Thursday, April 21, 2011

Multi-Generational Travel

addams family
Planning a family vacation? Will there be multiple generations who may or may not live together all the time? No matter the reason you're all traveling together, there are ways to make the trip enjoyable for everyone!

Things to consider before even considering a multi-generational family vacation:

  1. What's the budget? Keep vacation plans within everyone's budget. If it's a stretch for some members, consider those who are better able to pay helping out others with everyone pitching in a base or set amount of money. If you're not willing to help foot the bill, don't insist on a luxury vacation when other family members have lost their jobs or have 3 kids in college at once or are on a fixed income!
  2. When can everyone travel? If school, work or other obligations are in the mix, pick the time (season) that impacts the least number of your group. That may mean someone has to take vacation time from work even if everyone does not. Try to not pick a time when some of the family are under a lot of stress due to deadlines.
  3. Are there 'issues' with family members who do not get along? How will these be resolved? Some ideas: rent more than one car; rent more than one house if you are going to get family-style housing; plan 'days apart' where individuals can go off on their own.
Once you've got your budget decided you can think about where to go. Some options for how to decide:

  1. Pick a place everyone already loves.
  2. Pick a place no one has ever been.
  3. Pick multiple places with a variety of options for 'things to do'.
If you can easily come to a decision, good for you! If there is dissension and the different ideas are all similarly-priced, put the top 3 in a hat and vow to go with the idea that gets selected.

little miss sunshine

Once you've decided where to go, you have to decide how to get there! Some family members may be nearby, others may need to travel to get to the destination. Do you all go together or arrive separately and meet up at the destination? Keeping in mind a comfortable amount of space for everyone and room for the luggage, you might need 2 or more cars or a large van. If renting a large van is in the plans, be sure it will 'fit' wherever you are going. Will you be able to drive it on narrow roads, off road, etc?

At this point, you really need a 'secretary', someone who is in charge of making the reservations and ensuring they are all up to date. One person can make the hotel reservations, plane reservations, car reservations, activity reservations, etc. Individuals should make plans on their own for someone to watch their home, get their mail, mow & water the lawn or shovel the driveway and walk the dog or feed the fish. (BTW, the secretary should be amply rewarded for an outstanding job! Don't take this person for granted or you'll be sleeping in the car!)

Making plans:

the list

You'll need everyone's help in making lists of things to do while you're on vacation. But remember to plan down time as well. You don't need to do everything together everyday. It can be better to go off separately and then meet up for dinner and share stories.

Are there multiple levels of ability in your group? Infants or toddlers who will need regular naps? Grandparents who may (or may not!) need accommodations suited to lowered mobility? Teens who need a little semblance of privacy? Parents who might need a break from the kids?

Take these into consideration when reserving your accommodations. Will everyone's (or nearly everyone's) needs be met? Is there a good compromise if not all the needs can be met?

Ideas for accommodations for multi-generational vacations include:
  • a suite of rooms at a hotel with pool in an area where teens can go out on their own and everyone can feel safe walking to nearby dining, shopping, activities and more;
  • a rental house on a lake or the ocean or in the woods;
  • a townhouse in a city;
  • a B&B where you can rent the entire property but still have all the amenities of breakfast being served, housekeeping and someone who knows where the 'good stuff' can be found;
  • a couple of RV's can provide you with transportation, dining and sleeping arrangements;
  • a campground where you can have a group location.

Be sure to plan time for grandparents and grandchildren to go off on their own. It's the perfect time for the grands to tell the younger ones, 'Your parents were just like that!' And to share stories that need to be kept for future generations.

Make sure you take a lot of photos and videos.

Decide in advance how to pay for group activities. Will everyone pay for themselves, will you have a group kitty for group activities? Will one person be responsible for paying at restaurants out of a group kitty?


The most important thing you can do in planning a multi-generational vacation is to keep the lines of communication open. Talk regularly about your plans so everyone is together on the planning. Never make assumptions about who is going to do what. Be sure that money doesn't become an issue by being clear about who is paying for what.

With clear communication, advance planning and a positive outlook a multi-generational vacation can be the stuff of years of happy memories and, 'Remember whens...'

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

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