The family that
Families find common
ground on multi-generational trips
families. “After 9/11 family travel grew rapidly,” says
Kaleel Sakakeeny, XM Travel broadcaster. “People
knew what they valued. They valued being together
as a family.” Nearly five years later, Sakakeeny concludes, family travel has become “incorporated into
By Andrea Downing Peck Family packages, kids’ clubs and all-suite room
DO YOU REMEMBER spending Sundays at options have become part of the travel vocabulary. A
grandma’s house for the weekly family dinner when long list of companies have added programs, changed
you were a child? I do. rate structures or altered lodging arrangements to
Unfortunately, the demands of jobs, children’s make family and intergenerational travel easier.
extracurricular activities and logistical challenges Cruises remain a popular way to bring far-
are leaving many families hard-pressed to arrange flung families together for an experience that will
quality time together. create more memories than even a teenager’s MP3
That may be a reason why more than 5 million player can hold.
family vacations annually include three genera- When my parents celebrated their 50th anniver-
tions traveling together, according to the Travel sary by taking their children and grandchildren on
Industry Association. Multi-generational travel is an Alaskan cruise, a vacation to visit grandparents
on the upswing, with shifts in demographics and took on new meaning. On board, luxury was defined
lifestyles fuelingthe trend. by first-class service and accommodations and
Although anniversaries, birthdays and gradua- impeccable attention to detail. The cruise offered
tions remain reasons for multi-generational travel, daily children’s and teen programs and a range of
trips no longer are limited to Disney vacations shipboard activities and land excursions to entice
and holiday gatherings. All-inclusive resorts, cruises, our entire group, which spanned seven decades.
tropical vacations, European adventures and inter- Today, the options when traveling with
generational camps are gaining in popularity extended family are limited only by your imagina-
as ways to draw together extended family. tion. If your family is interested in history, intergen-
Kyle McCarthy, editor of the Family Travel erational learning tours might be the answer. If
Forum, says today’s grandparents—younger, health- you’re looking to set your own pace, a vacation con-ier and more affluent than in generations past—are dominium might be an alternative.
“more action oriented than one might think.” Simply put, vacationing together—no matter
White-water rafting trips and other once-in-a-life- how it’s done—just makes sense.
time experiences are frequent choices for multi-gen- “Once your children are in school,” points out
erational travelers. According to research, the McCarthy, mother of a teenager, “there are only so
average age of first-time grandparents is 47, a statis- many vacation weeks in the winter, spring and sum-tic that is helping to redefine the market. mer. Travel is a good time to get together.” C
But changing demographics are not the only
reason for the shift in travel trends. Travel experts Andrea Downing Peck is a freelance writer in
say September 11 was a wake-up call for American Bainbridge Island, Washington.
ORGANIZING a multi-generational vacation does
require effort, but there are
ways to make the trip go
well from beginning to end.
• Put one well-organized
person with time and
energy in charge of planning, but allow everyone
to have some say in choosing the vacation activities.
• Consider a cruise or an
all-inclusive resort for your
vacation. Certain expenses
will be built in, dining
options will be flexible
and activities will be available for all ages.
• Keep in mind each family’s normal routine: Teens
like to sleep in; grandparents may rise early but
move through the day
at a slower pace; young
children may need to eat
earlier and go to bed
sooner than the older kids.
• Make sure individual
families have the opportunity to go it alone or opt
out of certain activities.
Not every meal, for example, has to include the
• Don’t confuse grandparents with the family
• Establish the financial
ground rules in advance.
Battling over the nightly
restaurant dinner bill will
only succeed in making
See page 40 for multi-generational ideas and offerings
from Costco Travel.