Intergenerational travel is certainly a challenge but it also offers immense reward. Here are six tips that may help you get it right.
Tip 1: Find a way to agree on a destination
Agreeing on a destination that will please grandkids, children and you – or you, your kids and your parents – might seem like an impossible dream but many families have different ways to reach agreement. It’s a bit like Christmas – love and compromise will save the day.
Start with the range of options and draw up a list. Give everyone a chance to contribute. In Australia we’re blessed with wonderful beaches, the outback, ski fields and everything in between from beautiful national parks to amazing theme parks.
- Some family groups take turns in letting each generation have a pick,
- others put the options in a hat and do a draw,
- maybe whoever pays gets to choose,
- the democratic version is to take a vote (you could organise a secret ballot so no one is offended).
Tip 2: Discover a holiday with something for everyone
Beaches can keep toddlers to teenagers amused for hours but you may need to provide an option for a siesta under a wide-brimmed umbrella for harried parents. If you’re in need of a break or just a little older and wiser – perhaps you’ll settle on a morning or afternoon stroll along the beach before settling back in on the verandah with a book.
Snowfields can be a boon for everyone. Littlies love ski school; teenagers delight in some freedom on the slopes and everyone else is able to take things at their own pace. Sheer physical exhaustion will mean kids hit the sack without complaint while the adults enjoy a fireside chat and a well-deserved red. And, as we pointed out recently, over 70s can ski free with great deals here.
If you’re an outdoorsy family, camping can keep curious kids endlessly entertained in creating imaginary worlds among rocks and trees. The grown-ups savour some time in nature with the knowledge that they can retire to their own tent, simply listen to the cicadas, or can burn off some energy on bush trail. For grandparents, introducing younger kids to the delights of the outdoors can be especially rewarding. Toasted marshmallows, bush-tucker, even simple baked beans take on a whole new life when cooked over a campfire.
Got a few more dollars to spend? Try a cruise ship holiday but do your research and pick the right ship for your family group.
Tip 3: Write down something you each want to get out of the trip
Once you’ve agreed on the destination get everyone to write down one thing they’d like from the holiday such as:
- For me, spending precious time with my aging parents is enough.
- For my kids it might be mastering a new snowboard manoeuvre or learning to paddleboard.
- My Dad is happy if there’s a game of table tennis involved.
- Mum loves a spot of shopping, and
- My husband is keen on photography.
If you know what everyone wants to get out of a holiday, then achieving it is so much easier. When everyone ‘gets’ his or her wish, you’ll know you’ve gone a long way to having a successful family holiday.
Australia's stunning beaches are an ideal place for a whole-family holiday
Tip 4: Plan to do things together
It’s important to carve off some time for yourself, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of organising an intergenerational holiday then make sure some of it is spent together. Meals are a great start and even independent teens will make it to the table a couple of times a day.
Pick a couple of activities that you can all do together throughout your holiday. Visiting a local landmark or historic site can bring everyone together. Try doing something you’ve never done before – take a joy flight, go whale watching, even playing a game of croquet or lawn bowls can deliver fun with littlies and oldies all able to join in.
Tip 5: Get the duration right
For some families a week or two with everyone together will never be enough. For others a long weekend could be pushing it. As a group, you need to know your limits.
Remember it’s meant to be a holiday and if you, the kids or your parents are stressed in close quarters then you really need to think long and hard about the length of your time together. Too long and everyone will be exhausted; too short and you might just feel gypped. A little compromise goes a long way.
So does creating ‘me’ time for everyone. Grandparents can take younger kids for a while; adult children can make sure the oldies aren’t being run ragged by the family group. . . and teens will inevitably find the internet somewhere! Let it be known what each of you need (no one is a mind reader). Go for a nap, take a walk, have an early night – it’s your holiday too.
Tip 6: Create wonderful memories
Every good holiday creates at least one memory that lasts a lifetime. We all carry a camera in our phone these days, so make it everyone’s quest to get great family photos. Funny photos, incidental photos, action photos, candid photos, scenic photos and selfies. Most important of all – get a few group photos. Perhaps aim for a family photo of the day.
Build a “slideshow” when you get home or, better still, create a memory book online and get copies printed. Photo books are an appreciated Christmas or birthday present and everyone from kids to grandparents will enjoy a permanent record of the time spent together.
It often seems that the family will continue together forever and sometimes it’s only in retrospect that the transience of life is fleeting. Finding time to spend together may be the most memorable holiday you’ll ever take.
What are your favourite memories of holidays with your family? Let us know in the comments section below.