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Multigenerational travel’s a fantastic opportunity to create lifelong memories. It also provides a great bonding experience away from the distractions of home. My girls are lucky to have three sets of grandparents who all like to travel with them. We’ve done everything from short weekend getaways to theme parks and time abroad. If you haven’t considered traveling with grandparents you should! Here’s my tips for successfully planning multigenerational family travel.
Before you do anything else…do this! Set a budget everyone’s comfortable with. The budget determines where you go, where you stay, and what you’ll be able to do. Once you’ve set a budget, stick to it. Just make sure you give yourself at least 10% extra to cover the unexpected.
Beyond the budget, make sure everyone’s clear about who’s paying for what. There’s a number of scenarios: Are the grandparents planning and paying for a vacation? Are you planning and paying for the vacation? What’s included? What extras are you expected to pay for? Is everyone paying their own way? How will communal costs be divided? Equally by the number of people, number of families, etc? When we went to Maui with Papa & Nana we paid for the condo and Papa paid for the food. This worked great for us as we had a fixed cost making it easier for our budget. However you do it, make sure everyone has very clear expectations about what each family will be paying for.
Where are you going?
Did your family decide to go on a trip and invite the grandparents along, or vice versa? If so, the destination’s already been determined. If you decided you want to go on a trip together and need to decide where to go, there are a few things to consider. What time of year are you going? Pick a destination that fits your timing. You don’t want to end up somewhere during low season. (That begin said, there are benefits to traveling during low season, such as lower prices and less crowds. I suggest you travel during shoulder season for the best of both worlds.) You also need to consider mobility. Are your kids small and require a stroller? Are grandma or grandpa going to be able to walk many hours a day? Is everyone comfortable in or near the water? Try to pick a destination where everyone can enjoy a majority of the activities.
If everyone’s traveling from the same city it’s easy to coordinate travel plans. If you’re coming from different cities this can be a little trickier. Consider what’s most important. If price is important then different families should look at their most cost effective travel option and book accordingly. This may mean that not everyone arrives at the same time. If time is limited then try to coordinate travel plans as best as possible. We travelled to Honduras at Christmas with Baba and Grandpa. They are staying for one week and we’re there for two, so our travel plans are a little different. We tried to coordinate approximate arrival times and lucked out with a layover together in Houston. They arrive a few hours earlier so they’ll pick up some groceries and get settled in at the vacation rental first. Then, when we show up. They’ll already have a lay of the land and we can hit the ground running! (And it’ll give them time to get groceries on the way in from the airport).
How will you get around?
Whenever you’re traveling with a group it’s important to know where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Everyone’s comfort and ability needs to be taken into consideration, but don’t underestimate the grandparents ability to push themselves when grandkids are involved! Pre-planning transportation, or at least having an idea of how to get from point A to point B is important to save time and sanity. Have one person in charge, preferably whoever has the best sense of direction!
Where will you call home?
Wherever we go in the world, the girls refer to it as our “Hawaii home” or our “Honduras home”, etc. I don’t know if we started it, or if they started it, but it helps us all feel a bit more grounded regardless of where we are. It probably helps that we usually stay in a vacation rental so it feels more like home. These work great for a single family, but even better when you have grandparents along. Everyone’s under one roof providing lots of together time and there’s separate bedrooms so everyone sleeps better. Plus, if you have awesome grandparents like us, they’ll get up with the kids letting you sleep in! (Just don’t take too much advantage of this…you want to make sure they come again!). If a vacation rental isn’t your style try for adjoining rooms in a hotel. The kids can go to bed in one room and the adults can visit in the other with the door cracked open in between.
What are you going to do?
Start by creating a list of activities available at your destination that everyone might be interested in and able to do. Then decide just how busy you want to be! Does everyone want to have something planned each day, every second day, once or twice during the vacation, etc? Factor in naps and everyone’s energy level, decide how busy you want to be and what there is to do, then start planning activities. Check ahead of time to make sure that they’re appropriate for the kiddos. If there’s anything that someone really wants to do, make reservations beforehand so no one ends up disappointed. One strategy is for every person or family to come up with their top 3 list. The activities that show up on the most lists end up being what you do.
The elephant in the room…Babysitting.
Are the grandparents coming along on the vacation solely for childcare? or is it a vacation for them also? Discussing both yours and their expectations for babysitting before you go is SO important. If you’d like a date-night, plan for it in advance. Keep in mind that some grandparents may not be comfortable watching the kids in a foreign country incase something happens. Respect everyone’s feelings and make sure no one feels taken advantage of!
And finally, Enjoy yourself
- Plan breaks throughout the day so no one gets warn out. Spending all day every day with energetic grandkids can be exhausting!
- Take some time during family dinner to talk about what’s happening the next day.
- Take lots of pictures. For some reason I never take enough family pictures on vacation…don’t make my mistake! These are memories you’ll want to cherish forever.
Do you have any tips for planning multigenerational family travel that have worked for you?
Pin this to read later for the next time you travel with grandparents!