Are We There Yet?: Five Tips for Surviving Multi-Generational Family Group Travel
Families can be stressful. Vacation planning for many can be stressful. Combine the two and you have a recipe for potential disaster. But there are a few tips when planning group travel with a family (or family like) group that will help make sure your trip is an awesome time away.
1. Pick one or two “Spokespeople”
The reality is that giving 25 people equal decision making power is a nightmare. If your family has one or two spokespeople that your agent can speak with and relay information through, things will go much smoother.
You’ll also want to decide on whether your Spokespeople are the group’s decision makers. You may have Sister as the Spokesperson, but if Grandma and Grandpa are paying for everyone, your family might give them final decision making power. Perhaps your Spokesperson’s role is to narrow down your options to three with your agent and then take it to the group for a democratic vote. Whatever the case, be sure to clearly define the group’s expectations of the Spokesperson and the level of power the group is giving them.
You’ll want to choose someone who is fairly good at remaining neutral, will make the best decision for the entire group, not just themselves personally, and someone who knows most members of the group well.
2. Agree on a price range
When your Spokesperson speaks with your agent, one of the questions they’ll be asked is what the budget is. Agreeing on a budget before you contact a Travel Professional will save a lot of time and will help the agent out when researching your options.
When deciding on a budget you’re going to want to make sure you come up with a price range. “Our budget is $1500 per person” is different than “Our budget is $1000-$1500 per person” which is different from “Our budget is $1500-$2000 per person”. A range is a much better tool to finding the perfect trip match.
The budget conversation is also very important because what folks can afford within your family could range. I highly recommend choosing something everyone is comfortable with. Also be open and clear about who is willing to pay what in the event some family members chip in extra to help cover other members or in the event one person or household is planning on paying the bill for everyone (aka what is and is not included).
3. Pick a Trip Guru
Ultimately, you need someone in the know to help ensure a large group runs smoothly. What time are you meeting at the airport? Is carpooling to the airport being arranged? No, we can’t leave on the bus yet to the hotel because Johnny’s in the bathroom. This person is often the Spokesperson from earlier. While they aren’t there to be Master Lord Commander over the entire trip, things just tend to roll smoother when folks know who to go to with questions.
Your Trip Guru is also a great resource for linking back to your Travel Professional while on the trip in the event something goes wrong and you need to talk to your agent for whatever reason.
Even before becoming a Professional, I’m often my trip’s Guru when I travel with others. While I’m happy to be the one to look up on a map how to get to the restaurant the group picks, I’m less thrilled to be the one tasked with deciding on which restaurant we’re going to. So be kind to your Trip Guru – we’re great planners and we we’re wonderful at keep a big picture eye on things, but we don’t want to be in charge of everyone and everything 24/7.
4. Build in alone time
If you’re going on a trip with multiple households, chances are someone (or everyone) is going to want a break from people. Sometimes this can even mean a break from their own kids (#godblessgrandparents). Allow for alone time. Whether that means someone doesn’t go on a particular tour or maybe one of the households picks a different restaurant one night from the rest of the group – don’t be offended by space. This is a vacation for everyone, so allow folks to do what they need to do to relax and enjoy everyone.
The longer your trip, the more space you’re likely going to want to build in.
What helps with building in space and alone time is tip number five.
5. Find an option with activities for everyone
You have a large, multi-household, multi-generational group to plan for and if you try to make everyone do the same thing, things are likely to fall apart quickly. All Inclusive Resorts and Cruises often tend to be great options for these types of groups because of the breadth of options available. The engaged couple can head to the adult only pool while the tweens go off to the kids club as Grandma and Grandpa partake in a Salsa lesson on the beach. Don’t forget about the toddlers!
Even if you’re doing a destination trip – say, like a week in London – allow enough room in your itinerary for opportunities that will appeal to everyone.
Because everyone has different tastes, interests and personalities, finding an option that is going to allow everyone to find something that speaks to them is going to take your vacation from good to awesome.
While planning a large multi-generational group trip can seem scary and daunting, don’t forget that your Travel Professional (hey, that’s me!) is there to help keep everything organized, simple and running smoothly so that you get the most out of time away with the people you love the most.