‘Papa, Mimi; this is awesome, we’re swimming at night and it’s warm’ exclaimed Anders, my nine year old grandson. He was dead right on all three counts. It had been a long day flying to Auckland from Sydney then driving the three hours to Taupo. Strong winds and bucketing rain had sheep hanging onto fences to keep themselves from blowing across the road. Now, at nearly 10pm, all six of us were swimming around the deserted thermal pools of Lake Taupo Holiday Resort.
Like us, many multi-generation family groups love to head away together. Grandparents get to enjoy grandchildren, parents get to do things with their grown up children, grandkids get to be spoiled and, done well, such holidays can be brilliant.
We’re a pretty active bunch with a love of getting outdoors and a love, where time allows, of doing stuff as a family. We’ve ridden bikes in Croatia and Italy, kayaked and camped down Australian rivers and skied in New Zealand. Our holidays together are certainly not about having the grandparents along to babysit. That said, in any mix of generations, there’s always going to be a variety of interests, favoured activities and fitness levels.
When we head away together our accommodation preference is usually in a shared cabin or apartment. Any active holiday, ensures plenty of wet gear to dry or wash so somewhere spacious plus a washing machine is invariably handy. Variable levels of tiredness from the youngest to the eldest mean you don’t always want to head out at night and a decent kitchen is always appreciated as well as enough room for all to lounge around. Sometimes in hotels it’s hard to find a common space in which you can all feel totally relaxed. Disappearing to a hotel room is fine when you want some personal space but once the door is shut they can be a bit isolated.
Holiday budgets obviously impact on decisions as to how you plan your trip way, but here’s five things to consider when grandpa says ‘Why don’t we all go away together this year?’
Discuss plans before you go
Whilst surprise holidays are nice or ‘leave things to me’ can work; it’s a good idea to all sit down together before the bookings are made. It’s chance to talk about the destination and hear what individuals are keen to see or do. As much as anything it’s fun to plan with maps on the table and destination details on the iPad.
Allow plenty of time
This doesn’t mean go away for a month or more. You know how long it takes to get your kids ready, add to that the grandparents getting organised and you realise it’s worth accepting sometimes that less might get done in a day or perhaps you won’t be away as early in the morning as you might like.
Together but apart
Realise you don’t have to do everything together when you’re on holiday together. There’s plenty of joy in sitting down to lunch or of an evening and telling tales of adventures had.
Often grandparents want to treat their children and grandchildren but a whole holiday can be a very expensive proposition. It’s worth laying down the ground rules for the holiday costs, whether you have a kitty for the daily spend, a 50/50 split on everything or whichever way you decide to slice it.
Whilst the little packages can often make the most noise, it’s nice to remember that usually everyone has a favoured activity or a thing they want to see or do. Try and allow for this in the holiday planning.
The beauty of multi-generational holidays goes beyond just spending time together as family. It’s an opportunity to see destinations and experience activities looking out through each other’s eyes and an understanding of each other’s needs. Done well once, you’ll do it again and again.