What do you look for when choosing a family holiday? Is relaxing by a pool your number one priority? Is it the chance to learn something new? Or is time together as a family the most important, no matter the destination?
When we consider where to go on our family trips, we look for a mixture of all three (I also really like going to new places!). But, increasingly, when we’re away, we look for family-orientated programs, tours and activities that we can all enjoy and which will allow us to maximise our time together (and keep the kids from getting bored!).
As we all know, family travel is no longer just about buckets and spades. Families are increasingly looking for meaningful experiences. And that’s not the traditional nuclear family. Multigenerational travel is on the rise (and this includes aunts, uncles and cousins as well as the grandparents) with everyone looking to create memories and strengthen family bonds.
Since the time our first kids were born (nearly 10 years ago now), we’ve definitely noticed a change in what travel service providers are offering families. Once-upon-a-time, a kids’ menu in the restaurant was enough to be consider a hotel “family-friendly” but today, hotels are going out of their way to create original programmes for kids. The stuffed animals that kids receive at the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, for example, are different in each location (if you visit the Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico you get a stuffed crocodile). And, at the Shangri-La Hotel in Doha, Qatar, children can take part in an Arabian Knights Summer Camp, which introduces kids to the culture of the Middle East with experiences like taking part in an Arabic falconry class.
We’ve visited the Yasuragi Spa in Sweden, a Japanese-inspired spa that welcomes children during the summer months. Yasuragi Kids was developed to offer families the opportunity to spend quality time together in relaxing and peaceful environment. There are no childcare facilities and parents are responsible for their children at all times. Parents are also expected to participate in activities together, which include sushi making classes, family yoga, Japanese crafts and much, much more.
We’ve also seen an increase in tours that really consider the needs of kids, such as treasure hunts in Venice or gladiator school in Rome. All of these authentic experiences allow families to engage at a deeper, more local, level.
So what’s the best way to tap into this local knowledge and these local experiences? Companies such as Tours By Locals and Spotted By Locals have already realised that the best guides are the ones that actually live in a place.
But now it seems that new tourism marketplace software is allowing websites to go one step further. On websites such as Norway Travel Guide, for example, not only can you book your flight, hotel and car hire, but a network of bloggers allows you to connect directly with locals and read their tips first-hand about where to go and what to do. Similarly, Guide to Iceland also allows you to connect with locals.
Could this be the future of family travel? Can you imagine a website where you can not only find family-friendly accommodation and kid-approved tours but where you can also communicate directly with local families for their top tips on visiting Copenhagen or Brussels or New York City? In any case, it looks as though the opportunities for more local, more authentic travel for families is only going to grow. And that’s great news.
Main image courtesy of Pixabay