Planning the Perfect Multigenerational Family Vacation at Every Age and Every Stage

Planning the Perfect Multigenerational Family Vacation at Every Age and Every StageAs our oldest grandchildren enter middle school age, this Grandma can reflect on what makes a perfect multigenerational family vacation at every age and every stage.  You might think I am talking only about ages and stages of grandchildren.  No.  I am also talking about every age and every stage of the parents of our grandchildren and ourselves as well.

Some general tips are important.  We must respect the parents of our grandchildren and their family philosophy and structure.  Spoiling is more when we are alone with grandchildren.  Yes, we want to plan some alone time for spoiling, as well as alone time for the nuclear family,  especially so grandma and grandpa can rest. Multigenerational does not mean everyone together every moment.  Down time for everyone is important.  Think different configurations at different times and places–parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, parents alone, everyone together.  Over scheduling activities is not perfect. A multigenerational family vacation is perfect every other year, not every year.  There are the in-laws to think about and you want to respect that alternate year availability for them, even if they do not choose to use it.  We do even years in our family.

The parents of our grandchildren are likely to be both working and we need to respect that they have little free time.  A perfect multigenerational family vacation is a long weekend, maximum five days to account for travel and two to three full days of vacation in the middle.  This is the most affordable framework.  Even if the family likes one large rental home for a week ( not our family that likes maid service and not cooking on vacation), grandma and grandpa can have a day or two at the beginning or end alone or different family groups can be staggered to have alone time with grandma and grandpa and some overlap of the entire multigenerational group.  All together all the time is hard.

From my grandma friends, I have learned to value THE CRUISE.  I hear how inexpensive, self contained, pre-planned, and easy it is at every age and every stage.  Our family does not cruise.  This Grandma has a form of vertigo and many in our family are foodies.  Family cruising is not gourmet.  However, there are many land based resorts that can serve the same function and are some of the best multigenerational family vacation resorts in the world.  These do not tend to be as inexpensive as a cruise, but check out this Grandma’s posts on the Disney Vero Beach Resort.  There is even a highly rated Galapagos land based resort, a location known for cruising.  This Grandma is waiting for the youngest grandchild to be old enough to consider this.

Which comes to the ultimate purpose and goal of the perfect multigenerational family vacation: making wonderful, happy family memories.  We grandmas are old enough to remember every time with our grandchildren.  Grandpa tells me his earliest memories of a vacation with his grandparents was about age five and he says those memories are sketchy.  Yes, the perfect multigenerational family vacation can be the most happy for the grandparents!  However, This Grandma has found a solution that has proven to work for everyone to remember the wonderful happy perfect multigenerational vacation memories.  I make a Shutterfly photo album of the vacation, waiting for special promotions for multiple copies, one for each family unit, and make multiples photo copies for each grandchild’s annual personal photograph album. These photo albums show the wear of grandchildren reviewing their lives from birth and memorializing our perfect multigenerational family vacations for them to show their grandchildren.  Hopefully, they will keep these created family traditions alive with their grandchildren.

Here are the differences with every age and every stage:

Infants and Young Babies.  This is the stage where the parents of our grandchildren want a staycation.  They are exhausted, having underestimated the 24/7 parenting timetable without a break.  Just when the baby begins sleeping through the night, teething starts and baby is up again in the middle of the night.  The parents of our grandchildren want to be anywhere where they can get sleep, relief, and respite. Children mean paraphernalia and they want ease and no packing and carrying of anything but the basic travel survival items.  We did not do a multigenerational family vacation with the first grandchild, but the second, who arrived when the first was a preschooler, just got taken along to Disney.  We were fortunate enough to have her nanny along.

Toddlers.  This is the stage where the grandchildren do not sit anywhere for very long.  Travel time needs to be short.  If the parents of the grandchildren do not leave the grandchildren with a babysitter, then grandma needs to consider that she may be watching the toddler one dinner so the parents can go out for dinner.  A kitchen or at least a microwave and refrigerator need to be available.  Vero Beach Disney Resort is perfect.  See posts The “Secret” Disney Perfect Multigenerational Vacation at the Disney Vero Beach Resort Part I: Reservations  and The “Secret” Disney Perfect Multigenerational Vacation at the Disney Vero Beach Resort Part II: Family Haven.  Atlantis in the Bahamas is another perfect spot.  It has accommodations and meal options at every price range and seasonal specials.  There is a walk in pool and even water slides for toddlers.  Finally, this is the beginning of thinking Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando.  See post:  Disney World for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Do’s and Don’ts.

Preschoolers and Early School Age.  Disney.  Disney.  Disney.  Think Vero Beach Disney Resort for those high intensity working parents of the grandchildren who just want to veg, or Magic Kingdom for those who want the joy of watching the awe on their children’s faces.  See post:  Disney World for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Do’s and Don’ts.  At this stage, if this is a second trip to Disney World, also think of adding Epcot. See post: Epcot at Disney World in Orlando.

School Age.  If Disney has been a visited destination, then think expanding to Universal Studios in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa.  Posts on Busch Gardens and its waterpark, Adventure Island, are coming soon.  Universal has Harry Potter and Harry Potter has boosted attendance at Universal.  Our grandchildren are just hitting the age where Universal is a draw.

All ages.  An important grandma job is to help keep the marriage or significant other relationship of the parents of our grandchildren strong, even during a multigenerational family vacation.  See post: Grandma’s View on Promoting Intimacy and Love.  During the multigenerational family vacation, think splitting off the parents for a dinner, an overnight, or even two overnights.  And when the parents go away, we grandparents play. . . and spoil.  During a recent week long visit in Florida, the four generations had multigenerational family vacation time in fabulous Fort Lauderdale and we convinced the parents of our grandchildren to give us a full weekend away with our seven and ten year old grandchildren.  Oops.  We convinced the parents of our grandchildren to go away for a weekend to South Beach, so we could then have a full weekend away with our seven and ten year old grandchildren at Busch Gardens.  See Post: Multigenerational Summer Vacation in Fort Lauderdale.

The best part of any vacation is the anticipation and planning.  Studies mentioned at Bottom Line Applications tell us that “people get the biggest boost in happiness from the anticipation in the weeks before their vacations. All the planning, dreaming, reading guidebooks and surfing the Internet for recommendations doesn’t just serve to enhance the actual vacation — it can be one of the best parts of the vacation. The more extensive your preparation — even going so far as to take a scuba-diving course before going to an exotic beach locale or a foreign language course before going to Europe — the more elation you will feel overall.”

Consider asking for suggestions for places to go.  Have the parents of the grandchildren ask their friends for recommendations.  Ask them to go on the internet and make recommendations.  Or, as I do, surf the internet yourself and offer alternatives within the budget and framework of the stages and ages.  Once our selection is made, this Grandma does a detailed itinerary of all there is to do and see, including lodging and meals.  I used to shy away from holiday weekends, thinking the prices would be highly inflated, until we all realized that Memorial Day weekend 2014 was the only time that could work with everyone’s schedule.  To my surprise, the room rates were insignificantly higher and there are special holiday events to take advantage of!  Our grandchildren are learning about where we are going already through books, maps, pictures, and discussions.  Soon, this Grandma and Grandpa will have our 2014 (even year) multigenerational family vacation at the Sanctuary in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and enjoy Charleston and all the history, culture, and fun of the South.  Of course, a blog post will follow about this top rated U.S. family resort. We, from young to long (we never say old) are excited to be together and are looking forward to the upcoming perfect multigenerational family vacation with







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