Planning tips for multi-generational family travel

Published 8:43 am Monday, January 23, 2012

No matter how strong the familial bonds, traveling with multiple generations of family members can be a challenge. Perhaps Grandpa loves visiting historic sites, while his toddler granddaughter prefers amusement parks. Grandma relishes museum hopping while Mom wants to shop the day away. And the only thing they all agree on is the need for an afternoon nap.

Adults traveling with children or grandchildren make up 30 percent of all adult leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association. And family travelers take an average of 4.5 trips per year, the association reports. Traveling with grandparents is on the rise, too; nearly four out of every 10 leisure travelers are grandparents, according to a report in TravelAge West.

“Interestingly, the economy seems to have had less of an impact on family travel than on other travel segments,” said Kimberly Miles of the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People see traveling with family as an important way to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. With today’s hectic schedules, many families appreciate the opportunity traveling together gives them to spend quality time together and create lasting memories.”

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Traveling with multiple generations can be a rewarding experience. Keep these tips in mind to help ensure your multi-generational family travel is fun, safe and rewarding for everyone in the group:


Choose wisely

When you have to please tastes and preferences that vary as widely as those between grandparents and grandkids, the destination you choose for your family vacation becomes even more important. Choosing a destination that’s focused on a single theme (such as an amusement park or beach resort) or that has limited access to a variety of attractions may leave at least some members of the group disappointed.

Look for destinations that specialize in accommodating family travelers with a wide variety of activities, attractions and types of lodging and dining. For example, Myrtle Beach has earned a reputation as a family-friendly destination for its broad range of things to see and do, including miles of pristine beaches, zoos, amusement parks, museums, natural preserves, and outstanding shopping and dining.

Another advantage of Myrtle Beach is its drivability from practically anywhere on the eastern seaboard. Family travelers often prefer destinations that are within driving distance of home. Road trips can help reduce transportation costs, and smart families can make the journey to their vacation spot part of the overall experience.


Consider special needs

In many ways, children and seniors have a lot in common when it comes to travel and special needs. In addition to an entertaining time, both kids and grandparents will need regular meal times and plenty of rest in order to maximize their vacation enjoyment. The adults coordinating the trip will need to keep in mind any special dietary needs of all members in the group.

Before setting out, adults should coordinate medication management to ensure everyone has an adequate supply of any necessary prescriptions. They may also need to provide additional transportation options for any family members with mobility issues. For example, grandparents who normally use a walker may prefer the convenience of a wheelchair or scooter if the family will be visiting an attraction where they will be doing a lot of walking. The family may also need to forego visits to attractions where the terrain would be challenging for very young children or others with mobility issues.


Get everyone involved in planning

Certainly all adults in the party should have a say in where the family will go, and older kids can also get into the act. The choice of destination and what sights you’ll see can be a group activity, and grandparents and children can enjoy researching together everything there is to see and do.

Involving everyone in the planning can also make trip preparations go more smoothly. For example, retired grandparents can ease pre-trip stress by helping parents confirm hotel, airline and rental car reservations. Teens and grandparents can team up to research dining options and plan family meals on the road.