Top 5 Trends in Family Travel at the NY Times Travel Show

After the holidays have passed, January’s the time when families start looking towards future vacations.  Thousands flocked to the NY Times Travel Show this past weekend, January 8-10, in New York City, for inspiration, information, and even some special discounts and offers.  Couldn’t make it to the show?  I was on hand and gleaned a few tips for family travel along the way.  Continue to read more about where to travel, how to travel, and other trends for family adventures I learned at the 2016 NY Times Travel Show.

River Cruising

Small, intimate ships, with only 100-150 people max, more time in port, and the ability to travel across a continent without touching a suitcase is causing more and more families to consider river cruising.  With ocean cruising on the large cruise lines, it’s the ship that is the destination, but river cruising reveals more of the interior of the country where the large ships cannot go.  To break away from the stereotype of older passengers visiting Europe, river cruise lines such as AMAWaterways partnered with Adventures by Disney and Tauck has developed multiple itineraries specifically for families.  “Travel is part of life’s curriculum,” said Chris Greco of Tauck River Cruises, and these river cruises are created specifically with fun, enriching and engaging activities for all family members in mind.  In addition to the European vacation, American Cruise Lines specializes in U.S. river and coastal cruises right in our own backyard, sometimes with no flight required.

AmaPrima cruising in Passau, Germany - photo courtesy AmaWaterways

AmaPrima cruising in Passau, Germany - photo courtesy AmaWaterways

National Park Service 100th Anniversary

Dr. Ford Cochran of National Geographic Expeditions advocated for America’s National Parks saying, “we have no idea how beautiful our National Parks are, and there is no place I love more in the world.”  National Geographic has been with the parks since the very beginning, dating back to an April 1916 special issue titled The Land of the Best that advocated for the formation of the National Park Service that was delivered to each and every member of Congress.  For its Centennial, the National Park Service wants every family to “Find Your Park” and get active, get outside, and inspire the next generation of visitors to America’s National Parks.

Yosemite National Park, taken by Dave Parfitt during our honeymoon May 1995

Top Destinations

Of course with the lifting of the U.S. travel restrictions, everyone’s talking about Cuba.  The consensus at the NY Times Travel Show was to visit Cuba now before the country changes.  First time visitors can explore Havana’s Old City (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Caribbean sea, and many cultural and historic sites.  However, travel expert Arthur Frommer suggests making your own arrangements as all organized trips to Cuba are outrageously expensive.  Fly Air Jamaica, Mexico, or Bahamas to their hub city, and then hop a connection into Havana, stay at a Casa Particular (similar to an airbnb) with a local Cuban family, and receive a much more authentic and cheaper visit to the heart of Havana.  Other destinations recommended by Arthur and Pauline Frommer as great value for families included Columbia, Iceland, Canada, Japan, and France.

Pauline and Arthur Frommer speaking at the NY Times Travel Show

Taste of the World

Nothing is as distinctive to a place and a culture as its food.  The NY Times Travel Show highlighted food with its Taste of the World and Taste of the World: Kids Kitchen culinary pavilions that provided samples of various cuisine.  Visit Florida brought Chef Justin Timineri to cook pink shrimp and citrus ceviche, and I LOVE NY served attendees shots of maple syrup.  Family destinations (including perennial favorite theme parks) are focusing on fresh and healthy options, and, in some cases, the food itself is the destination.  On your next family trip consider a food trail, farm-to-table experience, or food festival to truly understand the diverse flavor of the destination.

New York Wine and Culinary Center, Canandaigua, New York, photo by Dave Parfitt

Millennial Travel

As father to two teenage daughters, I’m well-aware of the Millennial Generation.  These travelers look for authentic, immersive experiences they can instantly share with friends and family on social media channels.  For example, in the food example above, Millennials want to not only sample a region’s cuisine, they want to help prepare it in a hands-on workshop with parents and children working side-by-side.  Millennials want to go behind-the-scenes and experience first-hand the people and places in depth, such as zip-lining over a Costa Rican cloud forest, whitewater rafting on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, or learning a number from a Broadway show.

Broadway dance workshop on Adventures by Disney NYC Long Weekend, photo by Dave Parfitt


As the largest and longest-running travel show in North America, the NY Times Travel Show had more than 500 exhibitors representing 150 different countries wooing families for their upcoming trips.  I know I came home with plenty of ideas for new family adventures in 2016.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.