Intergenerational travel can be a wonderful way for families to connect. Traveling this way helps to maximize your vacation time. You don’t have to split vacations between family members and destinations—it brings your worlds together. And, relationships grow. It’s also a chance to prioritize time and experiences together over material things—a good lesson for the young and young at heart. Multigenerational travel is generally described as three or more generations traveling together, including grandparents/parents, living-at-home or grown children, and grand or great grandchildren. More recently, extended family, including aunts/uncles, cousins and nieces/nephews are added to this mix. Every year, I help families just like you plan a memorable multi-generation family vacation.
Why is intergenerational travel popular?
So why are more families traveling together these days? Today’s world demands a fast pace of life to squeeze it all in. Often both parents are in the work force. Kids are active in sports, clubs and extra-curriculars, and teens have after-school jobs and busy social calendars. Family time is at a premium.
Traveling with extended family is a great way to connect and enjoy one another in greater depth than at annual holiday get togethers. Bringing everyone together for an extended period of time, while discovering new experiences, is a rewarding investment in the family dynamic, particularly if differing ages, travel styles, and predilections are catered for and everyone leaves happy.
Multigenerational travel is largely driven by grandparents who enjoy an active lifestyle and want to share experiences, not material goods, with their kids and grandkids. They want to build memories and introduce their grandchildren to the world on a global scale. They also want to provide their grown children (parents of the grandchildren) with a break from the hectic pace of their daily routines. 77% of multigenerational trips are planned around a milestone event – celebrating significant birthdays or anniversaries, retirements and destination weddings.
What Do Multi-gen Travelers Want From the Experience?
As mentioned, today’s family group wants to spend time together, so they are less interested in checking kids into a kids club to keep them occupied while the adults go about their vacation. Instead, they are looking for experiential activities that integrate all members of the family. Cultural immersion retreats or private tours like what we offer, include activities that engage all ages by learning about local history, seeing native performance art, or tasting regional specialty foods.
Multigenerational travel can be complex, so families are often looking for services like ours that are easy, yet have something for everyone. Private tours that are customized take the burden of managing transportation, accommodations and itinerary planning off of the head of the family and is a surefire way to treat everybody to an engaging, unique, immersive experience that will run like clockwork.
Value is important as well, particularly for the family member that is footing the bill. Meals and excursions can add up quickly for a large group – or even a couple hungry teenagers – so having a defined meal plan, or certain tours and activities included helps keep the budget under control.
Five Tips for a Successful Multigenerational Family Trip
There are often challenges in planning a multigenerational trip including selecting a destination and date family members will agree on, creating an itinerary that will ensure everyone has a great time and making sure everyone gets along before and during the trip!
There is a secret sauce to having a successful multi-generational family vacation so here are some tips for planning a memorable multi-generational family vacation:
- Stay in one location: For multigenerational families, I would suggest trips that don’t move around too much. The beauty of our trips is that they are customized, and all activities can be opted out of, so if an older member of the group didn’t feel like an included bike ride or hike, they could choose not to do it, without compromising their experience. 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, so staying in one location for the durations is ideal.
- Designate One Trip Planner: While everyone’s input is essential, it’s equally important that one person take charge of the actual planning so that the process is organized. If you don’t, the planning process can take four times as long, and the trip often ends up not being the experience that everyone would like. Once you’ve picked your destination, have that designated family member gather information from others about their interests and what they’re most keen on doing. That person can then work with us to create a sample itinerary that they can share with the others, taking any feedback into account and adjust it accordingly.
- Don’t Pack it In: Speaking of an itinerary, it’s a good idea to make sure that yours isn’t overscheduled with too many activities. If you’re rushing from one thing to the next, you may miss out on precious family bonding time. 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. While one 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 or Spain, all family members can have a blast with a cooking class. Many of our included activities can be enjoyed together like boat excursions, a group sleigh ride in winter, walking activities in natural settings, visiting interesting museums like the Egyptian one in Turin, checking out WWI trenches, visiting local markets, seeing the monkeys in Gibraltar, ziplining in Toledo, visit cool Etruscan tombs or Roman ruins, visiting local farms where children can pet animals, truffle hunting, visiting locations that produce ham and cheese, visiting the largest caves in the world, going to the beach for a day if the weather is nice…even when visiting wineries it is fun for kids walking and running among the vineyards.
- Ensure plenty of advance planning time: Armed with suggestions from family members of where the next trip should be is a good start, but then the real work begins by the family planner to pull the trip together. Often, this is a daunting task, requiring advance planning time and help from a qualified and knowledgeable travel expert. The outcome is generally better in the end, from a cost and time perspective, as the family can tap into the local travel expert’s knowledge of the region the family is interested in visiting. Using a specialist will make the family planner’s job easier, as a specialist will likely have experience managing family travel, often including the logistics involved in gathering multiple families coming from various locations.
Your family may not remember all of the trip planning and arranging, but eventually they will come to understand the immense value of a multigenerational family trip. Having your family activities pre-planned months before your flight may not sound like a big perk, but leaving the plans to someone else frees you up to relax, connect and make memories together.