There’s no denying that a theme park vacation is at the top of many children’s list of travel wishes. Unfortunately for grandparents, that can mean long lines, overcrowded parks and high expenses, all without much time for genuine family bonding. While amusement and theme parks are an easy, go-to solution for family vacations, there are other magical travel options that can offer exposure to new activities, interaction with nature, and discovery of culture and history outside of most families’ normal comfort zones.
The term ‘dude ranch’ typically brings to mind images of cowboys and cattle drives, a la the popular 1991 comedy, “City Slickers.” While dude ranches still evoke those same memories and are rooted in American tradition, they are much, much more. There is a broad spectrum of guest ranches across North America, ranging from rustic, no-frills working ranches to luxury resort-style ranches.
From valleys complete with untouched Rocky Mountain backdrops to desert sunsets across the Southwest, you can find DRA-accredited ranches throughout the Western U.S. in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as in California, Arkansas and Canada.
Dude ranches are the original, all-inclusive destination for families. Located in some of the most breathtaking areas of the U.S. (and Canada), dude ranches can handle any request, from horseback riding and fly fishing to yoga and cooking classes to zip lining, mountain biking, white water rafting, hiking and much more. Ranches are ideal places for kids and families to re-discover each other, without the typical distractions of TV, phones, computers and electronic games, families spend time together reconnecting with each other the old-fashioned way - by talking!
When was the last time your family actually sat through an entire dinner with no outside distractions? That is exactly what happens at a dude ranch. You get to know each other again and share all the activities that everyone participated in that day.
If you want to give your grandchildren the gift of memories that will last a lifetime look no further than a dude ranch vacation where there are no lines, no hassles and all the freedom a child could imagine.
For more information connect with The Dude Ranchers Association
The Dude Ranchers Association is a member of the FamilyTravel.com Grandparent Travel Collection.
According to advocacy group Project: Time Off, more than half of American workers leave unused vacation days on their company’s board room table. Meanwhile, the research shows that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-need vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits.
Here are five ideas to consider:
Make planning a priority.
Whether you begin by tossing up a tent in the backyard or strategizing to experience a safari in Africa, there is no time like the present to begin planning a family vacation. As children and grandchildren get older, their schedules become more complicated by their own commitments making it more difficult than ever to plan time together. With dates on the calendar, you’ll feel less stress at work, knowing you’ve provided the boss and coworkers with plenty of notice about your plans.
According to Project: Time Off , 75 percent of those who plan ahead were more likely to take a full week or more of vacation in a single stretch. By crafting a strategy in advance you’ll have your pick of departures, the best cabins on a cruise ship and more options in popular resort areas. While you are at it, scan the year ahead and be the first to claim vacation days around existing holidays and school breaks, creating a longer stretch for relaxation and enjoyment. Knowing good times are on the horizon, you’ll have the added benefit of anticipating the getaway.
Taking time to create a thoughtful bucket list can make it easier to plan for meaningful vacations, those that are a deliberate reflection of your values, hopes and dreams. So before you begin listing desired destinations, ask yourself what aspects of the world - geographically, spiritually and culturally - you want to share with your children, grandchildren and perhaps other friends and family members. As your ideas take shape, know your list will evolve over the years. Therefore, think about which destinations you hope to visit while your children are in the nest and which might best be saved for later. And, when it comes time to involve the children in creating the bucket list, remember that kids don’t know what they don’t know. Certain theme parks and resorts will likely be on their radar screens. But they may not be aware of the glories of Yellowstone or Yosemite or the historical significance of Gettysburg or Montpelier.
Celebrate milestone events.
Geographic spread, busy careers and school and sports schedules make it more difficult than ever to spend time together. Therefore, planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, you’ll increase the odds that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Ask your clan to save a date and then get to work creating a gathering that will be a lasting memory for all.
Reap the benefits.
In-depth research indicates that Americans who take time to plan their vacation time in the year ahead are happier than their come-what-may counterparts. Planners are happier with their health and well-being, their financial picture, their personal relationships and even their overall mood, according to the research. Further, an overwhelming majority of American workers report that time off helps them relax and recharge, and offers the opportunity to pursue personal interests Nearly two-thirds of employees say their concentration and productivity at work improves with time off. Business leaders echo this sentiment. Of those surveyed, 91 percent believe employees return from vacation recharged and renewed—and ready to work more effectively.
Ready to make a plan? Find out how we can help or check in with our FamilyTravel.com Vacation Planner!
Take advantage of National Plan For Vacation Day. For more information: www.ProjectTimeOff.
A unique resource for this rapidly growing sector of the Family Travel market, the Grandparent Travel Collection provides grandparents and parents a trusted one-stop shop for discovering experiences and adventures ideally suited for grandparents eager to make memories with the younger members of their family.
While the trend toward multi-generational vacations (creating legacy moments) continues to increase, a subset of that phenomenon is also on the rise.
Expect “skip-gen” vacations, when grandparents leave their own grown children behind and embark on an adventure with the youngest members of the clan, to increase in the months and years ahead.
We are ready to help you take full advantage of this trend!
We think you'll be excited about our new and growing Collection of resorts, experiences and trips that you'll find here! Check them out now!
Gather the extended family and share a travel experience.
Here are five ideas that will appeal to multiple generations:
1. The Family Cruise.
Choosing to sail as an extended family is a great way to see the world together without decimating the family budget. Whether your idea of a good time is relaxing poolside or tackling the high suspension rope course, there are options for every energy level on board the modern cruise ship. Access water parks and kids’ camps by day. Then check out teen clubs, plus family and adult entertainment by night. Spa lovers can schedule treatments, and often casino gaming is available for adults. Gather for dinner where dining options are designed to satisfy the picky and the piggy eater in your gang. Design your time together to suit your family’s unique interests. Consider using a travel agent to help wade through deals, itineraries and cabin configurations.
2. College Bound.
Include multiple generations in the college search. If grandparents are grads, consider a visit to the town where they earned their degree. Encouraging senior family members to revisit this important time in their youth will be meaningful for all. Include elders when visiting your own college town and encourage grandparents to share memories of delivering their teen to the dorm decades ago. Make plans to take the University tour, and then explore the surrounding area. By planning this time as a multi-generational experience, a bit of family history may emerge that has long since been forgotten.
3. Eco 3G Getaway.
Leave the wired world behind and gather your family deep in the rainforest on the banks of the Moho River in the southernmost region of Belize. Choose the solar-powered eco-lodge’s all inclusive package and enjoy birding, horseback riding, biking, kayaking and nature walks on 100 private acres. Tour nearby Mayan villages and linger to learn how chocolate is made at a cacao farm. Explore caves and waterfalls. Environmentally inquisitive family members will want to visit the organic garden and discover the local sustainability practices that include a reforestation project. Family-friendly cabanas are gathered around a central boardwalk.
Contact: 866-480-4534; www.cottontreelodge.com
4. Bike the Danube.
The active, extended family will enjoy a bike trip along the Danube River that enables speedy riders to scope out the best bakery in the town ahead while others linger along the scenic pathway. The route showcases medieval towns, castles, vineyards, cathedrals and magnificent scenery. With the cities of Passau, Germany and Vienna, Austria as bookends, the trip offers a storybook itinerary. Following an ancient towpath, there is little traffic and riders have the option to bike for as long as they wish. Once tired, they can hop on a train or boat and wait for the remaining bikers at the inn where the group will spend the night. Children’s bikes available.
Contact: 1-877-462-2423; www.BikeToursDirect.com.
5. Explore Colorado Springs.
Visit a high mountain zoo, the Garden of the Gods Park or tour the US Air Force Academy together. In the weeks ahead, this sunny Colorado city and the surrounding Pikes Peak region make it easy for your whole family to explore the area with their “Tank Full of Summer Savings” promotion. Travel industry partners, including tour guides, lodging establishments, restaurants and attractions, have extended discounts and offers designed to take the pain out of the higher gas prices at the pump.Contact: 800-888-4748; www.visitcos.com/fuel
Multigenerational travel is more important than ever.
Families are living geographically farther from each other than at any time in history.
A multigenerational trip is often the only option for today’s modern and mobile family to gather in one place.
The hyper-fast pace of life in the 21st century means evenings and weekends are no longer untouchable family time, creating a greater need for the escape that only travel can provide.
Baby boomers are trading in their briefcases for a roller bag.
Boomers now have the time, health and disposable income to make travel with their families a top priority.
Intergenerational travel is on the rise.
Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.
By spending time away, with parents out of the picture, grandchildren and their grandparents can forge their own special bond. Grand travel need not include a fancy holiday in a luxury resort or a visit to a trendy theme park. There are other options.
Here are a hand full:
Over the river and through the woods.
Invite the grandkids to your place and then paint the town. They’ll love getting comfortable in your home and seeing your local sites. Check in with your Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau for an update on great options for kids. Consult parents from your neighborhood or church for family-tested ideas. See your home town through the fresh eyes of youth.
Share your passions.
Do you love to ski, play golf, camp or scuba dive? A trip with the grandkids to indulge in your favorite activity will give them the chance to know a special part of you.
Share a bit of your past.
Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today?
Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or music festival or visit the old stomping grounds. Take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with the kids. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And, remember, you are part of their history.
Learn a new skill together.
You’re never too old to learn a new trick! And the grandchildren will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity. Learn to kayak, snorkel or spot rare birds in nature. Go
snow shoeing, ice fishing or cross country touring. Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together.
Consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort.
With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater and itineraries to please the most well-traveled, such an option eliminates the daily decision making that can cause conflict.
Consult an expert.
For many, developing the plan is the hard part. There are travel consultants who specialize in helping families create intergenerational travel memories. They’ll serve up options ranging from cruises in the Galapagos Islands to fly fishing on wild and scenic rivers to train trips through the American West.
However you choose to share time with your grandchildren, you’ll create treasured memories to deposit in your family’s history bank.
Have you perused our Grandparent Travel Collection? It's a great resouce for finding just the right trip for you and your clan!