FAMILY VACATIONS and FAMILY OUTDOOR
Most outdoor outfitters and tour operators welcome children on their trips. Activities for children as young as three are available with many outfitters. For many trips or activities no prior experience is required and you don't have to be an athlete to participate. So, even children can participate. Ask the company how much physical activity is required or if any previous experience is necessary. It's important to ask the outfitter how often they accommodate children with ages and abilities comparable to the children in your group.
Full service or outfitted assisted, self-guided trips?
Many families take fully outfitted trips. The outdoor outfitter or tour operator supplies all the equipment and food, and provides trained guides and cooks. Your personal items and clothes are all that you have to bring. These trips differ from those where you rent the equipment and guide yourself.
Some outdoor outfitters offer services that provide you with the equipment or assistance to reach a location in the backcountry, after which you're left alone to enjoy the area on your own. For example, an outfitter with horses may carry your gear into the high mountains, after which you camp and cook on your own. These trips are better for families or groups with prior camping experience in remote areas.
FAMILY ADVENTURE CAMP
The family adventure camp offers a package of week-long or weekend adventure with lodging and meals to make your planning easy. This is a real adventure vacation. Some companies offer cabins with family style meals at a base camp. Other packages offer a tour of rivers or various activities as you travel by van over several days from location to location. A variety of activities may be offered depending on special niche the company has pursued. You may just wish to rent lodging and take it easy or embark on your own adventures in the area at your leisure. For example, your family may raft one day, learn how to paddle a touring kayak, or take a bike tour the following days. Some programs have planned meals. Each evening families will make new friends dining together. Guest ranches have attracted families for years with activities usually centered around horses and other outdoor recreation activities. Be sure to ask which activities are included in the price per person and if there are additional charges. Costs will vary but range in the neighborhood of $150 to $250 per day all inclusive.
DO WE ALL HAVE TO DO THE SAME ACTIVITY?
Having the whole family together on a trip can be very rewarding. But if you've got a variety of ages and tastes in your family and not everyone wants to do the same thing, ask about other activities or options. Most outdoor outfitters have a variety of outdoor trips or services, or there may be other activities in the area if part of the family wants to do something different.
ARE PARENTS REQUIRED TO SUPERVISE THE CHILDREN?
You should understand the degree of supervision expected by you during the trip. Are you required to accompany the children and supervise their activities or do trip leaders assume some of this responsibility?
ARE THERE TRIPS AND ACTIVITIES DESIGNED ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN?
Some outfitters have special family packages or trips with activities to appeal to smaller children. Some outfitters include "fun directors" on their trip to entertain children with games and exploring. Ask how often similar families take the trip you are inquiring about. How long will your children have to be on the water or on the trail at any one time? Are breaks planned, with plenty of time to explore? Activities like swimming, hiking, watching wildlife and hunting for that special river rock or gemstone are among the activities included on some trips. On almost every trip to a new area you can expect your family to learn something new about the outdoors.
WHAT WILL YOU BE REQUIRED TO WEAR AND WHAT TEMPERATURES SHOULD YOU EXPECT?
Lifejackets are required on whitewater trips. Sometimes the availability of an appropriate size lifejacket for a child determines the availability of a river trip. Be sure to provide the outfitter with an accurate description of your child's weight and height. You should know whether or not wetsuits are ever required for your river trip and, if so, is one available for your child. Helmets may be required for certain activities. It is very important for you to understand in advance what you are required to bring to wear and what is available through the outfitter. Outfitters' brochures are usually very specific about the appropriate wear and equipment you're expected to bring. If you are going on an extended trip, make a checklist of items you need to bring. Remember there may be limitations on how much gear you can take along, so ask about that if it is unclear.
WHAT FOOD IS PROVIDED ON THE TRIP AND DOES IT MATCH YOUR CHILD'S TASTES?
Outfitters are known for providing excellent cuisine. On
multi-day trips, you may want to ask about the meals. Be
sure to inform the outfitter if there are any special dietary
requirements for your family to determine if they are available
on the outing.