Summer Trips for Families - Worldwide
In a quarter-century of wandering the world, I have had dozens of memorable adventures – but the best trip I have ever had was a family journey to the Galapagos. It wasn’t just the spectacular setting that distinguished this trip; it was sharing a singular experience with the most precious people in my life. The gift of that sharing – the way it binds and bonds you in the moment and forever after – is irreplaceable; that journey has woven itself inextricably into the history, the ongoing story, my wife and I share with our children, and it has had a profound influence on the way we appreciate the world and each other. If I could keep just one journey from my lifetime collection, that’s the one I’d keep.
The members of the Adventure Collection recognize the extraordinary power and potential of family journeys, and over the past two decades, they have perfected the art of crafting varied and rewarding family trips. Looking ahead to the summer travel season, I asked each member to describe one family trip that has them particularly excited. Here are their choices; reading them gets my wanderlust juices flowing!
Backroads: Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Multisport
For unparalleled beauty and wilderness, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks shine in scenic splendor. As two of the country's best-known parks, these glorious examples of Wyoming's varied and rugged terrain never fail to inspire even the most seasoned Backroads travelers. With its steaming fumaroles, thundering geysers and bubbling pools, Yellowstone is a geologic treasure. And rising in great jagged waves, the Tetons display nothing less than staggering grandeur amid a landscape of alpine lakes, soaring peaks and valleys teeming with wildlife. The six-day trip combines biking, hiking, rafting and kayaking – making for an especially exhilarating family adventure.
Yellowstone & Grand Tetons Multisport: 6 days/5 nights; numerous departures June 29-Aug. 24; $2,898 per person, double occupancy.
Bushtracks Expeditions: Southern Africa by Private Air
Experience some of the best national parks and reserves in South Africa, Botswana and Zambia in classic safari-style. Using private air your group arrives refreshed for your next adventure: game drives in search of elephants and lions, boating excursions on the Okavango Delta, or admiring magnificent Victoria Falls. Meet African schoolchildren – first as pen pals and then face-to-face -- and learn cultural traditions from local villagers. Our exclusive Game Ranger Tracking Program creates interactive learning experiences for our young travelers that highlight aspects of the unique wildlife, culture and history each day offers and transforms them into traditional craft activities, in-depth conversations with game rangers, encounters with local children and demonstrations.
Southern Africa by Private Air: July 5-15; $13,425 per adult and $11,425 per child (11 years and younger), double occupancy.
Canadian Mountain Holidays: Bobbie Burns Family Adventure
This summer we have set aside two special Family Adventure trips designed exclusively for those seeking a major adrenalin rush. We know how most kids feel about hiking, so our Family Adventure has removed the boring bits to heighten the lasting family memories you’ll take home. The first afternoon will provide a chance for guests to test their mountain legs and gain some personal insight into how this Heli-Hiking adventure will unfold. But, don’t get too comfortable because we are going to shake it up every day! Each morning, your guides and awaiting helicopter will transport you out into the field for a full day of mountaineering thrills. While kids are busy and entertained by our Family Adventure Leaders, adults can choose to participate with the younger set or challenge themselves to a Heli-Hiking or mountaineering day on their own
You may find yourself summiting a craggy peak you never before believed accessible, roped up with your team of fellow travellers traversing a massive snow-covered glacier, or rappelling over sheer rock-face. No matter what, you will find yourself pushed beyond your comfort zone to a place where you will discover a deep sense of pride and achievement. Kids love it, and so will you! This is your chance to gulp -- and experience -- life to the fullest. At dinner time, our chefs consult with our young guests to create some outstanding meals. This is a family experience designed to please everyone; little ones, teens, and even big kids at heart will find themselves laughing out loud.
Bobbie Burns Family Adventure: departures July 27 and August 11; prices starting at $2,490 CAD for adults and $1,870 CAD for children.
Geographic Expeditions: Family Tours of the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands offer a spectacular diversity of things to do and see for people of all ages. Aboard the very comfy and ever so eco-responsive 48-passenger La Pinta, you'll find yourself wending your way leisurely, from island to island, with generous stops for snorkeling in deep or shallow water, swimming, hiking on sere volcanic landscapes, communing with the abundant and ever-friendly wildlife, and in general connecting, in privacy and calm, with the mysteries that Darwin uncovered, changing the world in the process. Our wide variety of activities is geared to travelers of different ages and levels of mobility. La Pinta also carries a glass-bottom boat for those who prefer to view marine life without getting wet, and the ship’s lounges are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows, so one can take in the islands in total comfort.
For children 7 to 12 years of age, La Pinta offers the Young Pirates program, designed to allow young travelers to fully absorb Galapagos at their own pace. The program includes “kids only” activities, special meals, interpretative recreational material, books, and more.
Family Tours of the Galapagos Islands: departures weekly in June, July and August; from $5,660.
Lindblad Expeditions: Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness
Using small, nimble ships, a fleet of Zodiacs and kayaks, special permits and calling on decades of experience, Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic take adventurous families into the seldom-visited wildernesses of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Walk forest trails to cascading waterfalls, search for humpbacks, killer whales and sea lions, get out and about with Lindblad’s fleet of kayaks, Zodiac through iceberg-laden bays and learn about Alaska’s rich Native American heritage. Stand in awe of Alaska’s magnificent glaciers, especially during a full day at Glacier Bay National Park. Expedition travel is the finest way to experience Alaska as more than just a passing landscape.
Throughout the journey, guests travel with an Expedition Team consisting of 4 expert naturalists and one Expedition Leader, who is also a naturalist. This means that families receive unprecedented exposure to the people who know Alaska and its wonders best. There is also at least one naturalist per departure who is specially trained to work with children of all ages. They develop special activities for families. On each voyage travelers rendezvous with the Alaska Whale Foundations’ (AWF) research ship, Evolution. The Alaska Whale Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to research and conservation of marine mammals in Southeast Alaska. We’ll be in constant contact with AWF throughout our voyage. They’ll direct us to areas rich in marine mammals, so you’ll see more humpback whales and hopefully some feeding behavior. It’s always exciting when one of the researchers comes on board to speak to us and share their experiences working with National Geographic's groundbreaking Crittercam team. They’ll open a window to their world that will make you feel as if you are a part of ongoing research.
Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness: 8 days/7 nights aboard National Geographic Sea Bird & National Geographic Sea Lion; departures May 10, 30; Jun. 7, 20; Jul. 18, 25; Aug 16, 22; prices from $5,390.
[Special savings: Book this voyage and receive $750 off per person and free roundtrip air from Seattle (a $600 value).]
Micato Safaris: Family to Family Safari
This extravagant safari experience will amuse, educate, entertain, and enthrall the entire clan. The Family to Family Safari is more than just your average foray into the African wilds. Activities abound for every age: Maasai- and Samburu-style traditional beaded necklace-making, Swahili mask-making, nightly star-gazing, and Safari Directors teaching the basics of big-game tracking. There are even special gifts and equipment provided for children. Plus, staff is on hand to keep the younger guests engaged, allowing Mom and Dad to get away on their own for a while.
Each lodge is family-friendly, with swimming pools and diversions for tykes and teens alike. We stay at each location for two to three days, truly experiencing each locale and avoiding a rushed feeling. Even the food is customized — simple, fun foods for the kids and gourmet cuisine for discerning adults. While this itinerary caters to the family — designed by specially-trained Children’s Safari Directors, all parents themselves — it is a true adventure into a land untamed, a zoo uncaged.
Family to Family Safari: June 8-23; June 15-30; other departures July 6, 13, 20; August 3, 10, 17; adults $11,975 per person, double occupancy; children under 12 from $8,975.
OARS: Rogue River Rafting
The Rogue River Rafting trip is ideal for families seeking to spend “quality time” away from the hustle of everyday life. This nationally designated Wild and Scenic River offers approximately 40 miles of moderate Class III whitewater, making it just wild enough to satiate an adult sense of adventure, while tantalizing teens and thrilling youngsters. The Rogue is a fisherman’s paradise, offering four species of trout (though only steelheads are commonly seen on our trips) and two species of salmon. The river canyon is home to deer, elk, bear, and a variety of smaller mammals, as well as reptiles and birds. We often spot black-tailed deer and there are occasional sightings of otter, beaver and mink. The canyon is also a bird-watcher’s dream! Birds of prey such as bald eagles and osprey populate the area, as do a variety of water and woodland birds.
We offer a variety of ways to experience the Rogue: down a river in your choice of a raft, a dory or an inflatable kayak (aka “ducky”); a multi-day hiking trip along the river with raft support; a rustic lodge-to-lodge rafting excursion. Our guides are family friendly with loads of experience introducing children to rivers and the natural world. All are qualified in CPR and First Aid; many have earned credentials in wilderness first responder, swift water rescue and Leave No Trace. Our river guides are fantastic chefs, entertainers and teachers all rolled into one.
Rogue River Rafting: numerous departures in June, July and August; 3-day, 4-day and 5-day trips; from $735 adult and $685 youth.
Off the Beaten Path: Unforgettable Grand Canyon
This great journey features two nights of fun, easy, comfortable camping on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, all equipment provided. The private, wooded camp offers a slate of guided activities (including hiking and biking) designed to be enjoyed by families. But that’s just part of this memorable adventure! There’s a hilltop inn nestled into the red rocks of Sedona, a natural water slide in Oak Creek, a jeep tour — and a kid’s night out with the guide, giving adults some time on their own to explore Sedona’s finer restaurants.
Unforgettable Grand Canyon: June 21-26, July 5-10, July 12-17, August 2-7; from $2,495.
Natural Habitat Adventures: Family Costa Rica Adventure
Costa Rica’s mountains, beaches, waterfalls and tropical rainforests offer families an unmatched natural destination for active adventure. Wedged between two oceans and two continents, Costa Rica is home to some of the greatest biodiversity on earth: gigantic ferns, orchids, neon-billed toucans, three-toed sloths, monkeys, peccaries, crocodiles, iguanas and frogs, just for starters. We encounter it up close from a variety of exciting approaches: rafting down a lazy river, riding horseback through the jungle, flying through the forest on a zip-line, and playing in the turquoise ocean. Nature has never been so impressive, and your family has never had so much fun.
Family Costa Rica Adventure: June 20 – 28, July 11 – 19, August 1 – 9; adult $3,895, children from $2,495.
NOLS: Pacific Northwest Sea Kayaking and SailingFind the full beauty of the Pacific Northwest on this all-ocean coastal exploration. You will sea kayak the remote waters of Vancouver Island’s outer coast, visiting pristine sandy beaches and hidden tidal lagoons while traveling in the wake of the many First Nations peoples and early explorers who opened the trade routes in this region. Along the way, learn a range of technical skills including fundamental paddling strokes, weather analysis, and interpretation of tides and currents. During the sailing section, you’ll find yourself aboard a 36-foot keelboat to explore the remote Strait of Georgia and Desolation Sound. Along these precipitous coastlines, you’ll learn boat handling under sail and power, chart reading, coastal navigation, and seamanship. From helm to foredeck to navigation station, you will get a hands-on opportunity to crew all the positions above and below deck. With a combo course like this one, you’re sure to grow into your sea legs.
Pacific Northwest Sea Kayaking and Sailing: June 10-July 10; $4,550.