At the end of a typical Backroads day, I find myself well fed, happily tired and awe-inspired by what I just experienced. I drafted this blog from a hotel balcony in Dinard, just across an estuary from St. Malo, reflecting on yet another one of those wonderful days. What particularly struck me about the day was how much my kids learned without even knowing the trip was actually educational. I’m sneaky that way.
I just returned from a biking trip through Brittany and Normandy and hiking trip in the Alps with extended family and was once again reminded of the ways a vacation like this brings families together.
Backroads has been offering family trips since before I had kids (and my oldest is now 22). Why did we start them? Well, Backroads is just such a naturally positive, amazing environment for families to have a great time together that it didn’t take us being rocket scientists to see their potential. Once my wife, Liz, and I had our own kids, the beauty of designated family trips became even more obvious.
"We're going up over that hill?" I said under my breath, looking ahead as the road went up, up, up and disappeared over a hill. It was a beautiful sunny day in Nova Scotia, Canada, ten years ago, and we had been riding on quiet, shady roads all morning. More talking than riding, I had slowly been getting tired during the ride, but I knew we were almost at our destination for the day, Lunenburg. I hadn't been mentally preparing for this hill though.
In today’s fast-paced world, it can be a challenge to find quality family time. Parents are working, children are in school, playing sports and pursuing extracurricular activities. So how do you make quality family time happen? Here are five simple ideas to help you not only make time for each other, but to make the best of that time and form meaningful connections.
As a Trip Leader, a phrase I find myself coming back to often 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.
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.