Grace Lower | Nov 12, 2018
For several years running, multigenerational travel has been cited as a top trend by organizations like TravelPulse, AARP, and US News & World Report and for good reason. As older generations enjoy longer and more active retirements, a group travel experience offers the perfect opportunity to bring the whole family together.
As fulfilling as multigenerational travel can be, it comes with a unique set of logistical challenges. Finding activities everyone can enjoy, foods everyone will eat, and accommodations that suit everyone’s preferences requires a feat of travel-planning genius. If you decide to take a multigenerational vacation, it’s important to plan early and get everyone involved with the process.
While the details of your family’s trip may vary, here are a few travel truths to know before you go:
When traveling with a mixed-age group, remember that there can be a huge variation of energy levels and physical abilities. While the youngest travelers might begin the day brimming with energy, without the proper planning, mid-afternoon meltdowns are inevitable. And while the grandparents might enjoy taking a nature walk with the family, a 10-mile trek could cause more stress and soreness than it’s worth.
Make sure to consider the needs and limitations of everyone in your group, and factor that into your travel plans. And regardless of your travel companions’ ages, take breaks between activities, and bring plenty of snacks, sunscreen, and water.
Don’t shoulder the burden of choosing activities alone. Instead, take an informal poll of everyone who is going on the trip, and get a sense of what kind of activities they’d like to do. Whether you’re chatting with kids, teens, grown-ups, or seniors, don’t settle for “I’m happy to do whatever.” Encourage everyone to contribute an idea or two. As long as the activities are safe and cost-effective, it’s okay to try something out-of-the ordinary!
For instance, a multigenerational trip to New York City might include a visit to the Central Park Zoo for the kids; a boat tour around the Statue of Liberty for history-buffs; treats from an Instagram-famous bakery, like Milk Bar, for dessert enthusiasts; and a view from the Top of the Rock to bring everyone together. By making sure everyone’s voice is heard, not only will you keep them happy, but you’ll create a one-of-a-kind experience where every traveler — no matter their age — can enjoy something new together.
During a family vacation, kids and teens typically thrive when they have opportunities for independence, while older travelers tend to prioritize relaxation. To maximize your multigenerational trip, it’s helpful to choose a location that offers a variety of active and passive activities.
A dynamic destination will give you the flexibility to build in dedicated “down-times” where everyone has a chance to recuperate in the way that works best for them. Here are a few popular options for multigenerational groups:
What’s especially appealing about the ideas above is that each traveler can choose from a variety of available activities. Too much togetherness can create unnecessary stress among a travel group, so choosing a destination that allows for individuality can make all the difference.
When traveling with little ones and seniors, it’s essential to ensure that everyone’s trip is as safe as it is enjoyable. If you and your loved ones are traveling abroad, it’s wise to invest in medical travel insurance to reduce the costs of unforeseen emergencies. What’s more, you’ll want to read up on your destination — and your accommodations — to understand any risks to travelers.
Even if it’s nothing more than a bout of rainy weather, or a steep flight of stairs on your rental house, doing proper research can ensure your family is prepared to handle any challenges that arise. Finally, if you have family members with medical needs, make sure that they check with their doctor, and pack any required medications or devices with them before you go.
It can be difficult to budget for a multigenerational trip, especially when older or more generous family members offer to cover the lion’s share of costs. To avoid stressful spending decisions, have a candid conversation with the adults on your trip. Establish how much everyone is willing to contribute, and how items like restaurant bills and ticket prices will be divided. With an agreed-upon budgeting strategy in place, finances won’t upstage the fun.
The beauty of a multigenerational vacation is the opportunity for family, young and old, to reconnect over shared experiences. Although technology can help us stay in touch with distant family members, it’s no substitute for seeing people face-to-face. Planning and facilitating a family trip is important, but don’t forget to simply enjoy the moment. Trust us: the itinerary can wait.
Grace Lower has a love for all things writing and travel. When she's not exploring new places, Grace enjoys teaching English as a Second Language, making terrible puns, and running incredibly long distances at incredibly slow speeds.