Multigenerational family vacations are a necessity for some of us to be able to spend some time with family away from the pressures of work. For some families residing in different countries, it is the only way to spend time with each other. For other families, the friends they have made become the family extension. It takes a village people and taking the village on holidays is a complicated but rewarding experience.
According to the 2017 Virtuoso Luxe Report, compiled by an international travel agency network specialising in luxury and experiential travel, names multi-generational travel as the No.1 travel trend of 2017. Popular destinations include Fiji, Hawaii, Thailand and Italy.
Read more: Click here for the full report.
Some ground rules
- I recommend visiting a place that everyone is at least somewhat happy. If you have people in your family that suffer terribly in the heat, a dessert trip may not be for you. Just as similarly unless everyone skis then avoid a ski lodge and concentrate on an area that has plenty of après skiing activities.
- Find a location where there are activities. A pool may be all you need for entertainment of a games room, but you need something to keep the harmony.
- Have a test run. Go away for the weekend and work out how various dynamics play out. This is more important with in-laws and friends who whilst may be a big part of your life you have not shared spaces with previously. How do you kids get on after dark and at breakfast? Are they a towel hog? Do they clean up their toothpaste spit? Toilet seat up or toilet seat down?
- Allow day trips and family time throughout the day but meet for meals. That doesn’t mean all meals but perhaps supper/dinner daily and the odd lunch.
- Physical ability and limitations to all in the party. How frail are the oldies? Can the young ones keep up with several days bike riding?
- Sketch out a rough itinerary of activities and ask families to opt in for what they are interested in but make clear that the expectation is not that everyone has to be with everyone all the time. You may want to provide a range of activities with different focuses and different paces.
- Food allergies and considerations. Meat eating family members may need to be happy to share a meal with vegetarians but can they share a fridge and oven? If you are visiting Thailand and you have a nut allergy best to factor this in before departure (peanut oil is used for a lot of cooking)
- Perhaps engage the family members and ask each member to make a request of what they want to do on their holiday. Try to include as many of these as possible and make each family member feel involved.
- Request a no mobile/ electronic ban for meal times so that everyone is a part of the evening.
Why you should partake in multigenerational family trips
According to Wikihow when you are starting a relationship you are advised to following the following instructions for building a healthy relationship.
- Speak up
- Listen intently
- Create healthy boundaries
- Communicate clearly
- Express emotions
- Check in with each other
Treating each other well
- Create a foundation of respect
- Appreciate each other
- Spend quality time with one and other
- Give each other space
- Expect changes
Click here for further reading.
All of these can be achieved with travel. Do you find when you are one someone else’s turf you get pushed around a little with that age old excuse ‘my house, my rules?’ When you travel you are on neutral ground and some of the more difficult family members can be told to heal!
Advantages of multigenerational travel
- You are creating memories that will last a lifetime. Experiencing washing elephants together and laughing about your shared experience afterwards builds relationships.
- Life is short and this is an opportunity to share it together away from excuses and everyday life. Be present.
- Building bonds through experiences and problem solving. Not all trips go according to plan and the way a large group deals with no dinner reservations or lost luggage can be a great way to develop an understanding of each other
- Learning about each other and their strengths. Gone are the days when we need to be this and that, we now focus on what are our greatest strengths? On a multigenerational family trip we can learn we are like Aunt Patty in that we both are skilled at map reading. We can leave the tour planning to Uncle Biff as he can get it done with very little effort. We can take away tour booking from Aunty Beth as she will forget half the group and possibly book the wrong tour. Let her concentrate on finding a good bar.
- Appreciating each other through each person using their strengths and taking the lead.
Further Advantages of multigenerational travel
- Is yours a family that needs help communicating? Perhaps some simple games at dinner will help. My kids love ‘Would you rather’ start the meal with that game by using some of the day’s experiences. Ask older family members to share their favourite travel memory and why. You will be surprised at what you find out about Uncle Bert!
- Despite the added complications of checking in with people’s health there is the advantage that you may pick up bits of information that had not been previously shared with you. Having a clearer understanding of where various family members’ health is helpful for everyday life.
- Precious time with people that is more valuable than the Sunday afternoon coffee pop in or sharing a meal to celebrate a birthday. You may never have spoken to your brother in law at length before but now you get the time to relate when you both choose a dune buggy adventure.
Multigenerational family trips certainly face some planning issues and the need for a lengthy itinerary but in many instances these trips will be the trip of a lifetime. Sometimes they are enjoyed so much by all that they become a regular vacation.
Multigenerational family travel is not just for dysfunctional or highly pressured busy families. It allows you the opportunity to include a niece or cousin. You can include family residing overseas and even the friends who have no living relatives. Families come in all different shapes and sizes and are not a closed club to blood relatives only. For the more advanced families ex-wife and partner may bring the step-children, whilst ex-husband brings his wife and their children.
- A cruise. Cruises offer a large variety of activities to cater for a large number of interests. Families with young children can grab some adult time with kids club and families with older parents do not necessarily need to slow down all day but meet for meals and other activities. The additional bonus of family members deciding on accommodation that suits their needs is not only highly prized but offers the opportunity for family members to retire to their rooms if they need to. Click here for more family cruising information.
- Cruises are not all big ships. Consider hiring a yacht for your family size and sail around the Dalmatian Coast or Greek Islands. Click here for more information.
- A safari. Morning safari tours and afternoons by the pool are a fabulous, unforgettable adventure for all. Pick a safari that caters to groups. Click here for more information.
- A city adventure. Family members need to be able to walk or catch cabs and meet at various destinations. A 4 day trip to London to see the sights could be a fantastic adventure for all. Climbing to the top of Notre Dame in Paris is not so good for little legs or frailer people. Having an understanding of what is involved in the day’s activities is key to preventing issues and problems.
- A resort by the sea. Fiji, Hawaii, Bali and Thailand all have resorts with a range of accommodation and the ability to house families of various sizes. The bigger resorts will cope better with larger meal bookings but as many evening s tend to be buffet you may not have restrictions. Day trips can be arranged through the resort.
- Starting in one of the cities and then spending time adventuring around Tuscany whilst based in a market town. Day trips can be arranged locally or prior to departure. Consider adding a bicycle tour in Sardinia for a few days as a way to see the sights. Click here for the Italian family travel experts.
If you want my suggestion, we are trying to plan a trip to Darwin and Kakadu with my in-laws. I wanted cultural learning and didn’t want a long flight. From Australia that limits you to… Australia! Ha Ha. There will be some walking which we are concerned some family members won’t be able to do but mostly it is being driven in a guided 4WD. We came to this conclusion as we would like my parents to come and my mum cannot really get on a plane. My in-laws don’t like sun or the heat – so there goes Asia. New Zealand is an option but either too fast or too slow for my little family. The beaches in Australia are out due to the heat thing. Cities are a possibility but we wanted something new and exciting. We wanted the kids to be engaged and interested. Crocodiles and Aboriginal art on walls is sure to be a draw card. Breath taking views ticks my box and beer ticks my husbands. It seems like the place that will be right for us. I will let you know how it goes once we return.
I keep telling myself New York as a couple is a completely different city from New York with kids. Remember that when planning multigenerational travel. Whilst you can add some of your favourite restaurants and stops, it’s a different trip with a group and we all need to be flexible. Try to focus on the purpose of the travel this time. Experience and appreciation. Isn’t travel the best when it gives the chance for perspective like nothing else?