Family travel snap: Lonely Planet writer, Mara Vorhees

We're on an adrenaline-rush this month as long-time Lonely Planet writer and mother to twin boys Mara Vorhees takes her family zip-lining in Belize. Based in New England, Mara covers an eclectic mix for Lonely Planet including Brazil, Costa Rica, Morocco, Russia and her home state. She also writes about adventures and mis-adventures in family travel on her site, Have Twins, Will Travel (


What’s the story behind this photo?

We’re in the middle of the longest zip-line in Belize, at Bocawina Rainforest Resort. This was the twins’ first time on a zip-line. I’m pretty sure Van (on the left) loved every minute of it, because he told me so. His brother Shay made a bit of a show of being afraid, but he was willing to give it a go as long as his brother went first and actually each time he came across the treetops and landed on the platform his bright eyes and beaming face gave him away.

I love the way this photo captures the twins’ distinct personalities: Van on the left, confident, cool and collected; Shay on the right, scared and silly.

After the zip-line, we cooled off in the creek near the resort, wading around and catching tadpoles. The twins counted it among the highlights of their trip. After a week of wild adventures, this quiet interlude was a reminder that travel does not have to be exotic or extravagant or expensive to be rewarding.

Kids' perspective

The final run was the shortest and Shay remembers ‘I went all by myself!’ Much to my surprise, he also went first, so it was quite the overcoming of fear. Van recalls ‘It was so cool to be at the top of the trees in the rainforest. When we rode the zip-line, I felt like a bird.’

Mara’s tips for visiting Belize with kids

1) Invest in mineral-based sun block (active ingredient zinc oxide), which does not damage the coral reef and does a better job protecting your children from the sun.

2) Drink as many tropical fruit smoothies as possible. It’s a perfect way to stay hydrated and sample the local bounty.

3) Plan some time both on the coast and in the rainforest. Belize is a small country, which means it’s easy to see a lot in a little time. We didn’t have time to visit any Maya sites so we will definitely spend a day at Xunantunich or Altun Ha when we go back.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

We’re sticking pretty close to home this winter, but we are planning a trip to Finland next summer.

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always make sure we have...

…sketch pads and coloured pencils. Drawing and colouring are favourite ways to pass time in transit – and also to record memories and experiences while we’re on the road.

Inspired to visit Belize now? You're in luck, as it's one of our best value destinations for 2017.

You can follow Mara on Twitter for updates from her research trips and tips for New England.

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