Three multigenerational trip ideas in the outdoors

Multigenerational travel is so important in today’s reality of extended family often living great distances away, and kids becoming more and more scheduled, with less opportunity for quality time with parents and grandparents. We’ve written extensively on the type of trips that make for ideal multigenerational trips, the best of which include group tours led by experts in the outdoors. Why do these work so well? Because putting someone else in charge takes the pressure and stress off the adults, and spending your vacation in the wilderness (or even just outdoors) eliminates the distraction and intrusion of screens, kids’ clubs, and activities that separate family members.

And guess what? Your kids won’t fight you on it. At least not for long. Because we’ve taken a ton of trips of various types, and here’s what they love: simplicity, togetherness, unstructured free time, and most of all, chilled parents.

Three multigenerational trip ideas:

1. At a national park. Can you DIY a national park trip? Of course. But you won’t always want to, especially if you’re visiting a very popular park in peak season. Take Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks as an example. These are among our all-time favorite parks, but the traffic jams in summer can be off-putting. How to remedy this situation: book a Yellowstone trip with a guided service like Austin Adventures. When we visited Yellowstone with a family vacation expert leading our tour, we enjoyed a fully catered experience that left the adults relaxed and happy and the kids engaged. With the insider knowledge of an expert, we planned a trip that skipped the popular attractions like Old Faithful when they were most crowded, bringing us to view the geyser when the crowds had dispersed. We got off the beaten path into the wilds of the parks, and best of all, my parents never had to worry about driving and my husband and I never had to give a thought to what was for dinner.

Dan Austin, the founder of Austin Adventures, has been leading Yellowstone trips for 25 years. Now, his capable son and daughter are running the show. A Yellowstone trip with them lasts almost a week, and you don’t miss any of the traditional national park fun your family looks forward to, like participating in Junior Rangers or checking out the museums and gift shops. You just get more: more park, more family time, more insider knowledge.

2. On a small ship cruise. Any cruise is a good bet for a multigenerational group, as it has so much for everyone to do. But on mega cruise ships, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. What I mean by this: with so many different directions to scatter, families find themselves just as busy as at home, and spending just as little time together. When we embarked on a small ship cruise (we’ve done two: one with Alaskan Dream Cruises and one with Uncruise), we found that we were busy and engaged together, with active grandparents participating right alongside the kids. Destinations for small ship cruises are endless, though we do recommend nature-focused cruises to locations like Alaska and Costa Rica because kids become so entranced by the wildlife and hiking and adventuring. When grandparents need a break, ship time is relaxed and pampering, and everyone eats meals together; a great time to compare notes on the day.

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3. On the river: If you really want to get away with your family without distractions, go on a river rafting trip. We’ve done many, all with O.A.R.S. Rafting and we’ve loved them all, from Oregon’s Rogue River to Idaho’s Salmon River to points in-between. We’ve gone on river trips as a mother-son adventure, with grandparents, and even as a couples-only getaway. O.A.R.S. takes care of everything, so there’s no experience required, and you’re truly in remote country, so you can say adios to your cell phone, laptop and any other screens. The detox from technology is amazing.

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Have you planned a multigenerational trip in the outdoors? Where have you gone?

Disclosure: This post written in partnership with Austin Adventures, to help spread the word about the importance of family travel vacations.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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