Family Travel Made Easy

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Backroads Family Trip in Croatia, Dalmatian CoastAs a Trip Leader, a phrase I find myself coming back to when speaking to guests or potential guests about traveling with Backroads is some version of, “We take care of all of the annoying aspects of travel to let you enjoy the good stuff.” This philosophy applies to every trip Backroads offers, but after leading trips for two years, I can see no time that it’s more valuable than when my guests are traveling with kids.

When I recall family travel from my childhood, alongside the appreciation of cultural exposure, the joy of sightseeing, and the pleasure of delicious meals with Mom, Dad and my sister, are memories of boredom, of being told not to fidget between courses at dinners and of negotiating which activities we were going to do. (Another cathedral visit? Veto. Another crêpe and gelato? Yes, please!)

We aim for that sweet spot where the adults get enough child-free time to let their sense of responsibility ease away while families also get to enjoy new, unique and enriching experiences together.

GelatoThe beauty of family trips with Backroads is that everyone gets what they want (well, maybe not the excessive crêpes and gelato, but you get the idea)–we provide split activities throughout our itineraries to keep both kids and parents happy and interested. The kids might not be stoked on the winery or brewery tour, but everyone will enjoy it a lot more when we take them outside for a game of capture-the-flag. Or maybe they’re tired out after the morning bike ride–the perfect time for a chocolate-making activity at the local artisan pâtisserie while parents keep rolling at their own pace.

We’ve got all sorts of tricks up our sleeves for keeping the kids occupied and entertained, allowing new friendships to develop and letting all family members pursue their own adventure. And there’s no shame if a kid wants to stick with the adults for the next leg of the hike or if Mom or Dad wants to let out their inner child and join the kids for zip-lining!

This isn’t to say that you won’t have family time on your family vacation; we aim for that sweet spot where the adults get enough child-free time to let their sense of responsibility ease away while families also get to enjoy new, unique and enriching experiences together. I find that breaking things up throughout the week always seems to keep family dynamics fresh (think: everyone getting along!).

We work with our restaurant partners to make sure that meal choices are flexible so that family dinners can be enjoyed without fuss. (I once had a couple on a Premiere Inn Family Trip in France whose son only ate hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Confused as they were, the restaurants were totally accommodating and he ate contentedly all week!).

Costa Rica Backroads Family TripBackroads Family Trips also offer a rich social atmosphere for the kids; I’m always amazed by how quickly they connect with one another, and I haven’t had a family trip end without getting to see rich new friendships form. I’ve even heard from past guests that they’ve planned subsequent trips with families that they met on our trip and that their kids have kept in touch across the country!

One of the most rewarding memories I have from leading is when a guest came to me and my co-leaders at the end of our trip with gift bags he’d put together for us as a thanks for providing his family what he called the “best family trip we’ve ever taken.” He gushed about the way his kids had taken to the other kids and how nice of a dynamic they’d had as a family during the week. I was really touched by how happy he was and how upbeat he’d become throughout the week, and it drove home for me what sort of experience we are able to provide the families that travel with us.

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Brian Dunn

Brian Dunn

Brian left his home state of Michigan after college and has been satisfying his wanderlust ever since. After earning his Master of Public Health degree in Boston, he set off for Cameroon for two years of service with the Peace Corps, where he worked on health and gender issues in the village of Meidougou. Seeking a change of direction afterward, Brian found Backroads and wholeheartedly embraced the Trip Leader lifestyle. He leads mostly in France, where he can't get enough of explaining classic cultural contrasts for Backroads guests.
Brian Dunn

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