If your New Year’s resolution is to show your kids more of the world, this list is for you. Think beyond weekends at the beach or theme park destinations, and read up on what sources say are going to not only be top travel destinations, but also the family-friendly travel trends you’ll be seeing everywhere in the next decade. Scroll down to see them all—we may have already planned your next vacation!
Travel by Train
Make getting to your destination part of the fun when you travel by train. Overnight trains are pretty fantastic these days, with game rooms, sightseeing cars and dining cars with table service. You'll reduce the stress on the driver and see the country like you never have before. Check out some of our favorite train rides here. If a stationary train is more your speed, you can opt to sleep in one that stays in one place.
Take the Family Glamping
Glamping gives you the best of both worlds—the smell of a campfire in your hair and an actual bed to sleep on. You won't have to schlep all of your camping gear with you, everyone gets a better night's sleep, and you still get time out in the woods away from WiFi and civilization. Check out some of our favorite campsites including loads of options in California.
Visit the Emerald Isle
Live out your castle dreams with a family trip to Ireland. This lush, green island is becoming popular with families, as you can fly there easily from the U.S., and it offers lots of different experiences for kids. We love Kilkea Castle as a family destination—you can sleep in the actual castle and enjoy activities like falconry and exploring the property's 180 acres.
Taste the Culture of Another Country
There's nothing that teaches you more about a country than an immersive cooking experience with a local. Traveling Spoon pairs visitors with local chefs and home cooks so families can cook a local dish and dine together. Kids will love visiting local markets and seeing what interesting ingredients they can find. Read all about our Traveling Spoon adventure in Portugal here.
If you are looking for a full culinary-themed family vacation, check out Thomson Family Adventures. They offer trips like a 10-day adventure in Vietnam that includes a Vespa street food tour and Vietnamese cooking lessons.
Avoid Overtourism with Second-City Travel
Swap touristy destinations like Venice and the Caribbean with lesser-known destinations that have the same feel but fewer tourists. This travel trend offers families a more low-key trip and the opportunity to get a more specialized experience while also lessening the impact of over-tourism on cities. Tour companies like True Colombia Travel provide the opportunity for families to experience cities rarely seen by tourists like Pasto, Colombia. Here you can experience Carnaval de Blancos y Negros, the largest annual festival in southern Colombia, and learn about the construction of the giant carrozas (festival floats) firsthand from parade participants.
Make It a Multi-Generational Trip
According to Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, multi-generational travel has become a more popular option for families, and we love that! Whether you plan a three-generation trip or a skip-gen one that leaves the parents at home, there are resorts that are specifically offering activities that will appeal to all ages of family members. Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is one of our top travel destinations for families, as you can bunk up in adjoining cabins and enjoy meals together under the stars. Nearby activities include fishing and visiting gold rush towns, and you can enjoy the warm waters of the on-site hot spring-fed pool after a busy day exploring.
Go Off the Grid on an Adventure Vacation
If you aren't a sit-on-the-beach-and-relax person, consider an adventure vacation for your next family trip. Whether it's an expedition cruise around Iceland or a visit to a treehouse paradise, you'll see kids' eyes light up when they see the adventure that is in store for them. Adventure travel puts you out of your comfort zone by offering activities like white water rafting, ziplining and swimming with sharks. It's pretty much a guarantee that the kids will go home with amazing memories. If you aren't up for planning your own adventure trip, consider hiring a guide service like Austin Adventures that will do it all for you.
Aloha from Hawaii
Hawaii always tops the list of family travel destinations, and it's no secret why. The weather is excellent for most of the year, the sights are gorgeous, the people are friendly and the resorts are designed to welcome both kids and parents alike. We are particularly excited about the opening of the newly-reimagined, family-friendly Mauna Lani Auberge Resorts Collection that is set to debut in January 2020. The resort's educational and fun kids' program includes everything from cultural immersion, athletics and wellness, to culinary classes, movies under the stars, moonlight storytelling and navigation.
Discover Your DNA
As a travel trend, more and more families are interested in learning about their roots, says Fee. With the popularity of 23andMe as well as Ancestry.com, families are keen to show their children their humble beginnings. Recently, Airbnb and 23andMe have teamed up to incorporate heritage travel into the mix. When a customer receives their 23andMe ancestry info, they can click through Airbnb Homes in that geographic area to plan their own birthright experience. Popular destinations include Italy, Ireland and Mexico.
Spend Time in Spain
Spain is becoming a family vacation hot spot, and we love the idea of seeing this beautiful country on two wheels. Bring the whole gang along to discover the beauty of the Asturian Coast on this 7-day guided family cycling adventure from Saddle Skedaddle. Bike near fantastic beaches, coves and rock pools full of interesting sea creatures that the kids can examine. Along the way, witness the sheer power of the Bufones de Pria—natural blow holes—and brave the waves with a surfing lesson. Hunt for dinosaur footprints on the cliffs at Ribadesella, and stop in traditional fishing villages to sample the catch of the day and enjoy a local dry cider or apple juice—remember, in Spain, children are always welcome into bars and restaurants, which makes for a true family vacation.
Make It a Micro-cation
If time and money are tight, consider a micro-cation for your next family trip. These four-day-or-less trips allow you to see someplace new and get a break from everyday life. It's a good way to get the kids used to travel without having to pack a ton of gear for everyone. Surprise the kids with a last-minute trip and see a new part of the country.
Ski Destination: Park City, UT
If skiing is on your must-do list for 2020, make Park City, UT your destination. We love this city for all of the winter activities it offers including skiing, snowboarding, snow biking, fly-fishing and white-water rafting. You won't need to rent a car or battle the snow as there are tons of shuttles from the airport as well as around town. Park City is filled with museums and historical tours, galleries, spas, live theater and concerts for off-the-slopes fun.
It's Hot in the Riviera Maya
Families will love the relaxed vibe in the Riviera Maya, and there are a ton of resorts waiting to make your visit the trip of a lifetime. We are especially excited to see the brand-new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya open its doors in late 2020 with 276 oceanfront swim-up pad suites and flat suites, plus four sprawling Nickelodeon-themed signature penthouses (including your favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob SquarePants) perched on the top floor of two modern six-story buildings. All-inclusive luxury means you'll spend lots of time at the 500,000-square foot Aqua Nick, which includes a lazy river, water slides, a splash park, an interactive water playground for toddlers and mini relaxation pools. Get your visit in the books today!
Give Back with a Volunteer Vacation
Visit a destination and help improve the lives of other families with hands-on, family-friendly projects that make meaningful memories. Pack with a Purpose puts you in touch with organizations that need food, clothing or supplies; just bring it with you, and your kids will see how it does a world of good. Other organizations like Global Volunteers (globalvolunteers.org) or BestFriends (bestfriends.org) for animals offer volunteer opportunities. Even in Orlando, Give Kids the World Village provides a free weeklong vacation and access to Walt Disney World for children with life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers can take scoop ice cream, deliver pizza, staff the carousel, or assist on village rides together. See our favorite volunteer vacations here.
Road Trips Are on the Rise
According to Allstar Coaches, road trips are also on the rise. From local jaunts to cross-country treks, signs show that more Millenials are choosing to hit the road instead of flying the friendly skies. Need some ideas? We've got the country's best road trips right here.
—Kate Loweth with Mira Temkin
Feature photo: iStock