5 Tips for Multigenerational Travel
One of the fastest-growing trends in travel today is multigenerational travel. Grandparents are joining their children and grandchildren for fun-filled vacations. In fact, the Travel Industry Association notes that almost five million vacations each year are multigenerational, with at least three generations going along for the ride.
While bringing the whole gang along for a trip to Europe or a week exploring national parks definitely has its benefits — more hands to help with the kids, the chance to make lifelong memories and quality family time chief among them — a trip that includes everyone from senior citizens to toddlers can have its share of headaches, too. But with some planning, flexibility and compromise, an extended family vacation can be just as enjoyable — or even more so — than going it alone.
Choose the Right Destination
The most important factor in the success of any multigenerational trip is the destination, or more accurately, choosing a destination that offers a variety of activities for all ages. While Grandma and Grandpa might enjoy the golf resort that touts fine dining and a world-class spa, the kids will probably be bored. Likewise, while the kids might love hiking on mountain trails and exploring the scenic wilderness of Banff, even the most athletic and spry grandparent will probably be crying “uncle” after a few hours. The key is to find a destination that has enough activities to appeal to all ages. That doesn’t mean ruling out amusement parks either; plenty of grandparents enjoy visiting theme parks, just as a grandson will have a great time on the golf course with his dad and grandfather. Just remember to consider all involved parties before selecting your destination.
Choose the Right Accommodations
You might be on vacation with the family so you can spend time together, but there is such a thing as too much togetherness. Attempting to cram too many people into a hotel room or suite is a recipe for disaster, and most hotels do not allow more than four adults to a room anyway. Your best option is to look into renting a vacation home or a larger, multi-room suite or villa at a large resort. For not much more than the cost of multiple hotel rooms, everyone can have their own space; as a bonus, most accommodations that cater to families or large groups include laundry facilities, a full kitchen and in some cases, private pools or other recreation.
Discuss Money Before Leaving
When you’re in the planning stages of a family vacation, everyone gets excited and starts throwing out ideas. That’s great, until it comes time to pay. Before you make a single reservation, discuss how the costs of the trip will be handled. Will each family pay their own way? Will Gram and Gramps pay for the hotel and everyone else cover the rest of their expenses? Will one person find a cheap flight for the whole gang, or is everyone on their own for transportation? Discuss everything from transportation and lodging to food, activities and spending money for the kids to prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings and even resentment down the road.
Plan a Variety of Activities
One common problem with multigenerational vacations is that one person plans all of the activities, and everyone else feels like they are being dragged along for the ride. Instead of leaving the itinerary up to one person, let everyone have some input and choose activities. Include a few excursions for everyone, and a few that people can choose from. But don’t overschedule each day, either. Allow for some free time, for hanging out on the beach or by the pool, for playing games and just enjoying each other’s company.
Allow for “Alone Time”
Again, the whole point of a multigenerational family vacation is to spend time together, but you don’t want to spend every waking moment together. Allow everyone to have some breathing room; maybe Mom and Dad take the kids to the park while Grandma and Grandpa check out an art gallery, or the kids spend a few hours with the grandparents while their parents enjoy a romantic dinner. Giving each other some space every now and then allows you to better enjoy the time that you do have together during the trip.
Taking a multigenerational vacation is a great way to create lifelong memories and give everyone a chance to get to know each other better and connect over shared experiences. So don’t be afraid to invite the grandparents along for the ride — it may just be the best vacation you ever have.
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