Small Screen, Big World

Whether they are documentary, reality or scripted, the best television shows not only introduce viewers to a new world, but also provide insights into various cultures, foods, art and literature. Past examples included the late Anthony Bourdain’s vibrant and thought provoking Parts Unknown, numerous informative travel programs on PBS (from the youthful appeal of Globe Trekker to the solid common sense advice of Rick Steves), adventure shows on The Discovery Channel and The Travel Channel, and even various sitcoms where TV families traveled abroad to learn about their family roots or expand upon their favorite hobbies.

A recent crowd pleaser was Better Late Than Never, where legends of sports and entertainment (William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw and George Forman) pursued adventures around the globe with the enthusiasm and gutsiness of college kids. And, if life is a journey, it’s a safe bet there will be more reality and scripted shows that will stir family conversations and, perhaps, inspire a real-life vacation.

Companies like Kid & Coe curate family-friendly accommodations, from private homes to hotels all around the world. Marketing director Laura Hall notes some client families inquired about destinations with ties to hit network television and Netflix shows.

“Some of these TV shows are really dark, you wouldn’t sit and watch Game of Thrones with your kids, would you?,” asked Hall. “However, you can certainly get inspired by seeing the homes Bobby Axelrod lives in the Hamptons in Billions, and enjoy a Stranger Things-style vacation with teenage kids.” Of course, there are travel options for those with younger kids who love cartoons and more family-friendly fare. Her suggestions include:

  • Stranger Things, Jackson County, Georgia.
  • Sesame Street, Astoria, Queens, New York City
  • Batman, the Animated Series, New York City
  • Pokemon: The Series, Japan
  • The Durrells in Corfu, Corfu
  • Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, Charlie & Lola, Shaun the Sheep, England

Destinations great for the entire family, even if the shows are known for their mature subject matter include:

  • Game of Thrones, Northern Ireland and Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia
  • The Walking Dead, Sonoia, Georgia
  • Big Little Lies, Monterrey, California
  • Better Call Saul, Albuquerque, New Mexico

This past season of The Bachelor generated interest in travel to Machu Picchu in Peru. Although one may not typically think of this ancient Incan site as a place for a family, the luxury property Sumaq Machu Picchu rolled out an Adventures with Allco family-friendly half-day tour at the base of the mountain for guests with children aged 6-11. Young adventurers receive an Explorer Kit with a map, magnifying glass, a stuffed Allco puppy toy and a hat. A guide leading the family teaches them about the history and significance of the site. The hotel also has special programs for children, including Peruvian cooking and storytelling classes.

A Jamaican escape in and around the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa in Jamaica experienced by The Real Housewives of Orange County, meanwhile, is available to adult female members of a family traveling together. The three-day trip blends spa treatments at the resort’s world-class Grande Spa, an exciting bonding/rafting adventure, a jaunt to Ocho Rios to partake in Mystic Mountain bobsledding, exploring the Dunn’s River falls and meals at the resort.