From “What to do?” to Fully Planned Family Adventure 

A Mom is one phone call away from the family trip of a lifetime 

By: Jennifer Tombaugh, Tauck President 

Last month, my summer vacation plans fell apart.  One son’s internship started earlier than expected, my eldest daughter’s art project needed advanced prep, and our carefully planned, two-week vacation with my husband and our four kids went “poof!” 

What remained was a three-week hole in my 14-year-old twins’ schedule.  Free time, cell phones and teenagers are a recipe for disaster.  I didn’t have time to spend hours researching new camp options.  My husband was out-of-town.  I wanted them to have some sort of meaningful experience.  What to do? 

Many families I know can relate.  With our over-scheduled lives, ever-present electronics, distant family members and unshared dinners, we crave time just to be together, unplug and laugh.  Knowing our time with our children is limited, we are eager to give them opportunities to learn and grow.   

A lot of work goes into planning family vacations (a task predominantly falling to moms), and that insight inspired Tauck to create the first global guided family travel brand.  On my first day at Tauck 22 years ago, our now-CEO Dan Mahar handed me a business plan on “family travel”.  We already had parents and grandparents wanting to give meaningful travel experiences and create great memories with their kids and grandkids.  They just didn’t want the hassle of planning it all. 

Back then, I only knew family travel through my own experiences.  My parents brought my brother and me along when my dad won sales incentive trips, and they always prioritized visiting my mom’s family in Germany.  Armed with my love of travel and the help of Dan and dozens at Tauck, we piloted Tauck Family Travel in 2002 (despite the setbacks of 9/11) and launched Tauck Bridges in 2003. 

Tombaugh family with local guides on Tauck’s Tanzania: A Grand Family Adventure

Today, I have four children (one in college….in Switzerland!).  My affection and pride in Tauck Bridges only grows, and I appreciate what we call the “shared enrichment” we offer even more.  The recent, difficult Covid years emphasized how fleeting and precious family time is.  Nothing—nothing—enriches lives more than traveling together.  I’ve seen first-hand my son’s awe in spotting his first cheetah or my family’s unbridled joy biking in the shadows of Austrian castles.  Years later, when I thought my young son wouldn’t remember any of this, I found him writing the Ambassador to Tanzania for a school project and correctly retelling a story behind a painting we saw at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague. 

Tombaugh family on Tauck’s Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure

I also appreciate the ease of having someone else do the planning.  Adults, you get this.  You’re on the firing line of “What are we doing today?  I don’t want to do that!  How come he gets to decide?  Why is it taking so long?”  I’ve never been happier traveling with my family than when, after 10 beautiful (exhausting, for me) days in Switzerland, which my husband and I spent weeks organizing, we arrived aboard Tauck’s Blue Danube family river cruise.  When the same questions started, I simply said, “Go ask the Tauck Director.”  We could all laugh, enjoy and relax (even me!).  It was a gift for all of us.  It allowed us to be truly present with each other. 

Tombaughs on Tauck’s Tanzania: A Grand Family Adventure

We often receive letters from our guests, and the ones that move us to tears are from our Tauck Bridges families.  A grandfather’s final wish to take his extended family on safari.  A seven-year-old’s crayoned picture of her family at the Grand Canyon. The grandparents’ photos of each year of travels with a different grandchild in London and Paris.  Stories of teenagers who met on a Bridges trip and stayed in touch for years (like my own!).  We even have employees now who first learned about Tauck through a Bridges trip they took with their families!   

So, last month, when my family vacation fell apart, what did I do?  I called our Tauck Reservations Center and booked us on Cowboy Country, a western adventure through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and the great ranches and plains of Wyoming. 

I know I’ll be at peace, and the kids will be laughing and having a great time, as we ride off into the sunset. 

About Jennifer Tombaugh

Jennifer Tombaugh is President of Tauck, the US-based leader in guided tours and cruises serving all seven continents.  Jennifer joined Tauck in 2001 to help guide the creation and launch of Tauck Bridges, the company’s collection of 20 family travel adventures in North America, Europe, Africa and Latin America. As President (and as a member of Tauck’s Executive Team), Jennifer guides the company’s day-to-day operations while also helping drive its long-term direction and strategy.  Jennifer is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the European Tourism Association (ETOA) and is a Board Director at Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business & Technology, The Lobkowicz Collections (Czech Republic) and the Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut. She is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and the International Women’s Forum of Connecticut.  

About Tauck

Founded in 1925, family-owned and operated Tauck is the world leader in premium-quality guided travel. The company offers more than 150 distinctive, enriching and all-inclusive land journeys, European river cruises, small ship ocean cruises and Tauck Bridges family travel adventures.   
Tauck travels to more than 70 countries and all seven continents, delighting its guests with exclusive, off-the-beaten-path cultural experiences as well as unique insider visits to popular “must-see” sites and attractions – all at incredible value, and all backed by the services of a professional Tauck Director.  Several Tauck journeys in the U.S. are the product of a partnership with the award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, with elements exploring themes from his films including The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Civil War and Jazz.  

Over the years, Tauck has been honored with more than 200 awards for excellence and service.  In fact, Tauck is the only company to be named the “World’s Best Tour Operator” and the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” three times each by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. 

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Tombaugh

Header image courtesy of iStock

Meaningful Family Safari

By: African Travel Inc.

An African safari is a unique bonding opportunity with loved ones. Children will be awestruck as the giraffe, zebras and elephants of their textbooks are brought to life. Parents or grandparents will love seeing the kids gain new insights, while experiencing diverse cultures. What better way to inspire our future global citizens?

Whether traveling with young children, teenagers or several generations, African Travel’s safari specialists can guide you to select the right destination, and personalize a family safari based on ages and interest while making your travels matter.

Here are some tips to plan the perfect safari while making travel matter.

Where to Start?

Choose a destination, then decide on pace, and experiences. Some families are very active and prefer constant engagement, while other families, prefer longer stays with less packing and unpacking.

Kids on a Safari in Shamwari Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Mixed Ages & Young Families

Activities are fun and engaging, while being educational. Little ones will be amazed to learn that dung beetles roll dung 250 times their own weight. They will squeal with laughter at the donkey like braying sounds of the African Penguin.

Something we often hear is kids need to be kept busy so that they don’t get bored. Southern Africa Through a Child’s Eyes is tailored to meet the special needs of families especially those with kids that would enjoy a kid’s club. Sabi Sabi’s Elefun Center supervised ranger led activities teach kids about bush survival, and bugs CSI, while parents can relax and enjoy the incredible safaris, or have a pamper session in the spa.

Adding a few days in Victoria Falls offers an exciting land and water safari option for families and kids of all ages.

Kids on a Safari in Shamwari Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Something for Everyone

South Africa offers a well-rounded experience, with cosmopolitan cities, a rainbow nation of richly diverse cultures and spectacular scenery. Combined with high quality malaria free safari options, this is the perfect destination for families with both young and older kids.

Families will have the experience of a lifetime on our Family Safari in South Africa. This safari satisfies adventurous city and bush interests while relaxing at beautiful places and beaches, learning the importance of conservation at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. For younger kids, a dedicated Kids Adventure Centre will keep children entertained with zipline, cookie decorating, rock climbing walls and climbing towers. Older kids can enjoy walking safaris and exploring the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and everyone can go behind the scenes to meet the passionate wildlife caretakers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. 

Camp Moremi – Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Tweens and Teens

Boring textbook biology is brought to life on nature walks and game drives with experienced guides. Surrounded by the sounds and smells of nature, learn about medicinal herbs, animal tracks, and micro ecosystems, and how everything is inter-connected.

Botswana is the benchmark when it comes to sustainable ecotourism practices in Africa. Access to these pristine settings and stunning landscapes are generally by light aircraft. Accommodations for the most part are tented, best suited for families with tweens and older children. Made for soft adventure, Best of Botswana explores the Okavango Delta’s secret channels on boat rides and traditional dugout canoes and the seasonal floodplains in 4×4 safari drives.

Multi-Generational Families

Enjoy the simple pleasures, like the serenity of a sunrise over the savanna, fiery sunsets and starry nights around a campfire, sharing the day’s adventures.

Kenya, the birthplace of the safari is also a magical place for all family members. The Family Safari in Kenya tour is perfect for all ages and is all about extraordinary wildlife and true adventure in style and safety. While staying at family owned lodges, rewild the kids, meet the local Maasai, and participate in wildlife conservation projects.   Bring your kids to Kenya’s first Bush School for children and for older family members accompany the antipoaching ranger unit to learn about game counts, de-snaring and tracking.

 Family Safari in Tanzania is a wonderful engaging experience for both young and the young at heart. Learn new skills, like shooting with a bow and arrow, or how to start a fire with a stone and twig from a Maasai. At Gibbs Farm, guests can tinker around with the carpenters, the desks can be engraved with a personalized message and families can personally deliver the desks to a school.

At African Travel, we create transformative experiences filled with life changing moments. All trips mentioned include a dedicated team of experts to plan a trip and local Guest Services team available 24 hours, 7 days a week to assist while traveling. For every safari, a a  contribution is also made to support local communities or wildlife.

For more information or to customize a trip, contact a safari specialist at 800-421-8907 or request a quote.


How Traveling with My Family Shaped My Life

Written by Rachel Jordan of Club Adventures by AAA Exclusive Vacations

When I reflect on my favorite childhood memories, I don’t think of cookouts or birthday parties; rather, I distinctly remember scenes like this one – chilly breeze, side-by-side with my mom, dark asphalt passing under me as I jump over cracks in the path. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, horses appear, ridden by men in red coats – police officers – or what I called “Canadian Bounty Hunters.” I was 12 years old, on a cruise to Alaska, and it was the first time I had set foot in another country and witnessed something different from my own culture. Even as young as I was, I thrived off the unfamiliarity of it and the opportunity it provided to be curious at every turn.

When I boarded the ship, I was thrilled at the towel sculptures and chocolates in our room, but it wasn’t long before I’d find myself gazing out across the ship towards Canada (or what I saw at the time as uncharted territory). It’s only in retrospect that I realize how desperately I wanted to explore after I took that first deep, cool breath of Canadian air and wandered past the red-coated officers.

For the next few years, I chased that feeling of bliss that comes with discovering a new destination. I became enamored with the unexpected moments and the sheer volume of knowledge that one conversation could yield. Through Central Europe and the South Pacific, my family not only pushed me out of my comfort zone, but they supported every adventure I committed to – no matter how many bake sales I had to have to get there.

As the travel bug took permanent root in my personality, people began to question how I ended up so focused on discovery – and, as a small-town kid from Mississippi, I couldn’t blame them for wondering why I was always planning my next adventure. Since then, I’ve given the credit to the atmosphere I was raised in. My grandparents used to tell stories of weathering a cyclone off the coast of New Zealand or meeting an old friend in Tokyo. Their love of exploration, coupled with my parent’s fascination in culture, heavily influenced my professional career as well as my personal values.

From tasting bison in Calgary, Canada, to sipping local wine and eating kangaroo sliders in Australia, and enjoying pineapple right from the source in Jamaica, my family adventures instilled a desire to a travel as authentically as possible. Throughout each experience, we made sure to eat where the locals ate, not only because we’re big foodies, but also because there’s no better way to dive into a destination’s culture than to ignite the culinary senses.  

The way my family traveled molded me into a more open-minded, curious, and genuine person. I know this because I’ve been able to see so many unique cultures, and once you tap into how other communities around the world think and live their daily lives, your entire mindset shifts. You begin to keep a portfolio of the aspects of each culture that you love and respect, and whether you know it or not, you start to become a more well-rounded global citizen. You realize that there are infinite ways you can live your life, both personally and professionally.

I’ve always been a firm believer that if you’ve experienced someone’s culture, you’re more inclined to form a meaningful, friendly relationship with them. Traveling with my family reinforced this idea, and I still strive to be a more thoughtful person because of the experiences I’ve had.

These adventures molded me so much that I even pursued working in the travel industry. For me, that means assisting people in having the same eye-opening travel experiences I have. Working for Club Adventures, a small-group tour company backed by AAA Travel focused on immersive cultural itineraries, has allowed me to channel all the incredible lessons I’ve learned and push people to take their families abroad.

And, as someone who is forever grateful to my parents for my experiences, I can tell you this about family travel: it is a priceless gift that keeps on giving and will open your eyes to the adventure that surrounds us, no matter the time or place.

Rachel Jordan is the Partnership Marketing Coordinator for Club Adventures, by AAA Exclusive Vacations®. In her role, she assists with the implementation of comprehensive marketing strategies, while continually enhancing the strength of the Club Adventures brand. Rachel is also an avid traveler and blogger and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development. She continues to expand her comfort zone by exploring as many new cultures and destinations as possible. Follow her adventures on her Instagram account! 

Club Adventures is your key to seeing the world through a local lens. Whether you’re looking for a self-drive road trip through your own backyard, or guided journeys halfway around the world, Club Adventures by AAA Exclusive Vacations® takes you there – we are your backstage pass to new adventures. With a variety of travel styles and over 1,000 adventures around the globe, there’s something for every kind of traveler. Club Adventures believes adventure moves each of us differently, and no two adventures are alike. We introduce you to the people who call our destinations home; people who will share their stories and unlock what it really feels like to live where they live.

5 Reasons Why Multi-generational Travel is Good for Families

By Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, President of Collette 

Growing up, travel was always a significant part of my life. And that’s not just because it was the family business. I came to understand that travel was one of the ways that my family could be together to make memories, share stories and laughs, and to reflect. Being connected to this industry both as a professional and a traveler over the course of my life, here are the top reasons why I believe multi-generational travel is good for families.


1. Traveling unites families

People’s lives are busy, and sometimes we unintentionally lose sight of what’s important. My parents also knew this, and I think that was why they made it a tradition to plan a family trip at least once a year. And every time we’ve come together for those vacations over the years – whether it was to Ireland or Scotland or the national parks – I’ve been reminded of my roots and what really matters in life. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of multigenerational travel. It gives you an opportunity to push pause and appreciate the world around you with the ones you love.

2. Traveling with family is more economical

Guided travel – whether it’s multigenerational ­or not– isn’t just cost effective, it’s time effective, too. Trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules for something as simple as a family dinner is often a feat in itself. Planning a trip takes a lot of time, and that’s a precious commodity when you have a bigger family like I do. That’s why guided travel makes so much sense. All the logistics are taken care of for you and your family. You have a tour manager by your side who can be that destination expert for you. Plus, when you go on a guided tour, you get special access to sites because you’re in a group. All of those factors add to the value of guided travel.

3. Travel forges lasting memories

My first international trip to Germany with my family is one of my fondest travel memories. We were on a guided tour, taking the bus with Collette guests. I remember we actually sang for the passengers, which I’m sure was a treat for them! On the trip, we spent a day exploring the salt mines in the Bavarian Alps, traveling deep underground through what seemed like never-ending tunnels. We also attended the Oberammergau Passion Play, a once-in-a-decade performance put on by all the villagers in this tiny Bavarian hamlet. That was my first memory of really getting out there and seeing the world, and I’ll never forget it.

4.Travel helps you bond with people you don’t get a chance to see on a daily basis

My kids are finally getting to an age where it’s easier to take them to places other than Disney. This year, we’ll be going to some of the Christmas markets in Europe and maybe the Canadian Rockies, too. It will be a great opportunity for my kids to see how people live in other parts of the world. If my parents decide to come along, they’ll get some extra special time with their grandchildren. In the end, it’s all about being with family and sharing those special travel moments – together.

5. Traveling with family allows you to see the world through the eyes of others

In each period of your life, you see the world through your own unique lens. Being fortunate enough to travel as a child, teen, and now an adult – I’m able to look back and reflect on how those travels shaped my view of the world. And now, as a parent, I’m given the opportunity to help my children experience traveling to new destinations for the first time.  The innocence that kids have is inspiring, and being able to introduce them to new parts of the world is an invaluable gift.


Jaclyn Leibl-Cote is the President of Collette and has close to 15 years of experience in the travel industry. Jaclyn spent many years designing product and managing tours in regions including the United States and Australia. She loves taking trips with her husband and three children, combining her two greatest passions.

Top Destinations for Family Learning Journeys

By Carol Dimopoulos of Perillo’s Learning Journeys

As President of Perillo’s Learning Journeys and in my role as an adjunct professor for SUNY Empire State College, I believe that both travel and education are investments in a child’s future.  When my children were young I realized we could combine the two. Incorporating classes in the destinations we traveled to deepen their course work and bringing the learning to life. When planning family travel, I always consider an experience which moves beyond the realm of the traditional.

Perillo’s Learning Journeys offers a unique collection of customized family journeys designed to combine cultural immersions with hands-on education to ignite learners’ passions in a certain area of discipline or interest.  Meet with other students and their families to learn about life in their respective cultures, forming new relationships.  Participate in a community project as to learn about cultural responsibility.  The experience provides a platform for families to learn something new, which lasts far beyond the physical experience of the journey.


1. Italy

Family-friendly Italy invites you to explore its beautiful cities and soak up its regional culture, history and cuisine. The learning possibilities are endless!

Participate in a pizza and gelato course in Rome and a mask-making class in Venice. Immerse your family in Italian culture by learning some language skills and enjoy a hands-on studio art program that provides a better understanding of the masterpieces you’ll see. Participate in culinary sessions using regional techniques to make craft pasta, pizza, and ice cream. Visit a local farm to learn about the region’s food and wine production.  Visit the interactive Children’s Museums in Rome and Florence. Take an art or mosaic class to deepen art appreciation.

Italy is a land rich with festivals.  Plan your experience around a festival and you are sure to become immersed in the local life!

2. Greece

The land of mythology, Greece is the perfect destination for family learning travel.  Visit the mythological islands of Santorini and Crete, the seat of muses, gods and goddesses. Learn about the historical sites, visit a volcano, enjoy a Greek dance class, experience a scavenger hunt, cook with a local Greek Yia Yia (grandmother), and experience vibrant Greek community and culture.

3. Peru

Peru is a privileged land of endless opportunities: nature, adventure, culture, history, archaeology, handicrafts, native textiles, fabulous gastronomy, and trekking.  Experiencing an authentic adventure exposes travelers to the local customs and warm people who welcome your family into their homes and share their family’s traditions. From textile and music workshops where you learn how to play traditional instruments and even build your own zampoñ to bring home, to visiting the sacred Machu Picchu, and taking part in the Inca practice, Kusi Runa,  your family will be immersed in Peru’s history, nature, and living culture.

4. Iceland

Stir your family’s imagination for Viking lore and introduce them to fun aspects of geology in Iceland.  Learn about the first Parliament while visiting Thingvellir National Park. Experience the world of whales and seabirds during a whale-watching cruise near Reykjavik. Discover the wonder, beauty, and science behind major geological sites as you stand before powerful waterfalls such as Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Skogafoss; watch geysers spout 100 feet in the air; witness the site where two tectonic plates collided, and see the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara. Go inside of an Ice Cave, a virtual volcano and even bake Rye bread using geothermal methods.

5. London and Paris

London and Paris are the perfect destinations to bring your family’s learning to life with an immersion in history, arts, and culture. In London, explore British history at the Tower of London with a Beefeater and visit the tombs of monarchs and poets at Westminister Abbey. Learn stage fighting techniques at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, take a walking tour of Harry Potter’s “hometown,” and a cruise along the Thames, and view the city from the London Eye. In Paris, engage with art during special programs at the Louvre and the Musé d’Orsay. Ascend the Eifel Tower, take walking tours of the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, join a cooking class and learn how to blend your own perfume.


Learning Journeys offers cutting-edge travel experiences powered by Perillo Tours’ 74 years of travel planning expertise.  More than a traditional vacation, Learning Journeys’ itineraries focus on enhanced immersion in a specific interest or passion, such as yoga and wellness, cooking, photography, watercolor painting, bird watching, dance, language study, conservation, and much more. All journeys incorporate elements of culture, nature, culinary traditions, community service, and meeting with locals.  Programs to worldwide destinations include Italy, Bali, India, Malta, Peru and more. 


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By Melissa DaSilva, President of Trafalgar, Costsaver and Brendan Vacations


I love travel.  It’s exhilarating, relaxing and fun… but more than that, I fundamentally believe travel changes you. Experiencing new cultures and meeting people from new destinations broadens horizons, creates connections and teaches understanding and empathy. I want to share this passion and love of travel with my girls. In fact, I am one of the 78% of parents who would rather spend money on a vacation than on holiday gifts.* I’d rather take my two daughters, Chloe (13) and Maddie (10) on trips where they see diverse places, learn about varied lifestyles and of course, spend time with me.


However, like many parents, I am the one who is typically granted the unenviable task of planning, organizing and orchestrating the “perfect” family vacation. Between deciding where to go, how to get there, what to do, where to eat, I am exhausted… I end up needing a vacation from my vacation. It is no wonder that many families opt for an all-inclusive resort or cruise. While these are legitimate options, there is growing popularity in an alternative; to combine both ease and exploration. Where everyone can relax while diving under the skin of a destination– a guided vacation. And better yet, a guided family vacation, by Trafalgar.


These trips are crafted for the entire family, not just the young guests, so each experience is designed to excite and engage travelers of all ages. Imagine tracking fairies in Ireland, battling with gladiators in the Colosseum, rafting through the Grand Tetons or dining in the last occupied castle in Tuscany with a family who can share their history dating back to the Medicis. These are the kinds of included experiences that bring families together while truly bringing to life the culture of the destination.


Melissa's Daughters Whitewater Rafting


But the mom voice in my head says, “what about me, when do I get a break?” The beauty of a guided vacation is that all the stress of planning is taken care of. From unique accommodation that includes properties with their own stories to share which make you feel like you are part of the history, to the immersive activities, local meals and guides from the places the trips visit. Every detail is thought of. Literally all you need to do is pack your bags.


The best element of a guided vacation is the Travel Director, particularly, a Trafalgar Travel Director. These highly trained experts, the best in the industry, are with you every step of the way. They are a wealth of knowledge and they know the history, the stories, the legends (and the closest ATM or bathroom). Even more amazing, they are some of the coolest and most fun people you would ever want to travel with. When you have free time and want to explore and find the hole in the wall that serves the best authentic food, or admire a local artist’s gallery, your Travel Director will make the perfect recommendation.


Melissa's Daughters Learning About Cowboy Culture


My daughters loved that on our latest trip there were 13 other travelers ranging in age from 6-17. There was always someone for them to hang out with, play soccer between our cabins in Yellowstone and shoot pool with at the ranch in Montana. At the end of our trip all the adults were commenting how behaved all the kids were. But think about it; when do children typically misbehave? When they are bored. I can promise you there was not a minute on our 8-day adventure that a single guest on the trip was bored, especially the kids.


What I took most from my guided family vacation was a sense of connection. Yes, I connected with the people and the places we visited – that I expected, or at least hoped for. But unfettered from the stress and strain of planning and trying to keep everyone happy, by allowing Trafalgar to take care of all the details, I was free to connect with my girls. If you ask Maddie, she will tell you what she liked was that I was “less uptight.” Ah, the honesty of a 10-year-old.


Traveling independently, I could never have exposed my family to the amazing people we met or experiences we had. Travelers want genuine experiences that bring them closer to the places and people they are visiting. On guided family trips, you can create connections to culture, learn about these destinations and have truly immersive experiences that are exciting for all ages. With this added layer of discovery, a family trip will be even more rewarding. When you go guided, you gain so much more than you ever expected.


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* out of 2,500 parents surveyed in the U.S


Melissa DaSilva is President of Trafalgar, CostSaver and Brendan Vacations and has more than 25 years of experience in the travel industry in both the US and the UK.  


She is motivated by the impact travel has on people and is passionate about inspiring others to experience the Good Life through travel and the connectivity of those shared experiences of adventure, exploration, learning and laughter. An avid traveler herself having been to more than 50 countries, Melissa has shared the travel bug with her husband and daughters.  Their next trip is European Wonderland this summer!









Traveling is the ultimate opportunity to strengthen family bonds and spend quality time with loved ones. Without the distraction of regular day-to-day activities, a vacation together encourages families to unplug and reconnect, creating time for children and adults alike to grow, learn, and become better global citizens.

All that’s needed for a successful vacation with loved ones is a trip designed for the children of the family and the child in all of us. Here are new educational, adventurous, and even mysterious trips for 2019 that can be enjoyed by travelers from every generation.

CIE_FamilyCredit: CIE Tours International

Medieval Myths and Storytelling

CIE Tours International’s “Lochs, Luck, and Lore” trip explores Ireland and Scotland from the countryside to the coast. Guests will “Be Irish for a Half Day” by playing a bodhran, learning hurling, and watching a sheepdog demonstration. There is ample time for visiting castles with ghostly myths and legends where knights prepared for battle and monarchs were crowned, as well as a day in the Belfast shipyards to listen to the story of The Titanic. Departures are available in 2019 for June 30-July 7, August 4 – August 11, and August 25 – September 1 from $1,950 per person.

From gladiator schools in Rome to Carnival mask-making in Venice, Trafalgar’s “Gladiators, Gondolas, and Gold” offers an action-packed ten-day trip. Guests can explore medieval cities from the comfort of a traditional gondola or spend an afternoon watching Venetian glassblowing, and there is plenty of time to toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and eat pizza at traditional markets. Departures are available May 31; June 7, 14, 21; July 5, 12, 19, 26; August 2, 9; September 13 from $8,658 for two adults and two children.

Rome_Trafalgar familyCredit: Trafalgar 

Learn About the Local Culture

SITA World Tours’ “Pandas, Wall and King Fu” allows travelers to immerse themselves in China’s thousand-year-old cities and villages. The nation’s long and rich history will be explored by boating through Er’hai Lake and taking part in the local tea culture in Dali. The trip includes hiking in the pandas’ habitat of Mt. Qingcheng, rafting in the Hongkou Scenic Area, and children can take a Kung Fu class while the adults experience the local culinary scene. Daily departures are available throughout 2019 from $7,325 per person, based on four people traveling.

Pottery demonstrations and Turkish cooking classes allow travelers to live like a local on Intrepid Travel’s “Turkey Family Holiday” trip. Children can dip their toes in the clear blue springs of Hierapolis and Travertines National Park, one of Turkey’s most photographed sites and home to natural terrace baths. The trip includes a day of exploration in the Kaymakli Underground City, an eight-story historic underground marvel, and creating artwork using traditional materials such as earth dyes and rose branch brushes. Departures are available in June, July, and August from $1620 per adult and $1458 per child.

PandasCredit: SITA World Tours 

Take a Cruise with the Whole Crew

Tauck’s “Holiday Magic: Danube Family River Cruise” sets sail from Munich in December 2019 with an itinerary full of European holiday festivities. Guests will go to Oberndorf, Austria, where Silent Night was written and first performed, and visit 700-year-old holiday markets. Children will be surrounded with the aromas of gingerbread and cinnamon while playing medieval games in Old Town Bratislava. Departures are available December 22nd and December 23rd in 2019 from $4,190 per person and $3,690 per child, plus airfare.

Regensburg - kids at Neupfarrplatz

Credit: Tauck

Adventuring Together

Adventurers will paddleboard with penguins, float through secluded caves, and slide down sand dunes with Audley Travel’s “Discover South Africa” trip. There’s never a dull moment with the vast collection of experiences in the city, the wilderness, and the ocean. Opportunities to work on an Ostrich farm and eat ostrich egg omelets for breakfast or watch sea lion colonies on the Robberg Peninsula are just a few of the unique experiences available with a custom itinerary. Individual departures are available every day in 2019 from $3,825 per person.

Click here to find the perfect itinerary for you and your family.


Adventures by Disney

Credit: Adventures by Disney

With an increasing number of USTOA tour operator members offering families exclusive pricing and family-focused on-board activities, river cruising is no longer just an adult’s vacation. These special European river cruises offer parents an alternative to large cruises and traditional land vacations. Multiple stops along the way with child-friendly experiences in history, cooking, culture and much more enhance the trip for children and their parents.

Check out some of the family experiences offered by USTOA tour operator members below or visit to find your next dream vacation.

Tauck - Castle on the Rhine

Credit: Tauck

Families can take French lessons, ride bikes along the Rhine-Moselle cycling route and much more on Tauck Bridges’ “Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure.” The eight-day cruise down the Rhine river from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, includes a ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel train to the summit of Mt. Pilatus, walking tours in Koblenz and Cologne, a canal boat cruise in Amsterdam, and a visit to the Van Gogh Museum.  All shore excursions, meals and gratuities, all onboard beverages (adult and otherwise), airport transfers, and luggage handling are included from $4,490 per person, plus airfare. This cruise is available June 27, July 4, 23 and 30, 2018.

Adventures by Disney - Cruise

Credit: Adventures by Disney

Adventures by Disney invites families to enjoy a cruise through Austria, Germany, Slovakia, and Hungary on the eight-day “Danube River Cruise.” Families can participate in a private marionette performance and strudel making demonstration at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, zoom down a mineshaft slide at the Salt Mines of Hallein in Austria, and test their skills at archery and other medieval activities during a visit to Devin Castle. Kids also enjoy movie nights with snacks and drinks and cultural games and traditions based on each destination. Families can get $700 off select staterooms or $350 off per person through October 20, 2017. Starting at $4,789 per person and available in June, and July 2018.

Children 16 and under sail free on CroisiEurope River Cruises’ family-focused “Family Club: Venice and its Lagoon” cruise. The itinerary features stops in Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Verona, and Burano where families have the chance to participate in walking and biking tours of various cities as well as visits to the lagoon islands of Murano and Burano. A tour of the Doge’s palace and its mysterious passageways and an optional gondola tour in Venice await passengers of this six-day European cruise. Just in time for summer break, this cruise is available for June, July, and August 2018 departures from $1,243 per person.

AmaWaterways welcomes families this holiday season with Christmas Markets themed cruises available on four itineraries from November 23 through December 23, 2017. Families will marvel at the fairytale-like beauty of the Danube during wintertime, sailing through Budapest and Vienna, where guests can explore up to six different markets and one of the world’s most famous Christmas Markets in Nuremberg. Guests sailing the Rhine visit bustling Christmas markets in Basel, Amsterdam and Strasbourg, as well as the quaint village markets of Riquewihr and Rüdesheim. Onboard festivities for the whole family include tree-trimming contests, gingerbread decorating, a Captain’s Christmas party, a traditional holiday dinner, carolers and more.  Prices start at $2,317 per person. Guests choosing to embark on the December 23 Rhine sailing will enjoy an AmaWaterways special holiday gift – two free nights in Amsterdam.  For more information, visit


Editor’s Note: Information was correct at time of writing. All tours/packages subject to availability. Prices may vary from time of writing, based on currency fluctuations.

By Terry Dale, President and CEO, USTOA


Summer is around the corner but there’s still time to book an unforgettable summer family vacation! With 80% of USTOA tour operator members offering multi-generational/family travel, travelers looking to get away with the ones they love the most have plenty of options. Here are a few itineraries spanning the globe that are sure to please even the pickiest of family members.


Credit: Austin Adventures

Families looking to cross something off their bucket list can journey to Peru on Adventure by Disney’s Peru and Machu Picchu Family Vacation itinerary. Adventure awaits on this nine-day journey through Peru visiting the Peruvian Andes, river rafting down the Urubamba River, and of course, a tour through the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Delicious Peruvian food and local experiences like a visit to the local market are also available on this trip. Departure dates are available from June 7, 2017 to December 24, 2017 starting at $5,129 per adult/ $4,879 per child.

Families can join Austin Adventures on the six-day journey through the Land of the Midnight Sun with its Alaska Family Vacation package. Kids and adults can pan for gold, kayak through Resurrection Bay and hike to the Harding Ice Field during their summer break this year. Austin Adventures encourages families to enjoy America’s last frontier while also connecting and creating memories as a family. Available on various dates June-August 2017 and starts at $3,698 per person and $2,958 to $3,328 per child.


Credit: Austin Adventures

Tauck Bridges offers families the chance to discover the history of Western Europe during its eight-day Castles & Kings: London to Paris itinerary. Guests are invited to kick off their vacation with a classic double-decker bus ride through London before embarking on a speedboat adventure along the River Thames. A visit to the infamous Château de Versailles, Musée du Louvre and more await families in Paris. Departures are available June-August 2017 starting at $4,630 per person.

Families looking for a luxury safari experience will enjoy Abercrombie & Kent’s Family Tanzania Safari itinerary. Guests will participate in game drives in Tanzania’s greatest wildlife refuges while staying in family-friendly safari lodges and a luxury tented safari camp. A family treasure hunt through a local Tanzanian market and a visit with a Maasai village elder will also delight family members of all ages. The eight-day Luxury Small Group Journey is limited to 18 guests and is available for various departure dates July and August 2017 starting at $6,495 per person.

Summer vacation already booked? Travelers can join a once-in-a-lifetime winter vacation trip to the southern tip of the world on Lindblad Expeditions’ Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent. Families will spend six days on the world’s most remote continent enjoying almost 24 hours of daylight, perfect for admiring huge icebergs and photographing thousands of Gentoo penguins with photo tips from a National Geographic photographer. Guests also have the chance to see a 40-ton whale surface off the bow of the ship. Expeditions available in January, February, November and December from $13,760 per person.

What are you waiting for? Click here and plan your dream vacation now!


Editor’s Note: Information was correct at time of writing. All tours/packages subject to availability. Prices may vary from time of writing, based on currency fluctuations.


Including an interview with Wendy, my Colombian “sister”

by Kelley Ferro

Not everyone would be comfortable opening up their home, their family and themselves to complete strangers–particularly strangers from a different continent without any knowledge of their language. But the Perez-Cuesta family didn’t hesitate to invite our Travel Together group to their home on our very first night in Colombia. Justin, my cameraman, Sherry, our AFAR writer, and I were welcomed into their family with open arms.

The full Perez-Cuesta Family + Cousin Melissa

The full Perez-Cuesta Family + Cousin Melissa

Avanti Destinations arranged for our guide and driver to pick us up from our sophisticated colonial hotel in Cartagena’s old city, Hotel Santa Clara. I’d only been in this country a few hours and I already had seen part of the old city and now, the bustling surrounding neighborhoods, streets packed with people shopping as if it was the Colombian equivalent of “Black Friday.”

Our car pulled down some quieter, residential streets and turned on a street that was simply alight with Christmas decorations. Lucky for us we had arrived the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception–the festival of lights and city-wide kick- off to the Christmas season. It was a wonderfully festive time to see the city and it seemed that every home in Cartagena was bursting with the Christmas spirit.

The well decorated home

The well decorated home

Scanning the street, there was one home that stuck out in particular. The strands of lights were blinking rapidly, the music spilling out of the open door and the laughing voices of people inside carried to our car. To my delight, this was where we were heading–the six-person Perez Cuesta family was inside, expecting us for dinner–and we quickly found that out when they started waving from the windows.

In the doorway, I was greeted by a bevy of beautiful girls, all hugs and kisses and “Buenos Tardes”–the biggest hug of all coming from Mama Ruth Cuesta, one of the warmest people that I’ve ever met without a word of common language. The three of us American amigos cozied up in the living room, surrounded by mama and her four daughters, Wendy, Deymi, Leidy and Yurani, and cousin Melissa.

Carlos & his daughters

Carlos & his daughters

Hanging out before dinner

Hanging out before dinner

Their home had framed photos on every surface showing grandma and grandpa, school graduations and proms, and prime placement was given to the large, twinkling Christmas tree. Perched on couches, steps and the floor, all the girls showered us with questions, their English noticeably good, and they showed us photos on their phones and giggled bashfully at their English. The daughters translated any especially amusing parts for mama, who was laughing along anyway.

Carlos, the patriarch, came in from work, all smiles and warmth, just like the rest of his family. He gave us each big hugs after he too was showered by kisses from his daughters. It was an overwhelming and heartwarming scene.

I was able to communicate my questions about their daily life, school, jobs, and boyfriends–finding we had a lot in common. I’ve said this before, but when you travel you just find that people are more alike than they are different.

Daughters, cousin & our guide, Eduardo

Daughters, cousin & our guide, Eduardo

One exchange that I will never forget was our comparison of Christmas Eve traditions. They asked what my family did on Christmas Eve and I said that we have a fondue dinner, some champagne and we watch a Christmas movie. This sent the girls into hysterics:

”A Christmas movie?! On Christmas, you watch a movie with your family? Haha! Why?”

I love Christmas movies and thought that was a fairly common occurrence on Christmas Eve…

“Well, what do you do?” I asked.

“We dance!” Said the sisters in unison and they got up and started dancing, Mama looking on in approval.

Okay Cartagena, you win. Now that I think about it, I guess it is a little lame to sit silently in the dark, watching a movie you’ve seen a hundred times, with family that you don’t see often,  when you actually could be dancing! That is Cartagena to me in a nutshell: every moment seized, and there’s always a reason to be dancing.

One of the sisters asked if I wanted to see the upstairs, so I got a tour of their parents’ room, and all the sisters’ rooms. I was impressed that three girls split two rooms and two beds.  This was yet another uncommon occurrence in the USA–sisters sharing anything let alone a bed. With a family this close, they didn’t need any more space.

Mama called out for dinner and I found myself in the kitchen watching the housekeeper prepare “platanos.” She would smash each banana disk with a wooden tool, then fry them twice, filling a plate of our soon-to-be appetizer. Just the process looked fun so she let me jump in, laughing when I over-squished my plantain. We ate these double fried “platanos” with a dollop of suaro, or sour cream, and wow, they were devilishly good. I could hear the housekeeper still laughing about my squishing from the kitchen.

She made a great Marisco...

She made a great Marisco…

...and taught me how to make Platanos

…and taught me how to make Platanos

The dinner table was filled, arm to arm, and more plastic chairs were brought in from outside to accommodate the ever increasing number of guests. Cousins walked over from across the street, Wendy’s boyfriend stopped by, our driver came in, and we were joined by the local Cartagena tourism guide–our table was bursting with people. They must have smelled the Marisco, or seafood stew, that had been bubbling all day. Throughout dinner, the conversation never ceased and between bites I learned about Wendy’s job, her sister’s favorite spots to go out,  where to shop and what the locals were getting up to this holiday weekend.

Fish, Coconut Rice and Marisco

Fish, Coconut Rice and Marisco

After dinner we went back to the couch for some sweets– they introduced me to a local favorite dessert: squeaky cheese paired a cube of guava paste–a salty/sweet combo served on toothpick bite. We continued our chats about Hollywood, fashion, travel, weddings–we were able to communicate beautifully without having the same native language.

Bocadillo de Guayaba (or guava paste)

Bocadillo de Guayaba (or guava paste)

By the end of the night, I felt like I was part of the Perez Cuesta family and I just wanted to hang out with them for the rest of our stay! And though it’s hard to believe they’d want to do that, they definitely made me feel like they did. Waving goodbye and thanking them profusely for their generosity, time and genuine warmth, I felt that my American heart had grown three sizes but still it was nowhere as nearly large as a Colombian’s.  <3


That was my side of the evening, but I truly wondered if the Perez-Cuesta girls and their mom and dad had as much of an impactful night as I did. Well, I’ve kept in touch with one of the daughters, Wendy, via Instagram, and I reached out to her to have her weigh in on her perspective of the night.

Kelley Ferro: What was your reaction to having American guests come visit your house?

Wendy Cuesta: Well, having people from the United States at our home was great, not just because we have fun but because we can actually show something different from what the TV and internet says about people in our country.

KF: How did your family decide what to make for dinner?

WC: If I can be honest… “our family” doesn’t decide what to make for dinner… our mom does! She is actually a great cook because she loves to do it! And in the Caribbean, seafood is of course the main dish… so is not really hard to decide what to serve.

KF: What was your favorite parts of the night?

WC: Well, my father loved the part when everyone just relaxes and start laughing at his jokes, which translated by me may not be as funny. My mom loves it when our guests tell her how much they love her cooking or compliments her daughters, but I think she enjoys the whole process since shopping for food until we say goodbye. I think for me and my sisters, having pictures taken was so much fun, and talking to you about personal lives, like your wedding or my sister’s job. It felt like we were having friends visiting that we hadn’t seen in years… not strangers at all.

KF: What did you learn about Americans from all of us?

WC: I learned that when you are open minded, life is just more fun. You all seemed so happy to be with us and having a ‘different night’ from usual tourism or traditional jobs, that it makes people wonder if maybe we are not being too close to possibilities or too shy to others.

KF: What did you like telling us about Colombia?

WC: I’m not exactly sure if we actually taught you anything… but I think we all loved the fact that you could see us as a family, as a real non-acting family. We love each other so much and are very close, and sadly I think is something parents and children are missing out these days, so I guess I’m just grateful for the beautiful family I have, that even though not all of us speak English, we manage to communicate altogether with you and have a great evening. And that’s actually what happens to us in daily life: we may not understand everything about each other, but we always figure things out, and I think that’s unique and precious.


I couldn’t agree more. Special thanks to the Perez-Cuesta Family for setting the tone for our entire experience in Cartagena and to Avanti Destinations for making the experience possible.

Kelley Ferro is a travel expert & video journalist living in NYC. She films her show, Get Lost, around the world–hopping on a plane at least twice a month She is also the executive producer for For more on her travels, follow Kelley’s Facebook page.