Fam­ily Va­ca­tions for all

Multi­gen­er­a­tional travel grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity

Times of the Islands - - Explorer -

AAs sum­mer ap­proaches, I be­gin to plan one of my most an­tic­i­pated ac­tiv­i­ties: our fam­ily va­ca­tion. What is es­pe­cially ex­cit­ing is that, like an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple, I hunt for op­por­tu­ni­ties to travel with not only my chil­dren but also with my par­ents. Our time to­gether is an in­vest­ment—one that is price­less. Dur­ing my child­hood years, sum­mer va­ca­tion con­sisted of my mom, dad, brother and me set­ting off for a week of re­lax­ation. Af­ter reach­ing adult­hood, I de­cided that va­ca­tions are more than just a time to get away from the day-to-day grind. They are a way to spend qual­ity time with those I love, in ad­di­tion to learn­ing things and shar­ing cool ex­pe­ri­ences.

I “blame” my dad for my love of travel and the de­sire to wander. He helped me fall in love with the world by con­stantly open­ing my eyes to new ad­ven­tures. And I “blame” my mom for my cu­rios­ity and my need to know what is out there, past my im­me­di­ate viewpoint.

From the time I was a lit­tle girl, my mother made me be­lieve that my dreams were at­tain­able and I should not be scared to seek out what­ever I was search­ing for. My par­ents taught me to love fam­ily va­ca­tion time and to ap­pre­ci­ate that ex­plor­ing new places is an in­valu­able way to ac­quire knowl­edge. For me, travel is life chang­ing.

Some­times the world can feel like it is spin­ning out of con­trol and is up­side down. I have found that what I re­ally

need to fo­cus on is what I can con­trol—spend­ing time with those I love and those who love me. Of­ten, a long time can pass with­out mem­bers of my ex­tended fam­ily get­ting to­gether. So, as I plan this year’s sum­mer va­ca­tion with my chil­dren, I first look at my par­ents’ cal­en­dar.

Travel is usu­ally a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on chil­dren, and I can at­test that it is true. My chil­dren’s cu­rios­ity is sparked with ev­ery ad­ven­ture and their love for learn­ing about dif­fer­ent cul­tures grows year by year. What is par­tic­u­larly won­der­ful is that this oc­curs in all age groups.

Even more, each fam­ily mem­ber pos­sesses unique and dis­tinct qual­i­ties, and thus each of­fers a new and dif­fer­ent out­look on our trips. That al­lows for every­one to gain in­sights that would be miss­ing had just one of our fam­ily mem­bers not been with us.

Sta­tis­ti­cally, I am not alone in my en­joy­ment of trav­el­ing with my chil­dren and my par­ents. Trav­el­ers are start­ing to in­clude more and more fam­ily mem­bers in on the fun. The “typ­i­cal” fam­ily va­ca­tion has evolved into multi­gen­er­a­tional travel.

These trips latch on to the di­min­ish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties we all have to be to­gether as a fam­ily—and al­low us to do so in unique and stim­u­lat­ing set­tings. As we grow older, our time with our chil­dren and par­ents be­comes more lim­ited. Busy sched­ules, work, friends and just gen­eral life cir­cum­stances get in the way of time to­gether.

Nowa­days, all ages seem to have a “smart” de­vice of some type or an­other at hand dur­ing most hours of the day and into the night. But when we are all to­gether on our fam­ily ad­ven­tures in spe­cial places, we try to con­cen­trate not on our de­vices but on cre­at­ing last­ing mem­o­ries of shared learn­ing and fun ex­pe­ri­ences.

When plan­ning multi­gen­er­a­tional va­ca­tions, the “when” and the “where” will be among the first de­ci­sions you have to make—and per­haps the most chal­leng­ing. Keep in mind the needs of the youngest and old­est fam­ily mem­bers. It’s lo­gis­ti­cally im­por­tant to con­sider that trav­el­ing long dis­tances can be dif­fi­cult for small chil­dren and for older fam­ily mem­bers.

It’s also very im­por­tant to search for ideas that will keep the in­ter­est of all the age groups in­volved. Not ev­ery va­ca­tion is up to the chal­lenges of in­cor­po­rat­ing mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions. How­ever, there are some va­ca­tions that are ac­tu­ally de­signed around these very con­cepts, cre­at­ing ways to keep every­one en­gaged and happy.

The fol­low­ing are some in­spi­ra­tional ideas to help turn your sum­mer va­ca­tion plans into multi­gen­er­a­tional travel ad­ven­tures:

CRUISES

A cruise is an all-in-one “des­ti­na­tion” in which en­ter­tain­ment and non­stop ac­tiv­ity are of­ten paired with the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore mul­ti­ple har­bors, cities and towns. Cruis­ing is a great multi­gen­er­a­tional travel choice. It of­fers flex­i­bil­ity and va­ri­ety in just about all of the es­sen­tial c om­po­nents of a va­ca­tion: food, fun and bud­get.

Each per­son can set his or own pace, al­low­ing for the per­fect bal­ance of per­son­al­i­ties and en­ergy lev­els. And per­sonal fi­nances are re­spected be­cause there is the free­dom to choose the room and meal plan that works best for each fam­ily mem­ber.

DUDE RANCHES

It seems as if every­one bonds when they are wear­ing cow­boy hats! Dude ranches are un­usual va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions. They fea­ture seem­ingly un­lim­ited ac­tiv­i­ties, such as the chance to learn archery and square dancing, go bird-watch­ing and horse­back rid­ing, par­tic­i­pate in a group hike or take a dip in the nearby swim­ming holes.

Dude ranch styles range from “rise early and help the cow­boy” op­tions to more leisurely camp-like or even re­sort-style stays. A word of cau­tion, how­ever: Be aware of fam­ily mem­bers’ phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions be­fore mak­ing reser­va­tions on a dude ranch.

ALL-IN­CLU­SIVE RE­SORTS

All-in­clu­sive re­sorts pro­vide “easy liv­ing” for fam­ily mem­bers of all ages. The fact that ev­ery­thing is in­cluded means that the va­ca­tion­ers are sa­ti­ated and en­joy­ably en­ter­tained with lit­tle ef­fort. In fact, all-in­clu­sive re­sorts were among the first va­ca­tion places to em­brace multi­gen­er­a­tional trav­el­ers.

The ma­jor­ity of all-in­clu­sive re­sorts are in beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tions and have ac­tiv­i­ties that range from games to spa ser­vices. Pay at­ten­tion to the in­cluded op­tions—to make sure ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber has some­thing to look for­ward to.

NA­TIONAL AND STATE PARKS

Head to a na­tional or state park with your ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers to ex­pe­ri­ence stun­ning vis­tas, star­lit nights and days filled with hik­ing, bik­ing and wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties. The parks of­fer plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties (ranger-led and in­de­pen­dent), which means tons of op­tions for fam­ily time in groups both large and small.

Send grandma off to learn about the lo­cal wildlife with her min­ime, while grandpa teaches the other chil­dren how to skip stones. Mem­o­ries are easy to make in na­ture. And if tent camp­ing is too dif­fi­cult for older fam­ily mem­bers, con­sider pop-up trail­ers, RVs or even a rental cabin. Such al­ter­na­tive ideas will go a long way to en­sure that every­one in your group is com­fort­able.

As men­tioned, when trav­el­ing with a va­ri­ety of age groups, it is won­der­ful to have the chance to “see things through the eyes” of the dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions. The lit­eral bird’s-eye view from a he­li­copter ride over the Grand Canyon makes it ex­hil­a­rat­ing for every­one. Yet each age group will also have its own re­ac­tions and per­spec­tives about the ex­pe­ri­ence. The joy of shar­ing on­cein-a-life­time moments of dis­cov­ery with chil­dren, par­ents and per­haps even grand­par­ents is what is truly pre­cious.

The big­gest les­son I’ve learned by trav­el­ing with all the gen­er­a­tions in my fam­ily is that it strength­ens our re­la­tion­ships and cre­ates deeper bonds. Be­cause life is an ad­ven­ture, share it with those you love by em­brac­ing multi­gen­er­a­tional travel.

Mandy Carter is a lo­cal mom with a pas­sion for fam­ily travel, a pop­u­lar travel blog­ger in­clud­ing her own fam­ily blog at acup­ful. com, and the man­ag­ing edi­tor for TOTI Me­dia.

TIPS FOR TRAV­EL­ING WITH DIF­FER­ENT AGES

Be flex­i­ble: When fam­ily groups in­clude a wide span of ages, every­one won’t be happy at all times with ev­ery de­ci­sion. That calls for flex­i­bil­ity and the will­ing­ness to make some con­ces­sions.

Let every­one do some­thing he or she en­joys: It’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that each per­son has his or her own idea of fun. In­cor­po­rat­ing pre­ferred ac­tiv­i­ties of dif­fer­ent fam­ily mem­bers will help with bond­ing and make the trip more mean­ing­ful for all.

Be sure to “build in” some pri­vate time for the dif­fer­ent age groups: Chil­dren will need time to run off en­ergy. Con­versely, grand­par­ents may need pe­ri­ods of rest and quiet.

Set a com­fort­able pace: Re­spect the health dif­fer­ences, en­ergy lev­els and abil­i­ties among group mem­bers. Thus, plan ac­tiv­i­ties ac­cord­ingly.

Three gen­er­a­tions en­joy a mag­i­cal visit to Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort in Or­lando; in the arms of her grand­fa­ther, this pint-sized trav­eler en­joys the per­fect van­tage point while on a cruise va­ca­tion.

Clock­wise from top left: Writer Mandy Carter va­ca­tion­ing with her son and mother ; grandma and grand­son en­joy ice cream on a cruise; Carter with her grand­mother , who vis­ited the beach for her first time at age 70; her great-grand­mother kick­ing up the...

There are many in­spi­ra­tional ideas to help turn sum­mer va­ca­tion plans into multi­gen­er­a­tional travel ad­ven­tures. These in­clude cruises, dude ranches, all-in­clu­sive re­sorts, and na­tional and state parks.

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