Tired of the same old family vacation plans? I may get some flack from my friends for this statement but my feelings on going to Florida for every vacation is that it is “home with sand.” I still have to go grocery shopping and endure the proverbial “Where do you want to go for dinner? I don’t care, where do you want to go?” only to go out and wait over an hour for mediocre food that cost a fortune. I still have to worry about my teens, waiting up for their curfew and wondering how to entertain them and keep them safe all at the same time. You see what I mean now – home with sand!
Then there’s the problem that the older kids want to be with their friends, which I understand. We have had our fair share of memorable Florida vacations, but I also feel a strong responsibility to educate myself and family on the beauty of our country as well as the rest of the world. Every time I have made the vacation decision because “I am the one paying for it” my kids said it was their best trip ever. Even when we go to Florida it is their “best trip ever” so I am lucky that my family loves to travel and appreciates seeing new cities, sites and cultures. So what are some of my suggestions for alternatives?
All-Inclusive Resort Destinations
An all-inclusive resort can provide the ultimate stress-free vacation. The relaxation begins with budgeting since a resort’s up-front price can include airfare, ground transportation, accommodations, all meals, snacks, gratuities, sports and other activities, nightly entertainment, soft drinks and “adult beverages.” An all-inclusive resort also removes logistical headaches – those “where to go, what to do, how to get there” discussions – that can be so exhausting. Once you arrive there’s no need to leave since everything is right there on property, including the teens! However, if you want to explore you can visit the ruins in Tulum, Mexico, the great waterfalls in Ocho Rios or see the amazing cliff divers on the West Coast of Mexico.
All-inclusive resorts can be found around the world. Many are anchored by a tropical beach with the more popular family resorts in Cancun/Rivera Maya area, Punta Cana and Jamaica. To simplify life even more there are a few suppliers that offer direct charter flights to a few Caribbean and Mexican locations out of Nashville and Cincinnati, allowing you to get to your destination within two hours and thus making this type of travel even more appealing.
Family Land Tours in the US and Europe
There are several tour companies that focus on family travel, mixing in authentic travel experiences that intrigue the younger ones while still making it a fascinating trip for the whole family. Every element is created for multi-generational families. Of course there’s family hotels and child-friendly dining, all designed to take away the hassle so you can enjoy your time together. But there are also a unique collection of exclusive family vacation experiences created to suit everyone from children to grandparents. Insider moments like joining gladiator school and making pizzas together in Rome, meeting Costa Rica’s sea turtle experts in Tortuguero National Park, and learning how to hula and make flower leis in Hawaii are what bring families together and create lifelong memories.
Mixing entertainment and education, we have family experience vacations in Europe, USA, Canada, Central America, South America and South Africa. Tours can be divided into two broad categories: escorted tours and independent fly-and-drive tours with a few hybrids that combine a little bit of structure and free time.
There are many different itineraries available. For example, an eight-day whirlwind can take in Amsterdam, Germany’s Rhineland, the Swiss Alps, Paris and London; or, a leisurely 24-day tour of Great Britain can show you cities and countryside from London to the Scottish Highlands to the west of Ireland, and on to Wales and Cornwall. Or you can stay close to home and visit the national parks, take a train trip across the Canadian Rockies, drive along the California coast or head up to Alaska and visit one of our largest national state parks, Denali, to ride on a dogsled and pan for gold.
London is a Fun, Historical Experience
Graced with historical treasures, modern attractions and incredibly diverse landscapes, languages and cultures, Europe is a fabulous destination to explore via land tour. A wide variety of itineraries are available to match your interests and your preferred style of touring. One of my suggestions for first timers taking their kids across the pond is a trip to London. The capital city of England is a great place to introduce children and teenagers to a European family getaway because they do not have to struggle with a foreign language, yet still get immersed in a very cultural, historical and fun experience.
Since London is frequently featured in children’s literature and movies, you may want to get your youngsters familiar with the city’s major landmarks before your trip by showing them classic Disney movies such as Mary Poppins, Peter Pan or more recently, Harry Potter.
The Trafalgar Family Experiences trip to London includes visits to top Harry Potter attractions in London, such as the magical train platform 9 ¾ and the red telephone booth where Harry and Mr. Weasley descend into the Ministry of Magic. Outside of London, Trafalgar’s Castles and Kilts itinerary takes families to Oxford University’s dining hall, which served as the inspiration for Hogwarts Hall.
As you embark on your next great adventure, I leave you with this quote:
”The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine