“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”
– Francis Bacon
Multi-generational travel has been steadily growing and is cited as one of the top 3 travel trends for 2013. Today, an estimated 75% of travelers plan their vacation around a milestone event such as a birthday, reunion, wedding or anniversary, and even a holiday, to bring family members together.
And, why is multi-generational travel such a hot and growing trend? In a nutshell, it’s a sign of the times: geography, lifestyle and schedules, and baby boomers.
- Geography: Today most extended families live geographically apart. Multi-generational vacations combine family time and vacation time thereby making the most of vacation time and achieving the goal of being together.
- Lifestyle and Schedules: In our fast paced society, vacation time is often squeezed into a very busy lifestyle and coordinating multiple schedules can be challenging. Combining the two kills two birds with one stone.
- Baby Boomers: More and more boomers are becoming grandparents. Boomers are typically younger, healthier, more mobile and want to spend quality, fun time with their grandchildren.
When planning a multi-gen vacation, choosing when and where will be among the first decisions. When deciding it’s advised to keep in mind the youngest and oldest family member. Not only is this essential logistically (traveling long distances can be difficult for those with small children and for older family members), but it’s important to find something that will be well-suited to both (and, hopefully, it will work for almost everyone in between).
Every family has to decide what is important for them. Whether it’s exploring family roots and visiting ancestral homes; sharing cultural enrichment and new places; or, maybe just enjoying a relaxing time, fun in the sun, or outdoor sports and activities, there is, literally, something for every one’s preference and budget. A variety of dining and sightseeing choices as well as sports, games, crafts, and activities, that cater to all ages and if needed, the availability of child care, may also be decisive factors.
No brainers are: cruises, escorted tours, all-inclusive resorts. They all offer family-friendly vacations geared to the family experience and can meet the diverse interests and travel styles of most families. Often themed, they range in price and interests; everything from discovery tours in Europe to wild west adventures in the Rockies to relaxing beach side resorts.
Since they offer a wide array of options plus the ease of an all-inclusive fare (often even including airfare and transfers), it takes the bulk of coordinating and the stress of budgeting off the planning family member(s)’ plate. Everyone knows what is included and, with an experienced professional staff, it frees everyone to really enjoy themselves. Depending on the size of your family, group pricing and special packages may be available and your host can often offer or arrange special group events or activities, e.g. banquets, celebrations, excursions, etc.
If you’re brave, take charge, and prefer to do-it-yourself (and usually that’s the person(s) paying or another family member), this will require more planning and coordination, and can be a bit challenging. OK, it can be frustrating and exhausting. If you try to be too democratic and/or find a date/destination that absolutely everyone can schedule or will like…well, good luck!
However, if you’re determined vacation rentals; homes, condos and villas, can be rented just about anywhere in the world. This is a bit more complex but if it’s a project you want to tackle, it too can certainly be rewarding. Again, take into consideration the logistics – transportation, food, house cleaning, activities, child care, etc.- in your planning.
Making memories: All that said, just because everyone is on vacation together doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will magically get along together. Different personalities and preferences, old and new family “stuff” can present some challenges, but hopefully everyone can put all that aside and enjoy this precious time together. After all, it is all in the family, isn’t it?
Have you ever been on a multi-generational family vacation? Any tips for the rest of us?