It's no secret that families are vacationing more together these days. We don't mean Mom, Dad and the kids. We're talking Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins, too.
And that trend has continued to grow, resulting in more family getaways, multigenerational trips and clan reunions across the country and beyond, says Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, owner of FamilyTravel.com.
Here are nine family travel trends O'Rourke Hayes is seeing:
1. Healthier dining options. Whether dining close to home or on the road, expect more healthy, locally sourced options offered on children's menus.
2. Nature rules. Expect an emphasis on unplugged, off the grid, into the backcountry options for families.
3. Villa and apartment stays. Spread out. Eat in. From apartment rental sites to more upscale residence clubs, families and multigenerational groups benefit from a wider range of options when it comes to spending the night away from home. Kitchens, laundry facilities, more sleeping spaces and expanded privacy, make these more spacious accommodations ultra appealing.
4. Small ship cruising. Looking for a more intimate experience, expect families to increasingly opt for smaller ships or riverboats in the coming year, offers O'Rourke Hayes.
5. Volunteer vacations. Expect more families to give back during all or part of their holiday. Organizations offer weeks dedicated to volunteer activities while more hotels now offer options for nearby, day-long community service activities.
6. Happier teens traveling. Parents are figuring out how to travel with their teenaged family members. From river rafting, bike tours and hiking trips to all-inclusive resorts and city breaks, the adults have learned to include the teens in the planning process, making it easier to uncover an experience that will provide lasting (and positive) memories for everyone.
7. Learning vacations. Whether it's about science, space, cooking or quilting, more families are expressing an interest in expanding their intellectual horizons while enjoying time together. Look for more trips designed to provide experiential learning paired with outdoor activity or a hotel stay.
8. More multi-generational travel. Busy careers, geographic spread, hectic school schedule and boomers on the go, all contribute to a shift in the way extended families spend time together. Look for clans to gather together at the beach, in national parks, on cruise ships and in historic lodges.
9. PANKS on the move. PANK, that's an acronym referring to Professional Aunt, No Kids. This group of financially fit and family-focused women is garnering attention as a market segment worth wooing. "Expect more itineraries, products and programs designed to support these "savvy aunties" as one web site refers to them, as they share the world and their resources with the next generation," explains O'Rourke Hayes.
Amy Bertrand is the editor of the Home & Away and the Let's Eat section of the Post-Dispatch. Follow her at stltoday.com/travelswithamy, @abertrand on Twitter and on Pinterest at pinterest.com/amybertrand.