Are you planning a multigenerational trip any time soon?
Well I just took one to Paris with my husband, eleven year old twins, and my parents. And I’ve got a few tips to make your next multigenerational family vacation go smoothly:
1. Separate once in a while. Hey, the truth is, Grandma and Grandpa probably won’t want that any more than you do. Remember, one of the privileges of being the grandparent as opposed to the parent is being able to walk away when you feel like it. And one of the things about being a grown-up child…is that it isn’t easy being both a parent and a child on the same trip. Give yourself a break: an afternoon off. One dinner with just you and your kids. Tell the grandparents that you want to give them a romantic night off.
2. Use your parents/in-laws as babysitters….just not too much. Again, frame this one not as “oh, great! I can use you guys as free babysitting while I’m on my own vacation!” but rather as “We really want Billy and Suzy to have memories of this vacation that are just about them being with their grandparents.” Works every time. But don’t abuse the privilege. This is, after all a family vacation.
3. Make Plans: When I go on vacation with my family, we often play things by ear. But that can mean a lot of walking around – looking for somewhere to eat, finding our way to the next destination. Which is great if you’re physically capable of it – it’s one of the best things about travel, if you ask me. But often, older people can’t handle that much schlepping around. Having a game plan each day will help keep everyone in their physical-exertion comfort zone.
4. Meet up at the hotel…not the airport. No matter how well you’ve timed your arrivals, something is bound to go wrong. Air travel often means delays, and there’s nothing worse than waiting around in an airport – especially AFTER you’ve already been on a plane for a while. So make your meeting place somewhere you’ll be glad to be: pool side, in the hotel lobby. Any place but the airport.
5. Bring Games – Small, portable games like Apples to Apples (you only need the deck, not the whole box), Bananagrams, Headbanz…even just a simple deck of cards — can be a great way to get the generations together. Whether it’s around the pool or in the hotel room at night, or even waiting at a restaurant for a meal to be served, a family game can help keep an intergenerational trip from becoming “really the adults but the kids are there,” or “really just your family – but the grandparents are there.” Games like that can bring everyone together.
And that’s what a multigenerational vacation…or any family vacation – is all about.