What are the benefits to traveling with your parents? Your aunts and uncles? Your grandkids? Your grown kids and their spouses?
Are you just setting yourself up for a travel disaster?
Is it really worth it?
These are common questions that travelers ask when considering this type of journey. So we turned to some expert travel bloggers to get their advice and tips for taking a multigenerational trip. At the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to decide whether or not it’s a good idea for you.
What is multigenerational travel?
Multigenerational (multigen) travel is a term that refers to a trip comprised of multiple generations of travelers in the same family. It is not limited to grandparents, parents, and children, although a study done by Preferred Hotel Group revealed that 44% of multigen trips are just that. Among those travelers who took a multigenerational trip last year, the study noted, 77% say it’s something they try to do every year.
So, what are the benefits?
We turned to the travel experts to find out. We asked several prominent travel writers from around the world about their experiences with multigen travel, specifically the benefits. Here’s what they said.
Margarita Ibbott, from www.DownshiftingPRO.com: “For us, multigenerational travel lets us spend some quality time with my mom and mother-in-law. My mother-in-law lives across the country in Vancouver, so we basically kill two birds with one stone: 1) taking a vacation — away from school and work, and 2) spending quality time with our family in an interesting location.”
Kristen Maxwell, from kidsareatrip.com: “The benefits of traveling as a multigenerational family are countless. My kids have learned about family traditions, respect, patience, manners, kindness, you name it… I think traveling with grandchildren has certainly kept my parents on their toes and taken them out of their comfort zone. They have a lot of routine built into their daily lives, and traveling with our family gives them a chance to get out and see the world again.”
Juliann Wetz, from browsingtheatlas.com: “What I love about this facet of travel is that we can all stand together… We tell stories to each other and share our lives. Travel becomes the conversation starter and quality bonding that I think we all hope for within a family.”
What’s the hardest part about multigenerational travel?
Our travel writers agreed: there are challenges to multigen travel.
1. Timing. Getting everyone’s busy schedules to align for a week’s vacation is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome.
2. Managing everyone’s expectations of the trip is another.
Paige McEachren, from Piece of Pie, elaborates on this. “Many grandparents are retired and have a slower lifestyle, which can conflict with energetic children who don’t stop. Trying to plan activities and adventures that everyone will enjoy… takes planning. Younger kids in strollers are no problem. Toddlers and little kids are independent and want to do everything themselves, whereas teens want to do nothing their parents do. Many grandparents are not able to do all the walking, hiking, stairs, etc. that a lot of travel requires. If you are planning the trip you need to take everyone’s physical abilities into consideration and ensure what you do is something everyone can handle and will enjoy.”
3. Not being realistic was another challenge mentioned by Stehli Krause of Mommy and Kid Travel.
“You have to take a good honest look at your group and really ask, what do people like to do?” Stehli says. “What is the group’s budget? Do you prefer outdoorsy stuff versus museums? Do you have young kids who want to run and play during the day? Do you have grandparents who really want to spend a week on a beach?”
4. Accommodations have to be well thought-out. Ninety-five percent of our travel experts said it’s better to opt for a vacation-rental (condo, house or apartment), rather than a hotel. Doing this, they all agreed, provides ample space for everyone to cook, nap, or watch TV without disturbing each other or feeling cramped. However, if a hotel room is the only option, our travelers recommended an adjoining room or suite, as opposed to separate hotel rooms. Nicky Omohundro, owner of the site Little Family Adventure, offered this helpful hotel tip: “If we have to stay in a hotel, I will get two connecting rooms, one for adults and another for kids.”
Some valuable tips for your next multigenerational trip.
1. “Don’t limit yourself,” Ibbott says. “Try different cities, countries and options. Don’t think you can only go to Disney!”
2. Appoint one person as the organizer. “If too many people are involved in choosing accommodation, activities, transportation, etc., things get messy,” advises Maxwell. “Have a go-to person who organizes everything. If no one steps out, divide and conquer. One person accommodation, one person transportation, and so on.”
3. Schedule free time, says Stephanie Montague, of Poppin Smoke, a site that helps retired and soon-to-be retired members of the military community learn how they can take advantage of their retirement benefits to travel. These pockets of time allow everyone to “do what they want, whether that’s seeing another museum, souvenir shopping, or taking a nap. That way everyone gets some down time and the opportunity to refresh. These breaks are best scheduled before everyone starts to get irritable from too much togetherness.”
4. “Don’t be too ambitious and over-plan,” suggests Francesca Mazurkiewicz. The Working Mom’s Travels writer offers this practical tip: “Also factor in more in-transit time. With kids, there are more bags and more STUFF to carry. It can weigh you down. The older folks may not be able to walk or move as quickly and as comfortably as the younger family members. Just keep a loose itinerary and expect to move more slowly than you would if you were traveling alone.”
Where are the hot spots for your next multigenerational trip?
Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, Jamaica
“The landscape on the resort is amazing and the entertainment is great for all ages,” says Paige McEachren. “The grandparents really enjoyed the piano bar. One of the best parts we enjoyed was the kids having a night with the grandparents while we went to dinner at the adults only Zilara section. The food was also excellent, especially the Brazilian steakhouse.”
North Carolina’s Outer Banks
“The sheer number and variety of vacation rentals guarantee there is an accommodation for every size family and every budget,” says Francesca Mazurkiewicz. “In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to be active and adventurous and just as many to relax and recharge. There is a good mix of activities and attractions to cover everyone’s interests.”
Stratton, Vermont (Winter ski trip)
“There is something cozy and nostalgic about sipping hot chocolate on a cold, snowy night by a warm fireplace with those you love,” says Stehli Krause. “It’s a time forgotten kind of experience. Since most activities occur during the day; skiing, tubing, snow-mobile rides, ice skating, everyone is so tired at night they just want to share a delicious meal and spend time indoors recanting the events of the day.”
“There is such a variety of sights to see, culture to soak up and activities to participate in,” says Juliann Wetz. “There are also plenty of parks for children who need to burn off some energy, and places to sit or cafes to relax at for those family members that want to spend a little more time relaxing.”
Quebec City, Canada
“It is very eclectic,” gushes Margarita Ibbott. “A UNESCO World Heritage site (history, culture, festivals)… and with this being a primarily French-speaking population, their accent is enchanting. For the kids, there are parks (The Plains of Abraham), an aquarium and just 30 minutes away, one of the best canyon/waterfalls/nature parks around – Canyon St. Ann. You can take a day cruise on the St. Lawrence, go whale watching or walk around 17th century cobblestone streets. It has it all!”
Yellowstone National Park
“Families can go hiking together,” says Nicky Omohundro, “relax at the lodge, take a chartered tour, enjoy great food, and experience the wonder of Yellowstone’s majestic beauty.”
We hope this article helped you plan your next (or maybe your first) multigenerational vacation. Here’s to making memories!