7 Not-so-typical Family Vacations — and How to Pull Them Off
"Clients keep telling me, 'We've been waiting, and we are so ready to travel,'" says Jessica Griscavage, the founder of McClean, Virginia–based Runway Travel Company. Lately, she's spent much of her time crafting super-adventures, because families booking with a specialist are looking to go big. According to a study conducted last summer by the Family Travel Association and New York University, around 65 percent of parents are now considering an advisor-crafted family vacation. Contrast that with just 17 percent of parents who booked with an agent in recent years.
For Fans of the Old Country
For her part, Griscavage is sending many multigenerational groups to a perhaps unexpected place. "Ireland is perfect for families because it has food, history, and beauty like none other," Griscavage says. Her ideal itinerary begins in Dublin and proceeds north to 800-year-old Ashford Castle, the lavish former summer home of the Guinness brewing family. En route, families can stop to scale the striking Cliffs of Moher, some of Ireland's highest, and enjoy a private sheepdog demonstration at a farm in the Burren. Activities are also plentiful at the castle, where guests can go ziplining among the treetops, ride horses, try clay shooting, and walk with the resident wolfhounds.
firstname.lastname@example.org; seven-day trips from $10,000 per person.
If You're Looking North...
Julia B. Pirrung at Jetset World Travel says a deep dive into Alaska is in demand "because it's the adventure of a lifetime, with no passport needed." Her ideal trip would include kayaking among the icebergs with the majestic LeConte Glacier as a backdrop, a mountain-biking excursion along miles of scenic logging trails, floatplane excursions to remote Redoubt Bay, and a close-up view of orcas as they glide through the Inside Passage.
email@example.com; 10-day trips from $20,000 per person.
Or If You'd Rather Head South
"I'm creating trips based on travels I've had with my own family," says Zach Rabinor of Journey Mexico. Lately he's been eyeing places including El Rosario butterfly reserve in Michoacán. Visitors to the area can ride horses through secluded forests to spot millions of fluttering monarchs. Rabinor suggests pairing the experience with a few days in Baja California, where families can snorkel with sea lions near Espíritu Santo Island and, in the winter and early spring, spot gray whales in Magdalena Bay.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 10-day trips from $9,000 per person.
Find Excitement Across the Atlantic
Jack Ezon of Embark Beyond is looking to Marrakesh, where families can wander a maze of souks, meet up-and-coming local fashion designers, and create their own Moroccan tiles. "There are few places as colorful and engaging," he says. That's particularly true during his pulse-pounding Amazing Race–style tour, which has teens hopping over rooftops, exploring ancient palaces, and racing through the streets in the sidecar of a guide-driven motorcycle.
email@example.com; seven-day trips from $6,250 per person.
Set Sail on Your Own Personal Cruise
Find a more laid-back multi-gen trip in Croatia, where Wanda S. Radetti of Tasteful Croatian Journeys says a private yacht charter is the way to go. The Lagoon Seventy 7 catamaran, for example, has four large cabins and "a beautiful communal space," she says. Parents can lounge on deck with a glass of Pošip, a crisp white wine, while kids swim off the stern. Between excursions to fortified medieval towns and fishing villages, the yacht's chef will handle all the meal prep—and the cleanup, of course.
firstname.lastname@example.org; seven-day charters, with pre- and post-sail accommodations, from $100,000.
For Unparalleled Wildlife Watching
"Rwanda is on many people's radar for the mountain gorillas, but it truly offers so much more for families," says Shawna Huffman Owen of Huffman Travel. Her preferred circuit adds chimpanzee spotting in Nyungwe National Park — sometimes done from a suspended walkway in the forest canopy — and sharing a meal and a conversation with a genocide survivor to better understand the country's history. Of course, trekking to see mountain gorillas is also included. "The experience is something that will never leave you," Huffman Owen says.
email@example.com; six-day trips from $10,000 per person.
For the Truly Adventurous
Sandy Cunningham of Uncharted Travel has clients looking forward to Fiji and, once it reopens to visitors, New Zealand. "Combine both and you've got a trip that will go down in family history," she says. In New Zealand, she can arrange for river rafting with Maori guides and a stay in a wilderness lodge near Lake Taupo. In Fiji, families can dive in with scuba lessons, snorkeling, and a visit to an uninhabited island set up like the film Castaway — complete with volleyball.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 16-day trips from $18,550 per person.