One of the fastest growing markets in the travel industry these days is multi-generational travel. It could be because 10,000 boomers are retiring every month, and many love to travel. Maybe they realize how quickly time passes by, and now is as good a time as ever to tackle that bucket list. Maybe they realize how travel brings families together, reconnecting and strengthening bonds.
Whether its three generations (grandparents, children and grandchildren) or two (grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, aunts and nieces and nephews), there are many destinations that can be explored together to create memories you just can't stop talking about.
I recently had dinner with some friends who had just come back from a mult-generational trip to Europe, and I so enjoyed hearing the "stories" - grandson and grandmother experiencing time together in search of a church from the 1200's; husband and wife having some good laughs together on a kayak adventure; the entire family of 9 enjoying a visit to a goat farm learning how the locals live. This is what it is all about - experiences that build and strengthen family bonds.
Here are my top suggestions for life enriching family travel opportunities.
River cruises have been growing in popularity over the past several years, especially in Europe. What's not to love - smaller ships, fewer crowds, explore cities and towns big and small one might not normally go to, lots of history, culture and great food. Plus the ease of a luxurious floating hotel - unpack once, no driving to the next destination, delightful dining. Something for everyone.
Most people think that river cruising is geared only towards the older traveler, however this is not the case. Cruise lines have responded to the growth in multi-generational travel by adding family specific accommodations and itineraries, many designed around school holidays. With Tauck, Adventures by Disney and Uniworld, you can explore Paris and Normandy, the French countryside along the Rhone, castles on the Rhine and bike along the Danube. And don't forget the wonderful Christmas market itineraries - a perfect way to enjoy the holidays with your children. Avalon, AmaWaterways and CroisiEurope have expanded their active itineraries, including hiking, biking and even kayaking - perfect for older children and their active parents and grandparents.
Photos courtesy of AmaWaterways
60 is the new 40! Healthier living has made boomers more active, and thus soft adventure trips are on the rise. Perfect for multi-generational families - choices of activity levels for every ability. Imagine exploring the fabulous national parks on a hike, bike and rafting adventure, biking through the beautiful French countryside with a stop for lunch at a local vineyard and a spa treatment in the afternoon, a guided walking tour of an iconic city in the morning and then participating in a strudel making demonstration later in the day or taking a hike in the morning through pristine rainforest and a father/daughter kayak excursion in the afternoon to view Alaskan glaciers? Soft adventures are great - safe active experiences.
Alaska is always a favorite when it comes to family adventure. All the major cruise lines have lovely itineraries in this region. But to experience a real adventure consider a small ship cruise, for example with Uncruise. They offer a Family Discovery program, perfect for kids of all ages 8 to 98. As Uncruise puts it, think summer camp for the entire family.
Of course Alaska isn't the only destination for tons of family fun and adventure. Austin Adventures, Backroads Tours and Tauck offer family programs all over the world, including top memory makers, the Galapagos Islands and a grand African Safari.
Photos courtesy of Uncruise and African Travel
SPECIAL OCCASION CELEBRATIONS
Milestone celebrations are well suited for family gatherings. Celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary, a big birthday, retirement or graduation - name a reason, go celebrate! I personally helped my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary onboard the lovely Paul Gauguin in Tahiti. Tahiti is one of those perfect destinations for romance and the Paul Gauguin has a wonderfully unique Polynesian blessing ceremony for anniversaries and honeymooners. Plus, a cruise in Tahiti is great for families coming along to celebrate, with all the water sports and island visits to please all. Enjoy snorkeling the crystal blue waters, exploring the reefs or take advantage of the watersports platform.
Cruises in general are perfect for special celebrations. Families have a wide variety of interests, from accommodations to activities and dining. Cruises generally have cabins for all tastes, activities to suit all types of interests, from cultural immersion and history to cooking or simply playing in the sun and dining options to meet all needs. Top bucket list cruises include Alaska, Mediterranean ports of call (imagine all the places one can explore in Rome!) and the Greek Isles.
Photo courtesy of Paul Gauguin
EXPLORING FAMILY ROOTS
Heritage trips are tops on many a bucket list. No matter from where you hail, it is exciting to visit areas from which your ancestors came from. My father's parents emigrated to the US in the 1920's, and I was lucky enough to join my parents and grandmother before she passed away on a trip back to the city where she was born. Over the years I had heard so many stories about her home, where she grew up, my grandfather, the war, and relatives. I had no idea what to expect, but actually seeing where this side of the family came from and meeting some of my relatives really helped me gain a stronger understanding, a closer connection and appreciation of my history. My mother's side of the family has both Dutch and Scottish roots, and they have been in the US dating back to the 1600's. I'm sure many families have similar histories. Imagine creating a heritage trip based on exploring the places your family is from. Add in a trip or two to a few distilleries, breweries or wineries, castles and battlegrounds and you have a family history book in the making!
Photo courtesy of Tauck
There is a reason multi-generational travel is such a hot trend. Creating long lasting memories that span generations - few activities can lay claim to that!
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder