Celebration travel is a great way to make memories and share special moments with family and friends on birthday vacations, epic graduation trips and milestone anniversary vacations
Celebration travel is shaping up to be one of the top travel trends for 2021 and beyond. Many family vacations to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and graduations were cancelled during the last year, but the desire to commemorate these events remains. As families held Zoom gatherings to toast special occasions with friends and loved ones, they vowed to meet up in the future to celebrate together. Now that’s happening in a big way.
Family trips to celebrate life’s special milestone events are often the most memorable of all. A new IHG Hotels & Resorts study showed family vacations and reconnecting with loved ones tops travel wish lists this year. Vrbo’s 2021 family travel trend report revealed more than 80% of families are already making travel plans for this year, and a third are willing to spend more on these trips than usual. Outdoor destinations take top billing, with places near the water being most popular.
Unspoiled beach and lake locations are favorite choices for family celebration travel. North Carolina’s Outer Banks is one of Vrbo’s top five trending destinations for family travel, with more than a hundred miles of beaches and three national parks for families to enjoy. The Outer Banks is also one of the largest vacation rental home destinations in the country, and its central location within easy driving distance of major cities makes it an excellent spot for family celebrations.
Domestic mountain destinations and national parks are also favored by celebration travel planners. Xanterra Travel Collection, the country’s largest national and state park concessioner, noticed the rising interest in celebration travel and recently launched an online celebration trip planning e-book to help families select and plan their perfect get-together.
Located in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Vail is a much-loved outdoor playground for family celebration travel. Active family members can enjoy hiking, biking, whitewater rafting and even unique “Take a Llama to Lunch” outings, while others can go fly fishing, explore Vail’s charming Bavarian-style village and take a gondola ride to admire the scenic mountain views.
Family Fun for Everyone
Choosing a setting that provides plenty of flexibility and a wide variety of activities to please all family members is crucial for celebration vacations. AmaWaterways recently named celebration travel as a key trend driving record river cruise demand, noting an increase in multigenerational and multi-family bookings. Voted “Best River Cruise Line for Families” in 2020, AmaWaterways’ highly inclusive river cruises in Europe.
Asia and Africa provide a stress-free way for all family members to comfortably travel together and create cherished vacation memories, regardless of age or activity level. The line’s extensive array of included shore excursions and opportunities for personalization allows all generations to celebrate milestone events and have fun, both together and apart.
Walt Disney World is a magical destination choice for family birthday vacations, graduation trips and celebrating life’s special moments – and it’s observing its 50th anniversary this year. Offering attractions and amenities for all ages and interests, Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts provide many ways to create special moments including customized packages and services.
Families can also plan unique memorable experiences, such as celebrating aboard the highly awaited Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser where guests can enjoy a two-night immersive stay aboard the Halcyon starship and cruise the galaxy together.
Dude ranches are popular with families this year according to travel advisor reports, and they’re loaded with outdoor adventures and activities for all ages. Situated on 2,000 acres in Montana, all-inclusive Flathead Lake Lodge is an ideal spot for group celebration travel and family reunions.
Endless recreation opportunities await families at the ranch including horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, sailing, kayaking and fishing. Groups can select from 22 one- to three-bedroom log cabins or lodge rooms, plus an onsite events coordinator is available to help arrange special celebration activities.
Resorts, cruise lines and other venues often cater to family celebrations with group packages and staff on hand to help create special events, eliminating much of the planning stress. Holland America Line offers a Group Advantage Program with more than 30 amenities to enhance the family celebration cruise experience, while Carnival Cruise Line provides an extensive array of options through its “Fun Points & Flexi-Pricing” program with customized amenities for family groups.
Group photo appointments, upgrades and credits, customized private shore excursions, complimentary celebratory lunch events and other perks are also available with the cruise lines.
Family-focused all-inclusive resorts, such as Pennsylvania’s family-owned Woodloch Resort, are seeing a greater demand for family and multigenerational celebration vacations in 2021 and 2022. Set on over 1,200 acres with both lakefront and golf course settings, Woodloch Resort features dozens of outstanding amenities and over 30 activities scheduled daily. Group rates and packages are available. Reuniting families can stay in large, well-appointed vacation rental homes, and Woodloch’s staff can help groups plan customized celebration events, photos and memorable shared experiences.
Located just 90 miles from New York City, Mohonk Mountain House caters to families with special reunion and milestone celebration packages for groups booking six guest rooms or more. Families can work with the group sales team to select the perfect activities for their stay including golfing, hiking, kayaking and spa treatments. This highly inclusive, family-owned resort also features the intimate six-room Grove Lodge, an ideal setting for families who want to celebrate in a more private setting.
Book Your Celebration Bubble
Traveling as part of a “vacation pod” has become a leading trend during the pandemic, with more families wishing to travel and book accommodations shared exclusively by loved ones and friends.
Some family-friendly resorts, such as Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys, include fully equipped multi-bedroom villas with complete access to the property’s extensive amenities. Hawks Cay guests can enjoy numerous dining areas, a full-service marina with watersports activities, tropical beaches and pools, spa and fitness facilities, a resort-based dolphin program, and an extensive activities center for kids and teens. With 60 acres of property, Hawks Cay offers multiple venues for family celebrations, and a dedicated team is available to help organize events.
Families who love sailing and the outdoors can book their own cruise bubble for milestone celebrations, too. The Maine Windjammer Association’s nine magnificent ships are available for private charters, offering memorable opportunities for family groups to celebrate special occasions while exploring Maine’s spectacular coast. These all-inclusive unscripted sailings are packed with experiences like hiking on deserted islands, wildlife watching, savoring a traditional lobster bake, taking in the breathtaking scenery and soaking up the beauty of a star-filled sky.
Tour operators are seeing strong demand for private family celebration trips and have significantly ramped up their private group tour options. Family travel leader Austin Adventures is experiencing double-digit growth in multigenerational trip bookings and offers a diverse array of private adventures for celebrating families and multigenerational groups. Families can take over one of the company’s scheduled departures for their exclusive private celebration, or Austin Adventures can custom-build a trip tailored to the group’s ideal destination, activity preferences and interests.
Family celebration travel creates treasured memories that will last for generations. After the events of the past year, families can’t wait to gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate life’s special moments together. These shared experiences are the gifts that matter – and the time to start planning is now.
By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor