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Taking a family vacation with grandparents creates a whole new traveling experience. The vision is the perfect multi-generational family trip filled with smiles, laughs, and fun. But the reality can be filled with a bit of extra work for the parents sandwiched between the wants and needs of their children and their aging parents.
The pros and cons of traveling with family depends on many factors including the ages of the children, mobility of the grandparents and how well everyone actually knows each other. Before deciding to embark on a seven-to-10 day multi-generational family vacation, it is a good idea to weigh the pros and cons to determine if traveling with grandparents is right for your family.
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Pros of Traveling with Family
Of course, priceless memories, are the No. 1 reason to bring grandparents along on a family vacation. Memories are the culmination of the entire trip and sometimes as simple as a quiet moment walking hand-in-hand along the beach. Special memories are kept close at heart for a lifetime by young and old. Splashing in a pool at a resort, learning about history at a National Historic Site, catching a fish at a lake, or riding a roller coaster at Disney World. Sometimes the memory is a conversation shared on vacation when the family takes the time to be present. Memories are created by the rest of the numbers on the “Pros List.”
Traveling with family on vacation is all about quality time. Quality time looks different for each family. For those who live far from grandparents, a multi-generational trip is a way to spend time together. It can be as simple as renting a condo or a cabin where you cook together and hang out. It can be a sightseeing trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, learning about Colonial America together.
For families who have local grandparents that regularly attend school programs and sporting events, finding quality time might mean taking the time to talk and to listen to each other rather than being caught up in day-to-day life. Quality time can mean turning off the devices both young and old. Be present. And, for some families, quality time might mean teaching a grandparent how to use social media or how to play a video game online so it can be a way to connect with the family when apart.
Getting To Know You
You get to know each other better on a vacation rather than a short visit for the day. For those who live local to their grandparents, it may have been a long time since the adult children have spent the night. There’s something special about lounging in pajamas together at night playing a board game with the whole family or watching a movie on TV.
Waking up in the same location as your aging parents, sipping coffee together over quiet conversation is priceless. Traveling with family allows you to stop and enjoy the little moments together that can be taken for granted when grandparents help with after-school pickup and come to every birthday party.
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One of the best parts of traveling with family is trying new activities that you only try because of a family member. For those who live far from grandparents/aging parents, when you travel together, it is different than visiting each other’s hometowns because the vacation is new to everyone. Granny and Granddad may love antiquing or art museums, so you venture to several shops or art studios with the kiddos in tow. The grandchildren might learn to appreciate quality vintage items and learn to repurpose them for today.
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At the art studios, the children learn about different types of art mediums and local artists. Grandparents might try new activities while traveling with family, too. Activities can range from ziplining to laser tag or fishing and golfing. It all depends on your family. It all depends on respecting and appreciating each other’s love for adventure and relaxation.
Of course, a favorite part for many couples who travel with family is a much-needed date night with your spouse in a new vacation spot. This gives grandparents a night to do something special and spoil the grandkids without any interference from their parents. And, it gives the couple a chance to try out a unique restaurant or tourist location without everyone tagging along.
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Cons of Traveling with Family
Difficult to Balance Interests When Traveling With Family
Sometimes when traveling with family, it becomes tough to balance activities that please the youngest and the oldest at the same time. Depending on your children’s ages and stages, they may be interested in roller coasters, ziplines, and video arcades. These types of activities, most certainly, only appeal to some grandparents. Depending on the ages and interests of the grandparents, they might only be interested in antiquing, art museums, and shopping. Trying to find common ground that everyone can enjoy together is the key challenge when traveling with family.
Moving at a Slower Pace When Traveling With Family
Vacationing with grandparents can be a challenge because of physical limitations. It can be a challenge for some families to simply slow down. Grandpa might need an afternoon nap. Grandma may use a cane or walker, which makes her walk slow. Sometimes, it is tough for families of tweens or teens to understand these limitations.
Tough to Make Reservations When Traveling With Family
Sometimes when traveling with family, it is difficult to make reservations for dinner because of a larger group. If you are unable to make advance reservations, this might lead to cranky, hungry children and teens. Waiting hours for a table for dinner can be tiring for a grandparent who has already done a full day of sightseeing or outdoor activities they aren’t necessarily accustomed to.
Pros Outweigh Cons When Traveling With Family
The pros definitely outweigh the cons when traveling with grandparents. The trick is moving the items on the cons list to the pros list. Every con can be flipped into a positive learning experience for you and your children.
Difficult to Balance Interests: Teaching compromise. It’s important for both young and old to learn about each other’s likes and dislikes. Appreciate the differences. You might find a new interest.
Moving at a Slower Pace: Change your expectations when traveling with family. It will not be the same vacation that you would have if it were just your immediate family unit. When you bring the grandparents, the dynamics change. Embrace the change. Be flexible. Be patient. Be an example to your children. Stop and smell the coffee. Take a nap. Read a book. Enjoy each and every moment for what it is.
Tough to Make Reservations: Plan ahead. Choose a restaurant based on whether it takes reservations or call ahead seating. Be flexible by eating at a different time. Carry protein-filled snacks that can keep a “hangry” teen or Grandpa at bay.
Be sure to make your own Pro and Con list for traveling with family based on your particular family unit. Plan your trip so you can avoid as many cons as possible. Be flexible. Have fun. Enjoy the moment, and most importantly, make memories that will last a lifetime!
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