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Family travel five: Start planning for family gatherings

  • COURTESY DUDE RANCHERS’ ASSOCIATION
                                Dude ranches can offer a wide range of activities to engage every generation — from fishing and bird watching to horseback riding and hiking. A father and son take a horseback ride at Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Kettle Falls, Wash.

    COURTESY DUDE RANCHERS’ ASSOCIATION

    Dude ranches can offer a wide range of activities to engage every generation — from fishing and bird watching to horseback riding and hiking. A father and son take a horseback ride at Bull Hill Guest Ranch in Kettle Falls, Wash.

When our need for social distancing diminishes, parents who may have balanced work and family in close quarters might welcome a break from their parenting routine.

Here are five ways it may work for you and members of your family to gather in the future:

Milestone moments

In recent weeks, many family celebrations have been canceled or postponed. Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to celebrate birthdays, graduations, retirements and anniversaries together as they are often a meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With advance notice and attention to the current needs of family members these can take place. Consider a dude ranch and you’ll find a long list of appealing destinations. With activities to engage every generation you’re sure to see smiles all around. Sleeping quarters, including lodge-style rooms, yurts and glamping-style tents provide the privacy and flexibility required for early birds, nappers and night owls.

Contact: DudeRanch.org; BestDudeRanches.com

Like family

With relatives spread far and wide, our best friends often become “like family.” Traveling with another tribe, particularly one with children of similar ages and interests, can be fun and festive. Still, proper planning can go a long way toward keeping relationships and expectations intact. Family groups often choose to share a ski cabin, beach house or urban condo. That can mean divvying expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated with a clearly defined plan. No matter how much you enjoy your vacation buddies, carve out private time with your own family. You’ll be glad you did.

Contact: Airbnb.com; VRBO.com

Rock star relatives

Are you an amazing aunt, an unbelievable uncle or a cool cousin? Perhaps your birdlings have flown the nest or your own kids have fur and four legs. Either way, you may want to join the increasing number of relatives choosing to explore with youngsters as their trusty travel companions. Share your passion to fish or hike, learn a new skill together or plan a mutually engaging adventure to a national park or a far-off land. You’re certain to return with a deeper bond and memories to share for a lifetime.

Contact: REI.com/adventures; MontanaTrout.com; grasshopperadventures.com

Family reunion

The true value of a family gathering has less to do with checking in to a faraway resort or a snazzy urban hotel. That option might not be in the cards for your crew right now. It’s more about the quality of a shared experience. So, whether you are planning a small gathering in a state park picnic area or a more elaborate meeting of the clan, organization will be key. Gather input regarding a budget, destination and lodging preferences, activities and meal planning. Get a date on the calendar as soon as possible. Communicate well and often. Keep your sense of humor at the ready and be grateful that at least some portion of your family is eager to spend time together.

Skip-gen or gramping

Many grandparents have been missing time with their grandkids. A future remedy: a skip-gen or gramping vacation. Parents get a break and grandparents and grandkids get to know each other without mom or dad on the scene. Grandparents: Plan now to share your experiences with your grandkids. Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic or rural neighborhood of your youth influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial or visit the old stomping grounds. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And remember, you are part of their history. To that end, consider floating your ideas for a future getaway via FaceTime or Zoom and start sharing your stories now.

Contact: Grandparentrips.com; DestinationHotels.com

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