Planning a Successful Multigenerational Family Trip

(Forbes) Multi-generational family vacations are trip involving grandparents, parents and often grandchildren. These trips are on the rise and have been for the last several years. In 2017, they were one of the most frequently booked trip types in the luxury travel network Virtuoso, and Travel Leaders Group (with over 50,000 agents in North America) reported 91 percent of its agents booked multi-generational family trips.

There is a secret to having a successful multi-generational family vacation, according to Martha Gaughen, the vice president of Brownell Travel, who has planned hundreds of these trips in the last 35 years. “You’re dealing with people of different ages and abilities, and the trip should be a fun getaway for everybody involved,” she said.

Here are some tips for planning the best multi-generational family vacation:

Choose the Right Trip Type: Certain trips are better suited for accommodating multi-generational families, especially if you’re traveling with people who have limited mobility. These trip types include cruises, safaris, villa stays and beach getaways- all offer the chance for travelers of various ages to enjoy themselves.  “You want to pick a setting where you have lots of opportunities to connect as a group but can also spend time apart or in smaller groups engaging in activities,” Ms. Gaughen said. 

Designate One Trip Planner: While everyone’s input is essential, it’s equally important that one person leads the actual planning so that the process is organized. “If you don’t, the planning process can way longer, and the trip often ends up not being what everyone wants,” Ms. Gaughen said. Once your destination is decided, have the designated family member gather information or survey what the rest of the family wants to do. He or she can then make a sample itinerary to be shared with the others, so it can be adjusted accordingly.

Don’t Pack it In: Speaking of an itinerary, it’s a good idea to make sure that you aren't overscheduled with too many activities. You may miss out on precious family bonding time if you overschedule, “The feedback I get most from my clients is that the best moments on a multi-generational family trip happen when everyone is hanging out and doing nothing really except chatting,” she said. Having one or two structured activity a day makes sense, incorporating in downtime promotes spur of the moment fun.  

Plan Universally Enjoyable Activities: The structured activities you plan should be appealing to everyone in your group, with the exception of infants who can’t participate because they’re too young. What you pick will depend on where you are- in Italy, for example, all family members can have a blast with a pizza or gelato making class while in South Africa, game drives to spot wildlife can be engaging for all. Other options include boat excursions where thrill-seekers can go on jet ski rides while others relax on board, a group sleigh ride in winter, biking trips (little ones and non-bikers can ride in sidecars) and family-friendly sightseeing tours and scavenger hunts. 

Save Money By Renting a Villa or Home: While a villa rental sounds extravagant, Ms. Gaughen said that it’s almost always less expensive than booking multiple hotel rooms and having to eat all your meals out. Villas and homes also have communal spaces where family members can spend time with each other. For the best of both worlds, consider a home or villa that’s part of a resort so that you can take advantage of amenities and activities such as a pool, spa, beach club, golf course and restaurants.

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