A tour company can be a real lifesaver on family vacations, especially if there are other kids in the group. A quality tour group will have a low staff-to-guest ratio (ideally one staffer per every six guests), which means parents can get a break while the guides take over.
The Montana-based Austin-Lehman Adventures reports one in four of its participants is a single parent or grandparent, and more than 60 percent of bookings are either returning guests or referrals. Founded 35 years ago, this adventure tour company was created with families in mind, with tour guides taking into consideration that sometimes Mom or Dad needs grown-up time, and other times parents and kids may want to have some time without the rest of the group.
For a family "starter trip," co-founder Paul Lehman recommends the six-day, five-night Yellowstone vacation. At around $2,000 per adult (plus a $680 single supplement fee), and children averaging around $1,700, it's also their most economical option.
Family travel expert Eileen Ogintz, author of the popular "Taking the Kids" column, also recommends adventure tour companies such as Backroads, Thompson Travel and Wildland Adventures. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts offer good value, especially in terms of dining and activities, but Eileen reminds parents to remember their own personalities when choosing these options. While the kids are off playing, parents may get left behind with no one to talk to.
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