After more than two years of only dreaming about travel, we all are ready for a vacation. This will be no ordinary reunion. Everybody will be there, from kids to parents to grandparents. We’ve all realized that we can’t take travel and family time for granted, so we’re going big on our next family vacation. Like, really big.
Walter Hill, a AAA member in Potomac, Maryland, has been thinking since before the pandemic about visiting The Ranch at Rock Creek, a luxury dude ranch in Philipsburg, Montana, as a treat for two of his granddaughters. He’s now ready to move forward with the adventure.
“My wife and I have been taking special trips with each of our grandchildren,” says Hill. “We can finally make this trip happen, so we want to make sure we all get to do what we want to do while at the ranch, like horseback riding and archery.”
While your epic multigenerational vacation is bound to be fun, some planning will ensure it goes off without a hitch. You’ve been patient thus far, so take time to research, plan and get it right. Be sure to involve the kids in the research; it’s their vacation, too. You will thank yourself, and your family members will thank you.
REACH A CONSENSUS
Get everyone on the same page from the start not just with the destination but also with critical details such as costs, dates, length of trip and type of vacation (for example, a cruise, an all-inclusive resort or an active adventure trip).
Also consider expectations on spending time together (all day, or one or two meals a day). You may want to spend mornings together as a group—say, breakfast and beach time—and then scatter in the afternoon for time as individual families before reconvening for dinner.
CRUNCH THE NUMBERS
While it may seem like the sky’s the limit after skipping out on major vacations the last two years, be realistic about the total cost as well as who will pay for what and how much each family can contribute. Be up front about the cost of transportation, hotel stays, activities and food.
“Money is always hard to talk about, but it’s much harder to bring up during the vacation,” says Kirsten Maxwell, editor of travel advice site, MultigenerationalVacations.com. “Gas prices have become a factor too. Driving and mileage are real considerations for my family’s upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe with my sister and parents.”
DELINEATE NEEDS AND WISHES
Once you’ve had the money conversation, get serious about what is important to each family member, including the kids. Consider mobility concerns, downtime requirements, age-appropriate activities, dietary issues, cooking requirements, the amount of space needed for privacy and even shared bathrooms (as in, thumbs-up or thumbs-down).
Sharing bathrooms can lead to a bit too much togetherness, so for the sake of the vacay, you may want accommodations with at least one dedicated bathroom per family. There’s no need for messy counters or bath towels on the floor to put a damper on a much-needed vacation.
TAP THE EXPERTISE OF A TRAVEL AGENT
It can be a lot to ask of one family member to organize a multigenerational vacation, so you may want to have a travel agent pull together everything your family has discussed. A professional can help narrow down appropriate destinations and can suggest and book accommodations options along with activities, dinner reservations and the like.
PACK YOUR FLEXIBILITY AND PATIENCE
It’s not possible for a large group to agree on everything, so be adaptable and patient. Also, realize that you can’t control the weather. If rain or heat force you inside, you’ll be thankful you brought your patience, as well as family games that everyone can play, such as Apples to Apples, UNO and Blank Slate. Having a positive, flexible attitude will help the vacation run more smoothly, ensuring that all family members have a good time. You’ve waited this long, so make the most of precious time together.