Family Travel Expert: Nine Trends Shaping The Family Travel Season and Year Ahead

12 February 2013

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, Editor and Owner of and Syndicated Columnist Shares Insight Into The Lucrative Family Travel Market

Multigenerational vacations will be increasing in 2013, predicts O'Rourke Hayes.

Assistant Editor's Note: Readers interested in marketing directly to consumers interested in Family Travel should also take a look at this article on the reach and power of Family Bloggers, who might be a fitting avenue to consider when highlighting trips of this kind. 

Scottsdale, AZ - Not long after 9/11, it seemed as though families and good friends everywhere made a collective commitment to spend more quality time together.

And that trend has continued to blossom, resulting in more family getaways, multigenerational trips and clan reunions across the country and beyond, according to Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, owner of, a leading web site offering travel ideas and inspiration for families and multigenerational groups.

In short, family travel matters, says O'Rourke Hayes. Consider that recent research reveals that nearly half of all adults bring children or grandchildren along on leisure trips.

As families make plans for spring break, summer holidays and the year ahead, O'Rourke Hayes and the team offer their take on how the lucrative family travel market is shaping up.

Here are nine trends to consider:

Outdoor, unplugged trips will become increasingly popular as families refocus on healthy lifestyles.
    1. Healthier dining options. Whether dining close to home or on the road, expect more healthy, locally sourced options offered on children's menus, suggests O'Rourke Hayes. A recent survey of more than 1800 chefs crafted by The National Restaurant Association, promises a focus on more whole grain offerings as well as children's nutrition as a culinary theme.
    2. Nature rules. Expect an emphasis on unplugged, off the grid, into the backcountry options for families. "Paired with their concern about obesity, parents will no doubt welcome the many opportunities to get kids onto hiking and biking trails, into National Park programs and family camps where the emphasis is on healthy, unplugged outdoor endeavors," explains O'Rourke Hayes.
    3. Villa and apartment stays. Spread out. Eat in. From apartment rental sites to more upscale residence clubs, families and multigenerational groups benefit from a wider range of options when it comes to spending the night away from home. Kitchens, laundry facilities, more sleeping spaces and expanded privacy, make these more spacious accommodations ultra appealing.
    4. Small ship cruising. Looking for a more intimate experience, expect families to increasingly opt for smaller ships or riverboats in the coming year, offers O'Rourke Hayes. Smaller boats are able to move closer to wildlife, glaciers and into narrow coves. Fewer people on board also mean less crowded shore excursions and activities.
A young traveler practices his photography skills as his companion demonstrates his dance moves.
  1. Volunteer vacations. Expect more families to give back during all or part of their holiday, says O'Rourke Hayes. Releasing turtles to the sea, repairing trails and helping in schools are all options available to families who want more than sun and sand during their getaway. Organizations offer weeks dedicated to volunteer activities while more hotels now offer options for nearby, day-long community service activities.
  2. Happier teens traveling. Parents are figuring out how to travel with their teenaged family members, observes O'Rourke Hayes. From river rafting, bike tours and hiking trips to all inclusive resorts and city breaks, the adults have learned to include the teens in the planning process, making it easier to uncover an experience that will provide lasting (and positive) memories for everyone.
  3. Learning vacations. Whether it's about science, space, cooking or quilting, more families are expressing an interest in expanding their intellectual horizons while enjoying time together. Look for more trips designed to provide experiential learning paired with outdoor activity or a hotel stay.
  4. More multi-generational travel. Busy careers, geographic spread, hectic school schedule and boomers on the go, all contribute to a shift in the way extended families spend time together, believes O'Rourke Hayes. Look for clans to gather together at the beach, in national parks, on cruise ships and in historic lodges. Also expect more grandparents and aunts and uncles to plan trips with the youngest generation, giving the parents an oft-needed break from action-packed family life.
  5. PANKS on the move. PANK, that's an acronym referring to Professional Aunt, No Kids. This group of financially fit and family-focused women (1 in 5) is garnering attention as a market segment worth wooing. "Expect more itineraries, products and programs designed to support these "savvy aunties" as one web site refers to them, as they share the world and their resources with the next generation," explains O'Rourke Hayes.
Lynn O'Rourke Hayes.

About Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes is the Editor and owner of and a syndicated travel columnist with the Dallas Morning News. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post as well as other print, online and broadcast outlets.

The mother of three sons, O'Rourke Hayes has written a book about balancing work and family, testified before Congress, circled the globe on the Concorde and appeared on numerous television and radio programs.

Her travels have taken her to more than 100 countries on six continents, across deserts, down rivers, over mountains, under the sea, through jungles and to 48 of our 50 states. Follow Lynn on Twitter: @lohayes On