Ride the rails, set sail for adventure, take in the big city, and so much more
We know that families are eager to get out there and see the world—and 2024 is going to be the year that they do it in a major way. We expect to see lots of families taking those big trips with both domestic and international destinations on the agenda for 2024. Airfare prices continue to remain high but there are more and more ways to find cheaper flights including a bunch of lower-cost airlines that have added US routes this past year. Road trips aren’t going away either as families pretty much have these down by now. Where will 2024 take you?
Low-Cost Airlines Can Get You Where You Need to Go for Less
Chances are you are familiar with low-cost domestic airlines like Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit but did you know that there are low-cost airlines that will take you to Europe, Tahiti, Japan, and loads of other spots beyond the U.S.? Airlines like French bee, PLAY, Norse, and ZIPAIR have been adding routes from the U.S. in recent years and they are a great option for families looking to spend less on airfare.
We've flown French bee to Paris and Tahiti with kids and found it to be very comparable to other carriers like American Airlines and United. Just make sure you know what is included in your fare and what will incur an additional cost (like checked baggage, seat selection, and meals) before you book with these airlines so there are no surprises.
Credit Card Points Offer a Way to Hack the System
Not everyone is interested in playing the credit card points game but those who know how to work the system often share that they can get some pretty great deals using signup bonuses. Websites like The Points Guy and NerdWallet are great places to start learning about what credit cards work best for travel and what deals are on the horizon. If you time your credit card sign-up right, many programs will gift you enough miles for free tickets. Plus, these travel cards often offer perks like free Global Entry or TSA PreCheck which are key in making your travel experience the best it can be.
Families Want to Ride the Rails
According to Pinterest, 2024 brings slow travel to the forefront. After the busyness of 2023 with everyone getting back into travel in a big way, 2024 will have families slowing it down and looking for more mellow ways to travel. We predict that this will lead to more families will riding the rails for their next vacation. Nobody has to drive, your sleeping quarters are included, and you get to see some of the most gorgeous areas of the country. Bonus: it's super eco-friendly. From trains that take you to five national parks, to those that take you from New England to Florida, there's so much exploring to do.
All-Inclusives Are Worth the Money
Once thought of as a honeymoon-only extravagance, families are turning toward all-inclusive properties for vacations, especially when traveling with grandparents. Nobody has to cook, you know what you're going to spend in advance and kids will love getting to order mocktails from the swim-up bar. Some of our favorite spots: Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda in the Dominican Republic, Villa la Valencia Beach Resort & Spa in Los Cabos, and Margarita Beach Resort Ambergris Cay in Belize.
Cruising Is Back in a Major Way
Cruising has seen a major uptick in the past year and we are looking forward to checking out new ships like Royal Caribbean's new Icon of the Seas in 2024. Set sail for Alaska to catch the salmon run or book your vacation on the Disney Wish for a trip that's full of character breakfasts and kid activities.
Those looking to cruise on a smaller scale should look to adventure cruise companies like UnCruise and Adventure Canada where you can expect small ships, small crews, and only a few hundred passengers. Bonus: Families will find that expedition cruising offers a level of personalization that you can't get on other cruises.
Back to the Big City
The last few years have seen road trips and national parks vacations getting their time in the spotlight. According to Expedia, cultural capitals like Edinburgh, Lisbon, Tokyo, Dublin, and Sydney are going to see a lot more travel focus for 2023. We can get on board for that!
Spend Some Time in a National Park
With over 400 national parks in the United States, chances are there are quite a few nearby that you have yet to explore. According to Airbnb, national parks travel will be a huge focus for 2024 and we can understand why. National park trips are particularly fun for families as they give kids (and parents!) a little history lesson and a big dose of fresh air at the same time. Check out these national parks that are particularly kid-friendly from California all the way to Maine. While you are at it, check this list to see what days are free at the national parks for 2024.
Road Trips (Still) Reign Supreme
The past few years really brought back our love of the road trip. If you are itching to find a new destination for 2024, check out this list of our favorite road trips in the U.S. and find unique Airbnb rentals you can reserve along the way. Before you head out, peruse this list of road trip hacks to get your crew prepared for the long journey, and download some of our favorite podcasts for kids so you don't have to fight over the radio station.
Head to the Trees
Whether it's the need to get as far away from civilization as possible or a Swiss Family Robinson obsession, families are taking to the trees and booking a night or two in a treehouse. There are loads of treehouses you can rent across the country with a ton of options, especially in California. There's even a brand-new treehouse resort near the Smoky Mountains that just opened in 2023.
More Travel with the Grandparents
We expect to see a continuation of the multi-generational travel trend in 2024 with families looking to get out and travel with grandparents. Whether you send the kids off on their "gramping" adventure without you or are looking for somewhere that three generations can enjoy, there are plenty of options out there.
Guided, Small-Group Trips
We want to go big with our travel plans but the actual planning of the trip is most definitely not part of the fun. Leave the planning and execution of your trip up to experts like Exodus Travels. You can book a private trip for your family, or join in a small group with other families that have similarly-aged kids to make it even more fun. Whether you go self-guided or have an expert there to show you the way, this type of travel is definitely the way to go for families.
Another great option for a customized travel experience is Costa Rica Escapes, a company that specializes in creating family adventures based on the needs of your family. Definitely something you'll want to explore in 2024.
Many of us have developed our love of the great outdoors these past few years and we'll be looking for off-the-grid adventures for our 2024 trips. Think about a kayak trip in Yellowstone or a ranch vacation complete with a hot spring pool in Idaho. There are tons of awesome options out there with no WiFi in range.
Ride Off into the Sunset in an RV
While most of us never considered RV travel as a fun option for a family, it has exponentially increased in popularity in recent years and we expect this trend to continue into 2024. If you are a total RV newbie, we suggest leaving the planning to the experts when you book your first RV trip. Think you can handle it on your own? Rent an RV, grab yourself a WiFi hotspot, and head out on the road to give road schooling a try. You can even try out the rad stylings of a camper van!
Cozy Cabins to Get Away from It All
There's something so restorative about a weekend in the woods. Cabin rentals have become super popular and we don't expect that to change in 2024. They offer families time together, many times without WiFi, and you can even bring your dog.
Make It a Micro-cation
If time and money are tight (hello, inflation), consider a micro-cation for your next family trip. These four-day-or-less trips allow you to see someplace new and get a break from everyday life. It's a good way to get the kids used to traveling without having to pack a ton of gear for everyone. Surprise the kids with a last-minute trip and see a new part of the country.
Take the Family Glamping
Glamping gives you the best of both worlds—the smell of a campfire in your hair and an actual bed to sleep on. You won't have to schlep all of your camping gear with you, everyone gets a better night's sleep, and you still get time out in the woods away from WiFi and civilization. Check out some of our favorite spots for glamping including loads of options in California.