Multigenerational travel: why it’s awesome and how to make it work for everyone from Grandpa to baby!
Our family has made an (accidental) tradition of multigenerational travel. New Zealand, Japan and Fiji have all included kids and grandparents. But none compared to our African adventure: my husband and I took 3 kids, 2 sets of grandparents, one great aunt and my great-grandmother, all to South Africa!
Traveling with family is a wonderful way to see the world and share the adventure. It also helps balance out the kids to adults ratio! As parents to 3 kids, we often feel outnumbered! However helpful, traveling with 3 generations can also be stressful!
Here are my tips to ensure a successful multigenerational trip!
Airbnb has been my secret weapon for big family trips. Hotel rooms are difficult with kids at the best of times. Each age group needs privacy and space. Airbnb allows for so many great options. Choose a space that is kid-friendly (to me fancy just means breakable)! Ensure that the bedding configurations are suitable. Nothing kills a holiday like putting grandma and grandpa in single beds or on a fold out couch. Multiple bathrooms are a must! A kitchen also means that not everyone needs to go out and eat at every meal. If the grandparents or the kids (or you!) run out of puff you can have a quiet night in or a simple breakfast.
2. Alone time
The success of a multigenerational trip depends on 2 things, alone time and shared activities (and the balance between the two). In South Africa, we split the days so that everyone had some shared actives and some alone time. At Boschendahl Winery, in Stellenbosch, we arranged for the kids to be taken horse riding while we enjoyed a wine tasting. Later that week only half of the adults did the Lunga township tour while the rest “relaxed” at the beach with the children. On Safari, my parents (who were staying on for another week after we left) graciously volunteered to have the children for 2 nights at a child-friendly safari park, so my husband and I could take his parents to an adults only, luxury safari. It was FANTASTIC. We really enjoyed the break and the kids have such amazing memories of their safari with my parents.
Grandparents aren’t there to be babysitters (at least not all the time). In both locations, the grandparents each volunteered for babysitting. However, I must warn- if you set out thinking that the grandparents are coming on your trip to be built in babysitters, it won't end well! On every trip we have pre-booked babysitting through reputable local agencies to ensure that everyone gets to go out and enjoy themselves!
4. Pace and patience
When traveling with a large group everything takes longer. Getting out the door, checking in for flights, getting tables at restaurants (make bookings!!! It’s easier to cancel than find somewhere last minute!!!). Traveling with a large group requires patience it also requires the understanding that everyone moves at a different pace has different needs. Acknowledging this and giving everyone the chance to have some input into the trip is a great way to avoid burn out and frustration. Ski trips are a great example of this. My dad is a mad keen skier and loves doing “first tracks,” on the other hand anyone suggesting I get out of bed early on a holiday is likely to cop it! So each morning we converged as a group at 9.30 am for breakfast. Some had been up for hours skiing others had just rolled out of bed. Everyone could then do as they pleased for the day and we converged again at dinner.