(BPT) - Whether over the river or through the woods, families across the U.S. are planning to travel during the holidays. In a world of well-traveled toddlers, worldly teens and active seniors, multigenerational travel is growing and for good reason: everyone enjoys a vacation together while creating unforgettable memories.
'Multigenerational family travel is character building,' says Julie Henning, writer and contributor for destination and activity website LiveLifeLocal.com. 'In exploring new places with the people who already know your strengths and flaws - and love you anyway - you can come together in a way that otherwise wouldn't happen at a holiday or reunion.'
Planning a trip for the whole family doesn't have to be intimidating. With a few simple tips, it's easy to coordinate a vacation everyone will enjoy:
1. Keep a 'group' mindset
Whether you're orchestrating an elaborate vacation where the whole group flies across the country, or you're road-tripping, picking up the grandparents along the way, keep the lines of communication open.
'Planning a multigenerational trip is a little bit like planning a wedding,' says Henning. 'If you can remember the trip is not just about you, but a time of celebration for the entire family, chances are you'll have much fonder memories.'
2. Plan together
'If you have more than one 'planner' in the group, involve them all in creating the agenda as much as possible,' advises Henning. This will help ensure everyone provides input and the responsibilities are spread between multiple people.
Online travel sites make it easy to plan multigenerational trips, even if families live in different locations. LiveLifeLocal.com, created by Safeco Insurance, allows users to discover unique destinations, read reviews and map out their travel route at no cost. You can research and save preferred activities to a 'collection' on your online vacation portfolio, which can then be shared with your family via email, Facebook or Twitter, making planning a snap.
3. Communicate budgets
It's important to be open about your vacation budget and expectations to avoid any awkward moments and unintended expenses once you've arrived at your destination. Be sure to talk about who is paying for what, or if it will be split equally. With so many people involved, the cost of multigenerational vacations can add up quickly, and no one wants to be surprised by going over-budget.
4. Pack and prepare
Preparing to leave is one of the most difficult parts of multigenerational travel. Each age group will need different things - your toddler needs diapers and her favorite blanket, your teen needs his favorite mobile device and charger, and the grandparents need to make sure they pack any necessary medications. Make lists and start packing early to eliminate the last-minute rush.
If you're driving, make sure the car gets a tune-up before you leave. If you're meeting up with the grandparents to use their RV, remind them to have any necessary maintenance done before you arrive. Properly winterizing and preparing RVs, boats and other vehicles is important for a headache-free multigenerational trip ... and just good sense overall. Check with your insurance company to see if towing is covered under your plan in case the need ever arises.
5. Cherish meal time
'In many families, mealtime is when everyone comes together to share their days and reconnect,' says Henning. 'On a trip, this can be at a restaurant, picnic at the beach, or from the comforts of a vacation home. Make an effort to enjoy regional food, shop at the local farmers market, or cook the meal your family enjoys most.'
6. Expect the unexpected
Remember that nothing is perfect, including your vacation. Be patient and understand flexibility will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth, stress-free vacation.
'Leave time for something to go wrong,' advises Henning. 'Camera batteries run out, room keys disappear, and bathroom breaks happen. Keep in mind that everyone needs some down time, even from the people they love most.'
Make this holiday one to remember by planning a multigenerational trip now. These tips will help you create a vacation itinerary everyone will love, helping to forge new bonds and traditions while creating memories to last a lifetime.