Family travel is a bonding experience that creates lifetime memories. But it can be tough for parents to feel like they’re on vacation, too, when they spend so much time and energy planning, organizing and deciding. Where will we go? What will we do? How much should we pack? That’s why organized tours can work so well for families —someone else does the planning, carries the bags and decides where we’ll eat.
Organized Tours for Families
With someone else doing the heavy lifting—from deciding where you’ll stay to carrying your bags—parents get to relax and enjoy the fun, too. Toss in the added bonus of access to a personalized tour guide, and you have the makings of a vacation that is just as much fun for the parents as it is for the kids.
This is particularly true for exotic international vacations like a safari in Africa or exploring the wonders of the Galapagos—currently ranked at numbers 1 and 2 on my travel bucket list. Our partners at Friendly Planet Travel offer many family-friendly tours at incredibly family-friendly prices.
These 6 trips are on sale—and on my list of trips I would love to take with my college-age kids.
Kenya Wildlife Safari
Zoos have always been a slam-dunk success for my kids, so how could you miss by offering them the chance to be awed by the Masai Mara in Kenya? The chance to get up close with the big five—lions, elephants, leopards, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo—is something they’ll remember for a lifetime.
A Taste of South Africa
This tour offers a good combination of organized touring and independence, city and country–from sightseeing in Cape Town to game drives in the Entabeni Private Game Conservancy–all for a very family-friendly price ($1999 including airfare from the US). I would definitely add on the trip to see the majestic Victoria Falls. Once you’re half-way around the world, it would be a mistake not to stay a few extra days.
Galapagos Islands Wildlife Discovery
What 12-year-old boy doesn’t giggle at the thought of a blue-footed booby? But a trip to the Galapagos to see the animals that time forgot–from blue and red-footed boobies to flat-bellied lizards to hoary bats–is a great way to help kids understand the science of evolution. Couple that with the chance to ride in a small plane and on a ferry and you have the makings of a fun family adventure.
Costa Rica Fly & Drive
While this tour does not come with a tour guide to take care of Mom and Dad, it does come with the freedom to travel at your own pace. See tropical rainforests, jungles, cloud forests, mountains, rivers, and a Costa Rica volcano while driving your own rental car with the kids in the back, without needing to Google “nearby hotels.” Need a break from the long drive? No problem. Want to linger at the volcano? OK. It’s just the kind of flexibility some families crave.
My husband visited this Nordic island years ago and still talks glowingly about the charms of Reykjavik. This tour, with its very family friendly price, allows visitors to explore the city on their own.
The big draw for me would be the optional add-on tour to see the magical Northern Lights, which are best seen in the winter months. That can be challenging with school calendars. But I firmly believe that travel is the best
education. I have never hesitated to take my kids out of school to see the world and its natural wonders. That personal experience beats asking them to imagine it while reading a textbook any time of the year!
A Taste of China
A trip that combines the Great Wall and the 2,200-year-old Terra Cotta Warriors? Yes. Count me in. How better to introduce kids to one of the oldest cultures of the world?