As much as you might love getting together with the different generations of your family, taking a trip and spending more than a couple of days together in close proximity does have its challenges. Multigenerational vacations are an amazing opportunity to bond and make shareable memories, but there can also be tensions if you don’t plan correctly and manage your expectations.
To help you make the most of your multi-generational vacation, here are some key tips for making it stress-free.
1. Involve Everyone In The Planning
This is one of the trickiest parts of the whole trip. Someone has to take charge, make the bookings, and organize the trip, but you need everyone’s input to make sure everyone is happy about where you’re going, where you’re staying, and what you’ll be doing.
I suggest setting up a group chat on social media or organizing regular meetups with everyone present. Make it clear that you need everyone to be a part of this. Trying to speak to everyone individually will get confusing, and if you’re the one doing the organizing, it can be stressful. Make sure everyone understands that you need their approval for anything in the itinerary. You don’t want to be the one being blamed if it turns out someone isn’t happy.
2. Don’t Overdo It
It’s easy to get carried away and plan a whole bunch of stuff to do, perhaps trying to give each person something they like. But this approach can lead to a trip that’s too packed, too messy, and ultimately, exhausting.
Find a few things to do that everyone on the trip can enjoy. It’s better to keep it simple and focus on enjoying a laid-back vacation where you can all just enjoy being together. The memories you make will more likely come from the unexpected moments, the spontaneous jokes, and the simple joy of being together than from trying to see and do everything in your area.
This is also where those meetings come in handy. If someone in your party strongly desires to do something or see something, they can bring it up here for the approval of everyone else.
3. Talk About Money
It can be a tricky subject, but you need to discuss the financial elements of any trip you take together. One of the main issues facing any group traveling together is how much each party can afford or wants to spend.
You might all have different budgets, but you might also all place financial importance on different things. Luxury accommodation might be important to one person and not at all important to another. Talk about this, and make sure everyone can afford to pay their share and that everyone is happy with the costs of activities and eating out. No one should feel uncomfortable about costs or pressured into spending amounts they can’t afford or don’t want to spend. Equally, no one should be left carrying the can.
4. Choose The Right Accommodation
Think carefully about where you’ll be staying on your trip. Villas and cottages will be cheaper in the long run, as you all share the cost, but be realistic about spending all that time together in the same house. If you’re not certain you’ll all get along just fine, another option might be better for you. Cruises, for example, are perfect for intergenerational travel, as you are all in the same place but can enjoy your own privacy. You can meet up for dinner and for drinks, or you can do your own thing.
Consider any mobility issues any member of your party might have. There are practical things to think about when booking accommodations, such as the number of stairs and whether there are ground-floor rooms. This also applies to any activities you plan — make sure everyone can either join in or doesn’t mind watching. And if young children or babies are part of the trip, consider their needs and the needs of their parents.
5. It’s Everyone’s Vacation
It’s important to remember this is a vacation for all of you. If there are young children on the trip, there’s going to be some sharing of responsibility when it comes to caring for them. I took multigenerational trips when my own children were small, and having their grandparents there to help out and babysit sometimes gave me a breather. That said, it shouldn’t be assumed that anyone in your party will babysit. It certainly shouldn’t be something that’s taken advantage of.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes couples want some time alone and might want to go off for the day and do their own thing. No one should feel pressured to be somewhere or to do something. It’s everyone’s vacation.
6. Be Mindful Of Everyone’s Routines
While some of you might leap out of bed as soon as the sun rises, others will sleep in ‘til mid-morning. This can cause some friction if you don’t plan it out properly to make sure no one is being forced out of bed or kept up too late at night. Be considerate of other people’s routines and try to make sure everyone has the opportunity to follow their natural rhythms as much as possible.
To avoid any frustrations or tensions over this, you could suggest other things for early risers or night owls to do while others are asleep. Maybe there’s a nice walk nearby for early risers, or perhaps there’s a cool bar for night owls. If anyone from your party is heading out before others are ready, make sure you’ve arranged a meeting place.
7. Think About Food Before You Travel
Food can end up being one of the most contentious aspects of any multigenerational trip, especially if you all eat different things or anyone has any special dietary requirements. If you’re staying in a villa or rented house, there may be some self-catering to deal with. This can mean making sure you have the right milk in the fridge and those cookies the kids like.
Even if you are the one doing all the planning, you don’t have to take on this responsibility by yourself. If members of your family need their own bread or like a certain cereal, make it clear that it’s up to them to bring it. There’s also the question of eating out. There’s nothing worse than standing outside restaurants trying to come to a mutual decision about where to eat when everyone likes something different. Look at what’s on offer in the area before you travel, and make sure everyone knows what the options are. Coming to a decision before you go will make life much easier.
There’s nothing more stressful on a trip than small squabbles that turn into big arguments. Make sure you are all communicating with each other and expressing your feelings. If someone needs some time alone, give it to them. If someone has an issue with something, be ready to hear it. And if someone needs assistance, make sure you are all being observant and are ready to help.
If you’re the one who organized the trip, resist the urge to manage everyone and all situations. You might feel like you need to keep control, but you’ll have a less stressful vacation if you can let go and let everyone do their thing. Give everyone the freedom to relax, and you’ll relax too. After all, it is a vacation.