Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vacation Rentals & Multi-Generational Travel: 3 Tips for a Great Family Trip

Relax on the deck while you keep on eye
on the kids on the beach at this California vacation rental.

Multi-generational travel’s becoming more and more common as baby boomers reach their 60s and 70s and include their children and grandchildren on trips. Vacation rentals are the perfect lodging option for this kind of group travel. The family can live in a home, much like they would at home, but with pools, hot tubs, a beach, amusement parks … well, you get the idea. Here are three tips for ensuring your multi-generational vacation’s a big success.

Find the best vacation rental … for your group. The right lodging will be different for every family. Start by looking at the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Don’t just go by the number of people the vacation rental sleeps since that might include a hide-a-bed in the living room—not that you wouldn’t choose that in the end, but you’ll want to be sure of the sleeping arrangements. Make location a high priority. However, since you’ll probably be renting a car or driving to your destination, being further away from the beach or amusement park might be an okay tradeoff for more bedrooms and amenities. Finally, consider amenities such as a pool, game room, hot tub, beach access, etc. You’ll want a vacation rental that offers some entertainment options, should you find yourself indoors on a rainy day, or just want enjoyable down time. All of this depends on who’s traveling in your group. Game rooms for small children are different than for teenagers, and adults may want a spot they can escape to for much needed relaxation.

Make planning a family affair. The larger the group, the more diverse the interests. While you may go nuts over Civil War battle sites, your 15-year-old granddaughter may not. Or, perhaps worse, she may feign enthusiasm to make you happy, but be unhappy with the trip. To counter this, get entertainment and activity ideas from everyone, preferably indirectly. Too often, the ones we love want to please, especially if you’re the one paying for the trip. Ideally, you should end up with more ideas than you can fit into a month, but that’s good. You’ll have lots of options. Then, resist the urge to be the tour guide every step of the way. Try dividing those duties up on a daily basis, with activities based on what will interest one person or groups of people. Or, divide the day up and give different people responsibility for the morning, afternoon and evening. The key is to stay flexible in your planning and get everyone involved.  And remember this: If someone says, Ï don’t care what we do, you decide,” they don’t mean it—you just need to work harder to draw out what does interest them.

Make time for down time. There’ll be the temptation to go, go, go, because you’ll want to make sure everyone is always having a good time. Remember that small children need naps, teenagers like to sleep late, mom may like to go to bed early, dad always reads the news online in the morning, and grandma and grandpa really enjoy quiet evenings by the pool. While vacations are supposed to disrupt routines in a good way, too much of a good thing can be stressful. If you’re in Florida during the summer, it’d be a good idea to plan for a couple hours back at the vacation rental during the afternoon heat. That way kids (and some adults and teens) can get a nap in, while others hang out by the pool or in the game room.

Be sure to check back for more multi-generational travel tips in later blog posts. Until then, happy and safe travels to you and your family.