Tips for Multigenerational Family Vacations

Find tips for planning a trip for everyone including the kids and grandparents.

By: Steve Larese
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As families find themselves living farther away from one another, and older generations being more active than ever before, multigenerational family vacations are increasing in popularity and in the scope of activities. From just relaxing on a beach to exploring far-flung parts of the globe, here are some thoughts to consider when planning vacations for kids to grandparents.

Identify the Purpose of the Vacation

Families travel together to share time and experiences. Seems obvious enough, but are there other reasons why you’d like to take a multigenerational trip together? Is it to share your family dynamic with your parents? Is it to get to know your grandkids better? Is it to re-experience traveling with your parents like when you were a kid? By being clear with yourself on what you expect from a multigenerational family trip, you can address the type of experience you’d like and make sure that meshes with the rest of what your family expects. Do you want to create special memories for your grandkids through exciting activities? Do you want to just sit and relax with your parents while you watch the kids play? By being honest with yourself you can then begin selecting a destination and crafting an itinerary that meets everyone’s expectations and abilities.

Consider Mobility Issues

If there are family members for whom traveling is difficult, take the vacation to them. This doesn’t mean staying with them in their home, but booking rooms for everyone in a local hotel (preferably one with a pool for the kids). Say you have parents for whom travel is difficult. By booking several hotel rooms near where they live, they get the vacation of being out of the house, doing something different and being included in a family trip. Grandparents can show their family their community while discovering new family-friendly attractions and activities nearby.

Take a Tour

Experiencing the world with your family adds to any adventure. Many tour companies cater to a wide-range of active age groups, from touring Alaska’s interior and Denali National Park with John Hall’s Alaska, exploring Peru’s Machu Picchu with Mountain Lodges of Peru or going on safari in Tanzania with Intrepid Travel. As active seniors increasingly want to introduce their pre-teen/teenaged grandchildren to travel, many itineraries are being designed to accommodate all family members.

You Can Go Home Again

Getting a personal tour of where your parents or grandparents grew up can make for an enriching trip. It’s rewarding for parents or grandparents and helps them recall memories they haven’t thought about for years and make connections with grandchildren old enough to appreciate the visit’s significance. Consider basing a family vacation around where older family members grew up or something they enjoyed doing and scheduling an afternoon for a tour with them. Things have probably changed, but the memories and details that otherwise would have passed will be fresh as ever.

Consider Renting a Beach House

Renting a beach house can sound extravagant, but splitting the weekly rental several ways can make many properties very affordable. Family members can come and go to the beach throughout the day, and adults can relax and catch up while watching kids play. Preparing meals in the kitchen is both fun and economical. Look for museums, amusement parks, shopping, restaurants and other nearby attractions before booking. Having a set home base near an attraction everyone enjoys can make for a non-stressed visit.

Indulge a Passion

If a family member is passionate about something, see if you can develop an itinerary around that activity that suits everyone. If grandma or grandpa is an avid golfer, being able to share that with a grandchild is rewarding for both. For instance, California's Pebble Beach Resort is on every serious golfer’s bucket list, but the property also caters to families by offering its Family Explorers Package that includes a scavenger hunt map that leads kids through the storied history of the hotel, complimentary meals for kids (ages 12 and under) at STICKS and Roy’s, complimentary tennis and golf at the par 3 Peter Hay Golf Course, and a complimentary horseback trail ride at the Equestrian Center when accompanied by a paying adult. Families can enjoy Pebble Beach’s 25-meter heated outdoor swimming pool that overlooking Stillwater Cove, and add-ons include an afternoon round of golf for the family at the Links at Spanish Bay and a family golf lesson at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy. Two-day Monterey Bay Aquarium family passes are also available. At nearby Pebble Beach Resort, the spa makes a relaxing afternoon for anyone not wanting to hit the greens.

Cruising for a Great Vacation

Cruises have long been a family favorite, and are a great way to get the family together all in one place while offering plenty of variety for everyone’s interests. Cruise lines that focus on nature and cultural tours, such as Lindblad Expeditions Galapagos and Iceland cruises, and AmaWaterways river cruises through Europe, offer the perfect blend of luxury and excitement for all adventurous age groups.

Get Everyone's Input

Visiting the Smithsonian Museums, surfing in San Diego, seeing a national park — ask everyone for their input when developing a trip, and then consider how that focus and location could be of interest could be expanded to the rest of the family. Do the grandparents want to visit Grand Canyon National Park? The grandkids will love getting there via the Grand Canyon Railway, based in Williams, Arizona. Do the kids want to go surfing in San Diego? Schedule time at Balboa Park for everyone. There’s always a way to expand someone’s interest into a trip all family members will enjoy.

Heritage Travel

Tracing your family’s roots back to a specific place is always a great excuse for a multigenerational trip. Make your ancestors’ hometown part of a larger trip or as a destination by itself. Whether it’s the next state over or another country, communities warmly welcome families looking into their history and are often eager to share information that can’t be found through other research methods. Contact town halls and other record centers to see if it’s possible to track down surnames and other information you have. Try to match old family photos to locations. Locals often bend over backward to help visitors tracing their roots, and it's a wonderful icebreaker to meet new people and possibly distant relatives.

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