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Surviving Multi-Generational Travel: Tips for Keeping the Peace on Family Vacations

Surviving Multi-Generational Travel: Tips for Keeping the Peace on Family Vacations

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Are you planning a trip with kids and grandparents? Keep scrolling to check out my top tips for multi-generational travel to keep you sane!
This list of multi-generational travel tips was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Hey there, fellow adventure-loving parents!

Traveling as a family is one of life’s greatest joys and challenges, all rolled into one big, noisy, memorable package.

And when you throw grandparents and in-laws into the mix, well, you’re playing a whole different ball game.

I’m a mom to two incredibly energetic boys, and over the years, we’ve taken trips that span generations, from the roller coaster thrills of theme parks to exploring the ancient ruins of Europe and Asia, and even the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand.

Yes, multi-generational travel can feel like you’re trying to herd cats while balancing plates on your head.

But, it’s also packed with moments of pure gold—like seeing your kids make memories with their grandparents or watching your in-laws experience something totally outside their comfort zone.

So, how do you survive (and thrive) on these epic family adventures? Let’s jump in with some tried-and-tested tips!

We’ve done Disney with my mom several times. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Embrace the Planning Process

I’ve learned the hard way that winging it just doesn’t fly with a big group.

Start planning early, and get everyone involved. Yes, everyone. Even the kids.

During our multi-generational trip to Cabo, my son decided he wanted to paint pottery with his cousins for his activity. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Create a group chat or have regular meet-ups to discuss destinations, activities, and what everyone’s looking forward to the most.

This not only builds excitement but ensures that everyone feels heard. Plus, it’s a great way to gauge everyone’s interests and energy levels.

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s important to manage expectations in a group of people of different ages, interests, and mobility levels.

Not everyone will want to (or be able to) hike up a mountain or spend all day at a theme park.

Be upfront about what the trip will involve and make sure there’s something for everyone.

And remember, it’s okay to split up for parts of the trip if it means everyone gets to do something they love.

Schedule Downtime

Downtime is crucial. Trust me. It’s tempting to pack your itinerary to the brim, but everyone will need a break, especially the grandparents and the kids.

Image of two boys in a cabana at the Royal Sonesta Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung of Marcie in Mommyland
We try to plan for pool days on resort vacations. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Plan for leisurely mornings, free afternoons, or entire days where there’s nothing on the agenda but relaxing. This can mean pool time, a quiet day at the beach, or just chilling at your accommodation.

These moments often lead to some of the best memories and allow everyone to recharge.

Consider Accommodation Wisely

Where you stay can make or break a multi-generational trip. Look for accommodations that offer enough space for everyone to spread out (and get away from each other when needed).

It’s great to have a full kitchen so you can make a few family-style meals. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Vacation rentals can be a great option, providing common areas for group hangouts and separate spaces for when you need a little peace and quiet.

Also, consider accessibility for any family members who might have mobility issues.

Flexibility is Key

With a big group, plans can (and often do) go awry. That museum everyone was excited about might be closed for renovation, or maybe little Timmy comes down with a cold.

End of the Redwoods Tree Walk in Rotorua, New Zealand
When our youngest was sick, we left him with one of the grandmas while we did an activity with the other grandma! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Stay flexible and have a Plan B (and C) ready to go. Sometimes, the unexpected turns lead to the most unforgettable adventures.

Assign Roles

This might sound a bit corporate for a family vacation, but hear me out. Assigning roles plays to everyone’s strengths and interests.

Maybe Grandpa loves history, so he’s in charge of guiding the historical tours. Perhaps you’re great at finding the best dining spots, so you handle meal planning. Kids can be in charge of daily photo diaries or picking out the soundtrack for your road trips.

Roles make everyone feel involved and lighten the load.

Create Kid-Friendly and Senior-Friendly Activities

Make sure there are activities that cater specifically to the kids and the seniors in your group.

Image of a boy and grandma at Limahuli Garden on Kauai
My son loved exploring Limahuli Garden on Kauai with his grandma. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Interactive museums, wildlife parks, or even a simple picnic in a beautiful spot can keep the kids engaged, while cultural tours, scenic drives, or wine tastings might be more up the alley for the older generation.

Finding activities that bridge the gap between young and old can create beautiful bonding moments.

Capture the Memories

With so much happening, it’s easy to forget to document the journey.

Assign someone (or a few people) as the official photographers/videographers. Consider buying disposable cameras or Polaroid cameras for the kids to capture the trip from their perspective.

And make sure to get group photos—a tripod can be a handy tool for this. These moments are fleeting, and you’ll treasure having them to look back on.

Schedule Individual Time

Even on a family trip, it’s important to carve out some one-on-one time or individual time. Maybe it’s a date night for you and your spouse, a grandparent-grandchild outing, or some solo exploration time.

Check out these tips for visiting Disneyland with a 3 year old by top Disney blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of a mom giving a piggyback ride to her son at Toontown in Disneyland
I like to take my youngest on kiddie rides so my kids can get a break from each other at theme parks. Photo credit: Adam & Claudia Photography

This helps prevent the feeling of being “on top of each other” 24/7 and allows for personal rest and reflection.

Post-Trip Debrief

Once you’re back home and settled, have a post-trip get-together. Share photos, talk about your favorite moments, and discuss what worked and what didn’t.

This can be a wonderful way to relive the trip and start dreaming about the next one.

And Most Importantly… Keep Your Sense of Humor

Things will go wrong. There will be meltdowns, missed turns, and maybe even a lost passport or two.

The key to surviving (and enjoying) multi-generational travel is to keep your sense of humor intact.

Laugh off the little things, and don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. The mishaps often make for the best stories later on.

Wrapping Up

Traveling with your whole clan, from kids to grandparents, is a bit like conducting an orchestra—everyone has their part to play, and it might get a bit chaotic.

But when it all comes together, it’s beautiful music. Yes, it requires more planning, patience, and probably a few more bathroom breaks, but the memories you create are absolutely worth it.

Here’s to the adventures that await and the stories you’ll tell for years to come. Safe travels, my fellow family explorers!

Looking for more family travel tips? Check out How to Save on Summer Travel This Year, The Ultimate Checklist for Traveling Abroad with Kids, 10 Compelling Reasons to Consider Travel as Part of Your Child’s Education, and How to Enjoy Europe’s Top Sights in Summer Without the Massive Crowds!

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