When I was young and in my 20s--single and starting my career, then married and starting a family--I did not want to vacation with my parents. I'd been there, done that growing up. Now I wanted to taste adventure--not the same-old same-old with the same-old same-olds. Nor was I any different from my friends. We were all about striking out on our own.
How the worm has turned. Family Vacations Are Us. Not just us, as in my family. Cruise ships tout inter-generational groupings, so does VRBO and AirBnb, to say nothing of resorts and travel companies. (Even Roads Scholars, which caters to the 55+ set, has grandparent-grandchild outings.).
There are reasons for the trend. A major one: our grown kids may not live near us or each other, so a family get together is more reunion than vacation. Moreover, we're the generation that's had a soft landing. Many of us have retired or are near retirement with healthy retirement savings. Not only can we afford to travel, we can afford to invite our kids along.
Now that I'm the "same old same old" that my parents were when I broke away, I have embraced family togetherness. For the past 15 years Paterfamilias and I have rented condos in a resort in Vermont and invited our grown children and their families to join us. When we started it was because my daughter lived in Seattle and my son in Boston. They were both on the very beginning rungs of their careers--in graduate school or in first jobs. We wanted the reunion; we picked up the tab. But .as the years have skampered by and our kids have come into their primes, costs are shared. We're no longer the sole source of the rent, food and transportation--nor even the key decision maker about when the family vacay will take place. It's a complicated dance of work schedules and activities--theirs, not ours.
I've written several posts on tips for making these inter-generational get-togethers a satisfying vacation. [Here here and here.] but there is always room for another perspective. A British writer pulled together some guidance for Brits planning vacations with their grown children. Here are some of the pointers worth repeating. I'm particularly fond of the last one.
Make sure everyone has a say in the destination and activities. Consider renting two cars so you're not stuck all doing the same thing.
If the grown children work, they should contribute financially to the trip. If you're self-catering, everyone pitches in on meals--refuse to play 'mum' while on holiday.
Everyone gets a turn to be 'tour guide' for a day and decide on activities.
Young adults know the internet inside out - let them find out information and ease off the pedal. Your goal is to spend family time together - do you really care where and how?
Not everyone has to stay the entire time, especially if they're converging from different places.
If you are involving partners (or kids) of your adult children, the dynamic of intergenerational holidays may need to be discussed or you'll end up babysitting while they're escaping for fun.
Avoid the impulse to act like parents. Remember what it was like when you travelled in your 20s - most kids are smart and savvy to a far greater degree.