6 Tips for Planning an Intergenerational Family Vacation

By Albert Howard

After two years of staying close to home, there is pent-up demand for intergenerational vacations this year. According to travel advisors, sales of extended family vacation packages have exceed pre-pandemic levels. But some travelers worry about coordinating an enjoyable trip for multiple households and age groups. It can be done successfully, but it takes careful planning. Here are some tips on planning an intergenerational family vacation.

Why Plan an Intergenerational Family Vacation?

A multigenerational family vacation allows older and younger relatives to spend unstructured time together to get to know one another. Consider a grandfather and teenage grandson who live in different cities. They see each other at most a couple of times a year. On a shared vacation, the two have time to observe each other’s strengths and interests. Maybe the grandson will discover his Grandpa’s wicked wit, or they discover a mutual enjoyment of long bike rides. Both young and old family members benefit by fostering intergenerational relationships

Planning an Intergenerational Family Vacation

Planning a group vacation is not easy. Finding a location to accommodate multiple households and the interest of family members young and old takes communication and organization. Read on for six tips on how to plan a vacation with extended family.

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1. Discuss Logistics

The first step in planning a trip is making sure everyone is aware of and agrees with the basics of the trip. Plan a conference call with one person from each household to discuss the following.

    • Budget. Find out what each household wants to spend for the vacation. Is your goal finding the best family vacations on a budget or is a generous grandparent hosting everyone? Part of the budget discussion is being very clear on who pays. One mother traveling with her adult son and daughter told them, “I will rent the house and buy groceries. You will pay your own airfare.” Knowing the total budget will help you make decisions that will not put a strain on relatives on a tight budget. 
    • Vacation length. If your group has not traveled together, consider a short trip to see how you get along. If a three-day trip goes smoothly, plan for a week together next time. 
    • Vacation type. To narrow down your options, consider the type of vacation your family wants. Are they looking forward to relaxing on a beach, taking scenic hikes or touring national landmarks? Brainstorm family vacation ideas and follow up on the favorite choices.
    • Explore on your own or all-inclusive. Decide if you will visit more than one city during vacation or stay in one place. Some families enjoy an all-inclusive location because there are plenty of activities for everyone and fewer logistics to coordinate. It can also be easier to budget when you have paid for meals upfront.
    • Dates. Settle on a time of year for the trip, then narrow it down to dates that work with everyone. Consider using long weekends or holidays to extend the trip.
  • Where. In deciding where to go, consider more than the location itself. Look at how long it takes to get there, if connecting flights are involved, and if you can drive there. Gain consensus on whether the group wants a destination that is closer to home or they are fine with a distant locale. 
  • Special needs. Think about the needs of each household. Are there parents in your group who might appreciate a resort with childcare services?  Is there anyone with mobility limitations who needs a place without stairs?

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2. Engage Everyone

Have someone from each household or each age group in charge of researching and recommending activities. For example, a cousin who is a foodie could choose a restaurant one night. Teens can decide on outdoor activities like renting jet skis or taking diving lessons. 

3. Communicate Expectations

Talking over plans and expectations in advance will go a long way in avoiding misunderstandings. If a couple with children wants someone to babysit, discuss that in advance. Let everyone know the scheduled activities so they can bring the proper shoes or sportswear.

4. Be Okay with Plan B 

What if you arrive at a beach destination and you’re met with rainy weather? Think of alternative activities to pass the time. Maybe you go sightseeing in town, try some arts and crafts or discover the area’s best ice cream sundaes. Travel is unpredictable but you might as well have fun anyway.

5. Support Solitude

Just because you’re on vacation as a group doesn’t mean you do everything together. Early risers might take a solitary walk along the beach and skip breakfast. A sun-loving mom and daughter might take a pass on sightseeing for a quiet afternoon on the beach. Have a few meals or activities where everyone comes together and be flexible about the rest.

6. Don’t Overschedule

There are so many things to do and see on vacation, it’s easy to try to pack everything in. But scheduling too many activities is tiring and will cause family members to get cranky. Leave blocks of time to do nothing so there is enough downtime to recharge.

Planning an Intergenerational Family Vacation

Spending time together on a family vacation lets children and grandparents bond over new experiences. It allows extended family members to create lasting memories. But planning a trip everyone remembers fondly takes organization and excellent communication between households. If a multigenerational trip is on your bucket list, call your parents or siblings and begin to brainstorm.

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