Travelling with multiple generations can definitely be a challenge, but it’s also a wonderful way for extended families to bond and experience the world together.
It’s also a growing trend.
According to a recent study by the U.S.-based marketing group, MMGY Global, 40 per cent of leisure travelers have taken at least one multi-generational trip in the past year. Increasingly, grandparents are traveling with adult children and/or their grandkids, bridging the age gap through shared adventures.
Just ask Alison Gardner, the Victoria, B.C.-based wife, mother and grandmother with an insatiable hunger for globetrotting – including with her adult kids and young grandchildren. Fourteen years ago she launched a website geared to mature travellers, travellingwithachallenge.com, which now attracts more than 1.7 million readers worldwide.
Here’s what Gardner suggests:
1) Put on your most realistic glasses: “Don’t ignore anything that could derail the trip,” she advises. In other words, put it all out on the table. For example, “adult kids are often in need of a rest, since for them holidays are in short supply, whereas the Boomer grandparents have more time, are generally more refreshed and ready for action.”
And remember, you’re going to be together the entire trip so if you haven’t spent much time as a family since the kids were living at home, you better know each other really well. Bottom line is everybody needs to be honest about what they expect to get from the vacation. “Some grandparents, for example, may not want to babysit the whole time, while their kids to out to dinner,” says Gardner.
2) Be clear about who’s paying: Often it’s the Boomer grandparents who foot the bill, since they normally have more discretionary income – but that, says Gardner, also gives more weight to their preferences for the type of vacation. And if the younger generation is expected to pay their own way, there may need to be more cost considerations and discussion. Either way, be up front about who is expected to pay for what.
The good news is there are more travel companies offering family-friendly options than ever before, says Gardner, so there’s lots of choice. Here are a few of her recommendations, both budget-conscious and on the higher end.
Vacation volunteering, known as ‘voluntourism’ is very hot these days, says Gardner. It can be fun and rewarding to do something useful, plus kids feel like they’re making a difference. U.S.-based Global Volunteers offers a number of family-oriented options. (Note there are some age restrictions.)
Believe it or not, cruises can be quite affordable, as low as $1,000 per person for a 7-day cruise, says Gardner. And they’re well suited to multi-generational holidays since there’s something on board for everyone to do, both apart and together.