7 Ways to Make a Multi-Generational Vacation Work

By | December 28, 2016 |
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Three generations traveling together isn’t something new, but it still requires careful planning to become an experience that both young and old will enjoy. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week together over a school break, a vacation gives grandparents, parents and kids a unique chance to re-connect and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Before you plan a multi-generational vacation for your own family, here are seven tips to ensure smooth travels:

1. Set Expectations

Discuss in advance your itinerary and potential outings, and how much of the trip will be together time versus personal time. Some grandparents might like to hit the ground sightseeing or participate in hikes or other activities, while others would rather relax by the pool with a book.

If parents would like an evening without the kids, check ahead to see if grandparents are interested in babysitting. “Some might think that having a grandparent along on a vacation equals an automatic, 24/7 babysitter, but that really isn’t fair,” says Corinne McDermott of “Have Baby Will Travel.” But when asked, many grandparents would enjoy planning some quality time with their grandchildren

2. Brainstorm the Trip Together

The most successful family vacations are ones that involve both adults and children choosing destinations and planning the trip. Working together can help uncover important information and cement the “buy-in” process. Talk with every member of the family about their interests, activities and dream destinations to make sure your trip includes something for everyone.

3. Consider Health and Safety

Planning a multi-generational vacation should cater to the needs of all ages. No one wants to make a trip to the emergency room or witness a two-year-old melt down in a theme park line. Take into account preferences and limitations, including capabilities for activities and any dietary and health restrictions. Allow time for breaks and rest as needed.

4. Set a Budget That Works for Everyone

Decide on a comfortable budget for your trip, and make sure to factor in extras like souvenirs, tips and a few spontaneous activities or necessities. The best family trips cut corners wisely, plan for the unexpected and consider the options. “Successful multi-generational trips do not have to be expensive ones,” says Nancy Schretter, founder and managing editor of Family Travel Network. “If you have a tight budget, explain that at the outset and set a dollar figure for how much things can cost.”

5. Build in Time Together and Time Apart

While the goal of any multi-generational family vacation is to create shared memories, you don’t need to spend every second together. Kids often want time to play with other kids, and parents and grandparents need down time. When deciding on a trip, build individual time for each generation, as well as the entire family. Stay flexible, have a plan B, and don’t stress if everyone feels like doing something different or one family member wants to opt out of an activity.

Three generation family enjoying a summer vacation together6. Consider Your Group Size

You may have to adapt your plans to fit the size of your group , especially if more than 10 people are traveling. Megan MacNee, founder and editor of Traveling Nine to Fiver, recently took a trip to California’s Napa Valley with 13 members of her family, spanning the ages of 24 to 94. For wine tastings, she booked in advance to ensure a winery could accommodate such a big group. For last-minute meals, her family often opted for counter-service restaurants that could more easily seat them.

7. Capture Vacation Memories

Give each grandchild a journal and/or a disposable camera to bring along. Post-trip, you can assemble a scrapbook together. Or if your family likes to share memories through Facebook or other social media channels, encourage everyone to take plenty of digital photos that can be posted during the trip or once you’re all back home. You can even make up a vacation hashtag for the more digital-savvy members of the family.