A friend of mine who had recently concluded her solo trip was less surprised and more shocked to hear about our plans for a multigenerational family holiday to Bali.
Including Toddlers, Septuagenarians, and Everyone In Between, we were 18 of us heading to the Indonesian Island.
“How will you manage she wondered?” Perhaps a question as a solo traveler she had never asked herself, but with 18 people with varied ages and interests traveling together, she justifiably looked curious!
“We will, it will be fun”, I said nervously.
“And What Fun it was!!” I can say now looking at the pictures.
Each morning, the kids would splash in the swimming pool, snuggle in their grandparent’s lap during breakfast and huddle up close to their cousins when it would rain during our outings. Multigenerational travel is full of moments such as these that fill our hearts, our memories and perhaps our Instagram and Facebook Photo Albums.
Here are Light Travel Action’s 10 AWESOME Tips for Planning a Stress-Free (Well almost ;)) Multigenerational Travel!
1. PLAN IN ADVANCE – Much Much in advance!
Multigenerational means varied ages, which means varied requirements. While traveling with toddlers and elderly parents with physical mobility restrictions your travel plans too will be restricted.
To accommodate a large number of family members you will require more number of rooms, maybe even connecting rooms, at a place where activities and entertainment keep everyone happy. To avoid the last-minute panic of not finding these things at one place, plan in advance.
We had planned our Bali much in advance to avoid any such fiasco.
But who could think that force majeure would come out of legal contracts and play havoc with our plans – Mount Agung erupted few days before out travel and put us in a conundrum – To go or not to go?
Since most of us had non-refundable tickets we decided to wait and watch. We were lucky that Mount Agung settled down and we could have a wonderful holiday. However, that brings me to my next point.
2. BOOK REFUNDABLE TICKETS
Travel Tickets take up the major part of the Travel expenses.
Refundable tickets though more expensive than their non-refundable counterparts, offer much more flexibility and cater for unforeseen events.
When you are traveling with Toddlers, Septuagenarians, and Everyone in Between, unforeseen health issues, changed exam dates, unexpected Interviews and meetings can mar your planning. It’s worth spending more on Refundable tickets than on canceling the tickets altogether due to unforeseen events.
3. GET All GENERATIONS INVOLVED
Whenever we are planning a multigenerational family vacation we travel almost all around the globe during the discussions. It’s amusing and frustrating at the same time.
One person always takes the lead for the researching and recommending and while that is the most manageable and easiest thing to do, it’s not fair to everyone. The opinion of everyone is sought and then we try to strike a balance.
When everyone gets to have a say they feel more involved and connected and not dictated. A what’s app Group or a Group Email works well.
My Meticulous cousin shared a draft itinerary and we all expressed our thoughts on it. There were few who wanted to do more touristy spots, few who wanted sporty stuff, few who wanted to party and few who wanted to do it all.
This is which brings me to my next Tip.
4. MONEY MATTERS, MATTER
Don’t let money matters spoil the family vacation fun. Be realistic and discuss the budget at the very initial stages. Big Budget necessarily does not mean Great Fun – Well thought of trip is more enjoyable irrespective of the budget.
Let one person be the “Accountant” who keeps a tab of all the expenses which can then be divided amongst all.
5. HOME – TO – OM!
The right kind of accommodation will give you the much needed and sought after peace during travel.
While a family-friendly hotel or a resort is easiest to book and offers more comfort, home-stays come with flexibility as a side order.
Since we were 18 of us we rented a big place with Independent Villas for couples and a Big villa in the same premise for the grandparents and children. The property that we booked from Air BnB had two swimming pools and a lot of open area for the kids to play around.
Although we hired a chef to take care of the major meals, we made full use of the kitchen for some family time while making pancakes and Maggi noodles.
6. KEEP THE DAY PLANS FLEXIBLE
While the Toddlers and children were the first ones to wake up, we parents wanted to stay longer in bed. While Grandparents preferred to be back home (Hotel) by nightfall, we had plans to explore Bali’s nightlife.
Most of our group outings were planned during the daytime when almost everyone was fresh and ready to paint the town red.
With so many people, delay in time of departures was inevitable. Once you know this is bound to happen, it is easier to stay calm.
As my enlightened cousin says, “It’s not the destination but the company which matters in Family Vacations”.
Flexibility is the key – when we decided to visit the Uluwatu Temple famously known for its alluring sunset, my Sister-in-law and her husband decided to stay back with their toddler.
When the rest of us reached the temple after driving for 2 hours or so, it started raining. Not only did we not see the sunset but also missed the famous ‘Kecak and Fire Dance (Pecatu)’.
However, to the see the temple shrine silhouette against the vast sky, pouring rain and ocean backdrop was phenomenal. Kids were of course more charmed by the long-tailed macaques.
7. TIME TO RELAX
While it is nice to plan group activities, it is necessary to keep some time to relax as well.
For Children being with their cousins is the most charming part of any destination. Let them enjoy each others company for that’s what they care more than tourist spot visiting.
Even us elders enjoyed going to a spa or walking by the beach by ourselves or biking around the streets of Bali as a break from group activities. Activities like Travel Sketching and Yoga during travel can be very therapeutic.
8. GRANDPARENTS ARE NOT BABYSITTERS
Don’t plan your holiday assuming your kids will be taken care of. While it is a pleasure for grandparents to be with their grandchildren, they too need a break. This is a vacation for each person.
If you intend to go to a place (like a nightclub) where children cannot accompany, make sure you have asked the grandparents if they would be ‘ok’ taking care of the kids during that time.
9. TALK ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE ON THE LAST DAY OF THE TRIP
On the parting day or the night before, gather everyone for a sharing experience. Starting with the kids and moving to the adults let everyone share one or more things that they liked the most about the trip.
10. SHARE HAPPY MEMORIES
Take lots and lots of photos and videos to relive the lovely moments spent together.
Don’t forget to create a Google Photos Album and share the link so that everyone can share and access all the family pictures.
Have you been on any multigenerational family trip? How was your experience? Would you like to add some tip to our list?
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