Multigenerational vacations are an excellent opportunity for bonding and creating great family vacation memories. Many grandparents are opting to take just their grandchildren on trips, providing more time for one-on-one experiences. Some grandparents use these as "coming of age" types of trips, while others take one or more vacations with their grandchildren each year.
If you are contemplating taking a vacation with your grandchildren, here are seven tips to help make your grandparents getaway an "awesome" success:
1. Brainstorm and plan your trip together. Travel experts have found that the most successful multigenerational family vacations are those that involve everyone in choosing the destination and planning for their trip. Working together surfaces important information and helps cement the "buy-in" process. Through these conversations, you will learn more about each other and plan activities that everyone can enjoy.
2. Discuss your expectations in advance. Grandparents, parents and grandchildren should take the time to talk about what they're looking forward to about the trip. If you have specific expectations - such as eating meals together, waking up and/or going to sleep at set times, or taking part is certain activities or excursions, make sure to discuss those before the trip.
3. Build in private time together as well as "down" or "apart" time. While the goal of your trip is to create shared memories, it is also important to remember that grandchildren need time to burn off energy and enjoy the company of kids their own age. Likewise, grandparents need quiet periods for rest and some adult company as well. Cruises are popular multigenerational vacation destinations for this reason. They offer supervised activities and programs for children and teens, allowing grandparents and parents to enjoy some time on their own.
4. Pack a great attitude. Attitude is everything when going on a multigenerational family vacation. If unforeseen events happen, stay flexible and positive. Relax and go with the flow. Your grandchildren will learn important life lessons from watching how the adults on the trip react and everyone will have a much better time on their vacation.
5. Set a comfortable pace. Keep in mind each family member's individual preferences for waking hours, activity schedules, dress, dining options, nightlife, and needs for sleep. Plan accordingly. Respect your differences and be willing to bend the rules a bit if necessary. Letting the grandkids stay up a little later or sleep in for an hour might make all the difference in having a great time on your grandparents getaway.
6. Leave the expectations at home. Multigenerational family vacations are highly anticipated, so it's easy for grandparents to get all misty-eyed envisioning the great memories and intimate bonding moments that will be created on their trip. If we're being honest, however, we know that family vacations never go exactly as planned. There may be bumpy moments, relationship issues may surface, travel snafus happen, the weather might not cooperate, and the grandkids might have a meltdown or two. It's okay. Just take the experience as it comes, don't dwell on it and go with the flow. Sometimes those trips where things don't go exactly as planned make the best vacation memories of all.
7. Capture and preserve your vacation memories. Consider giving each grandchild a journal and a disposable camera to bring along on your journey. In addition, be sure to bring along plenty of digital memory cards or film to capture every moment of your trip.
Great Options for Grandparents Getaways
* Short 3- to 5-night cruises are budget-friendly and a good choice for those with limited time. These shorter cruises are also an excellent option for grandparents who are going away on vacation with their grandchildren for the first time. Deep discounts are often available during the fall months, so shop for bargains. Look for cruises from a home port within easy driving distance to limit expenses and travel time. If you have young grandchildren, choose cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean that offer kids' programs and childcare for little ones. Check the amenities available on each ship you're considering to make sure there's a fit.
* Week-long cruises are popular for multigenerational vacations, particularly those with a Caribbean itinerary. Look carefully at the family-oriented amenities offered by each cruise line and ship, particularly the age categories available for the children's programs. Some cruise lines offer kids cruise free deals and significantly reduced rates, so shop around to see what's available.