Six inspiring travel ideas for spending precious time with the family
By Stacy Tillilie
- Ocean and River Cruises
“Having something for everyone” may be a lofty claim in the travel industry, but when it comes to living up to such an ideal, cruises come as close as it gets. Indeed, cruise lines cater to multigenerational families with a multitude of activities—from surf simulators and indoor sky diving, to cooking classes and computer workshops. Plus, there are private shore excursions, a wide range of casual and fine dining options, spacious accommodations that include connecting staterooms, and a variety of kids’ clubs tailored to ages ranging from toddlers to teens. You’ll also find flexibility with cruises to fit a wide range of budgets, with choices galore among the class and size of ships; length of itineraries, ranging from just a few days to a few weeks or longer; and destinations as diverse as the Caribbean, Mexico, and the New England coast to Alaska, Europe, and Antarctica.
- Destination Amusement Parks
A family vacation to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, or Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, may not be an original idea, but it’s quintessential for a reason: it’s among the finest fun-filled vacations, with amusement parks, attractions, restaurants, shops, activities and accommodations to suit virtually every age, family size, and budget. Keeping up with Disney, Universal Studios Resorts in Orlando, Florida, and Hollywood, California, also deliver big on family fun with a variety of headlining attractions—The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, among them—restaurants, tours, and shopping venues. At Universal Orlando, six on-site hotels provide guests with convenience and perks such as early park admission, express attraction access (at select properties), and complimentary transportation throughout the property.
- All-Inclusive Resorts
Think all-inclusive resorts are just for honeymooners? Think again. A growing number of resorts are tailoring their offerings to families, including those in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, which AAA predicts will be the top three international destinations for families this year, based on advance travel bookings.
Beaches Resorts by Sandals in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, for example, offer world-class restaurants, bars, spas and golf courses as well as waterparks, a Scratch DJ Academy and an Xbox Play Lounge. Sesame Street also takes center stage at all three Beaches Resorts with parades and shows as well as the Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street, featuring such activities as birdwatching with Big Bird and baking with Cookie Monster. Beaches Resorts also offers families with children with autism and other special needs a variety of uniquely tailored activities and events as well as accessible resort rooms and ADA accommodations.
- Coastal City Getaways
Cities by the beach have always beckoned families with an inviting balance of relaxation and activity, and a trove of such cities along both U.S. coasts provides prime real estate for city-to-sand vacations—no passport needed.
In the Southeast, Charleston, South Carolina, is a perennial favorite—recently named the No. 1 City in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler in its 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards for the seventh consecutive year—with history, architecture, cuisine, hospitality and five charming beach towns skirting the area.
Out West, San Diego, California, dubbed “California’s Beach City,” attracts families with the San Diego Zoo; San Diego Zoo Safari Park; SeaWorld San Diego and its Aquatica waterpark; Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the U.S.; and some of the best beaches in North America, including Coronado Beach, a top spot applauded by the Travel Channel and coastal expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. Dr. Beach.
- Camping Out
Camping can be a great way for families to relax, reconnect, and recharge, and national and state parks offer opportunities to do just that. Whether you want to go to the mountains or the seashore; whether you want to camp in a tent, a cabin, a yurt, or an RV; and whether you want to hike, bike, zip-line, or simply toast marshmallows, tell stories, and sleep under the stars, camping offers a fit for just about every family’s budget and interests, including those who want to bring along the family pet.
- Volunteer Vacations
Among the most meaningful multigenerational travel experiences are volunteer vacations, or voluntourism. Options abound both abroad and at home for families looking to make a difference in the world, give to those in need, and share values that will pass from generation to generation.
Social enterprises such as ME to WE arrange family trips abroad where you’ll engage in sustainable development projects along with enjoying unique travel experiences. You might, for example, lay bricks for a classroom in Ecuador along with visiting a cacao farm in the Amazon rainforest and making chocolate from scratch, or you can help local women collect water from the Mara River in Kenya as well as journey on a multiday safari. If you’re not able to dedicate your entire vacation to volunteering, no worries: Contiki Travel has teamed with ME to WE to offer volunteer trip extensions to select vacation packages in India, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.
Indeed, travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, and the wealth of memories it brings and bonds it builds with every generation of the family is—well, beyond price and beyond compare.