Planning a vacation with two generations — parents and kids — can be tricky. Planning a vacation with three generations — grandparents, parents and kids — can be daunting.
With more family get-togethers coming up over the holidays, and some families already planning next year’s trips, here are three stories about different types of multi-generation vacations — a road trip, a house rental and a cruise — as recounted by Associated Press reporters
Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the road trips I took with my grandparents, mother and brother in the 1960s. One year we made a loop through the Pacific Northwest; another year we visited national parks including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.
I remember the unreal blue of Crater Lake and the well-thumbed American Automobile Association guide that steered us to inexpensive motels.
After my daughter was born, it seemed natural to return to three-generation vacationing. In the last five years my mother, my daughter and I have crisscrossed much of the United States.
We’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone — again. We’ve been to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
My mother, a historian as well as the captain of our expeditions, has aimed to balance kid-friendly activities with the historical and cultural attractions she craves. A museum one day, a trail ride the next. It hasn’t always gone smoothly but it’s been fun.
We’ll do another trip next year, destination as yet unplanned. I can’t wait.
When some of the family proposed spending two weeks relaxing on a rustic property outside a small town in Tuscany, it sounded idyllic.
We were 20-odd family members and partners, from an 18-month-old to an 87-year-old.
We stayed in three stone houses atop those lovely Tuscan hills. We were 45 minutes from the nearest big tourist attraction — the medieval city of Siena — and we had no plans, other than swimming, reading, cooking, eating and spur-of-the-moment excursions if we felt like it.
Days were spent mostly around the pool, which occupied a gorgeous spot overlooking only fields and more hills. There were occasional trips into town to shop for food, get a morning coffee or an afternoon gelato, or to hook up to the Internet (no Wi-Fi at the house).
We had no cooks coming in, as some do. Instead, in a brilliant system devised by two young members of our group, we divided into teams of two or three people.
Each team was responsible for meal duty one day a week. The team would do all shopping, cooking, serving and cleanup. And everyone else would relax, knowing they soon would have a turn.
There was an indoor kitchen, but we never used it. All meals were cooked in an outdoor kitchen that boasted a wood-fired grill, and eaten on a stone deck. Dinners were long and leisurely — come to think of it, so were lunches. Nobody watched television. Instead we talked, played cards, and read books.
My brothers and I had not shared a vacation since we were kids. Now we were grown, with eight children from 12 to 27 between us, all standing on the deck of a cruise ship as it pulled away from the Seattle harbor, headed toward Alaska.
It was my mother’s idea. A couple years had passed since my father’s death, and I believe the trip was her way of saying, “Your father isn’t here anymore, but we’re still a family.”
The weeklong trip had something for every generation, starting with the spectacular scenery.
My mother paced herself, going ashore to visit a glacier and a bald eagle habitat but skipping other excursions to rest aboard the ship.
My brothers and our wives tried different things from whale-watching to sea kayaking to visiting the art galleries and gift shops in port towns.
The seven grandchildren went on many of the same trips, but what they enjoyed most was the freedom to roam the ship, eating what they wanted when they wanted it.
A cruise is a good option if there are family members who have limited mobility.
It also eliminates the need to pack and unpack every day, yet the scenery changes with every destination.
While everyone in our group tried different activities each day, we gathered as a family for dinner, just as we did years ago at home. It’s those memories of spending time together that will endure long after the excursions have ended.