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How to plan a multigenerational family holiday

Family vacation time

The multi-generational home seems to be the new normal. What was the norm until the 1950s changed to nuclear families as prosperity increased. Decades later, we are back with families opting to stay in multigenerational homes for a variety of reasons. And they need vacations just like anyone else, so below are tips for planning a multigenerational family holiday.

What is a multigenerational family?

Generally, it was parents who moved into their childrens’ homes after they were made safe for seniors. Now, it’s frequently people in their 20s who are staying back or moving in with their parents. This generation, which accommodates both their parents and children, is metaphorically called the sandwich generation.

Interestingly, there are some households that accommodate four generations. Yes, the fourth generation is generally the grandparents of the sandwich gen!

Making a comeback

Although, everyone needs to holiday once in a while, the holiday we are talking of is not a break from the family, but it’s a break collectively for the family!

Some people might ask if that is even a holiday?! It definitely is!

Historically, holidays were not as common as they are nowadays. People had picnics and occasionally visited relatives. Frequently, cost was an issue.

In farming families, people could rarely go away together as the farm had to be run, cows milked, or other daily chores to be completed. It was a big thing when families actually went on a holiday together.

And it was generally to a place not far away to reduce the number of days they had to be away. Holidays were often multigenerational, inexpensive and, more often than not, it was to the same place each time.

Although much of this might sound odd, psychology textbooks have pages and pages about how families bond better over relaxing holidays. This is a time when people are not working and have fewer responsibilities of mundane chores (which can drag the most cheerful person down). Irritability and stress levels will be low, naturally leading to more calm and enjoyment.

Book and go?

People who live on their own can just up and go when they want, if their schedules allow them. For couples who both work, it requires alignment of two calendars.

When kids are involved, vacations have to be worked into the school equation. When older kids who might be working are also involved, more calendars must align, not to mention also finding a location that gets everyone’s vote as a holiday destination.

Into this boiling brew, let’s throw in some more variables: health, mobility issues, food dos-and-don’ts, and work schedules of seniors. It’s obvious by now that a multigenerational family holiday is one of the most complex decisions out there.

That is, if you want everyone to be reasonably happy.

Steps to plan a multigenerational family holiday

So, is a multigenerational family holiday even feasible?

Yes, it is. In fact it’s a growing trend, and touristy places are actually designing many of their packages with the varying age groups and their different interests in mind.

Let’s start at the very beginning. When relatives of such a wide age group are involved, the constraints and requirements are going to be many.

These 10 steps can help you plan a multigenerational family holiday:

  1. Check with all members which dates they can take a vacation
  2. Brainstorm 2-3 possible sets of travel dates and decide on the duration of the holiday
  3. Research modes of transport (some loved ones might not be able to travel by air for long periods or at all)
  4. List any musts on the to-do list, which could vary from fun attractions to close access to a hospital
  5. Discuss any special food requirements for the hotel stay or when ordering out, such as food allergies, so everyone is safe while abroad
  6. List the number of rooms you would require (or tents if you’re camping); does anyone have special needs to accomodate?
  7. Ask people what they want to get out of the holiday and plan activities that align with those goals
  8. Get every adult’s thoughts on contributions and expenditures while away. Add up the contributions and marvel at the size of the pooled funds!
  9. Distribute planning activities between 2-3 people. Older people can easily help organize such trips and likely enjoy feeling useful
  10. Make a list of activities that people in the group might enjoy, some together as a group and others in smaller groups

Keeping all this in mind, try and shortlist places. See if it’s possible to accomodate medical, accessibility, budget, and travel constraints.

Check to see if reservations for the times you shortlist are available. Run details by the people in the household to finalize the most suitable time period and accommodation.

Once you have their feedback, make your reservations. In case there is any ambiguity about going, try and book both room and transport where your loss will be minimal.

Remember, you might have to add or remove from the list above to meet the needs and preferences of your unique multigenerational home.

Multigenerational family holiday: Discussion wrap-up

There are many travel agents who are experts in booking multigenerational getaways. You could use their help or just do it all yourself, depending how much time you have and comfort level.

Once your plan is in place, make lists of things to remember for every family member. Keep copies of important documents on a common drive in the Cloud to access if any printed documents or a device gets lost en route.

If you need to update friends and relatives on daily well-being, make it somebody’s responsibility.

Every night, sit everyone down (kids included) and run through the schedule for the following day. That is, if you have an itinerary at all!

Get 2-3 of the members in the group to photograph people. Remember, these moments might not happen again. They are precious.

Share the responsibility, cooperate, and have fun!


About today’s writer

Aileen enjoys blogging about STEM, as it’s an extension about the world around us, our home for millennia. She likes the fact that she is a part of the hum of life, something that she likes exploring and knowing better.

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