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Taking the Kids: A special new style trip as a gift

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Now, Kutay's company is devoted 80 percent to custom trips, and companies like Backroads note that groups with as few as eight are opting for individual trips. Luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent reports their tailor-made trips are showing double-digit increases for 2017 and 2018, though costs can be 30 percent more. "These kinds of trips are half of what we are working on for 2018," said Dan Austin, founder of Austin Adventures, including new itineraries for the women in the family. His advice: Book early.

"When families take over the entire ship, we can weave in custom, private experiences not available to regularly scheduled cruises," says Todd Smith, whose company AdventureSmith Explorations specializes in small ship charters on ships that can be as small as four cabins. "A charter can result in savings of 10 percent to 30 percent over standard rates."

And it goes without saying that before springing this on the family -- and plunking down a hefty deposit -- make sure everyone is on board with the plan and the dates. Even if you want it to be a surprise, make sure everyone has certain dates free.

Be clear if those on the receiving end are going to be responsible for any expenses (flights, perhaps).

Have one person in the family the "designated trip planner" to coordinate with the company you are working with and funnel everyone's questions and concerns through that one person.

And once you've decided on a destination, make sure everyone has a say in the itinerary. Also make sure there is room to accommodate everyone, whether it's a baby who naps, a millennial determined to cycle 60 miles a day or those who want to browse local markets and sit by the pool afterward. There will be all the more to talk about over the holiday dinner.

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As for this year's holiday, give each member of the family something to help them learn about where you will be going -- a gift card to download a movie or book; a children's book about the wildlife they might see in Costa Rica or Africa, a guide to wildflowers in the national park you'll be visiting.

Remember, anticipation is half the fun of travel.


(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow "taking the kids" on, where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments.)



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