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Family travel accounts for a full one-third of leisure trips booked in the U.S., but family vacationers still tend to plan journeys that are fairly tame, generally opting for road trips, national park excursions and theme park visits. So, how can families be guided out of their comfort zones to attempt more atypical travel experiences — especially in light of the growing experiential and adventure travel trends, as well as the burgeoning world-schooling movement?
For travel agents, building a client’s confidence is the key to a successful shift from the resort beaches of Los Cabos to the wild plains of the Serengeti. With patience, sensitivity and the expertise only a travel professional can provide, it is possible to transform a family’s understanding of what it means to travel — and where a journey can safely take them — in turn, transforming the family itself.
It’s all about baby steps. A client’s toes can first be dipped into new landscapes by enticing them with all-inclusive experiences in slightly more exotic locales. This ensures both comfort and peace of mind, while also raising the bar of the baseline experience. Costa Rican Vacations’ wide variety of product offers a “worry-free happiness guarantee,” which, in turn, encourages a family’s willingness to edge slowly into uncharted territory.
The incremental process could then involve stoking a family’s adventurous spirit by ramping up the endorphins. Why not add an optional higher level of adventure within the safety and security of a familiar destination experience — a multihour horseback ride or river rafting with a few adrenaline-pumping rapids or perhaps even some ziplining?
Companies such as Thomson Family Adventures offer professionally guided adventure tours where guests are invited to swim with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, as well as a host of family-specific itineraries that focus on engaging, educational tours meant to inspire and entertain.
Once a family has had a taste of more thrilling excursions, there will be no stopping the desire for more exhilaration. A family-centric Tanzanian safari with Rothschild Safaris or a family-friendly trek in the Patagonian Andes with Southwind Adventures will seem like far less of a stretch.
It goes without saying that diversified travel experiences can fortify family bonds, expand minds and strengthen a child’s understanding of the world. Whether through catching the perfect barrel wave in Maui or witnessing the great wildebeest migration in Africa, families that travel together reap immeasurable benefits. It behooves today’s savvy agents and operators to urge families to revel in the unique and authentic flavors of many places.
While every family has its own set of travel preferences and comfort levels that must be respected, the right advice and guidance from travel experts can lead to new and exciting opportunities that will allow families to grow closer and create lifelong memories.
Family Travel Associationwww.familytravel.org
Outdoor Families Magazinewww.outdoorfamiliesonline.com