Family Travel Tips
Making that Mulitgenerational Vacation a Success
Updated on: November 2022
Written by: Lisa Davis
As travel restrictions from the Covid-19 pandemic lift, extended family travel, or multigenerational travel, has regained popularity. Creating a memorable trip for the grandparents, parents and grandkids alike requires a little extra planning and thought. These family travel tips will help you with maximizing your time together and making your multigenerational vacation a success.
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How to Take into Account Everyone’s Travel Needs and Desires?
One grandchild loves the beach while another loves hiking. How do you go about planning a trip that can make each family member happy? The key is making sure the destination has something for all ages in your group such as adventure activities as well as opportunities for less rigorous endeavors like sunbathing, cultural demonstrations, or shopping. Beach vacations and trips to national parks can be good choices for multigenerational trips. Same goes for cruises, which often have onboard activities and entertainment options for all ages. If your grandkids love Disney, a trip to a Disney theme park might not work well for everyone in your group, especially if anyone has mobility issues and trouble walking for long periods of time. Grandkids can still get their “Disney fix” at a non-theme park Disney resort, including ones in Florida and Hawaii, or on a Disney cruise.
Shannon Bradley, a travel planning expert with Chicago-based Down Under Endeavours Inc., recommends for family trips booking accommodations that have a central meeting spot, like a shared villa. “Take into account days on the itinerary where everyone can do things together and then days when different age groups or nuclear families can do things separately,” says Bradley. “And then when they do activities separately, allow them to come back together at their central point to discuss their day.” In addition to having a central meeting spot, also have a central point of contact to plan the vacation. Bradley says one of the best ways to plan a trip is to have one point of contact in the family who is planning the trip and aggregating everyone’s needs and sightseeing desires.
It’s also important to select a destination everyone can easily get to, by air or car. People’s budgets should also be factored in when deciding on where to go. Some family members might be OK with splurging on a nice hotel whereas other family members might prefer to stay in more modest accommodations and then spend more money on activities. A conversation about expectations, for time budget, and activities, is a great first step.
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Is Renting a Vacation Home Preferred for Family Trips?
“This really depends on the family dynamic, length of the trip, and budgetary requirements,” says Bradley. “In a place like South Africa, the family can do a camp buyout where they can eat and meet in the main lodge but then have separate tents for each nuclear family. This would be fully inclusive, and many times is great value when you split the cost across the family.” In other destinations, such as the Caribbean, Bradley says a vacation home is generally on the high end of a budget. Booking multiple rooms at a resort might be a better financial option. If you do book a vacation home, consider if it includes housekeeping or even a chef. Afterall, everyone on the trip gets a vacation. It can be great to have the option of not eating every meal in a restaurant, but the folks who usually cook at home might not want to be automatically pressed into service on vacation.
How to Get Affordable Airfares for When Traveling with Your Family
“Flying the same route is very helpful,” says Bradley. “All family members can meet at a central airport like LAX or JFK. Each family member secures their own flight to the central airport and then everyone flies the same route from there.” Depending on the size of your family, airlines offer discounts for groups of 10 people or more, so check with your airline to find out if they offer such discounts. “Best advice, plan in advance!” says Bradley. “Airlines release their flights about nine to 10 months in advance of a departure date. That is sometimes the best time to get flights as airfares are priced dynamically and the more inventory that is available, the lower the prices.” Private jets are also a good option depending on budget as everyone can fly together. If flying together is a priority, you can also consider buying out an airline’s premium economy cabin (which is often smaller than the economy cabin) so everyone is in the same part of the plane together.
More Family Travel Tips to Keep in Mind
Multigenerational vacations are very rewarding. They are a change to reunite with family and explore new places. Additional family travel tips include:
- For families with small children, finding lodges or resorts with kid’s clubs and/or babysitters is a good idea, especially if adult family members like to go to destinations with restaurants and nightlife.
- Train trips are good idea only if the majority of people going are adults. “Trains can become boring for the little ones,“ says Bradley. “We would recommend the train in places like New Zealand and Alaska where it is scenic and an easy way to get from point to point.”
- Book ahead. Like with airfares potentially being cheaper if booked ahead of time, same goes for hotels, car rentals, and excursions. Availability is also a factor. By booking ahead you secure your preferred excursions and activities. You also have a greater chance to book adjoining rooms at a hotel or resort. In addition to lodging and flights, you can also pre-book private and public transportation, sightseeing tours, private guides, and tickets for museums, theme parks and other attractions. Pre-booking also gives you more time to relax and enjoy your destination when you get there, knowing everything is taken care of.
- If there are babies or toddlers in your group, set clear expectations on who is babysitting and when. Nap times and early bedtimes are important considerations to plan around. Destinations with a lot of nightlife might not be the best fit if someone always has to go back to the hotel or vacation rental early to babysit.
Make Memories Traveling with Extended Family
There is nothing like stepping out of your day to day to spend quality time in a beautiful location with two, three or even four generations of your family. Especially on the heels of so much isolation due to Covid-19, an extended family trip can be a way to make memories everyone in the family will cherish for a lifetime.