What you don’t want to hear on a family vacation:
Planning a family trip is always tough, but when it involves several generations, it can be a real process—especially if it’s your first time. “Whenever families are traveling together, you need to have something on board for everyone to do,” says Sara Raney, a senior travel concierge who also specializes in Alaskan travel with Sara Raney, LLC.
Lots of families are planning to travel together. According to an April 2015 AARP survey, 47 percent of respondents 45 and older plan to take a multigenerational family trip within a year. Fortunately, experts like Raney can help plan custom trips that provide opportunities and experiences for all ages.
Planning a Family Trip: The First Step
When it comes to planning the right trip, talk and talk some more. “It’s important to sit down as a unit and discuss what everyone’s top priorities, likes and dislikes are,” says Cristina Buaas, president and owner of CSB Travel LLC, a Virtuoso Member Agency in Houston.
You might be tempted to jump online and hope for the best, but working with a travel specialist will help you structure a trip that has activities specific to the wants and abilities of each person in the group—and it can take some of the confusion and stress out of the process.
Set your expectations in advance, says Petra Croneigh, manager of Lakeside Travel Advisors in Wauconda, Illinois. If you’re a grandparent, let your kids know if you are open to watching the grandkids for a night or two so they can go out or if they need to make childcare plans.
Think Outside the Boat
Kids are pretty creative, so involve them in the process. “Let the kids be part of the planning,” says Croneigh. A bus tour or cruise may appeal to seniors, but might sound like a drag to teenagers. Including them in the planning process will ensure there are activities everyone will enjoy.
Guided tours and trips specifically designed for families are a great option for multigenerational travel, says Buaas. “With a professional tour guide or group leader, it takes a lot of pressure off of the grandparents or parents to keep everyone happy.” Family-focused trips like those with Adventures by Disney provide activities for each age group, so families can spend time together and also have individual experiences, Buaas says.
International travel is also great for multigenerational trips. For example, on a trip to Italy, parents and grandparents might go on a wine tasting tour while kids take a pizza-making class. Separate guides lead each group, so everyone is safe and able to do the activities they most enjoy.
Relax or Repel?
For an active family looking for more adventurous, experiential travel, an expedition trip with a company like Backroads or National Geographic may be the perfect option. Trips like these are very personalized and family-oriented, but are geared toward those who won’t be happy sitting by a pool—and, in the case of Backroads, families should be prepared for more strenuous activities like biking or hiking.
Those looking for a less active trip might consider a resort. “There are destination resorts for every budget, every age,” says Buaas. A resort that caters to families will have activities planned for the kids, so that the parents and grandparents can enjoy time shopping or relaxing.
Before you hit the road, find out what you will need for the trip you chose. Is travel insurance necessary? Do your accommodations support any limitations? Will you need travel visas? Keep in mind that different age groups might have different requirements for obtaining travel visas.
By using these tips to prevent possible roadblocks, multigenerational travel can be a wonderful way to build new memories and strengthen family bonds.