Whether it’s a road trip to Maine, a cruise on the Caribbean or a bucket-list trip to India, vacations can relax your mind and broaden your horizons. They can also bring your family closer together.
What is multi-generational travel?
Multi-generational travel is an increasingly popular way for parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles and cousins to vacation together. It may take a little more co-ordination, but the benefits can far outweigh the additional effort.
“I seriously love family trips,” says Glynis Ratcliffe, a Toronto-based freelance writer. Her husband and children joined Ratcliffe’s in-laws, their children, their spouses and their grandchildren for a total of 13 people on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. “Our family gets along really well, and having all the grandchildren hang out [together] was amazing. As an added bonus, everyone was able to trade off on childcare, when needed.”
Benefits of multi-generational travel
If you’ve never hit the road with your extended family, here are 5 reasons why it might be time to give it a try:
1. Cost savings
Yes, you will need to book more rooms and transportation to accommodate everyone — but the good news, however, is that most attractions, airlines and rail companies will provide an incentive in the form of a group discount. Air Canada and Via Rail, for example, offer price breaks for groups of 10 or more. Unless you’re part of a wedding party or a conference, hotels are less likely to offer discounts, but consider getting creative by booking a suite or even an entire house, which provides more space and keeps you all together under the same roof, at a lower per-person cost. For more cost-saving accommodation ideas, read Room for savings: Travel and stay for less.
2. Family bonding time
Multigenerational trips provide a unique opportunity for family relationships to mature and grow. Take Andrea Fort, for example: The comic book creator has embarked upon 3 such journeys so far, the first when she was 7 years old and the most recent when she was 25. The first was with her parents and grandparents to the Czech Republic. “Those trips let me learn more about our family history from my grandmother,” Fort says. “She would talk a lot about how she was raised and what her life was like.” Fort’s most recent trip was with her mother and grandparents to Las Vegas. “It was such a unique experience, and I was able to become friends with my family on that trip. We began relating to one another as adults, as well as child and grandchild.”
3. New experiences
Everyone tends to have a personal wish list when they go on vacation, and multigenerational travellers are no different. Your grandparents may want to explore a neighborhood you’ve never heard of. A cousin might want to try kite-surfing. Exploring new places with family members can bring different perspectives that tend to broaden everyone’s horizons, argues Aliza Amlani, a Toronto-based editor. “Even if we're not together 24/7 on a trip, spending daily time together has huge benefits,” says Amlani. “Exploring and learning together with all of those different perspectives at once is great for bonding.”
4. Creating shared memories
In today’s busy world, time spent with loved ones is precious. Taking a vacation together can create space away from daily responsibilities, and give parents, children and grandchildren substantial, meaningful time to spend with one another to develop shared, lasting memories.
5. Time away, time alone
There is another practical reason for vacationing with your family: built-in babysitters. “My mom often didn't want to walk around,” recounts Amlani, “so she would take our daughter to the play area or keep her busy with activities so my husband and I could have an afternoon to explore the city or an evening to go out for dinner.”
Ratcliffe and her husband also got some couple time during their cruise, thanks to her in-laws: “They arranged to have a cabin right across from us, and they would retire early some nights to keep an eye on our youngest (who was 12 months old), while my husband and I went out for drinks.”
Whether you’re travelling with older or younger family members, make sure everyone in the group has travel insurance to protect against unexpected healthcare costs — whether you’re leaving the country or just leaving your province.
If you do decide to travel with family, take the time to determine everyone’s hopes and expectations for the trip, and then set some basic guidelines that allow you to fully enjoy your vacation — and one another.