There are a lot of great reasons to consider taking a multi-generational family trip. Grandchildren will get to spend quality time and make beautiful memories with their grandparents, parents will have a few extra hands around to help with the kids, and the extra help means everyone can enjoy a little downtime- even mom and dad! Multi-generational family trips also offer the opportunity for everyone in the family to see each other in a different light, which can strengthen connections and relationships at all levels.
On the flip side, planning a multi-generational family trip can be overwhelming. Travel planning for large groups is definitely more difficult than planning for just your immediate family. The wide gap in ages and ability levels is another challenge, but with a little bit of extra planning- it can be done! Take a look at these top tips for planning a multi-generational family trip to help you plan a memorable vacation for your whole family!
Tips for Planning a Multi-Generational Family Trip
1. Get Everyone’s Input
The first step in planning a multi-generational family trip is to get everyone’s input. Make sure everyone can share what kind of trip they’d like to go on, where they might like to go, what kind of things they would like to do and what their overall expectations are. Depending on how large our family is- this may be a LOT of information to take into consideration when you start planning, but it’s so important to keep everyone’s input in mind throughout the planning process. Chances are, not everyone will get everything they want out of the trip- but set the goal of making sure everyone gets something that they want!
2. Designate One Planner
While it’s important to make sure everyone has a voice and can contribute to the planning of a multi-generational family trip, it will be important to designate one person as your official planner. Designating one person to organize everything and make your reservations can help streamline things and reduce confusion. This person should be the one keeping all the notes, making reservations, writing up your itinerary and communicating everything to the family. If you don’t have someone who loves travel planning in your family, or if your family is so large that this is an overwhelming task for just one person- consider hiring a travel agent who specializes in multi-generational family trips!
3. Discuss Financial Expectations Early On
One of the first things you’ll want to discuss with the whole family is financial expectations. You can’t select a destination or start to plan activities until you have a solid understanding of everyone’s financial expectations. These can be difficult conversations to initiate but trust me- you’ll be glad you laid out the financial details early on. Discuss each family’s budget- including transportation, lodging and activities. If someone is willing to contribute more financially, make sure that is laid out clearly from the get-go.
4. Discuss Child Care Expectations Early On Too
Another thing that will help you select a destination and plan activities for your multi-generational family trip is clarifying child care expectations early on. If child care expectations aren’t clear, it can cause frustration and conflict during the trip. One of the really nice things about a trip with extended family is that there are extra hands on deck. That might mean mom and dad have some extra help with making meals, putting little ones down for naps- or even getting an evening to go out on a date! Just be sure to discuss what you’re hoping for ahead of time. If mom and dad are hoping for a date night, or grandma and grandpa need their afternoon naps- make sure those things are discussed and agreed upon from the get-go. Don’t go into a multi-generational family trip just assuming grandma and grandpa will babysit whenever you want!
5. Choose a Versatile Destination
Once you’ve discussed financial expectations and child care expectations, you’re ready to pick a destination! You’ll want to find a destination that has a lot to offer so that everyone’s needs can be met. If you have some adventurous people in your family, make sure your destination offers fun things for them to do nearby. If you have some older grandparents who want to be able to relax and go at a slower pace, make sure there are options for them too. Cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and beach vacations are popular destinations for large families because these all tend to offer a wide variety of activities so that everyone gets to do something that will make them happy!
6. Rent a House or Villa
Renting a house or a villa for your multi-generational family trip is a great idea for a couple of reasons. First, it’s going to be cheaper than booking multiple hotel rooms. While the overall cost of a house or villa may seem like a lot at first glance, once you compare it to the total of multiple hotel rooms- chances are it will be much more affordable. The other important benefit of a house or villa is the shared living space. You can prepare and eat meals together, as well as hang out in the living and/or dining rooms together. This gives everyone more of a chance to spend quality time together. Grandparents can sit back and relax while watching grandchildren play or the kids their own space to play while the adults all visit together. Shared living spaces increases opportunities for bonding and memory making!
7. Respect Everyone’s Pace and Abilities
When planning you trip, be honest about everyone’s pace and abilities- and be willing to fully respect those. Babies may need their scheduled naps- and grandparents too! Kids will have more energy than the adults and some adults may have mobility issues. Get a good idea of what pace every member of your family is comfortable maintaining for the duration of your trip and plan accordingly. Pushing someone past their limits will only create frustration and tension during the trip.
8. Plan a Variety of Activities
If you started with tip #1, you should have a good idea of what everyone wants to do on your trip. Plan a wide variety of activities so that everyone has something they’ll truly enjoy on the schedule. With a smaller family, you may be able to ensure that everyone gets their top choice of activity. If you have a larger family, it may be more realistic to ask everyone the top three most important activities to each person and aim to make sure everyone gets at least one of their top three. This may mean that not everyone participates in every activity- and that’s okay. You may even want to consider planning two options for the same time period. Some folks can head out on a morning adventure while those hoping for a more relaxing morning can do something a bit calmer- then everyone can meet up again for lunch!
9. Be Sure to Schedule Time Apart
While the main purpose of a multi-generational trip is to spend quality time together, it’s also important to schedule time apart. Chances are, mom and dad are hoping for at least a brief break from the kids. Grandma and grandpa may love spending time with the grandchildren, but they’re not used to being with them 24/7 and will likely need some downtime. (Don’t blame them for needing a break- at least once a week I’m hiding in the bathroom with a pint of chocolate ice cream just to get a quick getaway from my own kids!) Scheduling in some time apart will help keep people from getting burned out from too much togetherness.
10. Schedule Some Down Time
Make sure you schedule some down time during your multi-generational trip. As discussed above, everyone- especially parents and grandparents- need some downtime. But down time also opens up opportunities for bonding. Dinner at the villa followed by an open evening means people can sit and visit, grandparents can play with grandchildren, cousins can engage in creative play, etc. Special conversations may take place during that downtime- conversations you might have missed out on had there been something big scheduled for that time. Down time is also a great way to respect those in your group who need a slower pace!
11. Take Lots of Pictures and Videos
The whole purpose of a multi-generational trip is to strengthen relationships and create memories. Be sure to capture those moments!! There will come a day when all your children have to remember their grandparents by is photos and videos. Capture everything you can with pictures and videos. Don’t be afraid to sneak photos of the quiet moments too, like when your kids crawl into grandmas lap to watch a movie or they’re holding hands with grandpa while walking down the street!