One of the fastest-growing travel trends is multigenerational travel. A fun-filled vacation is even better when grandparents come along. The Travel Industry Association notes that 33-40 percent of all leisure vacations each year are multigenerational, with at least three generations going along for the ride.
In case you didn’t know, that is a HUGE percentage in the travel market.
A multigenerational 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. But a trip that includes everyone from senior citizens to toddlers can have its share of headaches, too.
With some planning, flexibility and compromise, multi-generational travel can be just as enjoyable (or even more so) as going it alone.
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Choose the Right Destination
The most important factor in the success of any multigenerational trip is the destination. Choose a destination that offers a variety of activities for all ages. While older generations might enjoy a golf resort with fine dining and a world-class spa, the kids will probably be bored.
Likewise, the kids might love hiking on mountain trails and exploring the scenic wilderness of Banff. But even the most athletic and spry grandparent will probably be crying “uncle” after a few hours of family adventure. The key is to find a destination that has enough activities to appeal to all ages and extended family members.
That doesn’t mean you should rule out amusement parks either. Plenty of baby boomer 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 where you will go on your family trip.
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. 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 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 multigenerational groups include laundry facilities, a full kitchen, and in some cases, private pools or other recreation.
Discuss Money Before Multigenerational Travel
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 for those travel plans. 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? Should one person find a cheap flight for the whole gang, or is everyone in charge of their own transportation?
Discuss everything from transportation and lodging to food, activities, and spending money for the kids. This prevents misunderstandings, hurt feelings and even resentment down the road.
Plan a Variety of FAmily Activities
One common problem with multigenerational vacations is that one person sometimes plans all of the activities, and everyone else feels like they are dragged along for the ride. Instead of leaving the itinerary up to one person, let everyone have some input. Include a few group excursions, and leave room for other activities that people can choose when they are a bit tired of that quality time together.
Don’t overschedule each day, either. Allow for some free time for hanging out on the beach or by the pool, playing games and just enjoying each other’s company. Traveling together as a family can be stressful if you don’t schedule in enough wiggle room.
Allow for “Alone Time”
The whole point of a multigenerational family vacation is to spend time together, but you don’t want to spend every waking moment as a group. Allow everyone to have some breathing room. Maybe Mom and Dad can take the kids to the park while Grandma and Grandpa check out an art gallery. The kids can 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 your trip.
Taking a multigenerational vacation is a great way to create lifelong memories. It gives 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.