Planning a Multigenerational Trip: How to Please Everyone

By Candyce H. Stapen

Multigenerational travelers

Multigenerational travel is a top vacation trend. About 33 - 40% of the $270 billion spent on leisure travel is multigenerational, according to the Family Travel Association. With families spread across the U.S. and even internationally, multigenerational travel makes sense. Since getting together is no longer a matter of meeting for Sunday dinner at grandma’s house, more and more grandparents, parents and their children use their vacation time for reconnecting.

However, it takes planning and honest communication to make these vacations successful.

Select a destination with something for everyone. Ask the group where they would like to be and what they would like to do.  If grandma and grandpa adore golf, the parents look forward to dining out and the kids want to swim, then consider renting a vacation home or condo at a beach destination that offers ample golf courses as well as good restaurants.

Book as much square footage as possible. Providing more space than hotel rooms, vacation rental homes and condos come with living rooms for hanging out, kitchens for cooking meals and grabbing snacks, and multiple bedrooms. Select a property that has enough bedrooms so that adults and kids don’t have to share.

Plan some activities apart and together. Forget about visiting in lock step. It’s a vacation, not a marching band. So if the grandparents want to visit the Asian art museum and the rest of the family prefers a hike, don’t be hurt, be happy.  Splitting up for some activities allows much-needed breathing space, a necessity in even the closest of families.

Try to maintain much of the children’s sleeping and eating routines. You have your camera ready to snap an image of your 3-year-old building boats at the children’s waterscape. But arriving when he typically takes his afternoon nap sinks your Instagram moment, turning it into a photo of a meltdown instead of a merry child. Remember, too, that nothing good happens when kids are hungry. Keep healthy snacks available when sightseeing and schedule in time for meals.

Don’t assume the grandparents will do all the babysitting. Yes, grandparents want to be with their grandchildren, just not all the time. After all, it’s the grandparents’ vacation too. Before booking the trip, discuss just how often the grandparents will babysit. Everyone should be honest.

Discuss how expenses will be paid. Before booking the trip, discuss how expenses will be shared. Many—but not all—grandparents like to treat the family to a vacation. In some cases, this may not be possible. Work out the finances before you take a multigenerational trip.

Long-time family travel guru Candyce H. Stapen writes for many publications and outlets. She has written 30 travel guidebooks, including two for National Geographic.