Traveling with three generations or, if you're very lucky, with four, can be one of life's greatest memory makers or… one of its biggest nightmares.
As participants in many "3G" vacations and observers of countless others, the Family Travel Forum staff has learned a few tips about making multi-generational vacations less stressful.
Keys to Success for any Multi-Gen Vacation
First, we culled through the Multi-Generational Vacation section of the site to get our bloggers' advice on successful family gatherings. Here are some tips the staff thinks are particularly relevant to today's families, who face stresses that their grandparents never imagined.
1. The middle generation, regardless of who's paying, should plan a vacation itinerary with down time after taking into account the different ages.
2. Respect grandparents' and teens' need for privacy; even if the cost means you have to cut your trip short, book them a private room.
3. Give kids their own spending money; treating grandparents to ice cream can smooth out most financial conflicts.
4. Alternate the familiar with the exotic; not everyone shares a passion for new adventures or molecular cuisine.
5. If you're worried about family friction: the planned activities, service, dining and childcare of a cruise or all-inclusive resort is a no-brainer.
Tips for Multi-Generational House Rentals
While planning Grand Reunions Under the Tuscan Sun, a grandfather shared his thoughts on how to make a house or villa rental a successful venue for a small reunion.
1. Plan well ahead, not losing sight of the fact that the middle generation has least flexibility because of fixed school holidays and companies' vacation schedules.
2. Give everyone the chance to participate in the planning, or decide on the arrangements yourself, with proper consideration of individual needs and preferences.
3. Pick a destination which can offer a wide variety of attractions, suitable for all ages involved, with seasonal and climatic considerations.
4. Immerse the whole family in guidebooks, maps, brochures (from the local visitor's bureau or the Internet) to prepare youngsters and adults alike for what they are to experience.
5. Get in the mood. Preparation is fun and rewarding, as well as useful.
6. Plan the food arrangements ahead of time if you are to be in a self-catering situation, even if it consists of trying to determine who will be responsible for what and when.
7. Transportation is important. No one should be in the position of dependence on others for their own mobility and daily activities.
8. Emphasize that everyone will be free to do exactly as they please, with no requirement to do things as a group or on anyone's timetable.
9. A diary or scrapbook is always a fun project and makes a wonderful keepsake, even heirloom.
10. When you get back, thank everyone for coming. Arranging to spend time together is one of the most important things an elder can do for a multi-generational family.
More Thoughts for a Large Family Reunion
In Family Reunion Planning we found more great thoughts on how to organize a 3G vacation for a large number of relatives.
1. Determine who's going to be in charge and leave them alone to plan and book vacation details.
2. Decide on a central location that's easy to get to for the majority of family members.
3. Choose a date well in advance, considering everyone's work and school schedules. A long holiday weekend may turn out to be the best option (though not the cheapest).
4. With the budget limitations of every family member in mind, book hotels. Travel is best booked by participants individually.
5. Make sure there are activities planned that include all age groups and interests. If you have to split up the clan, offer a variety of affordable options.
Everyone Agrees: When Making Memories, Save Them
Don't forget that whatever memories are made together, you have to preserve them. If you have a spare digital camera, pass it around and ask everyone to record a fun moment.
Memory or nightmare, the record of your multi-genrational family vacation is sure to be a hit.
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