We chatted with several VBT guests about their experiences traveling with their adult children—and discovered five important things we think YOUR kids wish you knew about planning your next family vacation.
Five Things Your Kids Wish You Knew About Planning Family Travel
Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2023
Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer
Here at VBT, we love active family vacations! They bring people together in a way that’s both healthy and fun while building the memories of a lifetime. But when you’re planning a family vacation with people of all ages, it’s important to remember that there are different interests, needs, and activity levels to consider. To help shed some light on the subject, we chatted with several VBT guests about their experiences traveling with their adult children—and discovered five important things we think YOUR kids wish you knew about planning your next family vacation:
1. Bike Tours, Not Bus Tours
When younger adults consider group travel, the image of octogenarians squinting at famous sights through foggy bus windows can be…well…a bit of a turn-off. With limited opportunities to take vacation time, it might seem like a chore to spend a couple weeks warming the seat of even the most luxurious charter bus. That’s why VBT is perfect for multi-generational family adventures—they guarantee time outside, with fresh air and good exercise. “My sister is active, and younger, and the issue with travel is the inactivity of bus tours,” says VBT traveler Barb Horler. “Just getting back on the bus to see another sight—that kind of thing just wasn’t for her. But she was amazed at how much she enjoyed the biking.” Over and over again, we hear about younger relatives looking for exercise and activities—the perfect fit for cycling adventures! “People are always trying to figure out how to make a family vacation appealing to the younger generation,” observes Barb. “I’d say: go someplace you’ve never been, without sitting on a bus the whole time.”
2. A Little Independence Goes a Long Way
Families come in all shapes and sizes—with members at all levels of fitness. VBT adventures give everyone the flexibility to bike at their own pace and spend free time pursuing their own interests. “We all biked at a different rate,” recalls VBT traveler Mary Ropka. “My husband and I had E-bikes, and the kids had road bikes because they’re used to biking more. Everybody is very different in terms of interests and personalities and physical interest and abilities—and it all worked, and it was great.”
And while your kids may not be bold enough to ask—you can be sure that one of the questions on their mind is bound to be “am I going to have to spend six days with my parents attached to my hip?” Many travelers find it’s a good idea to set those expectations ahead of time so everyone has a clear vision of how the days will unfold. “Before we left my son asked me: ‘Mom, what are your expectations? Do you expect us to spend all day every day with you?’” recalls Mary. “My answer was no. I talked about our previous VBT trip and the way that was—we met in the morning, and everybody took off at their own pace. We’re not going to be together all day, every day.” Sometimes, setting expectations of independence and flexibility at the start of your trip planning process helps family members understand how a cycling adventure can work best for their needs.
3. Smaller Groups Are More Fun
You’ll find plenty of family vacation options out there—and they come in all shapes and sizes. One of the appealing things about a VBT adventure is the limited number of participants. “We were attracted to VBT’s small group size,” says Mary. “My husband and I have done other international trips where we were in groups of 98 people. VBT provides two trip leaders with their 18-person groups—and that gives you a pretty good ratio.” Smaller groups make it easier for individuals to stand out in the crowd—giving everyone the opportunity to spend quality time together and form closer bonds. “On a VBT trip, everyone gets to spend time with each other in different ways,” says VBT traveler Ann Tutundjian. “Sometimes you’ll be biking, and you feel like being in the back of the pack—then you find yourself bonding with a family member who had the same idea.”
Traveling in smaller groups also gives people the opportunity to get to know their local trip leaders. VBT’s trip leaders live in the regions where they lead—which means they’re a wealth of valuable information about local customs and attractions. “With smaller groups, it’s always nice to watch kids interact with the trip leaders,” says Ann. “They each develop a different kind of bond with them. My son-in-law loves to mountain bike and asks the leaders technical questions—and my daughter is quieter, so she takes a different approach.”
4. They Need Your Help to Get Away
For many VBT guests, spending time with their children and grandchildren is one of the most important and rewarding ways to spend their time. But younger people are often busy—working jobs with limited pay and vacation time. “The reason we do it is to spend time with them,” says Ann. “We love traveling, and they love traveling, and they work like crazy, and they need to get away. To me, spending time with the family is an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.”
One of the best ways to entice younger relatives to join a family vacation is simple—help foot the bill. “During our trip to Croatia, there was a family group traveling with us, and we asked them: how do you get your kids to go on vacation with you?” says Ann. “And they said, it’s simple—we pay for them!” For those who have the means to fund a family vacation, it’s an offer that’s sure to be received with the generosity and family spirit with which it was intended—and in many cases will make all the difference for younger folks hoping to green-light a family adventure.
5. Add a Trip Extension!
If your kids are independent spirits who love adventure, a Pre- or Post-Trip Extension is a great way to feed their passion. “When we went to Italy’s Dolomites, we did the Post-Trip Extension,” says Ann. “We also flew in early and explored—and that was fun for the kids because it was more than just the bike trip.” A Pre-Trip Extension gives you time to adjust to the new time zone before your bike tour—and is a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the family to take some free time to shop, visit museums, and pursue other interests before hopping into the saddle. It can also be a great opportunity for the younger generation to delve into your destination’s nightlife. “Our kids were in their 20s at the time, and before we left, they really pushed us to check out the disco scene and the local night life at our destinations,” says VBT traveler Eric Deziel. “But the funny thing was—after a full day of biking, they were too tired to go out! My wife and I loved to tease them about it. We were glad we had done the Lisbon Pre-Trip Extension because it gave the kids some free time to check out the nightlife—which they appreciated.” If you’re looking for a way to tempt the younger generation to join your family vacation, a few free nights in Paris, Rome, or Lisbon might be just the ticket!