How to get your modern family to travel together
I don’t know about you, but I can hardly keep track of how fast my family is growing up and spreading out. Text messages are replacing the emails that replaced the phone calls that replaced the time we once spent together having fun. “Our family is really close, but it still feels like the centrifugal force of life is spinning us apart a little more every year,” Bob Scarano told me, as we were putting together his family’s trip this year. “If it takes a vacation in Cuba to keep that from happening, then game on!”
These days, I’m talking with a lot of parents and grandparents who want to instigate travel experiences that their families are “powerless to resist,” as one of them put it to me recently. It’s completely doable, and here are some tricks to pulling it off:
#1 Make it plug-and-play simple
“I’m not big on taking votes about our family vacations,” claims Jack Benson. “If I just tell everyone where we’re headed and when we’re leaving, things go more smoothly.” That strategy works whether you’re pulling something together last minute or planning a year out. Whatever your personal planning style is, we can make your next family vacation one of the simplest you’ve ever taken.
#2 Prove that you’re cool enough to matter
Rocket Grandma – our affectionate nickname for the leader of her family pack – didn’t just make sure her grandchildren could go zip lining and river rafting in Costa Rica. She geared up, strapped in and went for it herself. If you propose a vacation that sets your family free to set their own paces, you get some serious street cred, even if you decide to hit the spa while they take a roller coaster ride on the rapids.
#3 Let’s see the USA, but not in a Chevrolet
The U.S. – and Canada for that matter – offers great options for vacations that can fit neatly in a week. If any of you have driven together to national parks, you know that the old traditional quick in-and-out visits are not going to cut it now. And yet parks like Glacier and the trio of Bryce, Grand Canyon and Zion are great venues for family travel when you visit with local guides who get you past the crowds and into the real fun. (Dune surfing, anyone?)
#4 Would I ask you to sleep in bunk beds?
“Back in ancient times—the 20th Century—we took some fairly economical vacations,” admits Debbie Hennekens. “We still could, but we’re all kind of over it.” That’s why she proposed their recent trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. “We have more affection for luxury hotels than we used to, and nobody seems to complain about that!” The luxury hotels and inns on Family Journeys guarantee plenty of comfort.
#5 Smart and safe isn’t the same as boring
Plenty of travelers are playing the Safety Card these days. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for an overly timid trip. All of the destinations I’ve just mentioned are places where you can all cut loose, have a super fun time, and feel perfectly secure in the process. Our local guides know their regions inside out, and they know all of the where’s, how’s, do’s and don’ts you’ll ever need to have a smart and utterly unforgettable vacation together.
The Best Choice for…
MOST ENVIABLE: Venice, Florence & Rome
How many families get to share the best of Italy together?
SHORTEST FLIGHTS: U.S. National Parks
Glacier and Bryce, Grand Canyon & Zion keep travel time to a minimum.
MOST WILDLIFE: The Galápagos
Hands down the best. Add in the Andes to see condors and more.
BIGGEST BRAGGING RIGHTS: Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia
One trip, three distinct countries, the exoticism of Indochina.
LEAST PACKING: Costa Rica
Shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, swimsuit. You’re good to go.