Expert tips on family travel
By Mike Weingart
Tips for a successful multi-generational holidays (Flickr: Jeff)
As a travel professional I have seen a significant growth of multi-generational travel. More and more families are considering traveling with the whole pack, from the kids to grandmas and grandpas.
Planning a multi-generational vacation isn’t always easy, however. There are many number of factors to consider. Here are some suggestions when considering such a trip with your family.
Choosing the Date
The toughest aspect of multi-generational holidays is often the date. You have to find a time when most of the family members can attend. You have to do it when school is out, the children are not attending camp, elementary, high school and college schedules, and a time of the year when most people can schedule their vacation at work.
Important Questions to Ask
- How many participants, including children are there and what is their age?
- How many people will stay in a room or cabin? When booking a cruise vacation, some clever placement of individuals in cabins can sometimes result in savings.
- Are there any people who won’t fly or won’t go on a cruise? You can get the non-flyers to Hawaii, for example, on a ship if they are game for going by sea. Hawaii is very family-friendly and condos make a great accommodation option for multi-generational groups. Note that Hawaii does not have all-inclusive properties because of the numerous dining options.
- Is there a destination some members of the group have been to numerous times or might not want to go? If some have cruised a lot, think of a different cruise line or even different ports of call.
- How long do you want to travel together? A week is probably the most popular period.
- Do you want to make arrangements for some people to come earlier or stay later — or even arrive later or leave earlier.
- What is your budget and what do you expect this budget to include? Will one person be paying for the entire group? Do they prefer to pay as much as possible before the group travels? Should there be expenses during the trip, will the host pay for them or will each family take care of this? One current pitfall is while some cruises are inclusive, there are numerous extras for such things as some of the shows and the majority of dining venues.
- If price were not a factor, where do you think you would like to go? One suggestion is a luxury cruise line that is child-friendly, this way everything is included and only the casino and shopping are extra. The rates include standard excursions, all beverages – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – except premium liquor and Champagnes, tips, taxes, and often a pre-night hotel. There is often a free international air transfer and in some instances the rates include business class air for those in suites. Another option is a Dude Ranch as these are generally all-inclusive and designed for various ages. Finally consider a multi-generational skiing holiday as long as there are no babies in the group. Based on Colorado lesson and lift prices, a family group can sometimes go skiing in Europe for a comparable amount.
Family holiday (Flickr: Paul Scott)
It is recommended you start making plans between six and 12 months before the event. Best pricing is often a year in advance. Right now I am making reservations for a multi-generational reunion in June 2015. This will be at a Club Med and at this time we are finalizing which location. The Cancun property has just been remodeled with many family options. The other options being considered are returning to Sandpiper in Port Sainte Lucie, FL, north of West Palm Beach; Ixtapa, Mexico</a>; or Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. In this case about 28 people will be coming from six cities so the cost of airfare is important.
Whenever possible, try and use the same email with the additions so guests don’t have hundreds of planning emails.
If you are traveling to a place for which a passport is needed, plan to get them early. Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Alaska do not require passports. But if you fly to Hawaii through Canada you need one. For cruises departing and returning to the United States, a passport is not needed, but is certainly recommended. Make sure everyone brings their passport with them. I also recommend bringing a copy of your passport with you but not keeping it in your wallet or purse. This way it makes it easier to obtain a duplicate if it is lost or stolen.
No matter where you go or what you do, I highly recommend travel insurance. This is even more important when you have very young passengers as well as more mature individuals.
(TRIP PLAN: Make planning a multi-generational vacation easier with the use of MiniTime’s free Trip Plan too.)
My top five options for a multi-generational holiday include:
Disney World (Disney)
1. Disney World and Disneyland
2. Club Med
3. Cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe
4. Cities: New York, Washington DC and Las Vegas
5. Year-round sunny destinations: Cancun and Hawaii
Mike Weingart, of Travel Leaders Houston, Texas and the president of the Southwest chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents contributed this to MiniTime.