Multigenerational Family Vacations
Multigenerational Family Vacations
Dorothy Jordon (Family Travel Expert) gives expert video advice on: Why would I travel with my parents or in-laws?; How can I avoid potential conflicts when traveling with extended family members?; What are some tips for staying at a family member's home? and more...
Why would I travel with my parents or in-laws?
Today's grandparents don't live next door like they used to. One of the ways that you get to spend time, and that your child gets to know your parents or your in-laws, is that you go on vacation together. I like it because it takes away a lot of the negatives when you go on vacation. If I took my kids to my mothers house, as wonderful as she was, she would say, Oh, don't touch this. Don't touch that. But when we went to a neutral setting, she didn't care, and it didnt matter as it wasn't her house. I think it is really important, though - one of the things parents do very frequently is that they make their parents the babysitters. As much as they want to babysit for their kids, I think it should come from them, not from you. You shouldn't expect your parents to babysit. You should expect them to have a good time with your kids and you should expect them to have a good time with you. If they want to babysit while you go out, that's great, but there's no reason why they shouldn't enjoy it as well.
How far in advance should I plan a vacation with my extended family?
Multi-generation family vacations need to be planned further in advance than other vacations. It's interesting, I think I mentioned this before, that the older generation and the younger generation are very similar in a lot of ways - they both like to know what to expect and what's expected, and they want to hear about it three days in advance as it takes them more time to plan. As we get older, our time values change, and maybe it is to have something to look forward to. You need to do it a little bit in advance because you need to tell the other generation what's happening and give them an opportunity to say, I'm not sure if that's going to work for us. You need a little bit more time.
Where can I find help planning a multigenerational vacation?
Multigenerational family vacations include the three generations, or four generations - in my family we have four generations now. An intergrational trip is just the grandparents and the grandchildren, and there are tour operators out there. There are a lot of things that you need to look at. Again, if you are traveling with a grandparent who may have a cane or a walker or a wheelchair, you need to make sure that things are accessible. You don't want to go to a place that has too many stairs, and you don't want to go to a place that's too far from the beach. So it's very similar to when you're planning for a young child. You don't want to go to a family resort where there are only going to be young people there and that your in-laws or your parents are not going to have anybody that they could really relate to. To some parents it doesn't matter, because you're going and the family just spends its time together. But it's also nice if you separate - I think part of every family vacation is what I call Time Together, Time Apart - it's good to try to balance those things. We have the most socialized group of children that America has ever seen. They've been in daycare, they go to afterschool, they like playing with their peers; they're not used to being with their parents 24/7. We're not hip-to-hip with our kids all the time. So I think it's important that they have the opportunity to play with their peers, that they go someplace where there are going to be other children there. The same applies for the older generation, that they too have something they like to do. Maybe they want to play golf. My husband and I are not golfers, but my mother and father were golfers, so they would play golf and we would spend time with the kids - we would go bikeriding. Afterwards, they would spend time with the kids. Everybody does it differently - you need to make it work for you. I keep repeating that because it's really, really important to understand that your brother's favorite vacation and your best friend's best vacation ever may not be the best vacation for your family.
What types of accommodations are best when traveling with extended family?
All different types of accomodations work. I like the idea of renting a house, and I also like the idea of making sure that somebody comes in everyday to do the chores, so that you don't have any arguments about it. I remember once we actually rented two apartments, one for my parents and one for us. Each had an extra bedroom, so the kids could go back and forth. Sometimes they spent time with my parents and sometimes with us. I love the idea of having a place where you can all sit together, whether it's a big fireplace in a ski, in a ski-rental, or whether it's just at the dining room table, sitting outside watching the water over the beach. Where it is located is important - with these very large resorts you have accomodations spread out all over the place, so you need to figure out what you, and most importantly what your kids are going to use most, because the adults can always get there. If your kids are real beach goers, you'll want to make sure that you're close to the beach. If your kids are of that age where they want to play golf, then you want to stay near the golf course. You have to make a lot of choices, but it's really not as difficult as it would seem. Again, the important part is what you're doing together.
What are some tips for staying at a family member's home?
My first tip about staying at a family member's home is, don't. Not because they don't love you when you don't love them, but if you are staying at somebody else's home, it's really important to understand their rules, understand their regulations, and to make sure that your kids understand that. If you stay at a home where they eat dinner every night at six o'clock, then you will have to be back by six for dinner. You have to go along with the flow but not your flow, their flow.