Image source: Flickr - Urnes
As you grow your family, you're more likely to want to include grandma and grandpa and other branches of the family tree on your travels.
These moments are special: often, multigenerational trips and vacations are the only time out of the year (outside of more formal family gatherings) that families really get to know each other. Grandparents will see their grandkids in context, mom and dad get a built-in babysitter, and young kids get a slew of activities and a little bit of adventure.
But the forecast for these trips is not always sunny. You have to strike the right balance of planned and spontaneous, while also offering enough diversity of activity that members of the varying age groups aren't bored or, worse, resentful. There has to also be some alone time; who wants to spend 100% of their days with people, let alone their family members who know how to push one's buttons?
Here are some tips to make the most of your multigenerational trip. Go, make memories and have fun!
While cruises are increasingly popular multigenerational family get-aways (food and lodging in one price; built-in activities), urban areas still make for great trips, full of activities that can appeal to all members of the family. Centrally-located lodging will help plan the pacing of the trip, as well as keep you close to top attractions.
Successful multi-gen vacays require lots of flexibility. Simply put: take it easy. You don't have to do all of the things on your to-do list, and you don't have to do them all together. Instead, allow the kids to explore on their own, or take some time with you and your significant other if the grandparents volunteer to babysit. Schedule at least one group activity a day - everyone needs to eat! - where you can all come back together and report your separate adventures.
While you don't need to keep everyone in a tightly packed group the entire time, it's a good idea for everyone to express the one thing they want to do or see. This will ensure fairness.
Combat boredom by ensuring there's something for everyone to take part in. It's frustrating being all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Grandparents are generally happy to be another set of eyes. Relax a little and let them in on wrangling the little ones. That said...
It's their trip too! Sure, ask them to babysit when you need some me-time, but also give them room to enjoy the fruits of their labor with some R&R.
On the other hand, don't think that the g-rents are easily tired. You'd be surprised how much energy they have for activities like walking tours and museum visits. Play it by ear.
You want to walk leisurely and take in the sites. Grandparents want to get to know the kids while also taking in the scenery. Kids want to play and explore their surroundings. Take into account these factors when planning group activities and you'll avoid restlessness, inactivity and boredom.
Whether on a cruise or spending time in a rented cabin or anywhere lodgings will likely be shared it's a good idea to get away for a breather. Not everyone likes their family 100% of the time, and you'd do well to remember that.
This goes without saying. From the unmanageable numbers to the many permutations of dramatic personalities, it can become more hassle than it's worth to bring everyone together for a weeklong sojourn.
Relish your time together as a family, as you mix the generations together. Let the kids learn about their grandparents, and even about your time as a tiny person. Bask in the stories and ultimately, make the most of your time.
What are your best tips for multi-generational travel?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Raised in Southern California, Joseph left the temperate climes of the OC for the chilly winters of Chicago, where he earned his degree in magazine journalism. Along the way, he developed an impenetrable layer of blubber, thanks to the city's deep dish pizza and hot dogs. In recent years, he has edited an online travel magazine, helped produce two international TBEX conferences, and has written about fashion, food, wine, and travel for various online publications. Currently, Joseph is Assistant Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where he geeks out on his interests regularly. Read Joseph's blog at Pith + Moment or follow him on Twitter.
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