How to enjoy an intergenerational family holiday

As we emerge from pandemic-induced travel deprivation, many families are planning catch-ups to fill in for those lost no-contact years.

Intergenerational holidays are ideal to fill in the blanks for grandparents who have only seen their grandchildren grow up via Zoom, but expecting far-flung families to instantly get along is most likely a pipe dream.

Here’s our guide to an intergenerational holiday.

Planning is king. Initiate plenty of dialogue before the holiday is even booked to ensure everyone is on board for the destination and the accommodation.

Everyone will have different budgets, accommodation requirements and available holiday time. Compromise is unavoidable, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, you might end up doing something new.

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It might even be a good idea to designate a family ‘planner’ as the go-to person to centralise all the organisation.

Lean into the fact that you are all different and every activity isn’t going to suit everyone. Nanna is unlikely to want to go ziplining and young children are going to be cranky messes by the end of a day-long wine tasting tour.

It’s okay to split off and do your own thing. As well as a break from the schedule, you may need a break from each other. It’s a rare family where all members get along.

With this in mind, it’s also a good idea to choose a destination that offers plenty of variety and can accommodate all physical ability levels. Some families may require a lift at the resort, and a destination that involves lots of walking may not be suitable for young children. Some resorts don’t even allow children.

A big part of enjoying a holiday is the food, so this also needs to be taken into account. If you have a lot of fussy eaters, going to a destination where there is only the local, exotic cuisine may be a tremendous risk.

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If you are self-catering a roster is a must, otherwise it’s often left up to one person in the group and as that person is usually me. I recommend sharing out the responsibilities to keep the cook happy.

If you are eating out, check out the menus before making a booking. Once again, making all generations happy can be tricky. It may be a better idea to eat at different locations and meet up for drinks or ice creams later.

Renting a single property makes a great deal of financial sense but make sure you have enough room. Forcing people into a small space after years apart may set off some fireworks.

Once again, communication is the key. It’s a good idea to decide who gets the master bedroom, room with an ensuite etc, before you arrive at the destination. It might even be possible to ‘auction’ off the best rooms to anyone who is willing to pay a bit more.

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Make sure you schedule ‘break’ days. Filling the time with plenty of activities is a great way to explore a new destination, but it’s a holiday, take some time out to read a book, sit by the pool or enjoy a long lunch.

Let technology be your friend when it comes to money. Download a bill-splitting app such as Splitwise, Settleup or Splittr to take the hassle out of dividing up group expenses. 

Be flexible and go with the flow. Someone might get sick, dragging sulky teens to visiting historic sites might become harder than it’s worth, another group member might take lots of bracing walks right on mealtimes.

Plans are probably going to go astray, take a deep breath and see if you can find a work-around solution. 

An unexpected change might even be a blessing in disguise; helping a sick family member might give you a quiet day, and keeping someone company on an activity you would normally not consider could open new interests.

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Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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