Multigenerational Travel Tips. Family of 5, three generations posed on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama

A Multi-Generational Vacation: 5 Tips for a Successful Trip

Multi-generational travel is becoming more and more popular, as families are choosing to travel in larger groups. Today, families often live in different cities and states, so the ability to come together under one roof is priceless. Multi-generational travel not only overcomes physical distances, but also builds deeper connections, resulting in treasured experiences that will be passed down through generations. We recently had our own multi-generational vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama, which consisted of four generations and nearly 25 people.

Gulf Shores is a destination this side of the family gathers often, every so many years, in order to have everyone together at the same time and place. Recently, it seems each time we begin planning the trip there are more great grandchildren that have joined the family. While having two dozen people under one roof may be overwhelming, there are several tips I have to ensure you have a successful multi-generational vacation.

What are the BEST Destinations for Multi-Generational Vacation?

Beach destinations are always a great option for multigenerational vacations. The beach provides a free activity for families and can accommodate large groups easily. We specifically love Gulf Shores, Alabama for our large multigenerational trips. It’s a great middle point for everyone, offers plenty of family-friendly activities, and there are a wide range of vacation rentals to choose from.

5 Tips for a Successful Multi-Generational Vacation

There are many ways to have a successful multigenerational family trip. Whether you’re planning a family vacation with three generations or four, these tips are sure to aide in pulling off a great trip.

1. Plan Well in Advance

Because there are several families involved, it’s best to start planning at least one year in advance. This allows everyone to ensure they can budget for the trip, request the time off, and it doesn’t interfere with school schedules.

If families live in different areas, it’s best to choose a destination that’s somewhat of a middle point and driving distance for everyone. Our families are located across Central Florida, the Florida panhandle, and Alabama, thus making Gulf Shores a great destination for our family.

2. Book a Vacation Home That Can Accommodate Everyone

This should come as no surprise, but for a successful multi-generational vacation I believe everyone should be under one roof. In addition to booking a vacation home, it’s also best to book well enough in advance to ensure you receive the best price.

Another option would be to find two smaller vacation rentals right next to each other. This would still allow everyone to hang out on the back patios and beach during the day.

If you’re unable to find or afford a large enough home, the last option would be to stagger everyone’s arrival and departure days. For example, half of the family can arrive at check-in and stay for several days. Then, the other half of the family would arrive mid-week, making sure to overlap for enough time that everyone is together at once, and leave on departure day.

Gulf Shores, Alabama Vacation Rentals homes on the beach--tips for multi-generational vacations

3. It’s Okay for Individual Families to do Their Own Thing

It can be overwhelming to be a part of a multi-generational vacation, especially when there are 20 or more people involved. That’s why it’s perfectly fine for individual families to plan their own activities.

For example, during our multi-generational vacation in Gulf Shores, our family of 5 visited the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, shopped at the Tanger Outlets, and enjoyed meals at local restaurants.

Another great idea is to have each smaller family take the (great) grandparents out to dinner on different days of the week. For example, we took my grandparents to dinner with my parents and daughter, making our party size 7 people. Smaller party sizes are easier to sit than having the entire group of 20. Families can always opt to find a restaurant that can accommodate everyone for either a welcome or farewell dinner.

John Naylor holding daughter as they feed a giraffe at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama--week in Gulf Shores, Alabama, backwards beach day activities
John Naylor holding daughter who is laughing while looking at a giraffe at the giraffe feeding at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, Alabama--a backwards beach day activity

4. Plan Meals Ahead of Time

It’s never a bad idea to plan ahead, especially meals. When multiple families are involved, I find it best for there to be a shared weekly planner. Each family can be responsible for one meal (or more depending on your family’s preference). We often choose meals that can be easily made in bulk and are budget friendly. These meals might include spaghetti, tacos, pizza, hot dogs, etc.

Families should also share a document that includes what food and paper items they may be bringing. For items like plates, napkins, or condiments, I’ve found that it’s better for one person to bring rather than finding out everyone brought a giant bottle of ketchup. This document can also be used to form a shared grocery list which allows for one or two people to shop for rather than everyone having to go. Another option would be to have groceries delivered by delivery services like InstaCart.

5. Take Family Photos

Whether you set up a tripod or hire a professional, I always recommend having family photos while everyone is together on a multi-generational vacation. As a former professional photographer, I usually opt to bring my tripod to take our photos.

We opted to take more styled photos with my parents and daughter one early morning in Gulf Shores. Then we just took casual photos of the entire group. During our trip, some of the family members couldn’t stay the entire week. So some came early and some arrived later. This meant that there would only be one day where everyone in the entire family would be present.

If you plan to hire a photographer or just want everyone to look cohesive, I would definitely recommend choosing a color pallet. For example neutrals, earth tones, blues, etc. I would shy away from doing white. In addition, make sure you have a date picked and everyone is notified ahead of time. If there is a photographer taking the photos, make sure the time and location is also communicated to everyone in the family.

Naylor and Creech family posing together on the beach of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Family is coordinating in green/blue outfits. multigenerational travel
Multigenerational Family Photo in Gulf Shores, Alabama Vacation rental

Conclusion: A Successful Multi-Generational Vacation

To conclude, it’s clear that the heart of multi-generational travel lies in the moments we share with our loved ones. From the initial stages of planning to the candid snapshots that capture our laughter-filled days, every aspect of our journey is a testament to the bonds that unite us.

So, when you go on your own multi-generational vacation, remember to enjoy the quiet times, embrace the chaos, and most of all, soak up that joy of being together. Because these shared experiences are ultimately what really define the richness of family life.

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The Comments

  • Merideth
    April 5, 2024

    I love everything about this post: your photos, Gulf Shores, and all the tips that will help make my next family trip more successful. I love the permission for families to do their own thing sometimes in tip 3! That really relieves some stress to keep everyone happy.

  • Kimberley Asante
    April 5, 2024

    Your tips for multi-generational vacations are wonderful! As my family and I reside on four different continents and enjoy traveling together, your insights are particularly valuable. Your advice on catering to everyone’s interests and managing logistics ensures smooth and memorable trips for families spanning across the globe. Thank you for sharing such practical and helpful guidance!

  • Stephanie
    April 5, 2024

    Some excellent information in this article on what to consider when planning group family getaways. I am in the process of planning a summer reunion (which includes 4 generations) so I found your tips most helpful!

  • Beth
    April 5, 2024

    I love this so much! We have taken several vacations with the kids and my parents and in-laws. It really is so much fun.

  • Richard Lowe
    April 5, 2024

    I think the most important tip is to provide different spaces for different generations. Each needs different space, different needs, and so forth.

    • Brittney
      → Richard Lowe
      April 5, 2024

      Yes, I agree. Normally the teens share the bunk bed rooms and most of the rentals we’ve rented are multiple stories which allows everyone to feel like they have their own space.

  • Debbie
    April 5, 2024

    I love the idea of a multi-generation vacation. My brother-in-law’s family rents a huge home each year and they have a wonderful time together. Hopefully, my family can plan something similar soon.

  • Catherine Kay
    April 6, 2024

    This post on a multi-generational vacation offers practical tips to ensure everyone has a fantastic time. From choosing the right destination to coordinating activities, these tips guarantee a successful trip for everyone in the family.

  • Sonia Seivwright
    April 8, 2024

    Gulf Shores, Alabama, seems like the perfect destination for a successful multi-generational vacation, especially with its family-friendly activities and a wide range of vacation rentals to choose from. And your tips for a successful trip, from planning well in advance to booking a vacation home that can accommodate everyone, are really helpful. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights!

  • Fransic verso
    April 17, 2024

    Great tips, although I knew some of them but I still learned new as well. Traveling is fun but a successful trip is another thing.