Posted by Sean Thompson

Multi-Generational Travel

While some seek vacations to escape family, there are an increasing number of travellers wanting to travel with their extended families.

Multi-generational travel hit the headlights about 20 years and today it’s established as a leading market niche in the travel industry. The boomers have more money than ever before and they’re seeking more adventurous, educational and culturally inclined excursions. They also want to take you and your kids along, or at least your kids!

Let’s take a quick look at why this niche has taken hold. It used to be that grandparents lived in the same household as their grand kids. True story and not that long ago. In close proximity were the aunts, uncles and cousins. Getting together was easy, commonplace and taken for granted. It’s just how life was back then. Then people dispersed, generally to a more urban lifestyle to access work, far from their extended families.

Today’s grandparents often live quite a distance from their grand kids. They still want to be part of their growing-up years so that they can share special times and create lasting memories together. The other thing about today’s grandparents is they are healthier and live longer than previous generations.

As for today’s young families, vacation time is often spent visiting siblings, parents and in-laws, which can mean moving from town to town, with very little relaxation time. The holiday almost becomes an annual chore or a duty.

Getting everyone together, in the same spot, for a week or two of shared adventure is a great option. Visit with everyone, have fun, create lasting memories while still having some private downtime seems like a great solution. You may opt for travelling with three or four generations or you may skip a generation. You might travel with seniors, parents and kids or maybe just seniors and adult kids or grandparents and grand kids.

If you’re thinking about doing this, there are a few things to consider.

GO FOR AN ORGANIZED TOUR OR BUILD YOUR OWN ADVENTURE

There are many tour operators specializing in multi-generational travel. Generally speaking the prices are pretty steep. They build their packages on the premise the kids need other kids and grandparents need a break. Some of the well known names in this niche are Grand Travel, Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel), Smithsonian Journeys and the very high-end Trusted Adventures. The African Safari is the most popular trip in the organized tour world. If you choose to build your own travel package, check out these sites as they’ll give you some great ideas. If you do your own planning, you’ll definitely cut costs.

CHOOSING YOUR DESTINATION

Forget about total consensus when choosing a destination. This can be your worst nightmare in planning a multi-generational trip. Come up with a few options and take a vote. If you’re footing the bill, you can always announce the destination and ask ‘who wants to come along?’

PLANNING

Try to plan a year ahead as several schedules need to be accommodated. Selecting your destination is big but if you are developing your own custom adventure there’s still lots more to do. There are days to plan, excursions to choose and accommodation to select that meets the needs of all. Planning offers a multitude of opportunities for exploring interests across age groups, creates connections way before departure and builds excitement. Read books, watch videos and talk it up.

LENGTH OF TRIP

Veterans of multi-generational travel suggest no more than a week or two. It’s a ‘go, go, go’ kind of holiday, not the ‘lay on the beach and read a good mystery’ kind of vacation. You will likely feel pretty tired at the end of it all. It will also probably be your most magical holiday ever.

Have you done some multi-generational travel? We’d love to hear about your experiences and any advice you might have.