Walt Disney World and other Orlando-area theme parks are still perennial favorites with families.
These days, a multigenerational vacation can be as simple as visiting a resort with a dedicated club for children (or multiple clubs for children of different ages), or as complex as touring an exotic destination and learning about the area’s history, heritage and culture. We touched base with a few travel advisors to see where families are going, and what they will be doing in 2014.
Where Families Are Going
Daniela Harrison of Avenues of the World Travel said that families are showing interest in traveling to traditional destinations like Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean, as well as rising destinations such as Costa Rica, South Africa and multi-country trips. All-inclusive resorts, of course, also remain popular options. “It’s all about versatility of activities offered for all generations and finding some activities that help the family bond all over again,” she said, adding that private tours are also growing in popularity as a way to make the family trip a unique experience.
Heather Christopher of Classic Travel agreed that private tours are an important element in a multi-gen trip, and noted that she is getting requests for stays in Tuscan villas with add-on tours to Rome. Notably, while many resorts offer kids clubs or child-centric activities, Christopher has found that many families want to stay together rather than split up by generations.
For 2014’s summer vacation season, Donna Evans of Avoya Travel is seeing lots of requests for England (London and beyond) combined with a few days in Paris via the Chunnel. “They are including the iconic features, as well as Harry Potter sites,” she said. “There are also the beach vacations: Hawaii, Atlantis in the Bahamas, and the Disney/Seaworld/Legoland/Universal theme parks [in Orlando].”
Evans was recently surprised to have a family with children aged nine and 11 choose the Golden Triangle of India. “Their children loved it,” she said. “Of course, the trip was sprinkled with elephant rides, tuk tuks, camels, etc…The kids must be used to this type of travel.”
What Families Are Doing
Fortunately, many destinations offer activities that can appeal to multiple interests. “In Italy, for example, you can arrange for a chef to come to the villa and give a cooking class,” Harrison said. “This allows them to do the activity together, which is what they usually want. It’s all about bonding, so experiencing new things together is key.” Christopher, on the flipside, sends her Italy-bound families to vineyards where the adults can sample wines while the kids learn how to make pizza.
Culinary activities keep younger guests both entertained and involved, and Harrison believes that hands-on educational experiences will be key in 2014. Other good options for multi-gen excursions can include visits to animal rehabilitation centers, photography tours and history-themed tours.
Evans has also noticed an increased demand for cultural and educational components when families travel together. “Multi-gens with older/adult children seem to be more into the experiential travel,” she said. “They want adventure and experiences and are choosing destinations like Costa Rica (beach, jungle, volcanoes), Africa (South Africa game reserves that are malaria-free, especially), Australia (for the diverse wildlife, along with the icons), and New Zealand (The Hobbit-influenced scenery and adventure).”
When families do need to be split up for different activities, Harrison makes sure the excursion is fairly short — “so they can reunite quickly afterwards and talk about their experiences.”
For family-friendly destinations in Italy, cited by the USTOA as the most popular destination for 2014, Daniela Harrison recommends Villa La Massa in Florence.“They go above and beyond,” she says of the hotel. “I consistently send couples and families. The grounds are beautiful. They have cooking classes, arrange Vespas to be delivered to the hotel, and the staff is just amazing. It’s my number one recommendation for the region.”
Also recommended for families, especially those with teenagers, are Rome’s Bernini Bristol and Venice’s Ca’Sagredo. “[I] just had a mom with her two daughters at both, and they loved the properties and shopping, and got great massages,” Harrison tells us.