11 Helpful Tips for a Multigenerational Family Vacation

Traveling with a multigenerational family can be tricky and stressful. There are different ages, personalities, fitness levels, and tastes with which to contend. But it can also be fun.

We’ve traveled a few times with our parents and siblings and their families. One summer we went to Portugal for 2 weeks for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. We were 14 people (8 adults and 6 kids) in total, ranging in age from 10 months to 75 years old. It took some planning, but we had a great time. Here are my suggestions on how to have a successful multigenerational family vacation.

Disclosure: I only recommend sites I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. 

Quinta do Portal, Douro Valley, Portugal (Photo: Oscar E. Celorio using DJI Mini 2)

Why a Multigenerational Family Vacation?

A multigenerational family vacation is a great way for parents, siblings, grandkids, nephews/nieces, cousins to spend meaningful time together. All the extra hands doesn’t hurt either! It can be an enriching experiencing for everyone and there will be no end to family stories.

Also see my tips on How to Plan a Vacation with Kids, Tips for Traveling with Kids, and Tips for Flying with Kids.

1. Plan Ahead

With so many people it is important to do as much advanced scheduling as possible. 

Make restaurant reservations ahead of time. If you have a large group, it is usually more difficult to find restaurants that will seat everyone, especially in Europe. If it’s important for the group to eat together, make some reservations ahead of time, even if it’s just 1 or 2. 

2. Give everyone a voice in planning activities

Ketchikan, Alaska

It’s everyone’s vacation. Let everyone give input on what they would like to do or see. Send the members of your group a survey asking them the kinds of things they want to do. 

Before our trip to Portugal I sent a survey to the group, even the older kids, with suggested places to go and things to do. I wanted to make sure that we all had some say in this vacation. We didn’t have time to do everything everyone wanted, but we were able to hit as many as we could.

3. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is helpful and can provide peace of mind. Look for policies that cover unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies or trip cancellations. Most travel insurance companies will require you to purchase the insurance within 14 days of your first deposit to cover pre-existing conditions.

An example why travel insurance is essential: My father went on a cruise and purchased the cruise insurance. Luckily he did because he got sick towards the end of the trip. He woke up one night and was having trouble breathing so he went to the ship’s medical facilities; he had pneumonia. When they arrived at the final destination in Barcelona the ship arranged for his transportation to a hospital in the city. He had to stay for 2 weeks before he was well enough to fly home.

The cruise insurance covered onboard medical, ambulance, and a nurse to fly back with him first class. Unfortunately, it did not cover his time in the Barcelona hospital, but luckily his health insurance in the United States did. However, a more comprehensive travel insurance would have covered his hospital stay and taken the headache out of working with his primary health insurance. 

4. Get separate spaces

Make sure everyone has their own space when booking accommodations, whether it’s separate hotel rooms or just separate rooms in a large house. This is important for preventing travel fatigue. I recommend at least 1 bathroom per family of 4; more is even better! This is helpful when getting ready as well as the other more obvious reasons.

Some cities have “apartment hotels.” I’ve found some great ones through Booking.com. You’re still together in the same building, but with your own space. Everyone will have their own bathrooms and a kitchen. Some places offer breakfast delivery (usually at an extra cost), but it is worth it as it saves time going to the store. I compared it with hotel rooms, and the apartments were actually more economical. 

5. Schedule at least 1 activity a day

vacation with multigenerational family
Snowball fight, Park City, Utah (2019)

It’s helpful to have something already planned, but don’t go overboard with trying to do too much in one day. For our Portugal trip, this was beneficial so we weren’t all trying to figure out what to do. I will note that there were too many “early” (9:30am) activities for some people, so it’s also a good idea to plan a time that suits everyone or at least vary it from day to day. 

6. Make sure you have time on your own

Taking a break from the rest of the group, Lisbon, Portugal

You don’t have to do EVERYTHING together. It’s actually better not to. Pick one activity a day for everyone to do together and then each family should feel free to be on their own the rest of the time. You can all decide that you only want to meet for dinner that day or everyday and do your own outings. Or only do the outing together and eat separately since it’s hard to find restaurants that will seat all of you anyway. 

7. Hire a guide that works with families

If you are hiring a tour guide, it’s always helpful to find one that understands the needs of kids and people over 70. I’ve used Tours by Locals before. The site let’s you find a guide that suits your family and you can contact them directly and let them know your needs. They are usually pretty accommodating and will tailor a tour.

8. Find spaces to run around

Playground by the river in Villa Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Kids need to let out their energy. Find parks or open spaces for kids to play and move. Bonus: Find a spot where there are beverages nearby, either coffee or adult drinks. It will be good for the kids and the adults!

9. Pack snacks or stop for ice cream

multigenerational family vacation
Ice cream and beverage break, Venice, Italy

Kids (and adults) get hungry. It’s helpful to pack snacks in case someone starts getting cranky OR stop for ice cream. If you stop somewhere the adults can also get snacks, like a beverage, then it’s a win-win.

10. Take taxis or public transportation

vacation with kids
London Underground

My family loves to walk when we travel. However, not everyone is capable of doing this. So, consider public transportation or taxis or rideshare companies while traveling. This is especially true for the older people in your group.

11. Be flexible and pack your patience

Things don’t always work out the way you plan. Actually, more than likely, they won’t. There will be multiple stops for the bathroom or snacks or to rest. So, don’t try and be too strict with time and be understanding. You might be surprised and have a better experience than the one you planned.

Multigenerational family vacations can be a lot of fun. With some advanced planning everyone will have a great time.

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