All in the Family: Planning a Multigenerational Vacation

It’s easier than ever for us to travel in comfort. Not to mention, we are healthier and have the tools to make travel more simple and affordable than ever. So it’s no wonder that multigenerational travel is on the rise.

According to industry marketing firm MMGY Global, reported by the Wall Street Journal, “Thirty-seven percent of grandparents with a household income greater than $50,000 who took a vacation last year did so with grandchildren, up from 28% in 2007. And 78% of these trips included all three generations.”

If you’re one of those grandparents who are looking forward to a fun family vacation this summer, you’ve got an exciting but stressful task on your hands:  Helping to plan. While you, your children, and your grandchildren may all be part of one family, you may live in many locations, enjoy a wide variety of activities, and be living on very different budgets. As you speak with your children and plan out what will be a great time to bond, keep these things in mind:

Who is going?

When you’re planning a family trip, you need to decide what “family” means. Are you inviting Aunt Mildred and Cousin James? Just the kids and grandkids? Knowing who you want to include – and taking everyone’s feelings into consideration – will get the trip off to the right start.

Does everyone have a say?

A lot of people on one trip means a LOT of opinions. And while you can’t please everyone all of the time, you should allow everyone on their trip to have one “must-have.” This is the one attraction or activity that they HAVE to do while on vacation. Meet everyone’s top expectation and no one will be able to say that they didn’t have a say in the trip.

Where are you staying?

While booking a few hotel rooms to fit your family may be the right decision for you, or the only option you have, consider booking a house or condo with more amenities and more room for each family member to have their own space.

What is the budget?

It’s very important to set a clear budget at the beginning of the trip, and to have an understanding that there may be members of the family who cannot afford to go over that budget. Make a list of all of the activities you would like to do, as well as necessities like gas, food, and cost of your hotel or rental property, and make sure that everyone agrees to how much they will be paying.

Who is in charge of the kids?

Babysitting your grandchildren can be a very fun experience, and letting mom and dad go out for a night without the kids on there vacation may be a dream come true for them. But if you have small children along, make sure you know who will be attending to them and the special needs that they may have during the trip, or divvy up the work so that one person doesn’t spend the week on diaper duty!

What do you need to pack?

You won’t need four coolers, five curling irons, ten bottles of sunscreen or seven beach umbrellas on your trip, so make sure that you discuss with your family what you will be sharing. With many people headed on a vacation, there is going to be little room for packing the non-essentials!

Should you talk to a pro?

Large family vacations can be a big undertaking, so you may need to call in a pro, especially if you are taking a trip that involves flights, hotels, tours, and rental cars. Consider working with a travel agency if you think that it would be easier to let them make some of the plans for you.

Is everyone in touch?

If you’ve ever seen “Home Alone,” you know that it can be tough to keep track of everyone while you’re travelling. Make sure that everyone has each other’s cell phone numbers in case of an emergency. Some people prefer to use walkie-talkies if they won’t be too far from one another. For kids, consider getting them an identification bracelet, or try out the new SafetyTats:  Temporary tattoos that have your contact information on them! Kids won’t fuss with them like the do with a bracelet.

Do you have some wiggle room?

Even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. Making plans for a large group can get difficult when it comes to time management. It takes a large group longer to get out the door in the morning. They have longer waits at restaurants. They have to take more bathroom breaks! Make sure that your trip has a lot of space for taking breaks for you and the kids, as well as some flexibility in case the restaurant you wanted to go to isn’t open the day you go.

Can you get group discounts?

Depending on how large your group is, you may be able to get group discounts for some of the attractions you go to see. Call ahead to ask for their group policies.

Bonus: Here are our suggestions for vacations that mean family fun for everyone!

  • Disney World, Orlando, Fla.
  • An all-inclusive cruise
  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  • Outer Banks, N.C.
  • New York City, N.Y.
  • Hershey, Pa.
  • Gettysburg, Pa.
  • Busch Gardens, Va.
  • Washington D.C.
  • Presque Isle, Erie, Pa.
  • Splash Lagoon, Erie, Pa.

Thinking about a stay-cation? Consider Moraine State Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, the Aviary, the Children’s Museum, Kennywood, Idlewild, or a Pirates’ baseball game.