Some of my most vivid and fondest memories are of the summer vacations I took with my brother, parents and grandparents. I can still remember Poppa Marty going on all the crazy, scary rides at Cedar Pointe when my dad wouldn’t, and Nana secretly buying us those souvenirs that my mom said we couldn’t have. That was the way we got to spend quality time with my grandparents while we lived on the East Coast and Nana and Poppa lived in the Midwest. I carried on this tradition with my son, my brother, my parents and even Poppa Marty. He was well into his nineties when he took an open chair lift ride up to the top of the ski jumps with us at Lake Placid to look at the beautiful views. Back then, when I was a kid, this was just called our summer vacation!
Today they have a term: multigenerational vacations, and they are on the rise. A recent AARP survey* finds that almost half of those polled were planning a multigenerational vacation within the next year. The reason they are becoming more prevalent is because so many families don’t live geographically close any longer and their hectic lifestyles don’t allow frequent interactions. Add to that, the baby boomer generation is healthier, more active and living longer with more leisure time than in the past.
Multigenerational vacations are a chance to focus on your extended family and share new experiences, without the hustle and bustle and stress we sometimes have at family get-togethers during the holidays.
Research shows that participating in activities together during a multigenerational vacation can be an important contributor to family cohesion and bonding. This is especially true for grandparents who don’t get the daily pleasure of experiencing new things with their grandchildren. And parents might have an opportunity to sometimes sneak some alone time while the kids are with their grandparents. In fact, one of my favorite parts of our summer vacation was getting to stay in Nana and Poppa’s hotel room while my parents got a break in their own room.
And while getting so many family members to agree on anything may seem daunting, here are some tips to getting the most out of your multigenerational vacation:
- Plan ahead — It is going to take some time to find the right dates for everyone to get time off for vacation, especially if you have a big family, which makes it harder to coordinate everyone’s work and school schedules.
- Pick a place that is accessible to everyone — Be mindful of where your parents or siblings live. Some may live in a major city allowing for a direct flight, but others may be coming from smaller towns and you don’t want them changing planes three times, exhausting themselves, just to get to a destination.
- Make sure your destination has a range of activities — Not everyone has the same likes, abilities and fitness levels. Even an island vacation can have a variety of different activities to offer allowing like-minded smaller groups to go off on different excursions. For example, some might be divers, others might want to just relax at the beach, while some family members might like sightseeing nearby towns or ruins.
- Give each other some space — While it is nice to share at least one meal and one activity daily with everyone, you don’t have to spend every waking minute together.
- Discuss finances and expectations before you go — You need to consider everyone’s budget ahead of time and have a plan for who will cover which costs to prevent stress and resentment.
- Give everyone a voice — Let everyone give an opinion and take a turn picking an activity, excursion or restaurant at least once during the trip.
- Remember your goal — Leave the family drama and competitive dynamics at home. You are on vacation to reconnect and enjoy the time you have to spend all together with your children, parents, siblings and even grandparents. Remember that time is precious and fleeting.
Multigenerational vacations will create life-long memories that will have a more meaningful impact* on your children than the material things you buy them. Therefore, why wait for a wedding or graduation to bring your family together? Taking a multigenerational vacation with your family is a priceless gift that your children will remember and hopefully pass on to their children someday.
Stay happy. Stay healthy. Stay Vacationed.™
Dr. Leigh Vinocur