Traveling solo is one thing, but add in extra family members and your trip just got a whole lot more fun and crazy. We’ve partnered with Keryn Means of Walking On Travels to tackle the ins and outs of multigenerational travel. Traveling with extended family doesn’t have to be stressful, but it does take some planning and a change in the way you are used to traveling.
Many of us are familiar with traveling with our partner, our kids, and maybe even a few friends. Each has its own set of complications and joys when it comes to planning. Planning a trip for multiple generations in your family is no different. There are frustrations, but there are also huge benefits.
I’ve taken multiple trips with my parents, my husband and my two boys. This is a pretty typical makeup of a multi-gen trip. I’ve also traveled with my husband’s entire family, including our nieces, nephews, his brother and sister, our brother-and-sister-in-law, and his parents. We are a large group. The in-law trip is fairly easy. We all show up at a beach house and crash. The trips with my parents are more complicated.
My parents want to go to Europe, so they tag along with my crew. So far we have been to Spain and Scotland together. Both trips have taught us a lot about pre-planning and discussing some of the hard issues before anything is even booked.
Have the money talk
The toughest topic for families to talk about is money. While some baby boomers are springing for trips to Europe with their millennial children, this is not the case for everyone. When my parents travel with my family, everyone pays their own way. From the beginning we talked about these key points:
- How will meals be split up when the check arrives?
- Will one person book all flights and accommodations?
- Should one person charge everything onto one credit card during the trip and we settle up later?
- Who covers any treats parents or grandparents offer?
- What happens if an attraction is too pricey for the entire group?
These may seem like no brainers or trivial matters, but when it comes to money and family, it is always better to talk about the details so you don’t have to argue over them while you are traveling. Travel is stressful. Don’t let money be the topic that brings down your trip together.
One point person
Generally, I am the point person for all of our trips. I love to plan and it is easier if one person is in charge. Everyone going on the trip has a say in what we do, even my boys. No one is ignored just because one person is in charge. This is really just for planning purposes. If more than one person is leading the planning process, more details will fall through the cracks. Communication will break down and something will go wrong on the trip. I share all of my notes, spreadsheets and confirmations with everyone on the trip, but at the end of the day, I am the point person if you someone has questions or if we are missing a piece of the travel puzzle, like the rental car.
Pick the right accommodations
Just because your parents are traveling with you does not mean they want to squeeze into a tiny hotel room with you and your kids. Book two rooms, even though it will cost more than sharing a single room. Look into condo hotels and vacation rentals so you have more space to spread out. When everyone has space, he or she also has the mental break they need from the group. The last thing you want is to drive each other crazy through close proximity.
Don’t over plan
Whenever you plan a trip with kids, you shouldn’t overschedule your day. The same goes when you are traveling with a group. Have a list of must-see spots and a list of “like to see” attractions. Pick one of those “must-see spots” per day to make sure you get there. After that, see how everyone is feeling. Did you see something on your list that looked intriguing? Give your group room to have serendipitous moments. Hyper-scheduled trips never make anyone in your group happy and will drive you insane.
Prioritize alone time
Just because you are traveling together, doesn’t mean you need to be together every second of the trip. The group can split up if the grandparents want to hit the art museum and the kids would rather get ice cream before the science museum.
Also, plan on everyone getting one night off. Ask the grandparents to watch the kids so you can get some alone time. My parents offer this on every trip because they know how intense traveling with my kids (and them) can be. I don’t do anything fancy. My husband and I might grab dinner or go for a walk. In Scotland, I headed down to the pub with my dad for a pint while my mom tucked the kids into bed. Don’t assume your parents will babysit though. If they aren’t up for it, look into sitter services.
Keryn Means is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads, visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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