Trendy, Offbeat Ideas for Your Next Family Vacation

The skyline of Yokohama, Japan.
Vacations are veering off the usual vistas.

When it comes to travel, the paths not typically taken can lead to the most interesting and fulfilling excursions. Consider trips that harken to days gone by and those that offer a fresh take on travel.

There is a spirit of elegance that luxury train travel evokes. Perhaps, that can be contributed to the ease of the pace, allowing for the chance to appreciate the passing vistas; the butler services; the elevated feel of pressed linen in the dining car; well-appointed meals; or the bespoke décor that speaks to each locomotive’s pending adventure. Commuter trains these are not, and luxury train travel is, might we say, gaining steam.

With increasing interest in discovering DNA information, some heritage-minded people are planning trips to explore their roots by way of Ancestry Tours. They travel to countries of their origins, reach out to remaining kin or discover whatever satisfies their need to connect with their ancestry. For these excursions, planning is key. Some areas feature on-site genealogists, who can help focus the visit. (It’s an interesting concept for honeymooners, too, to explore each other’s heritages.)

Forget major cities with the big-ticket lodging, food and entertainment prices and mind-numbing traffic, and consider Second City Tourism. Consider going to a nearby city or even picking the city with the second highest population in that country or state. The possibilities are endless—switch Mexico City for Guadalajara; London/Manchester; Montreal/Quebec City; Tokyo/Yokohama; Los Angeles/Long Beach; or New Orleans/Baton Rouge. Make your “second city” your first choice!

If you think that you haven’t heard of Bleisure Travel, you’re slightly mistaken. Think work meets vacation. While it’s not new for business travelers to include a bit of sightseeing or mini excursions, Millennials are planning more leisure activities around their work commitments. Arrive before the work obligations begin, or stay afterward to explore the city; use down time to ask hotel and restaurant staff or people on the street about must-see locations and must-do experiences; or use work breaks or after-hours time to include coworkers in mini sightseeing ventures. As long as the bosses are OK with the plan, it seems like a win-win proposition.

The chance to unplug and reconnect as a family is quite appealing. Family sabbaticals offer the opportunity to strengthen family bonds, whether it is around a campsite, at a resort or during an extended trip, which can feature specialized sabbatical programming. Some families choose a theme for their trip, including language (attend a language immersion program), cultural (explore a country or city), eco-friendly (visit a migratory sight or animal sanctuary), mind-body-spirit (find a program that focuses on holistic health and healing); or literary (visit the location of a favorite novel or an author’s writing haunts—St. Paul, anyone?!). There are blogs and websites devoted to family sabbaticals that can help with ideas and planning.