Guess who’s coming on your family vacation? Grandma, Grandpa … and your new nephew, too. The family trip has evolved—multigenerational travel includes a whole cast of extended family members.
Fun Family Vacations for Multigenerational Travel
But with needs and interests that include every life stage, multigen travelers looking for the perfect family vacation face a particular challenge. Multigenerational travel groups tend to need larger and connected rooms, more opportunities to be together in large groups, and activities and entertainment that keeps everyone happy. And quite simply, not every vacation is up to the challenge.
But some are designed around these very concepts, and deliver memorable fun that keeps everyone engaged and happy all vacation long. Here are 10 inspiring ideas for your next multigenerational travel adventure.
For: Round-the-clock activity seekers who aren’t afraid to split up until mealtime.
What to expect: The all-in-one-place entertainment factor coupled with the opportunity to explore port cities makes cruising a great multigenerational travel choice. Budgets are respected (everyone can choose the room and meal plan that works best for them) and larger ships offer options that range from champagne bars to late-night kids’ clubs. Everyone sets their own pace, making it a great option for balancing personalities and energy levels.
One to Try: Disney Cruise Lines, like the parks, promises fun for all ages. Families will find options they can enjoy together onboard, including first-run movies and interactive restaurants.
For: Wild West lovers who want horse encounters, outdoor fun, and campfire singalongs.
What to expect. Everyone bonds when you’re wearing cowboy hats. This is the trip for families that like structure and plenty of activities. Ranch styles range from early-rise/help the cowboy options to more leisurely camp-like stays. Know your intensity tolerance before you book.
Where to try it: At Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, just outside Sandpoint, Idaho, kids can spend a week with their horse in a kids’ horse camp, then meet back up with parents or grandparents for meals and quieter activities. At the Red Horse Mountain Ranch near Coeur de Alene, Idaho, days include beautiful mountain trail rides as well as mountain biking, yoga, archery and more.
Family Adventure Tours
For: Multigenerational adventure seekers keen on thrilling and culturally engaging activities around the world.
What to expect: Adventure is the middle name (literally at times- think G Adventures or Thomson Family Adventures) of the companies who run these tours—and they live up to their names. Trips are full of opportunities to run, jump, question, and learn. However, if you’re traveling with folks who have limited mobility or hate the idea of a schedule, this one won’t be a fit. Days are packed with new exploits, and evenings leave time for laid-back fun.
Where to try it: Consider building the family bond on a Row Adventures Family Magic Rafting trip. Trips include a Travel Jester (like a camp counselor) to keep kids entertained in between excursions. Or try Intrepid Travel’s Family tours, which include opportunities to explore Asia, Africa, Europe, and more
For: Beach lovers whose perfect vacation includes food, frolic, and fun … without necessarily straying far from the room.
What to expect: Easy living. All-Inclusive resorts were among the first to embrace multigenerational travelers. Pick your destination and pay attention to your included options to make sure every member of your clan has something to look forward to.
Where to try it: Club Med. Connecting rooms are standard and can be reserved at the time of booking; some locations (especially in the Caribbean) offer suites for additional living space. Everyone is catered to: Its “baby club” takes infants as young as four months, and older kids will find age-appropriate sports and creative activities. Adult lessons like tennis, archery, and trapeze run on parallel tracks to kids’, so once activities are over, you can all get back together to enjoy quality time together.
For: The family who dreams of hike-filled days and star-filled nights.
What to expect: Head to a national park with the extended family for stunning vistas, starlit nights, and days filled with hiking and biking. The parks offer plenty of activities (ranger-led and independent; at a cost and free) which means options abound for family time, both together and apart. Send grandma off to learn about the local wildlife with her mini-me, while granddad teaches your daughter how to skip stones. Memories are easy to make here. Older bones may be less keen on the tent camping experience. Consider pop up trailers, RVs, or cabin rentals to keep everyone in your multigenerational group comfortable.
Where to try it: Any of the National Parks will be worth exploring, but if you’ve got the time, plan an epic road trip to Utah’s Mighty Five. Also, consider buying an annual pass for the National Park System. An $80 annual fee covers access to all parks that charge ‘per vehicle’, which greatly reduces the cost of entrance fees throughout the year if you visit multiple parks in the year.
For: Plant the seed of common interest between the generations by taking the learning out of the books and into the world.
What to expect: Historical getaways don’t have to be ho-hum. If you’ve got family members with an interest, or school kids who are studying American history, why not tie that into a trip they’ll all remember?
Where to try it: Introduce the kids to the Civil War in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Museums and Battlefield tours (by bicycle, Segway, air balloon, or horseback) are perfect for inquisitive travelers of all ages. You can easily spend a few days exploring the local area, and you’re only a short drive from Washington, D.C., for more history and museums.
For: Families who see winter as a challenge just waiting to be conquered.
What to expect: An active vacation with some quality time built in. Snow destination vacations offer opportunities for a variety of skill levels on the slopes, window shopping in the village, and the comfort of a cozy chalet in between.
Where to try it: In Whistler, British Columbia, you’ll find slopes that work for both beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders, plus spa options and wildlife tours. The Family Adventure Zone offers fun for all ages, and a wide choice of comfortable accommodations can fit the whole clan.
For: Multigenerational travelers looking to connect on a trip that traces the family tree to its ancestral roots.
What to expect: Stories and outings that bond the generations. Taking a trip to the places that helped to shape your parents (and theirs) will give the whole family a connection to personal history.
Where to try It: Everywhere. Start with your family’s photos and scrapbooks, or an online site like ancestry.com, and build from there. Will it be a reunion with the extended family in Scotland or a three-generation Vietnam family tour? Work with a travel agent to find the perfect guide to lead your family home and include the personal stops that will matter most.
For: Families who want to help make a lasting positive change in the world.
What to expect: Plenty of destinations offer volunteer options, but it can be hard to be sure your good intentions are doing what you hope. Research is key. Chat with your family ahead of time so that you choose an activity that means something to everyone involved.
Where to try it: Elevate Destinations offers luxurious eco-friendly trips to destinations that also allow you to give back in a variety of ways. The intensity of the volunteer work ranges from work with local non-profits to assisting creative artisans. The great thing is that the trips aren’t all work and no play. Fun is still a part of the equation. Plus, the “Buy a Trip Give a Trip” program means that for every trip sold, a local child is given a trip so they can see more of their home country.
The Villa Stay
For: Families intent on finding an island paradise where togetherness is the order of the day … and no one is futzing in the kitchen or worried about the laundry.
What to expect: The royal treatment with a side order of peace and quiet. Pick your island and then leave the details to your villa team. They’ll handle your meals, the cleaning, and booking any activities. Your main job? Relaxing with family. While prices can induce sticker shock (Expect $5,000 to $20,000 per week in some spots) it may still be less expensive than individual hotel rooms—not to mention the advantages of having a chef, butler, maid, ground transfers and private pools on site.
Where to try it: Jamaica. The island has a range of offerings that differ in size, vibe, and amenities. The premium luxury villas at Round Hill Villas in Montego Bay have two pools, outdoor showers, on-site staff, and access to the Round Hill Resort children’s programs.
What to Pack for a Family Vacation
Men’s Beachy Island Outfit for Bali
Women’s Fun Winter Outfit to Easily Pack in Your Carry-On
More from SmarterTravel:
- How to Create the Perfect Travel Itinerary
- How to Travel with Grandparents
- Special Needs Travel: 5 Great Ideas for a Memorable Family Vacation
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.