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How to take the stress out of planning a multi-generational vacation

After years of travel restrictions and separations, we’ve never been more ready for a family reunion. And what better way to get the gang together again than with a multi-generational vacation. It’s the best way to bring everyone together and make some unforgettable family memories. But if you’ve never travelled with your extended family before, there are a few practical tips you’ll need to know before you get started. From picking the right multi-generational vacation destinations to setting expectations, here’s how to take the stress out of multi-generational travel – and keep everyone in your family happy on holidays.

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multi-generational family vacation Italy

Plan the trip well in advance

The planning phase is usually one of the hardest parts of a multi-generational vacation. You’ve got multiple people and families needing to decide on dates, destinations, and budgets, so be sure to start planning well in advance. But how early do you actually need to kick things off? 

Start planning at least a year in advance for a big reunion with multiple families. Many accommodations and tours book up fast and need lots of notice for large groups, especially in peak travel seasons. You’ll need to get in early to make sure you can secure your ideal accommodation, transport options, tours, and activities. 

If it’s a smaller multi-generational vacation, with just your family and the grandparents, you can often plan it a few months in advance, however, the earlier you start planning, the less stressful the experience! 

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multi-generational vacation

Set expectations

It’s crucial to get everyone’s input when planning a multi-generational vacation – even the kids! Start by asking each group member what their goals and expectations are for the trip. What sort of trip would they like to go on and what kind of experiences do they want to have? For example, while one family might want to go on lots of adventurous excursions, another family might want to relax by the beach. 

There are other important questions like: When do they want to go and how long do they want to travel? How do they want to travel and how far will they go? Some people might be okay with taking long international flights, while others may want to stick closer to home and have short travel days. 

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father and daughter on holidays

Make a budget

Another essential topic is budget. You should start talking about this ASAP to avoid any uncomfortable situations later. You’ll need to discuss how much you’re willing to spend, including how much will be spent per day on things like accommodation, food, transport, and activities. While some family members may be willing to splurge, others may have a tighter budget, so it’s important to consider this. 

You should also make it clear about who is paying for what, as some people may want to treat their loved ones to the vacation, while others may want to pay their own way. 

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multi-generational family vacation

Watch your limitations

You’ll need to consider your group’s limitations early on in the planning process. Ask each group member if they have any concerns about the trip, like budgets, time constraints, or physical issues. 

Older family members may have mobility limitations and won’t be able to navigate destinations with lots of stairs or bumpy, cobbled streets. Meanwhile, younger kids in the group may need naps or early bedtimes and won’t suit destinations with a pumping nightlife. Some people may be early risers, while some can’t bear the thought of getting up with the sunrise. Getting it all out in the open early will mean a much smoother and stress-free vacation. 

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Pick a group leader

You know the saying: “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”? That’s especially true when it comes to trip planning. While it’s important to get everyone’s input on the trip, it’s also best to designate one person as the lead travel planner. This person will make the bookings, manage payments, communicate with everyone, and generally take charge of the planning. 

If no one wants this responsibility, it’s a great idea to work with a travel company that can do all this for you. When you travel in a group of 9 or more with Trafalgar, you can either choose from our fantastic existing tours or design custom multi-generational travel tours for your group, with all the same Trafalgar inclusions and experiences. Plus we’ll take care of all those little details for you.

RELATED CONTENT: Why a holiday is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the family

mother and child Blue Lagoon Iceland

Set boundaries

If you’re travelling with kids on your multi-generational vacation, you’ll definitely need to be upfront about childcare duties. Some parents want to enjoy a child-free night on their trips and may ask the grandparents or other family members to watch the kids for a few hours. While some family members might be happy to do this, others may be less willing, so be sure to have these conversations before you go. And if you’re on the receiving end of babysitting help, be sure to do something special for those helpful family members. 

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Plan activities everyone can enjoy

If you want to do lots of excursions together on your multi-generational vacation, you’ll need to pick universally enjoyable activities. When in Italy, everyone can get into a pizza-making class. Or in Thailand, everyone will love a day at the beach, whether you’re snorkelling or kicking back on a sun lounger. And if you’re in South Africa, game drives to spot wildlife are thrilling for all. 

RELATED CONTENT: 11 of the best destinations around the world to visit as a family

family hiking in mountains

Get some space

While you’ll want to do lots of things together, it’s also important to plan some me-time on a multi-generational vacation. Before you go, work out how much space you’ll all need. Are you happy to share rooms or would you prefer your own rooms? How much time will you actually spend together and how much time will be spent doing your own thing? 

Some families may want to stick together all day. Other groups may prefer to do their own thing during the day and come together for dinner in the evening. Some people may want to be active all day, while others may only want to do only one structured activity each day and then relax. 

Whatever you prefer, avoid trying to over-schedule and micromanage everyone. Be sure to leave room for a lot of downtime where you can simply hang out and go with the flow. You never know what kind of spur-of-the-moment fun you’ll have.

Where do you like to travel with family? Let us know in the comments below!

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