Adventure Vacations for Families

Plan an adventure vacation for your next family trip, such as an African safari, a cycling tour or an archaeological dig.

After just under three years living in London, I developed the typical teenager’s attitude toward traveling—been there, dude, and done that.

Paris? Psh! What a bore.

Yugoslavia? Gah, the food sucked.

Germany? No, thanks, I’d rather hit my local pub.

Yeah, I was a total nightmare. What can I say? A girl gets jaded fast when her high school requires, yes, requires, her to travel abroad once a year. And when you’re 16, all you want to do is hang with your pals—especially when the locals don’t really enforce the drinking age.

Just as an aside, I think the Europeans have it right when it comes to alcohol and the age of consent. I got all of my partying out of my system at an early age, and by the time I got to college, I was so, like, over it.

England, my liver says hi!


Traveling was just something we did when we lived abroad. Determined to give us the Greatest Experience of Our Lives, my folks marched my siblings and me across all the major sites we could fit into our school breaks.

Goin’ On Safari

About three years into our tenure in London, they started kicking around the notion of taking us on safari.

Suddenly, leaving my (drinking) buddies to their own devices for two weeks seemed like a fine idea, indeed.

A romantic at heart, I saw in my mind’s eye candlelight dinners under mosquito netting after long days roaming the African savannahs spotting exotic wildlife, all while wearing my jodhpurs and knee-high boots.

Mothers, don’t let your daughters watch Out of Africa.

We never went on that trip because my father’s company abruptly ended his assignment just before I left for college, and my family returned to the northeastern U.S. city in which I grew up.

I still think about that mosquito netting.

Kelly Graham-Scherer, of Don Mills, Canada, lived my dream when she spent three weeks trucking and tenting through Kenya and Tanzania in 2000.

“I was absolutely overwhelmed by the natural beauty and the African people,” Graham-Scherer says. “Seeing lions, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, wildebeests … all in the wild, it was life-changing for me.”

Now a parent, Graham-Scherer blogs about her new adventures in motherhood at Don Mills Diva ( Her son, Graham, was born in 2005.

When she was five months pregnant, she began saving money for a trip to Africa with her child.

“I want my son to experience that magic for himself,” Graham-Scherer says. “I want to see the look on his face when he is surrounded by a herd of zebras. I want to see him realize that the world is both very big and very small.”

Howie Lipson of Woodstock, N.Y., and co-founder of Family Adventure Magazine (, says Graham-Scherer is not alone in her desire to expose her child to adventure travel.

“For the past ten years, family adventure travel has grown, and it continues to grow,” says Lipson.

He adds that he has seen an increase in the number of companies offering adventure-travel packages for the whole family, many of which are listed on his Web site, along with plenty of resources for parents who might be planning such a trip.

Lipson does caution parents that not all trips are created equal when it comes to bringing the kids.

Use your common sense, he says, and never put your child in a situation where he or she may be at risk—for example, don’t take your preschooler along on a river-rafting trip with rapids rated at four or above in difficulty.

Also, some countries, like Tanzania, are not recommended for kids younger than 8 years old.

Age-Appropriate Adventure

Graham-Scherer is well aware that age is a factor in planning her second African safari.

“Age is a concern, absolutely,” she says. “There is a different standard of hygiene in many parts of Africa—that’s just a fact. I need him to be old enough to endure some of the rigors of travel and to understand why he must be vigilant about washing hands and not drinking water.”

She says that she’s seen people stricken with intestinal illnesses in developing countries and calls it “terrifying.” She also wants her boy to be old enough to remember the trip.

“I hope to have another child in a year or so, and I would want my youngest traveler to be at least ten before I would attempt it,” Graham-Scherer says.

Lipson concurs. “I would say that the preschool (set) is too young,” he says. “The minimum age for many adventure trips is probably around eight years old.”

OK, got it—I don’t want to take my 2-year-old backpacking in Nepal. But what can I plan for, as she gets older? Is the safari my only option?

No way, says Lipson. There are tons and tons of adventure-travel options right here in the good old United States.

Just a small sampling of the trips recommended by Family Adventure Travel includes: river rafting, biking, fly-fishing, archeological digs and even railroad trips.

Sadly, I did not start saving for my African safari when I was pregnant with my first child.

Maybe I’ll just get some mosquito netting and drape it over our minivan the next time we drive to Cleveland. Think my kids will buy it?

Yeah, I’m screwed. 

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Cycling, Safaris

User Comments

Africa has been always surrounded by mystery and considered a dangerous land where roam wild animals, jungles are thick and uncivilized tribes eat men! For this reason this land has earned the nickname "The Dark Continent". Still, today Africa is a mixture of modern cities and areas with splendid nature and rich wildlife, so no wonder that travel agencies sell a lot of African safari vacation packages and more and more African countries are visited for spending extremely interesting vacations and cultural tours.

Adventure Vacations for families ( ) - Find the best at Trusted Adventures. An alliance of the best adventure travel companies on earth. A trusted source that all families should use when deciding their next adventure!