Family tours are more than bonding with your relatives in a dream destination. These types of tours can be opportunities to create long-lasting memories while embracing a new culture and learning more about a different country. Or they can offer the possibility of just spending some quality time together at the beach or trying out ziplining for the first time.
Planning a group trip, large or small, that pleases everyone can be a hassle. Even the latest cross-generational travel trend needs a little help to make it happen. Just because kids are all grown up doesn’t mean they’ve outgrown picking on each other or arguing about where to go.
No need to stress out six months in advance or lose sleep over hotel choices -- family-specific tour operators will take care of all the details. All you and your family have to do is pack, grab your passports, and show up to travel!
A family trip to Costa Rica is the perfect opportunity to put everyone in touch with nature while also learning about conservation and biology. It would be a particularly exciting destination if the kids recently studied ecology in school -- although there’ll be plenty of activities to choose from so it won't feel like all work and no fun.
Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the most visited conservation areas in the world, is just one of the top things to visit in the country. With over 100 species of mammals, almost 200 species of birds, and four beaches, there’s a lot to keep everyone entertained here.
Judging by countless Instagram posts and delighted honeymooners, Thailand has some of the best beaches in the world. Pair that with great food and a captivating local culture, and this country in Southeast Asia is pretty much a dream destination.
With just one tour, your family can experience urban life in busy Bangkok, explore one of Thailand’s National Parks, and manage some island hopping to one of those heavenly beaches everyone raves about.
When it comes to family travel in Europe, France seems to hit all the sweet spots. Travelers can have immersive cultural experiences while visiting wine regions, catching some rays at the beach in the south, or even managing to spend a day at one of the world’s most famous theme parks.
Most appropriate for active families, outdoor adventures in nature can include activities like hiking, kayaking, and camping. For full-on adventurous and thrill-seeking families, you can look for tours that take it up a notch with white water rafting, canyoning, or mountain climbing.
It’s never too early to teach your kids about different cultures, and these kinds of tours have the advantage of pleasing family members of all ages. Examples of cultural tours include special programs for families at museums, walking tours of historical neighborhoods, exploring mountain-top castles, or taking guided tours at temples.
Travel can be educational and fun at the same time. Responsible observation of animals in their natural habitats is a life-changing experience and a long-lasting memory for family members of all generations. Full-day safaris, guided tours of natural parks, or whale watching expeditions are some of the most popular options in this tour category.
Planning Your Trip
A lot of details go into planning the perfect family tour -- narrowing down the list of destinations that would make that once-in-a-lifetime memory is just the beginning.
What to Look for in a Family Tour
If you’re traveling with your extended family and if you have kids of different ages in the group, look for the activities listed on each tour and the minimum age required. Although most operators will design tours to accommodate all ages, or close enough, and market them as Family Tours, always make sure you read the detailed description to see if it fits your travel group's requirements.
Accommodation is crucial in a family trip, especially with small kids, so look for operators that partner with family-friendly hotels or resorts. Important details that make the difference include care with location and facilities and the possibility for family members to share rooms.
Common Types of Family Tours
Wildlife observation, cultural immersion experiences, and adventure activities are the most common types of family tours. Trips combining fun and education are always a win-win, even if some of the family members are no longer in school.
If you need to account for very different tastes in activities, or you're traveling with your extended family, consider cruising as an option. It has a good mix of things to do that caters to different ages and plenty of opportunities to just relax.
Typical Tour Cost
A 12-day family tour to Thailand, for example, goes for approximately $1,200 per person, and an 8-day tour to various popular European countries starts at approximately $800 per person. Before choosing a tour based on the price difference, compare both tours based on the activities offered, type of accommodation, or which local companies are partnered with the tour operator.
Some tour operators have a basic level and an upgraded level for the same package, with price differences starting at $100 per person. Usually, these price differences don’t indicate any changes to the itinerary but refer to differences in the type of accommodation or complimentary add-ons like private transfers.
Packing Tips & Gear Rental
If you’re traveling with small children, entertaining them sometimes takes a lot of creativity. Don’t forget to pack their favorite toys, books, and snacks. Bring along a few new toys that you can use as a backup plan -- the surprise effect does wonders and keeps them distracted for a little longer.
Read up on the weather in your destination, something usually given by your tour provider, and try to pack as lightly as possible. A rule of thumb for packing light is choosing a basic set of clothes and footwear that can be used in multiple combinations. For families with small children, pick clothes that will dry fast overnight if you need to wash something in your hotel bathroom sink.
Other Tips for Family Tours
Family tour operators take care of every detail of your trip for you -- except documentation. Usually, the company lists all fees and information regarding passports and visas, but it’s your responsibility as a traveler to make sure you have the latest information.
For large families traveling together, it’s best if you have a point person who makes sure everyone else is well-informed about documentation, currency, and health and insurance requirements.