Family Travel Gets Adventurous.

Forget the tan, the bucket of markers in the kids’ club and the souvenir shot of Katelyn kitted out as carrot-topped Anne of Green Gables.

These days, families want to experience something more than all-inclusive resorts and the cruise-ship buffet. They want a multi-day horseback ride or adventure camp, to sleep in a tipi, climb a mountain or try a dinosaur dig—adventures that can make the time together meaningful.

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“Next to adventure travel, the family sector is the fastest-growing segment in the industry,” says Mona Hamouly, spokeswoman for American Express Travel, referring to a recent report on family travel trends. “Family trips tend to be less expensive than ornate, romantic vacations, and in these economic times, people are looking for value—more than ever. Vacation home rentals and villas that offer multigenerational families a “home away from home” experience while on vacation will continue to gain popularity.”

And families want more genuine, nature-based, cultural and learning excursions, says Leo Salazar, vice-president of public relations for Ypartnership/Yankelovich, the agency behind the 2008 National Leisure Travel MONITOR.

“Ones that make lasting potent memories,” Salazar says. He attributes this in part to baby boomers who have the means to travel “coupled with a strong interest in bonding more deeply with families.”

In our turbo-charged culture where two-income households, 60-hour work weeks, fast food and smart phones have become the norm, my family’s favourite holidays are the ones where we ditch all the mod-cons of our daily lives.

Reconnecting with grandparents, we’ve rented cottages in Ontario and Quebec, celebrated multigenerational milestones at swank places like the Outlook cabin at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, gone houseboating on Shuswap Lake, BC, surfed on Long Beach in Tofino, BC and even howled with wolves at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre near Golden, BC.

I asked my son recently what he loves most about summer in Canada.

“Sitting on the end of a dock, listening for loons, with a s’more in my mouth,” he said.

When gooey marshmallows and the trill of a loon become “events” to a 12-year-old, you know you’re in the right place.

by Debra Cummings, courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

 

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