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The multi-gen holiday, also dubbed the ‘3G’ trip, is a vacation consisting of at least three generations. This means ‘family travel’ now covers anyone from eight months to 80 years. But how to satisfy such a vast age range of individuals? When grandma wants to play bridge and two-year old Timmy just wants to throw the cards?
These are our top 11 tips for 3G vacay survival.
1. What’s the purpose?
Do you all want to relax, or is it an educational getaway? Is the main purpose to enjoy a ski holiday altogether, or to celebrate a special event? Jot down a few key purposes and discuss options with your HOT consultant.
2. What activities & entertainment is needed?
Do you need plenty of museums in close proximity for grandpa, as well as theme parks and waterparks for the smaller fuss-pots? Does grandma get sassy if she isn’t close to five-star dining, and mum throw a hissy if she can’t easily find a trim flat white? Get everyone to write down five things they’d like from their holiday and fine tune from there.
3. Ask about transport options
Will you hire a car and split the driving? Is everyone aware it’s a joint responsibility? It's no good having a car if grandpa’s the designated driver but six sherries down by dinnertime. Or will you rely solely on convenience, in which case everything needs to be on the doorstep. Look into transfer options too. After a long flight, both grandparents and their grandchildren are likely to throw a tired-induced tantrum if the accommodation is hours from the airport.
4. Keep in mind individual comfort zones & physical ability
Don’t forget that those over 70 don’t have limitless energy. Or that those under seven DO seem to run like an Energizer bunny. The itinerary won't work if it's going to make grandma ill and grandpa grumpy, or one that bores little’uns into a screaming fit. Similarly, culture shocks are fun, but if granny’s lived the past 20 years in the sleepy suburbs of Hutt Valley, she might not appreciate being thrown - head first – into a Bangkok night market, complete with chicken fights and deep fried tarantulas.
5. Always check the weather
Those in their twilight years tend to shy away from high temperatures and even higher humidity. And tiny tots don’t always complain about being over-heated, but six strands of sweaty hair later, and you’ll realise they’re also not suited to a Balinese summer. Skiing perhaps? Maybe, but bad circulation is only made worse in below zero degrees. Check the weather. And then check with your nearest and dearest what they can or can't handle.
6. How much can everyone put in the kitty?
If you’re the parents, you might be the highest earner, and after your kids’ contribution of lollipops and Playmobil, the remaining dollars fall on grandma and grandpa. It pays (punny!) to be aware of everyone’s ideal budget and what each contributor is comfortable paying. It’s also worth discussing individual expenditures and expectations; your idea of a wallet-friendly dinner might be considerably different to your own parents. Similarly, they might want to pay for laundry every other day, which you hadn’t even thought about.
7. Be democratic
Try to select activities that will engage the entire family, then encourage individual entertainment. Every day needn’t be spent in each other’s pockets; while you take the kids to the theme park, Grandma might want to stay poolside with the latest Joanna Trollop novel, while grandpa takes a walk to collect his thoughts (grandpas love collecting thoughts). Then you can all reconvene for 5pm cocktails, mocktails and sherries, before dinner together and an evening show.
8. Avoid being unreasonable
It’s everyone’s holiday so every member should have an (almost) equal part to play. Okay, so Baby David isn’t going to be responsible for firing up the barbecue, but things will run smoother if no particular person dominates, or forces people into the cliché trap. Ie, don’t expect grandma to cook every night just because she’s made the best home-cooked lasagna all your life. Instead, actively split the responsibilities and then rotate them. Mum and dad might organise an activity, grandma oversees all food decisions and grandpa looks into transport. Kids can help grandma pack the snacks. And the next day, you switch it around again.
9. Compromise for every occasion
Just because you and your three sons love to kayak, doesn’t mean grandma wants to grab an oar, don her finest wetsuit and paddle her way to victory. But she might be happy if you find a kayaking spot with a cosy beachside café and an outdoor hammock for a nap. On the flip side, Grandpa might want to frequent every art gallery in a 100km radius, but your kids won’t know a Van Gogh from their own attempts with a paintbrush, so find a gallery with a children’s play area, or an adjoining café which sells the best – and biggest – slice of chocolate cake in the country.
10. Consider eating times
It’s quite likely, when you’re travelling as a multi-gen ensemble, everyone will dine differently. Grandma might be used to dining at a time that usually coincides with Coronation Street, but mum might prefer to wolf down dinner after a few hours nursing a couple of G&Ts. Try to accommodate everyone on different nights, or consider self-catered options if the times are really out of whack. That way, granny can graze on snacks while she gets her grandkids to find a means of streaming Corrie.
11. And dietary requirements too
From vegans to veggies, those intolerant to gluten and grandpa’s aversion to anything with coriander, make sure there are dining options to accommodate all tastes. Again, easier if you’re self-catering, but if you’re staying in a resort, check everyone’s happy with the available food options before booking.
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