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“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
This quote by Saint Augustine is being taken to heart by the young and the old, alike, as the trend of multi-generational family travel has steadily grown over the past decade and is cited to be one of 2014’s major travel trends.
Reasons Behind the Trend
A majority of travellers today utilize their vacation days to attend family events, such as weddings, anniversaries, milestone birthdays, reunions or holiday gatherings. In many cases, they do this by planning a multi-generational family trip, which allows families who are far apart to come together according to their busy schedules by setting a pre-planned travel date and destination. Modern times has brought with it faster-paced lifestyles, far-flung relatives and little time to dedicate to the multi-generational family.
Another reason for the trend is that the baby boomer generation are becoming grandparents, and these grandparents are often healthier, younger and more energetic than grandparents past, which means they are more likely to take advantage of time spent with their grandchildren by being active. The baby boomer stats, along with the hectic, multi-scheduled coordination of modern relations means that multi-generational travel allows families to jump two hurdles with one leap.
Planning a Multi-Generational Vacation
The collaborative effort of planning a multi-gen vacation can be a bit of a headache (depending on your family dynamics), as the planners must negotiate, compromise, and consider the whole multi-gen family, which often means planning for dozens of individual needs and schedules. You can make this head-splitting task less splitting by taking it a step at a time.
Obviously choosing the travel dates and destination is one of the first group decisions to set in stone when planning for multi-generational travel. One way to go about this essential decision is to consider the oldest and the youngest of travellers in the family, as they are the most affected by long-distance travel. Logistically speaking, a convenient destination for the age extremes in the family will accommodate everyone else in the middle. It’s also important to consider those family members who may have any physical or mental disabilities which make travelling to certain destinations more difficult than others.
2. Key Activities
Playing off the famous Tolstoy quote, every happy family is happy in its own way, so when planning for multi-gen travel, planners should take into account what, exactly, their family’s “own way” is. It could be that your family enjoys cultural exploration, or it could be that ancestral heritage is of the utmost value. Maybe your family requires a relaxed beach-side break, or perhaps you’re of the more competitive and outdoorsy variety who enjoys sporting in the sun and the mountains. Any one of these variations can be budgeted to allow each member of a multi-gen family – despite income discrepancies – to actively participate. Additionally, if your family is much more diverse, made up of members with a wide range of interests, you might consider a destination which allows various sightseeing activities, as well as different options for active interests and the more relaxed, pampering ones.
3. All-inclusive or Self-guided
Another choice you’ll have to make is whether or not your family would like to spring for an all-inclusive vacation, such as a cruise, resort or tour, or if your family would rather have more independence and flexibility in their travel.
The advantage of the all-inclusive vacation is that it often is geared towards families, providing a range of programs with varying prices and interests from which to choose. This allows the family to take a step back from the fuss of planning, and simply enjoy the ride. With so many program options available, you can choose one well-suited to your family’s general interests, such as relaxed all-inclusive beach-side resorts, exploration tours in Europe, or more active adventures in the Rockies.
The infinite options and easy all-inclusive fare – often including airfare – , appeals to those who’d like to stick to a set budget and don’t want the hassle of coordinating among a large multi-gen family. This option also means that you’ll be guided by professionals and hosts, which takes an enormous amount of pressure off the family travel planner. When it comes to pricing, you may even enjoy a discount depending on your family’s size or the special packages available. In addition, hosts often offer to arrange special group activities or events – celebrations, meals, or excursions, for instance.
All things considered, all-inclusive options reduce the stress of planning, whereas independent self-planned and self-guided travel requires a lot more research and a lot more work. If you’re up for the challenge however, you can certainly design a more intimate and personal multi-generational family vacation package than something chosen out of a heap of all-inclusive options. In this case, you’ll have to be an expert at coordination and communication … otherwise you might have more than a few disgruntled family members on your hands.
If you’re determined to do it yourself, then one self-guided option is to invest in a nice vacation rental. With villas, homes and condos available for rent across the globe, you might lock down your own family commune somewhere in an environment that suits your family’s preferences. This will allow your multi-gen members to freely explore and partake in activities as they so choose.
May Not Be Smooth Sailing
No matter how you plan it, the reality is that multi-generational travel will likely come with a few bumps in the road. Whether it be a lack of preparation, the crossed-wires of travel or simply the dysfunction of so many different personalities coming together, there will be bumps and they won’t be pretty. However, they don’t have to send your whole vacation off a cliff. Simply take the bumps as they come, readjust and enjoy the beautiful memories made and quality time spent with those whom you call family. When everything is said and done, aren’t the memories and love what matter most?