There are family vacations. And, then there are epic adventures that may qualify as the experience of a lifetime.
Here are five to consider now.
Plan a family safari.
Visit northern Tanzania’s Serengeti for a wildlife viewing and cultural extravaganza. Home to more than 3,000 lions and1000 leopards as well as zebras, wildebeests, warthogs and waterbuck, it’s a magical sanctuary best known for the great migration.
With the Four Seasons Serengeti as your basecamp, choose to explore via half and full day jeep tours, walking safaris, or from the basket of a high-flying, hot air balloon. The excitement doesn’t end when you return to the Lodge, where a watering hole, just beyond the Infiniti pool, serves up hydrating sustenance to elephant families on a daily basis.
Dine on the veranda, with sweeping views of the plains, where giraffe, eland and topi graze in the distance. Kids can visit the on-site discovery center to learn about Maasai history and culture, the significance of the Serengeti Cheetah Project and life in the bush. Relax at the spa, take a family cooking class and be amazed by a live performance of tribal dance and song offered by local Maasai.
Contact: https://www.fourseasons.com/serengeti/ ;
Revel in a river cruise.
Unpack. Settle in and let the adventure begin.
Explore the Rhine, Danube or Seine river valleys with your family or multigenerational group from aboard a luxury AmaWaterways ship. With itineraries crafted to your family’s preferences, each day you’ll take part in active adventures or culturally immersive experiences in compelling destinations.
Well-trained and knowledgable Disney adventure guides, paired with local storytellers, combine talents to insure each member of the family gets maximum enjoyment from the trip. Wander through medieval castles, sample local cuisine, pedal along the river bank and enjoy private tours and insider access to popular attractions. Adventure guides are at the ready to engage youngsters in evening activities so the adults may opt for a fine dining experience or a musical performance. (Food and wine trips are also possible when it's time to leave the youngest travelers at home.)
Expect an all-inclusive, backstage pass-style adventure through the heart of Europe.
Our sparsely populated and endlessly captivating 49th state lures those who yearn for epic scenery, spouting whales and glaciers the size of small countries. Experience family travel in rugged Alaska via boutique yachts and expedition ships that set sail for adventure beginning each Spring.
Aboard smaller vessels you’ll have meaningful cultural experiences, find your way to natural nooks and crannies, opt for hiking and kayaking and discover rarely visited wilderness areas, increasing the chance for up-close wildlife viewing. Those who venture to America’s last frontier will be rewarded with Mother Nature in all her glory.
Discover Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.
Ease your canoes into the pristine water near Ely, MN and look forward to peaceful days of paddling amid a sparsely populated, one million-plus acre expanse of wilderness. Listen to the waves lapping against the shoreline and the haunting lullaby offered by local loons as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees and enjoy breakfast over a campfire. Then set out to explore more of the 1,500 miles of canoe routes that crisscross the waterways.
Immerse in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.
Given the island’s location on the equator, air and water temperatures remain relatively stable, making the Galapagos Islands a desirable destination any time of the year. Within this pristine and diverse eco-system, your family will thrill to the site of cliff-diving blue-footed boobies and the waved albatross known for an elaborate courtship dance that can include 20 minutes of bowing, honking, whistling and bill clacking. You’ll want to know about Darwin’s 13 finches, creatures that were central to the scientist’s evolutionary theories. Learn more about the volcanic island’s winged population as well as the abundance of sharks, sea lions, mantas and iguanas via a live aboard vessel (popular with scuba divers), a cruise or a hotel-based tour.
Where will you venture this year?
What sounds appealing? A warm, sandy beach? An active, alpine adventure? Here are seven ideas to consider as your family plans for the year ahead.
1. Consider Costa Rica.
More than a quarter of this Central American country is composed of natural and conserved territory, making it an extraordinary destination for nature lovers. Surfers give the richly diverse nation top marks as do adventure lovers who visit the small country for river rafting, hiking, biking, canopy tours and volcano watching.
Families can take advantage of wildlife or culturally-focused volunteer vacations, clan-friendly resorts and beachside boutique accommodations. Pura vida, the local’s friendly attitude and approach to life, provides a hospitality-rich backdrop.
Contact: www.visitcostarica.com; AustinAdventures.com.
2. Amazing Alaska.
Still America’s last frontier, our 49th state offers year round adventure for families. Scope for whale tails while cruising the Inside Passage, celebrate more than 100 years of sled dog racing on the Iditarod Trail or explore the far reaches of Denali National Park. Learn about Alaska’s native culture, hike and bike in the backcountry or make wildlife watching the centerpiece of your adventure. A favorite among anglers, wade the state’s rivers and streams and you’ll return home with amazing fish stories and pictures to prove your prowess. A free vacation planner is available to help get you started.
3. Float The Grand Canyon.
Whether you travel by raft or dory, for a few days or a few weeks, the majesty of the Grand Canyon may well provide a transformative experience, as it does for many visitors. This national treasure stretches 277 miles across northern Arizona, and plays host to more than five million visitors each year. From your craft on the Colorado River, geologically diverse canyon walls rise as high as 9,000 feet toward the western sky. Hike the side canyons, plow through storied rapids, relax on sandy beaches and revel in the grandeur of one of nature’s finest accomplishments. You’ll want to go back for more.
4. Cruise the Caribbean.
Now rated fourth in the country in cruise traffic, the addition of Galveston as an important point of departure, offers sea-faring travelers expanded opportunities. Four cruise companies – Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney and Princess – offer itineraries ranging from four to eight nights on board ships bustling with activity and entertainment.
Cruise companies eager to lure parents with young children as well as multigenerational clans, provide a smorgasbord of kid-thrilling options ranging from wave machines and super slides to teen lounges and zip lines. Deals abound, particularly for those with flexible dates.
5. African Safaris.
Multigenerational families celebrating a “milestone moment” are among those seeking the excitement and adventure found on safari. And more tour operators, eager to capture this growing segment of the market, are creating itineraries that cater to both ends of the age spectrum. The chance to observe a lion stalking his prey, a wildebeest migration or to learn the customs of the Masaii people are experiences more families are putting at the top of their lists.
Contact: FamilyAdventures.com; AustinAdventures.com; Wilderness-Safaris.com ; www.FourSeasons.com/Serengeti
6. The Bahamas.
You’ll find grand resorts in a bustling enclave as well as small getaways on tiny spits of sand just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. Choose your preferred environment from among 700 islands surrounded by crystal clear water and the world’s third largest barrier reef. Visions of snorkeling, fishing, ecotours, horseback riding, boating or just relaxing on soft, sandy beaches will provide plenty to compel your family to consider a visit to this breathtaking archipelago.
7. Get some altitude!
Are you ready to embrace winter sports? Perhaps this is the year to push beyond the local sledding hill and expand your winter sports experiences. Lace up the skates, strap on the snowshoes, learn how mushers round up their sled dogs or consider an ice climb. Go downhill, cross-country, into the back-country and then warm up in a steaming hot spring. Skate ski to dinner served in a yurt or ride aboard a horse-drawn sleigh headed to cozy cabin where you and your family can savor supper served fireside.
Considering a family cruise?
Here are ten tips to consider:
1) Know your cruise specialist:
According to a report from the
Cruise Lines International Association, 68 percent of cruise vacations
are booked through travel agents.
When researching a travel agent to book your cruise , make sure they are knowledgeable about the
cruise lines and destinations and have access to the best pricing and promotional offers such as onboard cash, spa treatments and reduced
deposits. Make sure your specialist is the right fit for you and your
2) Book your cruise early:
The saying "the early bird catches the
worm" certainly applies to booking cruises. Booking early will provide
you with benefits such as more stateroom choices, dining options, special perks and
3) Be cautious about last minute deals:
While the prices may be lower with last minute deals, the room selections are not prime. You must also
remember that airfare is not included in the price of the vacation and
booking last minute airfare can be costly.
4) Carefully review the itinerary:
If an itinerary doesn't address your needs, it may not be the right cruise for you. For example, if
someone wants to spend more time relaxing onboard, the itinerary should
include more sea days than ports-of-call. To maximize your experience in
every port, each stop should last a minimum of eight to ten hours.
5) Research the identification needed for each country:
While a passport is always needed, visa requirements may be tricky. Some countries require visas, but
others do not. To check visa requirements,
6) Understand what is not included with the cruise:
When booking a family trip that includes a cruise,
vacation goers must pay the government fees. Remember to take
the price of tipping, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, kid’s activities and shore
excursions into consideration, as they are often not included in the
7) Be comfortable with your accommodations:
Make sure to research all of the stateroom options before making your ultimate selection.
Accommodation choices on ships include an interior room, which has no
window or natural light, an oceanview room, which has one large window
that cannot be opened, a balcony room, regular suites and a penthouse
suite. Ask about rooms that are best suited for families.
It is also important to know that the cheapest and most expensive options typically sell out first.
8) Get to know your cruise line choices:
Choosing the wrong cruise line for your family vacation is a common mistake.
Sometimes, consumers will make a decision based on their familiarity of the name without investigating the type of people that typically take vacations on that particular line.
For example, some cruise lines cater more towards families with plenty of great programming that will interest your clan, while others cater to seniors or a younger demographic. Make sure you make the right
choice for your vacation needs, suggests Geraldine Ree, Senior Vice
President of Sales and Marketing for Expedia CruiseShipCenters.
9) Take time to see the city you embark and disembark from.
When booking a cruise, people make the mistake of arriving in the city a few hours before the ship sets sail and
making flight arrangements to leave as soon as the ship docks. The embarkation and disembarkation cities are
an important part of the vacation experience and it is worthwhile for you to arrive a day before the cruise leaves
and stay for an extra day after the cruise docks. Your cruise specialist can help you plan your
10) You don't always need the ocean for a cruise:
Consumers can book a cruise to almost any place where there is a body of water. As a matter
of fact, river cruises continue to gain in popularity as the smaller ships offer a more intimate cruising experience.
Popular destinations for river cruises include Danube (Austria),
Rhine (Germany), France and Russia.