Our first multi-gen trip took place the year my dad passed away. We wanted to take mum away to get her mind off things. So we decided on a place as different from home as we could think of – a tour to South Africa.
Two daughters, two sons-in-law, one granddaughter and one grandmother made up the group of vastly different personalities that arrived in Johannesburg and squeezed into a luggage-laden Vito van. On the itinerary was the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, followed by a road trip from Mossel Bay to Cape Town down the Garden Route.
On safari, it was magical to witness the delight on my daughter’s face and mum’s quiet exhilaration as a lion walked by – and then to see them connect over the sighting.
Catering to every generation’s needs tossed up unexpected challenges too. All five adults indulged the then 11-year-old daughter by spending an afternoon tobogganing down a Cape Town hillside and rediscovered our inner child along the way. Meanwhile, she sat through our lavish meals and discovered the adventure in eating springbok steaks.
It was an epic trip with the people who mean the most. I got to know my brother- in-law better and reconnected with my sister and relived our younger years before marriage – complete with sisterly spats. I saw how well my child bonded with her grandmother, aunt and uncle. Relationships were deepened and ties strengthened.
We’re not the only family going on such trips. More people are travelling with kids and grandparents in tow. One of the reasons has to do with the grandparents. These days, they’re more educated and affluent, and many also share the same wanderlust as the younger set.
There have been other trips for our family since South Africa – to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Shanghai. The kids get inspired by their 83-year-old grandma’s gung-ho attitude. She has even embarked with other family members on a trek of Mount Hua in China’s Shaanxi province.
But wherever we go, we take care of each other, and find that as we travel as a tribe, everyone regardless of age is a valued member and a fun companion.
3 tips for successful multi-generational trips
1. Weave in something for everyone
It takes planning, but finding activities for both young and old is half the fun.
2. Down time is important
Don’t scrimp on hotel rooms. Larger, more comfortable rooms and multiple rooms mean more space for everyone. Club rooms with lounge access are a bonus on rainy days.
3. Consider the practical needs of the group
Get rooms with walk-in showers rather than baths for the older folks and make sure a doctor or clinic is easily accessible. Take a cab rather than public transport to cut down on too much walking.
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This article was originally published in the June 2018 issue of Silkwinds magazine