rickshaw took the stress away from having to organise transfers, accommodation, and activities ourselves, without taking away the whole element of individual travel. If you’re looking at Rickshaw, then I presume that packaged off the shelf holidays by the pool are not for you. The travel specialists apply their expertise and local knowhow to make a trip personal for you and whoever you are travelling with. If there’s something you don’t want to do, then that can be easily taken off the itinerary and replaced by something you feel like you will enjoy more. Upon arrival off the plane, Rickshaw was waiting for us each time with their puzzle logo, to take then transfer us to our hotel to relax.
Rickshaw differentiates from other travel companies in that it has a travel specialist for each location. In bigger companies, employees will be selling multiple different holiday destinations and therefore may not have the in-depth knowledge of the place, when to go, and how to structure your trip to best suit your group. I feel they also avoid tourist traps without sacrificing the highlights of the trip. They also don’t just have one guide for the entire trip like many other groups, they choose to have a local specialist at each destination along your trip. This ensures that every guide has an in-depth knowledge of the place, rather than just an entry-level overview.
I would describe Rickshaw’s operations as semi-independent. You aren’t following a massive tour group in which you do absolutely everything together, but you do have an itinerary and guides in most locations, which was perfect for my family. If there are any problems with your trip then do not stress immediately, as every hurdle we have approached (never due to organisational issues) has been sorted by Rickshaw. It really was a family holiday where you could experience amazing things – stress-free.