Planning a multi-generational trip that will make everyone in your family happy can be challenging. In my family, we have four generations and we plan a getaway together at least once a year. The group ranges in age from 6 to 78 so there’s a lot to consider. Here are some tips for making multi-generational travel work—and ensure you’re all still speaking to each other when you’re back home.
Survey the family and choose wisely
The first step to planning a successful multi-generational getaway is to take an honest look at everyone’s interests, abilities and income. My family is spread out all over the country—New York, Chicago, Chattanooga and Orlando—so, the first consideration is deciding on a location. As my kids and grandchildren are all in the Orlando area, Florida often wins as the destination of choice. They’re raising families and since flights can be expensive for families, it’s often more economical for us to get together somewhere in Florida. Fortunately, Florida has so many attractions and resort lodging options that it’s easy to find something everyone will enjoy.
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Finding lodging that works for family time
Due to the varied ages and interests of our family members, we tend to have one rule when we plan our annual getaway—we will always meet up for dinner. For example, if you choose Orlando as your multi-generational getaway, chances are some of your group will want to spend at least a portion of the day at one of the many theme parks. But it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to want to see the same attraction there or spend the same amount of time. Since the point is to be together, having a place where you can eat dinner together and enjoy your down time is important.
For that reason, consider a vacation rental. Having one or two condos, or a house with three to four bedrooms works much better for a group—and with kids, a kitchen is a big plus. Although we all enjoy dining out, getting the little ones to be patient while the adults chat around the dinner table after the food is gone isn’t fun for anyone – least of all the kids. With a kitchen, you can cook your own dinners and spend as much time as you want reminiscing and telling family tales around the table while the young ones run off and play.
Also a house or condo will have a living room where the entire family can hang out, play games and catch up. And, when the little ones go to bed, the parents, grandparents and great grandparents can have a nightcap and continue the togetherness.
It’s all about the Amenities
While my family may not agree about everything, there is one thing we do agree on – wherever we stay, there must be a pool. With the kids’ school schedules, our getaways are usually in the summer months. It’s likely that we’ll just spend the entire day at the pool. The New York and Chicago contingents enjoy soaking up the sunshine and the kids will spend hours jumping in and out of the pool until their little hands look like shriveled up prunes. And if there happens to be a water slide, wild horses can’t drag them away.
Another amenity that is popular with our group is a fitness center. My husband always finds time for a workout when we’re traveling and even the grandkids will join him if they get the chance. And if we can score a place with access to a spa, everyone is happy.
One of our family’s favorite destinations for the annual reunion is Palm Island Resort on Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast approximately fifty miles north of Fort Myers. My family isn’t new to the island as it was an annual destination for us when my children were teens. We have memories there—like the kids hijacking the golf carts when we weren’t paying attention.
The resort has one, two and three bedroom villas, each with a fully equipped kitchen and full laundry room. Golf carts and bicycles are the main modes of transportation on the island and can be rented from the recreation center. Additional rental items include kayaks, canoes, boogie boards, rafts, snorkel sets, fishing equipment, beach umbrellas and tennis equipment. Strolling the shell-laden beaches searching for the perfect treasure or maybe a fossilized shark’s tooth was always a favorite pastime for my children when they were young and now the grandchildren are enjoying the same lazy day pastimes.
A place like Palm Island gives us just the right amount of time together balanced with enough space to keep everyone sane. Most importantly, we make priceless memories. And, when it’s time to go home we actually still like each other.
This article originally appeared on Travel Squire.
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