The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel

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The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel 

We thought that multigenerational travel or intergenerational travel (that is, traveling with grandparents) was something that only our family did.   However, on a recent holiday we saw how widespread and popular it is to combine several generations of family on one vacation and came up with this thought-provoking list about the benefits of travel in mulitgenerational groups.

During this time, probably 50% of families we interacted with were “multigenerational” – grandparents with the grandkids, three generations traveling as one – or perhaps our favorite, a Great Grandmother, her daughter, and the Great Grandchild all on holiday together!

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
Visiting Sydney with her grandmother.

What Is Multigenerational (Intergenerational) Travel?

Multigenerational travel is a relatively new and favored way for families to spend time together.  By families, we mean parents, their parents, the children, aunts, uncles and cousins to go on holiday together.

So, I hear you ask,  “what are the benefits of such an arrangement and are there any difficulties that you might encounter”?   How can you ensure that a trip like this is enjoyable and even stress free?

Let’s start with the benefits of multi-generational travel.

 1.  Maximize Holiday Time

Forget the old days of spending a week at your folk’s house so the kids could spend time with the Grandies.  Take the Grandies on holiday and everyone is happy and you get an extra trip in for the year!   Time is one of the most important commodities today.  Making this one of the bonuses of traveling together.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
Visiting Arequipa Peru

2.  Relationships Flow Easier On Holidays

In general, vacations are a time of relaxation and overall happiness.  You know how things always seem easier on holiday.  So too are relationships with the folks.

3.  Tick Off Bucket Lists

With grandparents fitter and healthier than ever before, and with a healthy taste for wanderlust in their bones, means that everyone can visit destinations that they have dreamed off.  I can’t say for sure, but many grandparents have travel bucket lists too!

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
Visiting the Monastery of Santa Catalina in Peru, a bucket list item for many!

4.  Cost Savings/ Economic Efficiency

For those who live on other sides of the world,  long haul travel with littlies (for example, from Australia to the UK /USA /Canada) seems very daunting.  Who wants to take 3 small kids on a flight?

More to the point, paying for long distance, international flights for 4 or 5 people can be crippling!  Therefore you can save on the bank balance and have the grandparents visit you – just two flights instead of 4.  Several of the families we met had grandparents who had traveled long haul to spend time with their children and grandchildren.  Then they all went on a holiday near to the children’s home.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
Sharing a taxi is a cost saving!

5.  Reduced Travel Expenses

In addition to paying fewer flights, there are inherent cost savings in combining accommodation, or bulk bookings.  Of course this is depending how many people are traveling!  However, more people together means combined savings which, usually, means reduced travel expenses.

6.  Grandparents Are Wonderful Carers

It is often said that freed of the daily grind of parenting, grandparents are wonderfully soft and kind, with all the time in the world to share with grandchildren.  This sharing of family history contributes to a sense of grounding and belonging for grandchildren.  In a fast paced and often disconnected world, this belonging will be increasingly important to staying grounded and realistic.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
an extra pair of hands when the kids don’t want to ride in the pram anymore!!

7.  Different Ages Provide New Perspectives

Educational and history wise, grandparents can share an alternative viewpoint as they come from a different generation.  Children can learn about the “olden days” while their parents can also learn from their folks.  Personally, as this Mumma has grown mellow and entered her 40’s, she has stopped to ask her own parents about their history.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
Nanna sharing her personal history of Sydney.

8.  Grandparents Are Built-In Baby Sitters

That is right, instead of just having mum and dad to raise the brood, there are suddenly two more hands to help.  Also, if you are looking for a date night, massage, or to do your dive master course, they are often delighted to help.

Having grandparents around that are willing to care and happy to care for the children help give mum and dad time to reconnect.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
An extra pair of hands to cross the road (and free up Mumma to take photos!!!)

How To Make Your Intergenerational Travel Run Better!

Let us not wax lyrical or get starry-eyed about the idea of having a built-in baby sitter along for the trip.  There can be some issues when an extended family comes together.

Sibling rivalry may raise its ugly head, or your laid-back free range parenting style might not work so well for your authoritarian father.   Yes, there are inherent difficulties in families.  Some people might feel that the benefits of multigenerational travel are outweighed by the problems caused by traveling with the grandparents.    So, here are some ways to make your multigenerational travel vacation a success.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel

 1.  Establish The Hierarchy

I laughed when I wrote this!  What I mean is who is going to be the boss on the trip?  This may fall naturally to the travel planner or most organized. However,  if there are competing candidates for this role, establish roles, and discuss how the trip will be planned.


2.  Discuss Costs And Budgets

Your university student sister might not have the same budget as you, nor might the parent on a pension.  There are going to be differences in spending patterns, so discuss costs, who pays for what,  from the outset.   This way any uncomfortable moments, or cause of friction, can be avoided.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel

3.  Be Aware Of Different Interests/Energy Levels

Another way of describing this is, who needs a nap and who does not?  Smaller kids will need a nap and so will older folks.  Keep this in mind so those people can plan their day.  In our case, the grandmother has a sleep at the same time as the 2-year-old and everyone else goes out!


4.  Plan Alone Time For Different Groups

Depending on your style of accommodation this will be easy or difficult to achieve.  We like Airbnb’s for multigenerational travel (check out our full post on pros and cons of Airbnb’s here ) but it does mean that the common spaces are shared at night.

If you are going on your first multigenerational travel trip, you could consider each group (within the broader family group) has their own hotel room each night to retreat to.  Also, be aware that the whole family may not want to go traipsing around tourist sites and that’s OK.

The Benefits Of Multigenerational Travel
In our Airbnb in Sydney.

5.  Communication

Establish boundaries for what is acceptable and what is not.  Communication is so important and so are boundaries.  Make sure to establish these early on and be flexible.

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  • I completely agree with this entire post! We love to travel with my parents and siblings and their kids too (meaning its people of all ages – infant to 65). I believe it has so many benefits. Great post!

    • Yes it has so many benefits. We’ve travelled with a 2 year old and a 77 year old on the same trip. They got along great!!!!

  • This post is brilliant. We love intergenerational travel, but without #1 (establishing the hierarchy — which is tough when family dynamics are involved) things get confusing and stressful!

    • Yes family dynamics can definately be the biggest pitfall!!! Somehow you all need to agree on who is going to be the leader/boss!

  • I am a total fan of multigenerational family travel. With 8 grandchildren now and my 5 adult children geographically spread out, I love to travel with my family. Great tips.

  • This is so spot on! Sometimes I think I need to do a bit of a better job at number 1 re establishing a hierarchy (we’re all pleasers so none of us takes the lead at times…)

  • Perfect timing! We’re right in the middle of planning a trip with grandparents for next month. I’m mostly excited (like, by far mostly excited) but there are a few things I’m worried about. I think if we all go in with realistic expectations,like you mentioned, the good will outweigh the bad. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great points, I love the boss one, you do need someone who can take control and make decisions for a big group. We travelled as a group of 9 family members this summer, it was great and we’ll definitely do it again.

  • Totally agree with everything you say here! We’ve done a couple of trips with the grandparents – our first to Thailand a couple of years ago! It was so good when the grandparents looked after the boys whilst us parents headed off down Th Khao San for a few too many Beer Changs. I do find that that they like to travel at a pace similar to the kids, which is a bit of a win win!

    Thanks for linking up to #fearlessfamtrav

  • There are some great points both for and against multi-generational travelling here. Personally I wouldn’t travel with my son and my in-laws as my MIL can’t walk very well and when we go on holiday we walk miles and miles each day exploring. I’m not one for sitting in a cafe all day long!

    I’m not sure I could handle my own father’s authoritarian ways either though. I’d travel with my mum as she is quiet and tends to go with the flow. Thanks for linking up to #wanderlustkids

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Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.