According to findings from the 2015 MMGY Global Portrait of American Travelers survey, more than 40 percent of Americans reported taking a multigenerational trip in the previous year. And demand continues to rise, with MMGY Global forecasting multigenerational trips to increase by 7 percent in 2016.
The appeal is obvious: Grandparents love to spoil grandchildren, working parents like to use limited vacation time to get everyone together and kids of any age enjoy reconnecting with family they may not see often. What's less obvious is how to organize a successful trip for the whole gang.
A few factors, including your budget, desired activities and convenience play a big role in determining the best multigenerational vacation option for your needs. If grandparents pay (and research firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates conducted a survey in 2014 that found they do in 33 percent of trips), they typically look for a structured, more comfortable vacation where everyone can spend time together. Cruises, all-inclusive resorts and guided tours with supervision for children are ideal choices. When parents pay, they may bring along in-laws to babysit so they can go out on their own. City getaways are also popular with this group. And when participants share the costs, options expand.
Start planning your trip by discussing your travel budget and determining who will be responsible for paying for each component of the trip. It's also important to keep in mind that toddlers, like many grandparents, get agitated if they have to walk too far or wait to take a nap and kids thrive on recreation and independence. On the other hand, teens crave privacy and extra sleep, while college students covet lavish meals, artisanal cocktails and personal luxuries, like spa treatments.
With that in mind, here are five top multigenerational vacations that are suited for a wide range of budgets, interests and traveler types.
Visit Theme Parks That Cater to the Young at Heart
Since 1846, when Lake Compounce first opened in Connecticut, amusement parks have been a part of America's cultural heritage. The easiest way to stay within your budget is a multigenerational staycation at an amusement park near home. If there are no season pass holders in your group, early and late season tickets are the best value. Regional amusement parks like the 18 Six Flags theme parks across North America offer discount hotel and ticket packages, too.
With more than 62 million visitors in 2014, Orlando is the undisputed capital of theme park vacations. For the ultimate trip, book a two-bedroom over-the-water bungalow at the newly renovated Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, which features two bathrooms, pull-down beds and a plunge pool to accommodate a family of eight; a three-night stay with park passes runs for around $9,981 in January. Other Walt Disney World on-site resorts offer a variety of lodging options for groups of five guests or more.
Consider Taking a Cruise
Cruises are a great multigenerational vacation option because they include meals, entertainment and accommodations in one all-inclusive price. Plus, many cruises offer non-stop activities and provide lounges, restaurants and other public spaces to enjoy time together and apart. Best of all, cruises effortlessly transport the family to new ports without requiring packing and unpacking, offering more convenience and a greater value than other trip choices.
Carnival Cruise Lines' 24 cruise ships carry more than 10 million passengers a year. Save on airfare by departing from one of the 14 mainland U.S. departure ports. Compact cabins, which sleep up to four guests, start at $129 per person for a three-night Caribbean cruise. And when you consider the line's adorable Seuss at Sea program, which includes interactive activities and arts and crafts as well as a Green Eggs and Ham-themed breakfast and kids clubs for ages 2 and up, and it's easy to see why cruising is a cheap and enticing option for multigenerational groups.
Disney Cruise Line's four vessels are not the most extravagant ships on the high seas, but they are the only ones that can transform grandchildren into pirates and princesses. After climbing aboard, kids 3 to 12 can get their makeup and hair done and don the costume of their Disney princess of choice, and pirate enthusiasts can undergo a makeover for Pirate Night. The newer Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy also boast large family staterooms that sleep five, and elegant bars and a la carte restaurants that adults can enjoy while young kids play in supervised areas.
Retreat to an All-Inclusive Resort
Like cruises, all-inclusive resorts offer affordable prices and diverse entertainment and dining options, especially well-suited for active family members and big eaters and drinkers.
Apple Vacations, a travel-planning and booking site, and other reputable online travel agencies, like Cheap Caribbean, offer a variety of affordable, all-inclusive trips across the Caribbean. Just keep in mind, with everything included in one very low price, the quality of your resort meals, room furnishings and recreation equipment at all-inclusive resorts may not be up to your standards. With that said, there are many competitive all-inclusive resort brands. Though on the pricier side, the Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida offers some of the best children's programs and recreational facilities available along with world-class golf and tennis.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts also offers upscale and family-friendly, all-inclusives in Mexico, including one designed for multigenerational trips aptly called Generations. The resort features butlers for every suite and five floors of restaurants and lounges, including a kids club and cooking school. The rate for a three-night stay for a party of eight starts at $7,100 in January.
Plan a City Getaway for Plenty of Culture, Fashion and Food
Big cities have multigenerational appeal in almost any season, but some months are cheaper than others. Try New Orleans or the District of Columbia in summer, New York or Chicago in January and Los Angeles or San Francisco in February. Cut costs on lodging at one of the big chain's suite brands. Rates at Hilton's Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and SpringHill Suites by Marriott include free Wi-Fi, breakfast and pullout sofabeds.
Las Vegas is also a great option for big groups, including impressionable older kids. The Anthology Las Vegas Suites & Villas collection includes more than 2,000 suites. In addition to two bedrooms and pullout sofas, $3,500 per night gets you a myriad of hotel amenities, airport limo service and views of the Strip.
Seek Out Enrichment with Guided Tours
Using a travel agent who has access to discounted airfares, group hotel rates, ground transportation and guided tour operators helps makes vacation planning hassle-free. If you're introducing the grandkids to Europe, consider an escorted tour from Trafalgar with Cost Saver, a reputable operator that offers rates that include lodging, meals, transportation, expert guides and the top sights of Turkey starting at $99 per person. Or, to experience the imperial highlights of Munich, Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Salzburg, consider Cosmos, another well-regarded operator with similar programs starting at $150 per person. For a more senior-focused experience with dozens of guided, low-cost grandparent and grandchild trips each summer, consider a trip with the non-profit Road Scholars.
Other purveyors of luxury small group and custom tours include Abercrombie & Kent, GeoEx, Cox & Kings and Butterfield & Robinson. Expect to pay from $1,000 per day per person for the trip of a lifetime, with itineraries customized to accommodate travelers of all ages and clans of all sizes.
And let the memories begin.
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