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Ten Ways to Wow Your Kids on a Family Vacation

Posted by Cindy Clarke on 8/22/2014
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Family Travel

Bridges collage

I recently sat down with my nephews’ children, ranging in ages from 14 to 8, to find out which of our Tauck Bridges family vacations appealed to them most. I was not surprised when they gravitated to the African safaris where photos of lions, elephants and giraffes captured their attention, or the Galápagos cruise, colorful with images of beach-basking sea lions and birds in red and blue shoes, or our Costa Rican jungle adventure, pictured with promises of horseback riding and zip lining. It seemed, at first glance, that animals were the biggest draw, but when I told them the all the fun things that kids like them did on the other trips, I watched their eyes widen with excitement.

Here are some of Tauck's Bridges top vacation spots. With each one I shared with them that night, I opened their hearts and minds to the fun that awaits the world over, with animals and without!
Bridges Alaska1.  I told them about the grandparents who took their 13-year old grandson with them to Alaska, and loved every minute of their vacation. What they did in one week: pet sled dogs and learn how they train for the amazing Iditarod race over snowy trails… fly aboard a helicopter near one of America’s biggest mountains… go gold panning in a mountain with a real prospector… hiking and meeting a bear (from afar; you never want to get close!)… Geocaching in the wilderness (a technological “treasure hunt” in the outdoors really opened their eyes to the fun that waits outside!). When their grandson went back to school, one day he had to answer, "What would you do if you had 24 hours to live?" He said, "Go back to Alaska!" Wow!

Bridges Italy2. They didn’t actually meet any wild animals when a family with 4 kids went to Italy, but they did discover a lot about life in a different country, from ancient times to present day, and even better they got to actually walk in the places they read about in books and saw in the movies and on TV. Their trip to Italy was, far and away, “THE BEST TRIP OF OUR LIVES!” So many things made such an incredibly memorable experience for them – meeting a real gladiator in the Roman Colosseum where they imagined hearing the jeers and cheers of citizens, toga clad, who watched them fight lions and bears with their bare hands… their once-in-a-lifetime private after-hours tour in the Vatican Museums, without crowds, where they got to see where Michelangelo worked upside down to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel… the pizza-making and mask-making events where everybody got to join in… the ‘dream’ gondola serenade on Venice’s water-filled roads when a man in striped shirt sang some really fun Italian tunes… and THE FOOD, pasta-and-pizza heaven and gelato, some of the fluffiest creamiest ice cream they ever tasted! The whole family agreed that as far as a fun trip goes, their trip to Italy couldn’t get any better!

3. How about riding on one of the world’s steepest trains to the top of a mountain in Switzerland going more than a mile high at 7,000 feet and looking out are more than 70 Alpine peaks and five glacial lakes… then going back down in a cable car that floats you through the air… getting out at a huge rope park where you can go summer tobogganing down a really long run and take a tube down a giant tubing slide… then taking a gondola even farther down the mountain? How would you like to walk on a real glacier, learn the ropes about rock climbing from the Swiss athletes who go up and down steep cliffs all the time, practice archery, watch ski jumpers, test out a mountain, go whitewater rafting, and even meet a 15th-century Emperor and his two wives while you are following narrow winding streets in a village hundreds of years old? You won’t miss the snow because summertime in Switzerland can really make you feel like yodeling!   

4. I think lots of families want to show their kids the Grand Canyon. At more than two miles deep and 277 miles long it is the biggest “hole” you’ll ever see – and when your family takes a walk with a ranger, they’ll discover some pretty amazing info. Think about spending the night in a lodge right near its rim where you can get up real early, before the sun does, and watch it color the canyon walls in pinks, oranges and reds that change as the sun rises… with nobody else, except maybe some mule deer, around… More than half of the Earth’s history, millions of years old, is written layer by layer into the sandstone rocks, buttes and mesas of the Grand Canyon and when you share it all, quietly, with your family, it becomes part of your family’s history too.

Bridges California5. California is not all about movie stars, although you may run into a few celebrities when you visit there. You’ll also find the crookedest street in the world in San Francisco, where cable cars take you up and down steep hills that look down at the Bay and the famous Golden Gate Bridge… Gold Rush towns near Yosemite National Park where you’ll see giant trees, the largest living things known to humans, and walk through a tunnel inside a tree… take a night hike in the wilderness by flashlight, ride a steam train through the woods for a campfire dinner under the stars and a moonlit ride back to your wilderness lodge…

Bridges Peru6. Up in the Andes Mountains of Peru, a British archaeologist accidently stumbled upon an ancient city hidden from the world for hundreds of years. This lost city is called Machu Picchu and visiting it today is nothing short of magical, especially when you stay right next to it up in the clouds in a pueblo-style hotel and explore it with a guide who shares its secrets with you. Oh, and to make your time here even more special, you’ll meet a naturalist who tells you about another secret hidden in the Andes Mountains, those endearing and endangered spectacled bears, like the one Paddington Bear is modeled after, and you’ll also learn how you can help to protect them!

7. Packing and unpacking and then packing again as you travel from one place to the next on a family vacation is not so much fun. That’s why staying on a boat that moves your hotel with you makes a lot of sense for kids and their parents! In Europe, you can take a riverboat to different countries along the Danube, going to bed in Hungary, waking up in Slovakia, then arriving in Austria the next day and a few days later getting off the boat in Germany! Along the way you’ll stop at castles hundreds of years old, have dinner in a private palace, visit the oldest amusement park in the world, learn to dance the waltz, make strüdel and decorate marzipan candies!

8. If it’s animals you want to see, just about every day, you can go on a real African safari. But how would you like to experience wildlife that other travelers can’t see… or hear? We got together with filmmakers who make some of the most amazing natural history documentaries ever to hit the screen… the folks at BBC Earth who “capture” lions and elephants in the dark of night with infrared and thermal imaging cameras… hear the sounds of underwater creatures like whales who talk to one another in the depths of the sea with special microphones… and catch the thrill of the hunt or the joys of playtime or a special once-in-a-lifetime chance encounter in the bush with a GoPro camera that can be used any time and anywhere… you’ll find these on Earth Journeys that really give you a new perspective of life on our planet!

9. How about visiting London like Harry Potter and riding on a Hogwarts Knightbus?  Or sleuthing through its streets like Sherlock Homes on a clue-filled walk? Would you like to hear what it’s like to live in the Tower of London from a Beefeater who does or go inside a real French palace dressed as you would if you lived at Château de Vaux Le Vicomte? Did you know there are mushrooms called truffles that can sell for as much as $3,600 a pound making them the most expensive food in the world? Dogs and pigs sniff them out from their underground hiding places in countries like France and Italy, and you can join them on the hunt in Umbria as you try to find some with specially trained dogs! Seeing must-see historic sites in a big city like Rome may not sound like a lot of fun, but when you try to spot all the animals that are hiding in the sculptures on buildings, fountains and monuments, you won’t want the sightseeing to end! So while you may think about world history when you think of a trip to Europe, think about making history of your own and putting it in a book about your own family!

Bridges Italy Pano

10.  And the last wow came straight from a letter Tauck received from a 12-year-old girl named Alissa who traveled to Italy with 25 family members. She said thinking about seeing Rome before the trip was like a dream, but when she got to share it with her whole family, all together at the same time, it became an amazing lifetime experience she will never forget!  After all, the best family vacation is all about doing, seeing, and being together in places that are eye-opening, heart-warming and fun for everyone in your family and that’s what Tauck Bridges does best!


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