Backroads Family Adventures are fun, stimulating trips designed to captivate the whole gang. Whether you’re biking to castles or spotting wildlife from a kayak, you’ll connect with your kids and do things they enjoy in an environment that positively transforms family interaction. Each itinerary balances quality time together and apart, with opportunities for everyone to take a break and recharge–something that’s virtually impossible to achieve when you vacation on your own.
Take me back to the beautiful San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington State. During my first summer working for Backroads, I led a trip there for a lovely family. An endlessly interesting grandfather invited his two adult children to bring their families along for a Private Trip in the Pacific Northwest. It was a wonderful week of outdoor exploration, shared meals, wildlife spotting—and most importantly, undistracted family bonding.
My love affair with the national parks began when I was 9 years old. I learned at that young age that the best family memories are the ones where we shared an adventure, where we set off and explored something new and exciting together. Those are the memories of my childhood and of my parents that I still carry with me today.
When I decided to embark on my first Backroads adventure, I was not a biker. I was not even particularly athletic. I was a 24-year-old, newly single teacher in Tampa, Florida. I had just spent months planning the June wedding of my dreams, but I knew something was not right. I called off my engagement and was at a loss of what to do with my newfound freedom. My summer of 1988 was now wide open.
One of the most iconic and expected experiences of a trip to Cuba is the chance to ride in a brightly painted, impeccably cared for classic 1950s convertible. What you might not expect is the pure rush of excitement you feel sliding into the back seat. It was one of my favorite memories of our family trip to Cuba.
This year I had the honor of attending my first 100th birthday party. Actually, my Great Uncle Mike is the only 100-year-old I’ve ever met. But age is only half of this story… Uncle Mike’s 100th birthday party was a bike ride! 100 years of age is a crazy thing to wrap your head around. But can you imagine being 100 and balancing on a bike, managing traffic, flying down hills?!
I think it goes without saying for most of us Backroads folks that we love to travel. We all have our own reasons, our own styles, our own lists of places we’ve been, places we’ll return to and places we’re longing to explore. Regardless of why, how and where we go, many of us share the desire to explore and to connect–or reconnect–to nature, to history, to cultures different from our own. To our ancestors, our families, our partners, ourselves, to each other. Or maybe just to a beach chair or to something other than the internet or the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives.
One of the reasons I joined Backroads as a Trip Leader a decade ago was because it was one of the only active travel companies that had trips in Norway. Growing up, my father always loved studying our family genealogy and especially our Norwegian roots. He and my mother had visited Norway in search of family roots on their European travels back in the 1970s, when they were first married. So Norway was an obvious choice for a family trip abroad, back in 1998. On that trip we followed the family tree down to the roots but could only find the small valley our family had come from. Nothing much came from the trip other than a deep feeling of connection for myself and a little more context for our family heritage.
This is the most popular family trip in the Backroads global portfolio. After exploring these two great national parks for 37 years, we know a lot about how the mountains were created, where wildlife wanders and when the geysers will likely erupt. Regional Manager Linda Cassell, who’s spent nearly three decades designing trips here, uses her deep expertise and vast local network to create an ideal mix of activities – so you and your family enjoy the best possible experience.
When everyone’s together, there’s lots going on! That’s why our Family Adventures in Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon have three Trip Leaders–including a dedicated Kids Activity Expert who regularly takes younger travelers off to do their own thing. So, while kids are exploring the Grand Canyon’s rim by mule, adults descend into the canyon by foot. As adults hike through the red rocks of Zion, kids are off canyoneering. And then there’s plenty of biking, hiking, swimming and swapping stories as a family too!
Whether you’re an avid camper looking to share the camping experience with family or friends, or someone who is new to the experience altogether, here are four things to look forward to on a Backroads Deluxe Camping Trip in the 2016 season!
On our Dalmatian Coast Family Multisport Tour, you’re are invited to walk the plank! After a day of biking by the sparkling waters of the Adriatic, at some point you and your family will likely want to plunge in. We recommend waiting until you’re back on board our private trabakul, the double-masted sailing coaster unique to this region, as the crew will drop anchor and suggest that you walk the plank – in a good way. And once you’ve enjoyed a refreshing swim in the sea, it’s time to relax on deck with a cold drink and watch the coastline slip by.
Among the Mayan gems hidden in the jungles of Central America, the crown jewel is Tikal, a must-see archaeological site that lives up to all those Hollywood stereotypes of the Lost City. (It actually had a cameo in the first Star Wars movie.) Many active travel itineraries in Belize opt for less dramatic sites or squeeze in a rushed one-day visit. We spend two nights at Francis Ford Coppola’s nearby rainforest retreat, giving you and your family plenty of time to explore Tikal properly.