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This Is Not Your Grandfather's Vacation … Or Is It?

This Is Not Your Grandfather's Vacation … Or Is It?

Today's sophisticated youth are blazing new trails as global citizens, impacting everything from their family and friends' travel choices to new products, destinations and motivations for travel. Never ones to be casual observers, the younger set are requesting culturally immersive experiences that map to their passions, so says a survey by global luxury travel network Virtuoso® that tapped into the group's travel advisors specializing in family travel. Results revealed that authenticity tops the list of emergent trends, with children driving travel decisions in second place. It comes as no surprise to those with energetic kids that active experiences are the number-one choice for traveling families.

Multigenerational travel remains the most popular family trend, and multiple generations are the second most frequent travel companions behind the immediate family. Virtuoso advisors typically design custom itineraries that encompass other key trends like experiential travel and adventure trips, such as a last-minute safari for 10 people including grandparents, children and grandchildren. Celebration travel is also growing, with one Virtuoso advisor even designing an Alaska trip for a grandfather who helicoptered his triplet grandchildren to a glacier for their 13th birthday - complete with cake.

While classic European destinations such as Italy, England and France remain popular with families, other less traditional places are on the rise. Already well traveled, Generation Z involves itself in planning trips and wants to explore places such as Croatia, Morocco and Antarctica – destinations that likely were not considered vacation spots when their grandparents were the same age.

Children today are traveling at younger ages to more distant destinations. Virtuoso advisors report arranging family adventures with infants in tow, including a baby who stayed in Japanese monasteries while accompanying its parents hiking and cycling, and a one year old who tagged along for a camel ride and dinner in the Moroccan mountains. At times, preschool schedules become paramount even over parents' work schedules in timing trips.

Young globetrotters expect active immersion in local cultures, but still want downtime. Beach resort stays rank second on the list of family travel trends, with relaxing on the beach or poolside rating high as the most popular activity. Warm-weather locales such as Hawaii and Belize score highly as family destinations.  

Young travelers are boldly requesting exclusive trip elements, often tailored to their personal interests. Virtuoso advisors say junior foodies have asked for Michelin-starred restaurants, even knowing the names of chefs at each establishment. Another advisor created a 10-city, 10-day family tour of European car museums. Other rare family experiences advisors have arranged include front-row viewing at Siena's Palio and closing a New York City pizzeria for family fun. One advisor reserved a seaplane to pick up a young woman from a yacht in the middle of the ocean so she would be home in time for a college interview.

Virtuoso specialists share that family travel sales are strong for 2020. Fifty-seven percent expect sales to increase from 2019, while 42 percent envision sales will remain steady from last year. Just one percent foresee a minor dip for the coming year.

Findings from the 2020 Virtuoso Family Travel Community survey:

Top Family Travel Destinations                                        

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

Top Family Travel Destinations on the Rise

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

Top Family Travel Trends                                                 

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

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 and grandchildren)

Top Family Travel Activities

  1. Active experiences
  2. Relaxing on beach/poolside
  3. Classes or lessons
  4. Animal viewing/interactions
  5. Exploring local culture via food

Generation Z Influence on Travel 

  1. Involve themselves in planning trips
  2. Book culturally immersive experiences
  3. Look for visual trips for social media
  4. Influence others online or via word of mouth
  5. Personalize travel to interests

Most Frequent Family Travel Companions                                 

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

Virtuoso's Family Travel Community advisors provided insights in this survey into the top trends for this flourishing niche.

Virtuoso photos: MoroccoCroatiaKenya

About Virtuoso
Virtuoso® is the leading international travel agency network specializing in luxury and experiential travel. This by-invitation-only organization comprises over 1,100 travel agency locations with more than 22,000 elite travel advisors in over 50 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Drawing upon its preferred relationships with more than 2,000 of the world's best hotels and resorts, cruise lines, airlines, tour companies and premier destinations, the network provides its upscale clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access. (U.S.) $30 billion in annual travel sales make Virtuoso a powerhouse in the luxury travel industry. For more information, visit

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