Back from Peru: Thomson General Manager Tells Her Story of Family Adventure

Nicole Wineland-Thomson and her family above the canopy on their recent adventure.

Nicole Wineland-Thomson, General Manager of Thomson Family Adventures, traveled with her family to Peru in June. Her letter below describes her experiences and insights into travel as a vaccinated family.

Dear Families,

Imagine Machu Picchu as the sun rises over the mountains: long shadows on the ruins, the cool morning air brushing your skin, the peace of dawn lingering in your bones. Now, imagine having this moment almost completely to yourself, with no one except your family.

This is exactly what my husband, my six-year-old son and I experienced when we went to Peru in June. It was an absolute dream from start to finish! Now that I’ve had time to go through my photos, I want to share them and offer some crucial insight from my time abroad. (Spoiler warning: Peru was completely incredible, but the memories my husband and I made with our six-year-old son were the best part.)

Over 15 months had passed since we last boarded an airplane as a family, and I will admit, I was a little unsure how it would go! Thankfully, my husband and I were able to get vaccinated well before leaving. It was impossible for our six-year-old son to be vaccinated, but we felt that if we were protected and vigilant, we could do everything in our power to make sure he was safe. We were excited to finally get out on adventure!

Nicole’s son smiling for the camera while kayaking in Peru.

I’m pleased to report the airports were incredibly clean. There was sanitizer everywhere and masks were required (which was fine by me). Same story on the plane, which made for a routine flight.

Arriving in Peru, what surprised me most was how strong the COVID-19 protocols were and how seriously the citizens followed them. The government required either two masks or a face shield be worn at all times, and it was abundantly clear that everyone followed these rules. One incredible example: We visited Ccor Ccor, a secluded community in the Sacred Valley, where we discovered the people there weaved their own masks! Even in the middle of nowhere, Peruvians were well educated and took steps to protect themselves. The country is really ramping up its vaccination efforts, too: its goal is to be completely vaccinated by December 2021.

Members of the Ccor Ccor community weave their own masks in the Sacred Valley.

All Thomson guides are fully vaccinated. When we first introduced ourselves to our guide, I said, “We’re vaccinated–are you comfortable if we take off our masks in the vehicle?” He said, “I’m totally fine with that. I’m going to keep mine on just as company protocol.” We said that was fine. The fact that he was vaccinated and masked made us feel very comfortable. His attention to our needs was fantastic, always ready to offer sanitizer, sealed masks or a face shield.

We were also in luck when it came to limiting exposure: the activities we enjoyed on the Peru: Machu Picchu & Cuzco itinerary are designed to give families as much time outdoors as possible. We went off-the-beaten-path every day, exploring amazing spots like Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. All dining was al fresco or with the restaurant windows open. Overall, the feeling was clear: Peru is great for quality family time with limited exposure.

Video used with permission from Gregory Ross Creative.

Exploring Peru was incredible, but the best part of the trip was making family memories that are only possible when traveling. Like I mentioned earlier, we stood at the peak of Machu Picchu and watched the sunrise with only a handful of people. It was magical. It was unbelievable. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To be able to share that solitude as a family, to just turn off everything and enjoy each other’s company in a safe environment, was wonderful.

As reluctant as we were to leave, the process of going home was a breeze. A woman administered our COVID-19 tests in the privacy of our hotel room. Our tests and other documents were checked at the airport with no hassle. Customs back in the States was just as uneventful, and before we knew it, we were back in our beds with this incredible experience under our belts. My husband and son are still talking about the things we did!

I hope this helps you know what to expect if you’re thinking about traveling in the future. Many countries like Peru require an online health form to be filled out before you enter the country (your Trip Manager will help you with this process). If you want to read more about Thomson’s COVID-19 travel protocols, you can do so here.

Happy traveling, families, and let us know if you have any questions!

Best wishes,

Nicole Wineland-Thomson
General Manager, Thomson Family Adventures