We recently did a survey about our Family Vacations and found we had a lot of interest and an equally large number of questions.
What is the difference between a Private Tour and a Public Tour?
On private Family Vacations, you come with your own family and choose your own date. The minimum group size is four and we provide a guide who ensures your vacation is amazing. This is a good option if you cannot make our public tour dates or if your group is already large – sometimes we host private tours for extended families of 10, 12, or even more people.
On a Public Tour, we choose the date and location for one or two family tours we offer each year. Generally, four to six different families who do not know each other sign up. While some parents have concerns about getting along with other families, we have found the mixing of groups to be the best aspect of our public family tours. The kids seem to bond in an instant, the adults can enjoy life, and these are often the best vacations of the year.
What are the top three benefits of doing Family Vacations with us versus going to the beach, visiting Disney World, etc?
We know you have LOTS of options for your family vacation. But we truly believe a Family Vacation with us will be the most memorable of your year. Here are three reasons why:
- We take care of all the details. Not only do we do all the advance planning, but our guides do the driving, confirm the restaurant reservations, and answer the kids when they want to know how long it will be until we arrive.
- You will maximize your time and money. Of course you can organize your own vacation but on a tour with us we know the perfect hikes, the locals-only family eateries, and the ideal times to see the coolest sights without the big crowds.
- Interestingly, we think families tend to be on their best behavior when around our guides (and other families on our public tours)!
Is this just for typical four-person nuclear families?
We have lots of four-person families composed of mom(s), dad(s), and kids. But that is not the norm. Perhaps more common for private tours is to have an extended family of grandparents, adult kids, and multiple sets of grandkids from different families. On our public tours, we often get smaller families with only one child or perhaps a single-parent family who enjoy hanging out with other families. Our owner, Allan, even took his niece and nephew on a Montana Family Vacation years ago when they were young!
What age ranges do you recommend for the kids?
For our public Family Vacations, we generally have a stated age range. For our traditional family tours, that ranges from 5 to 18. For our “young adult” tours, it ranges from 14 to 28. For private tours, all ages are welcome. Our guides are not going to babysit but if you want to bring your toddler and take care of her, that works for us!
How do you accommodate varying ability levels and interests?
We recognize all families will have varying abilities and interests and accommodate these in two main ways.
- First, we often provide different options. On a hike an adult who wants to go faster and farther can do so, while the rest of the family proceeds at a more moderate pace with our guide. At other times, our guides will take the kids for pizza or a pool party while the adults can go grab a glass of wine or check out a local museum. This splitting of the group works even better on larger private tours or public tours, when we often have two guides.
- Second, everything is optional. If little Joey is too young to horseback ride, our guide can hang with him and explore the local woods. If Grandma doesn’t want to river raft, she can opt out and spend a little time strolling the main street of our cute host town.
Do you have any tips on how I can get my family to agree to come?
This question mostly applies to extended families on private tours, when it is very difficult to coordinate work, school, and activity schedules. We do have some tips for this.
- First, try bribery! If Grandma and Grandpa want to make the trip happen, agree to pay some or all of the trip costs.
- Second, get general buy in first before worrying about the details. Plan a family gathering or video call, including the kids, to present the general concept.
- Third, once you have buy in, then talk schedules. Have everyone send you dates for the period (say the summer) they CANNOT go and then find a date that works for everyone.
But does it mean anything?
(That is a quote from The Sound of Music when the kids were learning Do Re Mi, in case you missed it.) Yes, it does mean something. Our family tours are driven by our owner, Allan, who is a single dad. Every year Allan takes his daughter on one of our family tours and they are not only the best vacation of the year (as voted by both of them) but also usually the most fun tour Allan runs each year. Our family tours are also educational, without being obviously so. We learn about the ecosystems of Montana forests, the geothermal features of Yellowstone, or the geology of the Grand Canyon. But beyond the instant fun and the education, family tours provide a memorable experience that is likely to last a lifetime. We hear from kids, who are now adults, who went on a family tour with us 15 years ago and can still recount minor experiences like climbing on a boulder or skipping stones into a lake, not to mention highlights like river rafting, horseback riding, or watching a bison walk in front of the van.