Redefine Your Vacation

Quality family time with bonding experiences … the burgeoning travel trend which redefines not only vacations but also the definition of family. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, vacations often meant taking a car trip to visit family and friends. Now we have access to a multi-layered travel network which encompasses the globe … and for those who dare and have the pocketbook, there is the opportunity to explore the seas below in family friendly underwater hotels and the skies above for rocket ship flights to the International Space Station. 

As a travel and tourism professional, I try to lead by example with my own family, often making vacations a multigenerational experience including parents, in-laws, siblings, husband, children, cousins, aunts and uncles and extended family in all kinds of configurations.  One memorable summer I took my son for a 6-week cultural immersion vacation to the 7 sq. mile island of Bequia in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. We ended up making it our home away from home for 18 years. SVG became the birthplace of Hibiscus Tours International Ltd., a cultural and sustainable travel company which I’ve owned and operated for over 35 years. Travel can change your perspective and your life!

I believe we should give the gift of travel to our children by raising them as global citizens with diverse experiences worldwide. Classic Luxury Family Vacations has done just that in tours where families can meet children at a school in Peru, make music with Moroccan Berber tribes, lunch with the indigenous Embera tribe in Panama, and stargaze with Wyoming cowboys.

As a parent, I longed for vacations with my family where I did not have to be the coordinator of all activities. Now the opportunities are endless. Imagine doing an archeological dig for dinosaur bones right here in Canada or stargazing the midnight sky through one of the world’s largest telescopes in Arizona! Here are my recommendations of some of the best “family oriented” companies in the tourism business today.  All of these can be booked through Hibiscus International or your trusted professional travel advisor.

I’m personally a big fan of Tauck Tours.  Having experienced them first hand, I can honestly say they know how to create WOW moments which last a lifetime. Tauck Bridges Family Tours are life-changing, eye opening, engaging and fun for all ages.  Here are just a few of my favourite Tauck Tours which are planned around school holidays.

Italy: Live la dolce vita with your family on a one-week family vacation throughout magnificent Italy, from an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums to Rome’s Imperial treasures and gladiator school to Amalfi Coast villages to touring magical Capri by convertible car and more… plus a taste of pizza you made yourself!

Ireland: Irresistibly Irish and endless Emerald Isle fun, this family vacation takes your family from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher… travels include a journey by train, a ride on a World War II amphibious vehicle, and cooking class at a world-famous cooking school!

England/France: History comes alive on this family vacation – visit the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and see a West End play. Ride a bicycle through the Royal Parks, the London Eye in a private capsule, a speedboat on the Thames; go on a spy walk, a scavenger hunt and more!

If biking, walking and hiking are your family’s passion, then Backroads offers multi-adventure tours based on three distinct categories according to children’s ages. Here are the 3 categories and a sample of their tours, tailored to those with a sense of adventure.  

Families with 20s & Beyond (20s – early 30s): A Taste of Camino de Santiago Family Walking & Hiking Tour (Portugal to Spain)

  • Travel to two fascinating countries with their own cultures, cuisines and traditions on one amazing trip
  • Hike handpicked sections of the Camino leading to Santiago, where pilgrims arrive from across the world
  • Experience Galicia’s gastronomy and culture, from pulpo a feira to ancient Druids and centuries of unique history
  • Explore Spain’s wild and scenic Cíes Islands, a national park and home to breathtaking gold-sand beaches

Families with Older Teens & 20s (17 – 23): Canadian Rockies Family Heli-Hiking Tour (Lake Louise & Heli-Hiking at Bobbie Burns)

  • Ascend to the deep bliss of Western Canada’s pristine wilderness and towering peaks, with helicopter access to the heart of extraordinary and remote alpine terrain
  • Hike among ancient glaciers, legendary mountain ranges and alpine ecosystems teeming with wildflowers
  • Join an awe-inspiring via ferrata adventure or walk amid towering arêtes, crystalline lakes and glistening glaciers
  • Enjoy your time at the masterfully remodeled Bobbie Burns Lodge, unwinding in the sanctuary of this remote mountain retreat

Teens & Kids (4 – 19):  Costa Rica Family Multi-Adventure Tour (Costa Rica)

  • Encounter amazing wildlife—sloths, monkeys, lizards and more—at Manuel Antonio National Park
  • Kayak along the Pacific coastline, swim in warm turquoise waters and bike in lush mountain foothills
  • Raft the white-water rapids of Río Savegre, one of the most pristine rivers in Central America
  • Zip-line through the rain forest, getting a bird’s-eye-view of the canopy, and visit an animal sanctuary

A longtime favourite for many families are Abercrombie & Kent’s Luxury Family Journeys. Whether you are on a safari in Kenya & Tanzania, or learning the secrets of wildlife photography in Quito, or exploring Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands onboard a luxurious mega-yacht with dedicated Young Explorers Guides, A&K knows how to do it in style.  Here’s what’s included on every A&K Luxury Family Journey:  

  • Family-Friendly Resident Tour Director and Local Guides
  • Hand-Selected Family-Friendly Accommodations
  • Family Discovery Activities and a Family Foodie Experience
  • Airport Meet and Greet with Private Transfers
  • Travelling Bell Boy Luggage Handling
  • Breakfast in Bed on Select Days
  • Full Breakfast Daily; Select Lunches and Dinners 
  • Traveller’s Valet Laundry Service
  • Internet Access
  • Entrance Fees, Taxes and All Gratuities Except Resident Tour Director
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support
  • Guaranteed Departures with Just Two Guests

And who can forget our tried and true Adventures by Disney with more sophisticated experiences for adults to special Junior Adventurer activities tailored to children. Thanks to Disney’s attention to detail, families can experience the world through the eyes of a storyteller— and become part of the story.  Adventures by Disney has partnered with one of my favourite luxury river cruise companies – AmaWaterways. Here is one of their most popular family cruises.

Adventures by Disney Christmas Markets River Cruises on AmaWaterways:

Set sail along some of Europe’s most magnificent rivers including the Rhine, Danube and the Seine as you explore storybook villages, iconic cities and stunning landscapes. Make the holiday season one your family will never forget as you immerse yourself in festive destinations including Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Shop world-renowned Christmas Markets, explore medieval caves, toboggan through the Black Forest, and cruise the canals of Amsterdam.   Two Adventure Guides guarantee that every detail of your family’s trip is attended to. Along with local experts, they’ll ensure that you feel a connection to the people, culture and traditions of each destination visited.

As you can see, the sky is the limit when it comes to luxury family vacations! A good Travel Advisor will recommend and help you plan the right family vacation for you and your family, no matter your budget.  The goal is to create new and deeper connections, celebrate special occasions, enjoy amazing family adventures and make travel memories that will last forever.

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