Today’s vacationing family heads to exotic places and distant shores

When you think of family vacations, what memories do you have? I am sure whatever they are, a smile will emerge on your face as you reminisce about those bygone days.

Carousel aboard Royal Carribean's "Oasis of the Seas".
Carousel aboard Royal Carribean’s “Oasis of the Seas”.

Growing up, our family’s summer vacation meant packing up the car in the evening, waking up the next morning at 5:45 a.m. to scramble into the car for the prompt 6 a.m. departure. Occasionally we would stop at a relative’s home for the night as it took two long days before we arrived at “Oma’s” house. Our days were filled with morning raspberry picking duties followed by sunny afternoons at the lake, located only minutes away. It is amazing how vivid these memories still seem to be. You, too, may remember sitting in a vehicle packed with pillows, snacks and activities to keep you entertained as you anticipated arrival at your destination….the home of a close relative, maybe Niagara Falls, Banff or Jasper, or perhaps the end of a longer journey to Peggy’s Cove and the Atlantic provinces.

Today’s family vacation is quite different from those of the past. Instead of taking driving holidays to visit family and friends, families are now travelling farther afield together to any destination imaginable. Within my own circle, several friends have told me their holiday plans include three generations of the family voyaging to locales both near and far.

The Disney Resorts in Florida and California continue to be a popular destination for both young and old—with grandparents and grandchildren each enjoying the experience. The various islands of Hawaii are also a great holiday option with activities to suit every family member. And then there are the family groups who embark on a journey to explore and discover the country of their ancestry. This could include destinations in more exotic locations, like Europe, Iceland, Australia, South East Asia, and Africa.

Since many families are now spread around the globe, an occasion can be a great reason to get together. One family I know is heading to Cuba this winter to celebrate two 70th birthdays in the warmth of the Caribbean. The family group consists of a couple with their children traveling to Cuba from Ontario, one set of parents departing from Winnipeg and the other parents coming from Europe.

It will be time spent together without the distractions of home and the efforts of hosting a celebration event. They can sit back and enjoy the resort amenities while spending their time together, creating those memorable moments. My family has done a similar sort of holiday. For my mother’s 70th birthday, my brothers and I, with our families, traveled to Arizona for a celebration. Since we all live in different parts of North America, meeting at a destination meant that all of us enjoyed a wonderful holiday.

Tour operators are certainly responding to the trend. Royal Caribbean International continues to enhance their children’s programs, so that all members of the family will have a great time. Las Vegas has traditionally focused on the adult market. Today, numerous family friendly entertainment options and attractions are available all along the Strip and beyond. Collette Vacations and Globus are offering family vacations in North America and Europe to enhance the experience for all travelers. The itineraries include educational or special interest activities for the younger traveler.

If you are wondering about family holiday options far beyond the horizon, G Adventures is launching a new family brochure filled with eco and educational trips to many parts of the world including South East Asia, South and Central America and Africa. Uniglobe Geo Travel and G Adventures will be hosting a travel evening in June which will highlight family holidays and worldwide adventures.

Last summer, my mother, daughter and I attended a wedding in Vancouver. It had been decades since I was last in the Fraser Valley so I decided to show my daughter where we had spent many summers when I was her age. Though many sites were no longer recognizable, I recalled the highlights of our family vacations. My mother and I were able to share our memories while creating new memories for us all to carry into the future. It’s the kind of experience I know many families would long appreciate.

It is a small world after all.

Linda Loewen is leisure travel manager with Uniglobe Geo Travel in Winnipeg.

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