2013 Family Travel Trends

Michelle Pentz Glave, editor of the Four Seasons blog Have Family Will Travel, reveals the top trends in global family travel.

A custom walking tour in exotic places such as Costa Rica is a great way for the whole family to experience a destination together.

It’s a new year—what’s on the horizon for globetrotting Four Seasons families? In addition to continuing trends, such as learning trips and multigenerational vacations with baby boomer grandmas and grandpas, here’s our list of the top five trends for 2013:

Meaningful just got more meaningful.
Number 1 involves “authentic, life-changing moments,” according to luxury travel brand Cox & Kings. And that’s just going to increase. Forget the pool and stuffed animal or one-size-fits-all offering. Families want to bond over truly original experiences tailored to them. “Resorts are making an effort to meaningfully engage children in their destination with custom walking tours, art classes, cooking classes, voluntourism, you name it,” says Amie O’Shaughnessy, editor of Ciao Bambino!.

Go big with extended, far-flung vacations.
The Big Trip might include touring host countries pre-Olympics (Sochi, Russia; Rio, Brazil), or a focus on education and personal enrichment in exotic locales such as India, South Africa and China. “Rather than leave the kids behind, parents view the world as a classroom,” says family travel blogger Katie Dillon of La Jolla Mom. One reason for this may be that “travelling overseas recreationally with kids isn’t as daunting—or perhaps unusual—as it used to be,” Dillon says. “I partially credit technology for this, as digital devices and better inflight entertainment keep kids occupied. Gear for travelling with children also keeps rapidly improving.”

Share your vaycay pics in real time.
More than ever, families are sharing their travel adventures instantly via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media. This real-time sharing allows you to record your trip for review later, but it also lets friends and family members in on some of the fun.

Kid-friendly menus are going healthy.
“There’s a growing focus on healthier food options for children at hotels,” O’Shaughnessy notes. “Kids’ menus now include salads and fish, not just the usual chicken fingers and pasta. Some are taking this trend a step further to all-organic (or gluten-free) menus.” And children’s menus are becoming the norm, Dillon says: “Most hotels expect children to accompany parents out to eat, and they’re usually prepared with kid-friendly utensils and a nice selection of small portions to order.”

Kids get the VIP treatment, too.
“The top hotels are offering more substantive services for families,” O’Shaughnessy says. “The Recreation Director at Four Seasons in Paris is an excellent example of this thinking in action. At kids’ clubs, computer games and movies are increasingly used for limited periods only. Meanwhile, club directors are getting creative about crafts, games and activities that stimulate kids and enable parents to get time to themselves—guilt-free.” Even beyond the luxury kids’ clubs, traditionally adults-only services and spa treatments are beginning to cater to young guests.

Oh, and apparently, gargantuan observation/Ferris wheels—such as the London Eye and Seattle, Washington’s new Great Wheel—are de rigueur, says Have you got one in your 2013 itinerary?

Further reading:

“Top 10 Luxury Travel Trends for 2013 From Cox & Kings” (Luxury Travel Magazine)

“The Family That Vacations Together: Top Family Travel Trends for 2013” (Spin Kitchen/Turner PR)

“Family Travel Trend for 2013: Observation Wheels” (

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