Despite what the cynics say, having a family doesn’t snuff out your sense of adventure, and it certainly shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world. In fact, travel is one of the most rewarding and memorable things a family can do together. Mingling with Maasai villagers in Tanzania, snorkeling between continental plates in Iceland… unlike a plastic toy or video game, those sorts of experiences have no age bracket.
Family travel comes with its own set of needs and challenges, which is why we developed a range of trips designed specifically for families. Packed with kid-friendly activities, educational local experiences and loads of memorable, show and tell-worthy adventures, they operate in over 30 countries around the world. This is why family travelers need something tailored for them.
Family logistics can be overwhelming… but they don’t have to be
From big picture stuff (where to go, what to see?) down to the nitty gritty (how much should I pay for a tuk-tuk in Delhi?), the logistics of family travel can be hard to navigate, especially when you’re pressed for time and you’ve got the whole brood to rally. It’s just so easy to keep throwing that dream family getaway back into the too-hard basket.
On our family trips, we take care of all the details, from the itinerary to the local leader, safe transport, accommodation, activities and many meals. We’re also conscious that many families are on a budget, so we try to maximize inclusions and offer discounts for younger children.
Kids need less time on the road
Nobody wants their family trip to consist of endless rounds of “Are we there yet?” Our Family Adventures move at a slower pace than usual, so you’ll spend more time exploring each destination and less time on the road. Travel days are kept to a minimum and we only use comfortable, private vehicles. Itineraries are packed with adventures kids will love – like zip-lining in France or getting their hands dirty in a Kyoto cooking class – as well as loads of flexible free time and additional optional activities. Boredom? Pffft. Not on our watch.
‘Average’ accommodation isn’t going to cut it
Just like on all Intrepid trips, accommodation on a family tour is clean, safe, centrally-located and atmospheric. Where possible, it’s also family-run. At the end of a long day of exploring, families have extra needs, especially when it comes to comfort and entertainment. That’s why we choose hotels and guesthouses with multiple bedrooms (or connected bedrooms if the kids want their own space), Kids Clubs to give Mum and Dad a break and, whenever we can…swimming pools! A little extra thought on where you stay can make the difference between bored kids and somewhere they don’t want to leave.
Leaders need to be comfy with kids
Another common feature of all Intrepid trips is our use of local leaders – passionate travel experts who know their countries and cultures back to front. Parents on family trips need a leader they can trust absolutely, which is why all our Family Adventure leaders are rigorously trained and experienced in working with children. They’re the friendliest, most organized legends around, and the kids just love them (that’s something you can’t fake).
Other families = instant besties
Pretending you’re part of the Famous Five is no fun when it’s just you and your little brother. On our family trips, the idea is to travel with several other families at the same time. Kids gain a bunch of new friends their own age, while the adults get to relax and spend time with other adults. It’s a great opportunity for single parents to get some well-deserved downtime, too.
We know families come in all configurations, so anyone is welcome – mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties and uncles (no need to bring the nanny, though). Most trips have a minimum age of 5, but some more active itineraries are catered specifically to teenagers.
Groups need to be small enough to handle
Remember your first day of school? That feeling of walking through the gates and not knowing anyone around you? Just like in a small classroom, traveling with a family is a lot easier when there aren’t 50 people running around with you. For one thing, it’s much easier for kids to make lasting friends. We keep our group sizes to an average of 10 and max of 16 people. It also allow us to reach harder-to-get-to places, stay at smaller hotels and eat at more interesting, family-run restaurants; plus, it makes getting from A to B a whole lot simpler.
Quality time is essential
An Intrepid family trip is like a good Pixar film or an episode of The Simpsons – while it may deliver different delights to adults and children, it’s meant to be enjoyed together. We don’t pack the young ones off to kids club while the grownups sip champagne by the pool all day. Family trips need well-organized activities that are accessible to all ages, but that also help bring the family together. Educational is a bonus, too. At the end of the day, the whole point of a family trip is to make lasting memories. If we can help you accomplish that, we can rest happy.
It needs to beat the home-grown alternative
Intrepid Family trips are packed with the sorts of local encounters and experiences you could never replicate back home. Spending the night with a local Peruvian family, falling asleep under the African stars as lions roar in the distance – these are the sorts of memories you’ll cherish for years to come whether you’re seven or 70. Just wait till your daughter gets back from Italy and tells her history class how she didn’t see just Mt Vesuvius in Pompeii – she climbed it!
Education should be in there…somewhere
Is there a better education than travel? Directly exposing your kids to new cultures, places and ideas is an invaluable way for for them to learn about our world, and most importantly, the environments, animals and people we share it with.
Intrepid places a strong focus on responsible travel – conserving the planet and its wildlife, contributing to local economies and respecting the people, cultures and communities we encounter when we roam free. These threads run throughout all of our trips, and frame the way our travelers – young or older – experience a destination.
Get the kids together. We’re going on a proper small group family adventure.
This article was originally published by Intrepid Travel under the headline Family travel 101: what to consider before travelling with kids. It is reprinted here with permission.