Multigenerational travel is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry, as more people realize that memories of seeing the world with family members last a lifetime.
Due to its popularity, an online search will bring up thousands of travel providers and ideas. However, like everything else, once you begin researching online, you can become overwhelmed.
Planning a multigenerational vacation is challenging, but if you consider the following 10 factors, you can plan a trip everyone will enjoy.
Is this to be a bonding experience? Do you want to create unforgettable memories? Is it to enable grandparents to spend more time with the grandkids? Do you want to get away from all the electronics we have learned to spend our lives with? There are many reasons why – but they must be considered in your planning.
For example, while cruising on a large ship has something for everyone, the family may not spend a lot of time together. Everyone is off doing their own thing, and may only be together for dinner. If you want to spend quality time together, consider hiring private guides in one or two ports so your family can explore together.
If you are considering taking a tour or a soft adventure vacation, you need to consider the ages and physical condition of the participants. Are the children old enough to endure the motor coach on a tour, or the activities on a soft adventure cruise? Many travel suppliers have minimum age requirements for children so be sure to check.
If the grandparents are elderly, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t consider soft adventure. Many folks in the seventies and eighties enjoy active vacations. You just need to know the activities available and their limitations.
If you are travelling with young children, it is important to consider their attention span. You may wonder about taking a young child on a long flight to Europe. However, if the child is fine on a long car ride, and can amuse themselves, they should be fine on a long flight.
Teens are usually enthusiastic about travelling, so be sure to include them in the planning process.
The best way to plan your multigenerational vacation is to know what everyone is interested in. Our family travel experts have a form that they ask all participants to complete, then they can recommend a vacation based on the interests of the majority. Don’t forget about the ones with special interests. For example, you are on a private family tour in Italy and one of the family members is interested in high performance cars. You can arrange for them to drive a Ferrari for a few hours, while the rest of the group engages in another activity.
When you poll the travellers for interests, don’t forget the kids. Sometimes their interests surprise us. On tours, kids might like a short visit to a museum or two. In fact, some cities have special children’s museums that everyone can enjoy. If you would like quality time in the museums for the adults, consider hiring a guide for the children. These special guides teach the kids about visiting museum visits, have scavenger hunts for the young ones, and contests for the teens.
Be sure to arrange special activities for the kids. For example, when in Italy be sure to schedule a pizza making experience and gelato making class. It will give them something exciting to look forward to. As a bonus, activities like the Gladiator School will inspire them to want to know more about early Roman civilization.
How attached is your family to their gadgets? Can everyone unplug for an extended period? Wireless internet is available almost everywhere, and you can even bring your own personal hotspot with you for a nominal daily fee. So, if you want to unplug, it will need to be a conscious effort and included in your planning. You might want to set aside a designated time each day when everyone can check their social media accounts and email, and unplug the rest of the day.
Our pets are an integral part of our families, so whenever possible, we bring them with us. Many hotels and resorts are pet-friendly and more are becoming so. I was recently at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston where they have a “house dog” that spends the day greeting guests as they arrive.
If you are planning on taking your dog on your vacation, check the rules of the various hotels and resorts carefully. Most hotels charge for the pet, and even provide pet beds, special meals, and even dog walking services. However, this can come with a hefty fee. You’ll also want to know if the hotel has a patio restaurant that is pet friendly so you don’t have to leave Fido in the room all day!
For families with school age children, scheduling a vacation is another challenge. You don’t only have to coordinate and arrange adult vacations, but the older the children, the more difficult the scheduling. The best thing to do is get a calendar and note everyone’s commitments during the vacation period. Then you can determine when the entire family is available and for how long.
Be sure to do this before making any reservations. There is nothing worse than getting everything all set and then finding out that one of the older kids must report in for football practice the day before the trip is due to end.
There are so many travel opportunities available. Cruises, tours, safaris, vacation home rentals, theme parks – the list goes on and on. Our family travel experts look at the input from all the interviews and “homework” questionnaires that are completed to determine interests and availability.
Sometimes that alone determines the type of trip. For example, if everyone is interested in visiting an exotic destination and seeing wildlife, but are only available for nine days (a five-day week plus two weekends), it would not be possible to go on safari in Africa – but it would be able to explore the Galapagos on a seven-night cruise.
It is best to have an idea of the total amount you want to spend, including incidentals. Many people select a cruise because they see a low price that includes accommodations, meals and entertainment. However, be sure to investigate all the extras you will spend while onboard.
Cruise lines operating large ships, will sell the cabin at a low rate, but once you add everything else you will purchase like gratuities, alternate dining, beverages (from bottled water to cocktails), onboard activities and excursions you will come home to a hefty credit card bill.
So, investigate other options. Sometimes the cost of a small ship, soft adventure cruise that includes all the activities and excursions costs more upfront, but in the end, won’t be much more than the large ship with the less expensive cabin and you may have a more memorable family experience.
Once you’ve gathered all this information and considered these 10 factors – you are ready to plan your vacation.
I know this sounds like a lot of work – and it is. Think about consulting with a family travel expert to work through the 10 factors and help plan your trip. Then, you can decide if you are going to have them make the reservations for you, or if you want to take on the responsibility of making them yourself. Whichever way you go – be sure to purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect your investment.
This story was provided by Hager's Journeys. Visit Hager's Journeys' website to learn more about family adventure.