Judi Wineland

Most kids reach a certain age and realize they want to break out on their own.

I took it a little further, all the way to Tanzania.

My love affair with adventure travel began in 1969, when I was singing and playing the guitar with a USO tour that traveled to Vietnam. That experience planted a seed; ten years later, I struck out on my own, starting—and running—Overseas Adventure Travel out of a tiny one-room office in Harvard Square.

On a trip to East Africa, I met Rick Thomson, who was guiding safaris . We had a totally unusual idea: forming an adventure travel company where we ran the tours ourselves.

In 1981, we incorporated Overseas Adventure Travel East Africa, in 1985 he moved to Boston to head up OATEA (later to become Thomson Safaris) which began our lives together. Today that includes our two daughters Nicole (26) and Erica (24).

Over the years our company grew; today Wineland-Thomson Adventures runs both Thomson Safaris (the evolution of OATEA) and Thomson Family Adventures, a company devoted exclusively to hand-crafting extraordinary travel experiences for families.

But just because my family and my company have grown up, now, that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down; it just means I’m ready for yet another new adventure. These days I love to spend my time and energy working with Focus on Tanzanian Communities, a philanthropy organization I helped found that promotes education, entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, and health initiatives in Tanzania. After all, the country has given me and my family so much; it’s only right that we do our part to give back.

Today Thomson Safaris is one of the top tour operators in Africa, but even more gratifying than the awards and accolades has been the opportunity to share my passion for travel with other adventurers. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring…which is exactly the way I like i