Family Vacations for All: Multigenerational Travel Growing in Popularity
Apr 25, 2018 10:14AM
By Mandy Carter
As summer approaches, I begin to plan one of my most anticipated activities—our family vacation. What is especially exciting is that, like an increasing number of people, I hunt for opportunities to travel with not only my children but also with my parents. Our time together is an investment—one that is priceless.
During my childhood years, summer vacation consisted of my mom, dad, brother and me setting off for a week of relaxation. After reaching adulthood, I decided that vacations are more than just a time to get away from the day-to-day grind. They are a way to spend quality time with those I love, in addition to learning things and sharing cool experiences.
I “blame” my dad for my love of travel and the desire to wander. He helped me fall in love with the world by constantly opening my eyes to new adventures. And I “blame” my mom for my curiosity and my need to know what is out there, past my immediate viewpoint.
From the time I was a little girl, my mother made me believe that my dreams were attainable and I should not be scared to seek out whatever I was searching for. My parents taught me to love family vacation time and to appreciate that exploring new places is an invaluable way to acquire knowledge. For me, travel is life changing.
Sometimes the world can feel like it is spinning out of control and is upside down. I have found that what I really need to focus on is what I can control—spending time with those I love and those who love me. Often, a long time can pass without members of my extended family getting together. So, as I plan this year’s summer vacation with my children, I first look at my parents’ calendar!
Travel is usually a positive influence on children, and I can attest that it is true. My children’s curiosity is sparked with every adventure and their love for learning about different cultures grows year by year. What is particularly wonderful is that this occurs in all age groups.
Even more, each family member possesses unique and distinct qualities, and thus each offers a new and different outlook on our trips. That allows for everyone to gain insights that would be missing had just one of our family members not been with us.
Statistically, I am not alone in my enjoyment of traveling with my children and my parents. Travelers are starting to include more and more family members in on the fun. The “typical” family vacation has evolved into multigenerational travel.
These trips latch on to the diminishing opportunities we all have to be together as a multigenerational family—and allow us to do so in unique and stimulating settings. As we grow older, our time with our children and parents becomes more limited. Busy schedules, work, friends and just general life circumstances “get in the way” of time together.
Nowadays, all ages seem to have a “smart” device of some type or another at hand during most hours of the day and into the night. But when we are all together on our family adventures in special places, we try to concentrate not on our devices but on creating lasting memories of shared learning and fun experiences.
When planning multigenerational vacations, the “when” and the “where” will be among the first decisions you have to make—and perhaps the most challenging. Keep in mind the needs of the youngest and oldest family members. It’s logistically important to consider that traveling long distances can be difficult for small children and for older family members.
It’s also very important to search for ideas that will keep the interest of all the age groups involved. Not every vacation is up to the challenges of incorporating multiple generations. However, there are some vacations that are actually designed around these very concepts, creating ways to keep everyone engaged and happy.
The following are some inspirational ideas to help turn your summer vacation plans into multigenerational travel adventures:
A cruise is an all-in-one “destination” in which entertainment and nonstop activity are often paired with the opportunity to explore multiple harbors, cities and towns. Cruising is a great multigenerational travel choice. It offers flexibility and variety in just about all of the essential components of a vacation: food, fun and budget.
Each person can set his or own pace, allowing for the perfect balance of personalities and energy levels. And personal finances are respected because there is the freedom to choose the room and meal plan that works best for the traveler(s).
It seems as if everyone bonds when they are wearing cowboy hats! Dude ranches are unusual vacation destinations. They feature seemingly unlimited activities, such as the chance to learn archery and square dancing, go bird watching and horseback riding, participate in a group hike or take a dip in the nearby swimming holes.
Dude ranch styles range from “rise early and help the cowboy” options to more leisurely camp-like or even resort-style stays. A word of caution, however: Be aware of family members’ physical limitations before making reservations on a dude ranch.
All-inclusive resorts provide “easy living” for family members of all ages. The fact that everything is included means that the vacationers are satiated and enjoyably entertained with little effort. In fact, all-inclusive resorts were among the first vacation places to embrace multigenerational travelers.
The majority of all-inclusive resorts are in beautiful locations and have activities that range from games to spa services. Pay attention to the included options—to make sure every family member has something to look forward to.
National and State Parks
Head to a national or state park with your extended family members to experience stunning vistas, starlit nights and days filled with hiking, biking and water activities. The parks offer plenty of activities (ranger-led and independent), which means tons of options for family time in groups both large and small.
Send grandma off to learn about the local wildlife with her mini-me, while grandpa teaches the other children how to skip stones. Memories are easy to make in nature. And if tent camping is too difficult for older family members, consider pop-up trailers, RVs or even a cabin rental. Such alternative ideas will go a long way to ensure that everyone in your multigenerational group is comfortable.
As mentioned, when traveling with a variety of age groups it is wonderful to have the chance to “see things through the eyes” of the different generations. The literal bird's eye view from a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon makes it exhilarating for everyone. Yet each age group will also have its own reactions and perspectives about the experience. The joy of sharing once-in-a-lifetime moments of discovery with children, parents and perhaps even grandparents is what is truly precious.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned by traveling with all the generations in my family is that it strengthens our relationships and creates deeper bonds. Because life is an adventure, share it with those you love by embracing multigenerational travel!
Tips for Traveling With Different Ages
Be flexible: When family groups include a wide span of ages, everyone won’t be happy at all times with every decision. That calls for flexibility and the willingness to make some concessions.
Let everyone do something he or she enjoys: It’s important to recognize that each person has his or her own idea of fun. Incorporating preferred activities of different family members will help with bonding and make the trip more meaningful for all.
Be sure to “build in” some private time for the different age groups: Children will need time to run off energy. Conversely, grandparents may need periods of rest and quiet.
Set a comfortable pace: Respect the health differences, energy levels and abilities among group members. Thus, plan activities accordingly.
Mandy Carter is a local mom with a passion for family travel, a popular travel blogger including her own family blog at Acupful.com, and the Managing Editor for TOTI Media.