Family Ranch Vacation Travel Tips

November 4, 2012

Bringing your family or a group on a ranch vacation? Here are 10 great tips to help ensure it's smooth sailing and fun for your entire group.

by Darley NewmanDarley Newman

Whether you are renting a ranch or taking a group on a getaway for a special occassion like a corporate retreat, wedding, girls getaway or family reunion, there are lots of things to consider in the planning and execution. Pleasing every member of your travel group can be difficult, which is why a ranch, like other resort type destinations where there are lots of activities in one contained area, can make for such a good vacation spot.

Here are 10 great tips to help make your family ranch vacation or group travel experience more organized and fun.

Family Ranch Vacation and Group Travel Tips

  • Ranch Style: What type of place is your family or group seeking? A luxury ranch, traditional dude ranch or guest ranch or ranch resort? There are a variety of ranch styles in a variety of locations, including the American South, that can make for great dude ranches for families or groups. If you group is high on amenities or can't live without a gym, make sure to find a ranch resort or luxury guest ranch that can satisfy. At traditional dude ranches and guest ranches with a horse focus, the main activity may be horseback riding riding. Some ranches are heavier on kids programs, while others offer adult only weeks. Search places like the Equitrekking Vacation Guide or Top20Ranches.com to find your match.
  • Pricing: If you're planning on taking a group to a ranch, make sure to ask at what number your group gets a price break. Many ranches offer tiered pricing, so the more people that you have, the better the price.
  • What's included: Get specificications on what's included in the price, so you can budget accordingly. Many ranches offer all-inclusive options, making it easy to plan for your group's expenses. An all-inclusive rate may include lodging, meals, horseback riding and any other on-ranch activities. Some dude and guest ranches may charge extra for overnight pack trips, so if you're up for an off ranch adventure, ask ahead and plan ahead.
  • Location: What part of North America would you like to visit? Think about the weather, the ranch's distance from the airport, and the dream setting you are seeking. There are Southwestern locations, where you can ride among cactus and get a desert ranch experience, beautiful mountain ranches located in the American Rockies and even ranches in Georgia, Virginia or Tennessee that may be nice if they are close to your home. There are guest ranches located across North America, so every state and province is up for grabs.
  • Ranch Vacation Goals: Is your group looking to learn to horse ride, catch fish, hike, mountain bike or is the goal total relaxation and to disconnect from the modern world? It's fun to ask each family member or group member their goals for the trip. What they tell you may help determine the best ranch to choose.
  • Directions: If you're driving or getting yourself to the guest ranch or dude ranch, I suggest printing out detailed directions from the ranch itself in addition to whatever GPS you may use. This is for a few reasons. Sometimes the GPS is wrong. You can ask the ranch for their coordinates and if the GPS will get you there ahead of time. Also, as you may know, the signal may not work for your GPS in remote locations. There may also be multiple ways to actually drive to the ranch, so you may want to take the scenic route or if you're traveling with young kids, it may be best to get there as soon as possible. The ranch can help you out with all of this.
  • Food: Make sure to tell the destination ahead of time what your food preferences might be, especially if you have special dietary restrcitions because of allergies or your personal diet or tastes. Most ranches and travel destinations will now cater to these requests (they are getting used to it), but it's best to let them know ahead of time, so they can plan for your special requests. 
  • Evening Entertainment: What are the evening entertainment options? While some ranches offer family fun in the form of campfires, cowboy singers and country line dancing, others may leave you a little more on your own, letting you head into town to enjoy the nightlife, read quietly in your cabin or hang out in the ranch saloon. Remember, some ranches have televisions and wifi, while others don't so make sure the ranch has the amenities that are important to you. 
  • Riding Level and Weight: Relay your riding level, height, weight and anything else the ranch should know ahead of time to match the members of your group that may be riding with a trusty steed. Some ranches have weight restrcitions, ranging from 210 to 250 lbs. They may also group riders accoding to their ability, so you can help them plan ahead by letting them know about you and your group.
  • Packing: Pack layers no matter where you are headed, but especially for ranches in the mountians. Ask the destination what gear they make available for fishing, riding or whatever special activities you may engage in on your family ranch vacation. Many places offer helmets, chaps, rain gear and rods for guests to borrow. With modern airplane restrictions on the weight of your luggage, it's easiset to leave at home what you don't need. More ranch vacation packing tips.

Learn more about great dude ranches, guest ranches, cattle drives and family ranch vacations in the Equitrekking Vacation Guide and Top20Ranches.com.

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