Large group travel is excruciatingly difficult. They are always organised and arranged with the best of intentions but they really need to be planned well for everyone to be happy. You may be travelling for an event, to mark a milestone or simple to create some extended family memories for our children in amongst your busy lives.
Sharing Houses and multigenerational travel
No. That’s my summation of sharing houses. I will however expand. We have shared houses before and our friends gave us the master bedroom as we had a 3 month old and I would be feeding through the night. That was great but they’re children would wake early – like between 4-430 am and they would take in turns to sleep in between them. The result would be that they would come upstairs outside our room every morning with me often just getting back into bed.
We shared a house with two families who had babies within a few months of each other. We had a bedroom with no fan and no air-conditioning. The result was whilst they were lovely and rested for the week, we were not. We thought we could all share the burden of meals. One family had to lie and pat their daughter to sleep every night and as a result, she never prepared dinner, cooked it or cleaned up!
We have shared a house successfully with friends. They had their room and their own bathroom. The children shared. It was perfectly easy and worked well. We were only in each other’s company for a long weekend and it was enough sharing but not too much oversharing.
TIP for successful Multigenerational travel –
- Choose a house with separate areas and preferably with your own bathrooms. If you’re sharing with lots of kids try to get an extra sitting room. You need to be able to have your own space so you can opt in and opt out.
- Divide the costs of the house based on room size and amenities rather than split evenly. (as you would if you were in a share house)
- Plan meals and what each family needs to cover. Set it out before you get there.
Consider how close you are to the people you are sharing with. You may not be as close after spending this much time with them!
All families have their own methods to raising children and it is difficult in the same house to work to each other’s routines and disciplinary boundaries. The more families in the house, the more difficult it is. You need to pack your patience with you and your car-free attitude. Needless to say, as the children grow, sharing houses is easier and your boundaries possibly more aligned.
Motels and multigenerational travel
So twice this has happened to us. We have had accommodation booked for us and it is not what a family needs. A family needs a fridge and possibly a freezer. I need to be able to not only boil water but sterilise bottles and heat food. A door between the bedroom and whatever else is there is necessary for baby sleep and my sanity. You need more than a moetl but the services of a motel. Look for serviced apartments instead.
You might think I am precious but I will rattle off some stories to build your understanding. We travelled with my first child when he was 3 months old. We had been booked into a hotel room whilst the rest of the family took a 2 bedroom apartment. So we would put the baby to bed and my husband would have to sit in the bath to read his book so as not to wake the baby. Meanwhile, the family not feeding were lounging around in a sitting room off their bedrooms!
On another occasion we couldn’t heat the food as we only had hot water – which is fine but there were no bowls or anything to sit food inside covered in hot water to heat. With very few takeaway options in town this made it very hard to get something for the children for their dinner. It is very difficult to knock on your mother in-laws door at 5.30am asking to use her microwave.
TIP for successful motel/hotel accommodation for multigenerational travel
Look for apartment options rather than motels for the added convenience of a fridge and basic cooking. Apartments overseas can often be more inviting and cosier, especially being slightly off the tourist trail.
If you are staying in hotels look at suites and club floor options. Club floors are a great way to give you more space without having to rent the penthouse. On a recent trip to Singapore I booked a club floor room not only because it gave us complimentary canapes each evening and breakfast but meant friends could come and meet us there and my son was entertained by the pool while we caught up.
In Fiji we booked a suite and were able to but the baby to bed in a room but still enjoy the air-conditioning in our adjoining room. Meanwhile the family next door would sit on their ‘balcony’ each evening and ‘enjoy’ a beverage whilst being eaten by mosquitoes and squashing up next to the wall light to attempt to read their book, all whilst their children got to sleep.
How to make multigenerational travel a success.
- Step One: look for somewhere that is easily accessible to everyone.
- Step Two: try to find a resort that has different styles of accommodation. One bedroom apartment’s and villas. That way each travelling group can book their own room based on their own budget and needs, but have the added bonus of being able to sit something out should they choose and have some time to themselves. If you want to get a house try to use reviews as a guide as to whether they will suit your group.
- Step Three: Don’t fill in every moment in the itinerary. Allow some free time or some down time.
- Step Four: Research. Small towns or popular destinations may not have many options for dinner and in busy periods you may need to go dinner early to not only beat the crowds but also avoid lengthy waiting times. Make bookings in advance where you can.
- Step Five: Ask each group travelling in the larger group if there is anything in particular they would like to see or do. This allows for everyone a chance at doing what they enjoy. Mixing the activity schedule with a difference in activity exertion level and interest will also create harmony. If you are on a tour to discover your ancestral heritage, there is no reason you can’t visit a water park for a day.
- Step Six: remember to be flexible, it’s not always easy with small children as they like routine. Focus on the fact you are building memories for your children. Remember the itinerary is optional, which means everyone will have different ideas of what is necessary and what is not.
- Step Seven: try to include breakfast where you can. It makes it so much easier for a family.
We are currently planning a trip with my in-laws. What do you think would be best?
- Kakadu and surrounding area focusing on Aboriginal heritage.
- A cruise – departing Singapore – Hong Kong, Vietnam and the Phillipines before back to Singapore.
- France – 4-5 nights in the city of lights – Paris before heading on a tour through a region via barge and bike.
What do you think – Have you done any of these trips?