How to Plan a Fun, Stress-Free Multi-Generation Vacation

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As Mother's Day approaches, we're all scrambling to do something nice for our moms: buying flowers, making brunch reservations, writing cards, shopping for gifts. But what does any mom really want? To spend time with her kids and make memories with family. What better way to do that than on a family trip? Traveling with our mothers is a great way to step out of our everyday routines and spend quality time together - to remember what makes us laugh, what piques our curiosity, and what sparks great conversation.

At ToursByLocals we’ve been noticing a trend among our travelers, who have been taking “family travel” to a new level in recent years. It’s no longer just the immediate family unit traveling together: it’s multiple generations. Grandmothers and grandfathers want to share their love of travel with not only each other, but their children and grandchildren too. This means that our guides are leading small groups where the age range might span from toddler to seventy – or even ninety if great-grandparents come along for the ride! After the last few years, spending quality vacation time with each other sounds like the perfect way to reconnect.

In the spirit of celebrating Mother's Day and multi-generational travel, we’ve put together a few tips to make the family trip as enjoyable as possible for everyone involved.

9 Tips for a Stress-Free Family Vacation

1. Make it special for everyone. Let every member of the group choose a special activity that they’d like to do on the vacation. By involving everyone in the excitement of the planning process, nobody feels like they’re just coming along on someone else’s trip.

2. Be honest about your party’s limitations. Don’t plan a trip just around the kids, or just around the adults and expect everyone else to fall in line. This might sound obvious, but there’s no need to sacrifice half the group’s enjoyment. Your destination and itinerary should take into account all ages, and any health and activity level concerns among members of your group.

3. Consider renting shared accommodation. Instead of multiple hotel rooms, consider renting a house or large private apartment. You’ll have enough common space to accommodate everyone for the occasional meal-in (easier than making a large group dinner reservation every night), or simply relaxing in the evening, and it’s almost always better value than paying for separate hotel rooms.

4. Don’t sweat the first day. Instead of trying to plan an ambitious itinerary upon arriving, consider this day a bit of a write off. You likely traveled for a long time to reach your destination, and this can be taxing on younger and older travellers, leading to over-tired, grumpy family members. Instead, plan to relax and you’ll be better prepared to delve into activities the second day.

5. Remain flexible. While it’s important to plan, it’s equally important to understand that things won’t always go according to plan – and that’s OK. The children might need a low-key day, grandma might be feeling more jetlagged than usual, the weather might not cooperate...But often the best memories are made in moments of spontaneity. Don’t be afraid to break your plans and go with the flow.

6. Set a comfortable pace. Some people are early birds, while some are night owls. And some like to meander while others march. Keep in mind everyone’s personal preferences when it comes to activity schedules, sleeping and eating hours, and accommodate as much as possible. Planning one main activity each day is a good way to go. Of course, sometimes it’s a good idea to simply...

7. Split up! It’s going to be impossible to please everyone all the time, and there’s no rule that says you have to spend every waking hour together. If someone’s in the mood for a pub lunch and someone else feels like sushi, it’s OK to break up the group for an hour. Dispersing the larger group will also give everyone a chance to spend one-on-one time with different family members, and share their different experiences at the end of the day.

8. Stay positive. The most important thing to pack is a great attitude. While fun, traveling in a group can be a bit stressful at times, and unforeseen events will happen. Remaining calm, flexible and happy will make sure that a small setback doesn’t dampen the excitement of traveling. Plus, children will learn a lot about how to cope with adversity when they watch their parents and grandparents rise to the occasion.

9. Find a local guide. Finally, one of the best things you can do when traveling with your family is to spend a day with your own private guide. A local guide is used to handling the diversity of a multi-generational group. They are skilled at setting a comfortable pace, encouraging moments of spontaneity, and engaging audiences young and old. Taking a tour on the first or second day of your trip is a great way to get oriented, comfortable and inspired for the rest of your vacation together.
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