Multigenerational family vacations are growing increasingly popular, but planning for these events can be stressful. We’ve partnered with Nancy Schretter from the Family Travel Network, as she shares twelve family travel tips that can help make your next multigenerational family vacation the best ever.
1. Consider health, safety and personality issues.
Plan a multigenerational vacation that will match the needs and interests of all ages rather than one designed solely to cater to the grandchildren. Be honest about the preferences and limitations of all participants and keep their activity, diet and health restrictions in mind.
2. Brainstorm and plan the trip together.
Travel experts have found that the most successful family vacations are those that involve both parents and children in selecting the destination and planning for their trip. The same is true for multigenerational travel. Working together surfaces important information and cements the group “buy-in” process.
3. Discuss expectations.
Parents and grandparents should take the time to talk about what they’re looking forward to, including meals together or specific shared activities. If only one or two group members (such as the grandparents) are paying for the vacation, this expectations discussion is particularly important. Review any rules with children and group members in advance of the trip.
4. Set a budget that everyone can afford.
The best multigenerational vacations are those designed with individual personalities, needs and interests in mind. When calculating the group’s budget, be careful to consider the needs of all traveling companions and cut corners wisely.
5. Make it special.
Let every member of the multigenerational group choose one activity that they’d like to do on the vacation. This will allow everyone to feel more involved and will get the trip off to a great start. If you have a tight budget, explain that at the outset and set a dollar figure for how much things can cost.
6. Build in private time together as well as time apart.
While the goal of a multigenerational family vacation is to create shared memories, it’s also important to remember that children need time to burn off energy and grandparents may require quiet periods for rest and some adult companionship as well. Keep this in mind when sorting through your vacation options. If members of the group find something they’d rather do as the trip progresses, try to go with the flow rather than sticking with the planned schedule.
7. Keep up the excitement.
Travel plans are often made far in advance of the trip, but out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Pick up some travel brochures or a guidebook and look for informational websites that can be shared via e-mail.
8. Be prepared and expect the unexpected.
Make a list of items participants need to bring on the trip, such as identification, contact and health insurance information, recent photos, medicines, and gear. In addition, check the latest federal requirements well in advance and bring the proper travel documents with you. If anyone has specific dietary needs or medication requirements, be aware of those and share them with the appropriate parties.
9. Pack a great attitude.
Attitude is everything when going on a multigenerational family vacation. If unforeseen events happen, stay flexible and positive. The children will learn important life lessons from watching how adults on the trip react and everyone will have a much better time on their vacation.
10. Set a comfortable pace.
Keep in mind each family member’s individual preferences for waking hours, activity schedules, dress, dining options, nightlife, and needs for sleep and plan accordingly. Respect your differences and be willing to bend the rules a bit if necessary.
11. Leave the expectations at home.
Multigenerational vacations are one of most anticipated events of the year; however, family vacations never go exactly as planned. There may be bumpy moments, relationship issues may surface, travel snafus happen, the weather might not cooperate, and the kids might have a meltdown or two. Just relax, take the experience as it comes, don’t dwell on the drama, and go with the flow.
12. Capture and preserve your vacation memories.
Consider giving each grandchild a journal and a disposable camera to bring along on your journey. Kids love taking their own pictures and it is fascinating to see travel through their eyes. In addition, be sure to bring along plenty of digital memory cards or film to capture all the memories made on your trip.