Vacations for Families of All AgesMultigenerational vacations undoubtedly have group appeal. Grandparents get to spend quality time with their grandchildren, and parents can relax during that downtime. Recent studies support the notion that these types of vacations are becoming exceedingly popular. According to a University of Florida study, the phenomenon of multigenerational travel has increased 60% since 1996, and now accounts for at least one fifth of all trips taken with children.
To help you capitalize on this growing trend, MainStreet’s found some perfect places to plan a multigenerational getaway.
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The CriteriaClinical psychology Julia Simens explains that the best multigenerational vacations are ones that manage family time effectively. This means, essentially, that you don’t get sick of each other.
“Planning vacations that are good for the different ages must have some down time where each group is allowed to go off on their own if they want,” she explains. “It never works if you feel the contact time needs to be 24 hours a day.”
As such, pick a place that offers something to all age groups, and then set some ground rules.
“Make the expectations known before you head out,” Simens advises, explaining that on her multigenerational vacations, family members did as they pleased during the day, then got together at mealtimes.
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CruisesCruises meet Simens criteria perfectly since they offer a plethora of activities in one location.
“We didn’t feel locked to each other’s schedules,” New Jersey resident Paul Entin tells MainStreet, explaining that his family could see as much or as little of each as they wanted based off of the excursions each chose. “We would all have a formal dinner together every night and talk about the day,” Entin says.
The Entin family traveled on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Sea, a ship that offers something for everybody. Features include an ice skating rink, a rock climbing wall, a miniature golf course and a casino. Right now, you can book a suite on a five-night Caribbean cruise in December for a price between $419 and $939, depending on room size. The ship departs from Port Canaveral, Florida and travels to Georgetown, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Mexico. You can check here for a list of 2011 itineraries.
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DisneyDisney may be the happiest place on earth, but it certainly isn’t the cheapest. Fortunately, the theme park chain recognizes its multigenerational appeal and offers several vacation packages geared specifically for families. Right now, a family of four can book a seven-day/six-night stay at one of its Orlando resorts. The package includes hotel accommodations, entry into one of its theme parks each day of the trip, and round-trip transportation from the hotel and park for $1,769.
Grandparents 55 and over can also get discounts by booking at select hotels through AARP. Prices typically range from $99 to $630 a night, though you will find certain resort suites priced up to $4,300.
This article provides additional tips for planning your multigenerational Disney vacation.
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Rocking Horse Ranch
If Disney is out of your price range, opt for local resorts that offer a range of activities with all-age appeal. Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, N.Y., for example, offers horseback riding, boating, nighttime entertainment and, just in time for fall, pumpkin picking.
“Think ‘cruise’ but on land with horses,” Massachusetts resident and frequent ranch visitor Jodi Smith explains. You can book a six-person suite for between $120 to $160 a night per person. Children’s bookings range from $47 to $77 a night per child, but food is included with the stay for everyone.
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Rent a HouseRenting a vacation home can often be more affordable than booking a few nights at a hotel. As such, families should visit popular search engines such as HomeAway.com, Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO.com), VacationRentals.com to find affordable rentals in their destination of choice.
This MainStreet article lists some affordable summer rentals. However, those who are looking to get away this fall should consider searching for homes in the Catskills or Poconos in New York and Pennslyvania where the woods are beautiful this time of year. This four-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Bushkill, Pa., for example, costs less than $2,000 a week. However, it sleeps 10 comfortably, which brings the total cost per person down to $200.
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Road ScholarRoad Scholar is a program sponsored by the nonprofit organization ElderHostel, which specializes in setting up educational vacations for retirees and/or their families. Excursions booked through its “family program” are geared to multiple generations, but are suitable for two generations as well.
They include a family adventure to the Grand Canyon ($995 per person), an intergenerational tour of Hawaii’s volcanos ($2,865 per person) and a holiday ski trip to the Rocky Mountains ($1,397 per person). The prices may initially seem steep, but keep in mind they are all-inclusive. The international 10-day/11-night trip to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, for example, includes hotel accommodations at all stops, 10 breakfasts, nine lunches, nine dinners, fully funded field trips, as well as excursions and partial airfare for $3,866 per person.
Interested families should check out the full list of itineraries here.
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Camping“Destination campgrounds have activities galore: game rooms, hayrides, swimming pools, fishing, sometimes golf or spa,” travel writer and camper Janet Groene tells MainStreet. “The family can do these activities separately, then come together for campfires and story-telling.”
Groene suggests renting a family-sized RV and driving to a local camping site. Class C Motorhomes, which can sleep up to 10 people, typically cost $1,050 and $1,300 a week to rent, but you can shop on popular sites, such as RVRentalsofAmerica.com or AdventureTouring.com for discounts.
Also check out the National Park Service website to find a camp site near you. Most parks on the list typically charge between $3 to $25 per person for entry.
Be aware that additional fees can be associated with camping out. Adams Fork Park in Washington, for example, charges $16 for each day an RV is parked on its campgrounds. If you’re there for a week, this could translate to $112.
Photo Credit: Grace Family
Ace Adventure ResortAce Adventure Resort in West Virginia specializes in organizing trips for adventurous families. Its Gauley Camp Package, for example, offers families the opportunity to go white-water rafting on the New River Gorge National River for $170 to $225 per person depending on when you are looking to travel. The package also includes two nights on the resort’s campground and breakfast, lunch and dinner on the day of your rafting trip.
Families can customize their trips by adding other excursions, including mountain biking, rock climbing or paintballing. The great thing about the resort is that the more family members you bring, the greater the discounts you can receive. Big groups can save $10 to $15 per person if they meet certain pre-set quotas.
Photo Credit: Ken Curtis
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