Make sure Grandma and the kids have a voice in activities, planners say.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Multigenerational travel has become one of the fastest-growing areas of the travel industry, as many families are now including grandparents, aunts and uncles in the family getaway.
According to the Travel Industry Association, each year more than 5 million family vacations include three generations. As a result, many families now face the challenge of finding a vacation that is suitable for everyone from toddlers to grandparents.
"The most important part of orchestrating a three-generation vacation is being able to accommodate everyone's needs and realizing that our differences are what make traveling together such a unique experience," said Christine Loomis, a noted family-travel author. "The trick to this type of travel is simple: planning, preparation and flexibility."
Here is a list of tips provided by RCI Holiday Network, (866) 844-2018 or www.rcihn.com, which offers a diverse selection of vacation rentals.
Let everyone in the family help choose vacation activities. When kids -- or adults -- have a voice and a choice, they feel more invested in the trip and stay more positive even when involved in an activity they did not choose. When preparing a list of options, don't forget free and low-cost activities such as swimming, sunbathing at the beach, hiking, exploring state and national parks, biking and renting boats.
Choose the right accommodations. Multiple hotel rooms can be pricey, so check on group discounts. Other options include vacation rentals or cruises.
Schedule activities with your family's normal routine in mind. Toddlers are generally most active in the morning, a time when grandparents are often early to rise. Teens typically sleep late, so it's best to schedule the thing they most want to see or do in the afternoons or evening. If grandparents normally rest or take a reading break in the early afternoon, keep in mind that they may need that time to rebuild stamina for later activities.
Don't sell grandparents short. Many are energetic and adventurous, so consider active multigenerational vacations. Possibilities include bike tours, rafting trips, theme parks, hiking, whale watching, foreign destinations and covered-wagon adventures.
If your hotel or rental unit has a kitchen, take advantage of it. It's all about flexibility. Grandparents and grandchildren often have different meal schedules, and young children may find it difficult to sit through three meals a day in restaurants. Stay in and save money on the easy meals: breakfasts of cereal and yogurt, and quick sandwiches and snacks for lunch. Then give the whole family a treat by going out for dinner.
Just because it's the family vacation, don't feel the whole group has to spend every minute together. It can be good to take a break from one another. Parents can be with young kids while grandparents visit an art gallery or historical monument. Grandparents can also have an evening with the grandchildren while parents go out for a romantic dinner.