Travel has never been as accessible to families as it is today and unsurprisingly, multi-generational travel with kids, parents and grandparents in tow has become increasingly popular. While it’s a wonderful way to have quality time together as a family, there are important factors to consider when planning a family holiday with the grandparents.
Travel With Kidz specialist Emma Ross’s love affair with travel started on her first overseas trip at the age of 11. Since then, she has travelled extensively to many corners of the world and in 2010 turned her passion into a career by becoming a Personal Travel Manager. Emma is also mum to four kids under the age of 10 and when she’s not planning great holidays for other families, she enjoys travelling with her own.
“We lead such busy lifestyles – even many grandparents these days haven’t yet retired and are leading their own busy lives, so having some personal quality time with extended family is really important and special,” says Emma Ross.
When planning an extended family holiday, you may find the biggest challenge is expecting to be able to travel the same way as if it were just yourself, your partner and kids.
“You already know what your family’s travel groove is and what you enjoy seeing and doing, but things you enjoy may not be so suitable for the grandparents and the way you travel can be vastly different to the way you do.”
Emma advises considering important factors such as ages, mobility and interests in order to find a travel style and pace that suits everyone, as well as establishing expectations on what your family wants to get out of the trip.
“Every family is different – some are more active while others prefer a more relaxed pace, so having an open-forum discussion about this as a family in the planning stages will help you establish expectations in regards to experiences, budgets, and style of travel best suited,” Emma says.
Emma recommends aiming for a slower pace of travel when travelling with grandparents and factor in time together as well as alone time.
“A slower pace is preferred because it’s the least stressful on everyone, it takes the pressure off and everyone gets maximum enjoyment, and adding a mix of travelling together as well as some alone time is a great idea – have a week together with the grandparents and then a week separate.”
Cruising, for example, is a great generational style of travel because you can easily have alone time and its Emma’s top choice for a family vacation thanks to its relaxing pace, variety of destinations, and flexible options for the whole family.
“I am a big fan of cruising because it offers something for everyone and there are so many cruise companies and ships that will cater for both grandparents that want to have a bit of a splurge and treat themselves as well as budget-conscious families,” Emma says.
“There is also a huge variety of destinations you can visit and once you get on-shore you can do different types of tours to suit your interests, and on-board it’s the same, everyone can do their own thing but then come together in the evening.”
Opting for a cruise that departs from or near your hometown also takes out the hassle of needing to fly to your destination, but if you are flying, Emma suggests travelling together as a family as opposed to separately so you can support and help each other out during the flight.
Emma also has sound advice on booking accommodation.
“When it comes to accommodation, space is key, so look for something that offers different rooms and a common area with plenty of breakout areas to retreat to during chaotic family times, such as getting the kids ready for bed.”
Emma believes that travelling with the grandparents is a truly special and enriching experience for both kids and grandparents as it opens them up to new perspectives.
“Through travelling together, grandchildren and grandparents have the unique opportunity to experience new destinations and cultures through each other’s eyes,” Emma explains.
“Grandparents may offer a new insight into the world or a different connection to a place, especially if its something of significance to them, perhaps a place they visited or lived before, while at the same time, kids are great at making you slow down and notice things you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.”
Emma believes that the opportunity to travel with grandparents is something we take for granted when we should really be making the most of it.
“Even as little as 30 years ago, travel wasn’t nearly as accessible as it is today and most of our parents didn’t get the opportunity to travel with their parents or grandparents, so we should really appreciate this and take advantage of the quality time and memories we can create with them as a family.”