With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I am ready to spill some dirt about my momma…but it’s not anything crazy or scandalous, it’s that I am crazy about her. She is truly one of my best friends and I speak to her on the phone generally at least once a day. And while I was thinking about her and her awesomeness, I was reminded of some of the biggest strains that we have put on our relationship. All of them have come from many, many times of multi-generational traveling. We’ve done it so often that I am here to share with you some tips I’ve picked up along the way on how to stay sane while doing your own traveling.
My parents have traveled with us on and off for years. We’ve hit up Disney World, lots of cross country trips to Montana, beach trips and most recently a cruise together. Through it all we have managed to create lasting memories and spent quality time as an extended family. We actually have so much fun that we are currently planning a trip all together for December. Here are my top 5 tips for multi-generational traveling:
Tip 1: Feel Free to Spend Time Apart
This one is crucial. You cannot spend 24/7 with anyone and expect to get along all of the time. By choosing to spend some time apart, you are giving yourselves a break for personal space. Go into the trip knowing that having separate rooms, and possibly even whole days alone is essential. On our cruise, we had originally planned to spilt up entirely during the days and come together for a nice dinner with wonderful conversation about our activities. (We ended up all agreeing on most excursions though, so we hung out more…read tip 3)
Tip 2: Choose Neutral Locations
I’ll be honest and admit that this does not always work out for us since I’ve got a family of five on a tight schedule, but ideally, you should look for locations that aren’t right next door for one set of people and across the country for the others. Remember that airfare is usually a large chunk of a traveling budget and try to split the distance if you can. Work together to find a destination that everyone is excited about. My mom and I are actually the planners for our trips, so we talk about what we want to do, narrow down the ideas and then present it to our families. I’d suggest having one designated person per family to do this as too many ideas can become chaotic and frustrating for everyone.
Tip 3: Find Inclusive Excursions
This one can be a bit of a challenge, but alway refer to tip 1 and spilt up for the day if you can’t find activities that interest everyone. But be open minded and search for fun things to do as a group. I can tell you that one of the things that my husband was looking forward to the least on this last trip (zip lining in Honduras, because he does that quite often for work) was one of our faves because we were able to see it anew through the kids and my parents, who had never done it before. Again, have the designated family members chat and narrow the field.
Tip 4: Be Budget Wary
Everyone has a different and it is important to be respectful of that. Beating a dead horse here, but again, if there is something that you want to do but the other parties cannot afford it split up. Don’t allow yourself to be held back and be resentful, but also don’t rub it in or pressure them to join you. Remember that it is everyone’s vacation and you want everyone to have the best time that they can. Arguments over money are never pretty and they don’t end well, so always be upfront and honest if you can’t afford something.
Tip 5: Set Rules and Limits
News flash: just because they are grandparents does not mean that they are on the trip to be built in babysitters! Don’t treat your family like that unless they specify that they want to watch your kiddos for you. Alternatively, don’t let the grandparents spoil the kids if that is not how you generally do things. Have an open and honest conversation about what you expect and allow.
The biggest argument that I have had as an adult with my mother was at LegoLand over a scared kid and a roller coaster. I honestly thought that the trip was going to come to a screeching halt and we were all going to head home. But we chatted it out and made up within 15 minutes. From that point on, we have been very careful to follow all of these tips and have had incredible vacations together.
And in case you are wondering about these photos, they are all from our cruise in February. The last one is one of my favorites! My mom is not a drinker at all (maybe one drink a year….maybe) but she was dying to have a margarita in Mexico. Well little did we know that they would bring out the fish bowl type drinks! Within 5 minutes she was hilariously drunk (trust me, it didn’t take me much longer) and we just cracked up about everything. My hubby was even recording it all on the GoPro unbeknownst to us. As we got towards the ship and saw the shops on the way back in, we spilt up leaving the kids with the guys and just had a goofy time together. It was one of my favorite memories of an incredible trip.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the possibility of another multi-generational trip coming up! I hope that you can take these hard earned tips and create some incredible memories with your own family.