Top Travel Trends 2020: What Families Want From Their Vacations

Getting off the beaten path

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At Ciao Bambino, we don’t need survey results to tell us the top travel trends in 2020 for families. It’s what we do, day in and day out, and what our clients share with us as we begin to plan each family’s customized itinerary to destinations around the world. That said, it’s always fun to dig into survey data on our favorite topic: family travel! 

Top Travel Trends 2020
Safe, easy to navigate and familiar yet exotic, Hawaii is a perennial favorite

Survey Says: Top Luxury Family Travel Priorities in 2020

Ciao Bambino’s affiliation with Virtuoso, the world’s leading network of luxury travel agencies, gives our readers access to the following insightful travel industry data. Wondering how your family’s preferences compare? Let’s take a look at the most popular and sought-after travel destinations and experiences for families in 2020.

Top Family Travel Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Hawaii
  3. England
  4. Costa Rica
  5. France

These destinations come as no surprise to us. We planned more than 400 customized trips to Italy in 2019 alone! Hawaii, England, Costa Rica and France are also top markets for us as an agency, and many of our clients return to these locations year after year. What’s not to like about gelato sampling, surf lessons, royalty, ziplining in the rainforest and crepes? As we often say, some destinations are popular for a reason, and these are no exception.

Top Travel Trends 2020
Safaris and cultural immersion in Kenya are increasingly popular with parents and kids

Top Family Destinations on the Rise

  1. Croatia
  2. Belize
  3. Kenya
  4. Morocco
  5. Antarctica

Emerging destinations are always intriguing to us. Because many of our clients are intrepid and experienced family travelers, we usually see these destinations pop up before they go mainstream. And because planning trips to locations with less tourism infrastructure can be particularly challenging, families seek our professional assistance and a chance to tap into our network of on-the-ground suppliers in markets like these. 

The variety of these destinations is noteworthy, too. Families are no longer limiting themselves to North America or Europe. We love that Central America and Africa are growing in popularity. And we’re particularly happy to see Antarctica on the list, as it is one of our favorite places we’ve experienced.

Top Travel Trends 2020
Adventure destinations like Bhutan are seeing an uptick in visiting families. Photo by Julie Floyd/Virtuoso

Top Family Travel Trends

  1. Multigenerational trips
  2. Beach resort stays
  3. Active/adventure trips
  4. Celebration travel
  5. Experiential travel

What an interesting mix of popular vacation types! It correlates with what we see in our business. Families like to diversify travel experiences throughout the year, such as a beach trip for spring break followed by a big summer trip full of culturally immersive experiences and/or active adventures, as well as a multigenerational trip to celebrate milestones like anniversaries or birthdays. Don’t forget a ski trip every winter and a few weekend getaways sprinkled in, too! Variety works well with children, as we know how easily bored they are — even when it comes to travel.

Top Travel Trends 2020
Remote beaches and other off-the-beaten-path spots allow families to unplug

Top Emerging Family Travel Trends

  1. Authenticity
  2. Children driving travel decisions
  3. Wow amenities for children
  4. Visiting less touristed places
  5. Skip-gen (grandparents traveling with grandkids)

Access to information online and prolific social media use means children are savvier and more globally minded than ever, and this can be a good thing. But it also means expectations for a family vacation, especially an international trip, are shifting as well. Creating authentic, transformational and custom experiences is exactly why our clients turn to us. You simply can’t find that by scouring review websites. 

Choosing accommodations is often the most daunting challenge when trip planning. Parents want to know their crying baby won’t be given the side-eye, that a property is safe for a wandering toddler and that teenagers can have some space and privacy. Fortunately, hotels around the world are offering amenities that impress families while being both age-appropriate and fun for children. What child isn’t delighted to be handed a new toy from the reception desk at check-in or presented with cookies and milk at bedtime? 

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Knowing firsthand the hidden corners and undiscovered gems around the world is more important than ever, especially as families work to reduce their carbon footprint and escape the crowds. We’ve been everywhere (truly! All seven continents!) and can advise families on destinations that best meet their goals and interests.

Teaming up with exceptional tour operators has become a big hit for skip-gen trips. It means grandparents don’t have to worry about travel logistics, yet there’s plenty to keep grandkids busy and entertained. We love playing matchmaker among our favorite suppliers based on what clients want.

Top Travel Trends 2020
Local foods provide fascinating insight into destinations like Sicily

Top Family Travel Activities

  1. Active experiences
  2. Relaxing by the pool/beachside
  3. Classes or lessons
  4. Animal viewing/interactions
  5. Exploring local culture via food

Families don’t want cookie-cutter experiences on vacation, unless it is to use them during a pastry class in Paris or while watching fortune cookies be pressed in San Francisco. We’ve arranged everything from truffle hunting in Tuscany to fly fishing lessons in Montana. Picky eaters have been transformed during a food tour of Tokyo or a cooking class in Vietnam.

Our favorite up-close encounters with wildlife include safaris in Africa or private boat charters in the Galapagos Islands. Imagine a giraffe joining you for breakfast or your first sight of a blue-footed booby. Animal encounters can be incorporated into almost any type of trip, like a falconry lesson while touring Scotland or a dogsledding experience in Norway. Or get deep into the wild frontiers of America’s national parks or Costa Rica, where the wildlife might just come right to you. We place a heavy emphasis on partnering with properties and activity providers who prioritize sustainable travel practices.

And when everyone is ready to kick back and relax, we know the best beachfront properties from Australia to Greece to Maine, or even just hard-to-find hotel pools in the world’s biggest cities. Some of our favorite travel itineraries for families combine time sightseeing in urban areas with a few days by the beach for the perfect mix.

Top Travel Trends 2020
Traveling with extended family equals an extra helping of fun. Photo by Shauna W. Damboise/Virtuoso

Most Frequent Family Travel Companions

  1. Immediate family
  2. Multigenerational
  3. Family and friends
  4. Multiple families
  5. Mother/daughter and father/son

There’s no bonding experience that compares to a family vacation. Remove yourself from the day-to-day deadlines, commitments and household chores, and suddenly everyone feels more relaxed. Sometimes it even inspires squabbling siblings to become friends again! Ask our family travel advisors and they’ll tell you: Being a part of a family’s memory-making is why they do what they do. 

Your companions on a family vacation can include more than just your spouse and kids, though. Consider inviting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins along. Some families find that vacationing with friends or other families makes it even more fun for everyone (babysitting tradeoffs, instant playmates for the kids … what’s not to like?) But the more people involved, the more complicated planning gets, from an increase in the number of hotel rooms needed to complicated dining reservations. Let us help so no one is left doing all the heavy lifting.

And for special circumstances, like mother/daughter or father/son trips, we’ve got lots of great ideas to make those more intimate getaways a huge success that neither parent nor child will ever forget.

Before you hop on a long-haul flight or road trip with your kids, be sure you’ve accessed the best travel advice for families, either by using our family travel advisors’ expertise or by reading our firsthand reviews of hotels, attractions, activities and destinations. Travelers in 2020 need to equip themselves with current and relevant information like never before. We’re here to help.

Relevant Links:

Pick your passion: Best family vacation spots for every interest

Where we’re going in 2020

Where to take kids in 2020: Our readers weigh in!

Editor’s Note: Survey data courtesy of Virtuoso. Photos by Virtuoso.

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2 Comments
  • Croatia is definitely on my family’s bucket list for travel! Can’t wait to be able to plan a trip there

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