Planning activities the whole family can do together while on vacation is no easy task. Heck, even Mom and I don’t always agree about what we want to do when it’s just the two of us! So don’t try to plan out every moment of every day together. Keep in mind that people have different schedules and different preferences (for example, I love to get up early and scout out cafes, whereas Mom prefers to sleep in and have a late leisurely breakfast). So encourage everyone in your group to be flexible.
Before you go on vacation, have a discussion with everyone about the activities you would really like to do as a group, and be sure to space those activities out during your trip so they don’t exhaust anyone. If you’d like everyone to share a particular meal each day, remember that booking all of those meals together can be challenging if everyone’s on different schedules (for example, if you have both night owls and early risers in your group). Instead, consider planning just a few meals with everyone—such as one or two nights where the whole family cooks or checks out a local restaurant together. Getting everyone to agree on a particular cuisine can be tough, so if you’re dining out your best bet may be to find a restaurant with enough variety to accommodate everyone’s tastes. Pick a middle-of-the-road restaurant for when everyone’s eating together, and save the places with fancy, crazy cuisines for outings that include only the more adventurous diners.
When Mom and I travel with my brother and his family, usually we all eat dinner together every night and do activities throughout the day in smaller groups. When we all want to do something together we do book private tours with our own van and driver. (A group discount for four adults can make the prices for those fairly reasonable.) Personalized arrangements make sense for our group, because we typically need extra time to explore the sites with a wheelchair and two strollers, to make frequent bathroom stops (it’s impossible to get two children and four adults on the same bathroom schedule!), and to have lunch or a snack while we’re out (my mom and my nieces are all really slow eaters). Booking private tours also allows us to adjust our schedule on the fly if anyone needs or wants to return to the hotel immediately. And a private van has enough room for all the stuff we bring on day trips, including a wheelchair, two strollers, snacks, water, and entertainment options for the children if they get bored.
During our multigenerational trips, my family builds in a lot of rest time between activities so we can each catch our breath. (After all, adults of all ages need a break after a few hours of pushing wheelchairs and strollers!) I think this “relaxed scheduling” is the secret to our successful vacations, because it helps everyone in our group avoid exhaustion. Exhaustion is never 100% avoidable, of course, but planning for breaks (and naps!) helps us stave off the crabbiness that typically accompanies it. And because we pick destinations and accommodations with lots of things to do, those in our group who want to keep running can do so while the others rest and recharge.
When was the last time your entire family played a board game together? Being on vacation is a great excuse to break out Candy Land, Pictionary, or another old favorite. Bring along a board game (or two) for some great entertainment one evening; puzzles that the whole family can work on together are another fun option. (Just be sure to bring some games and puzzles that are accessible to all age ranges in your group.) You’ll get to spend quality time together, and if bad weather makes outings unpleasant, you’ll be glad for something else to do. Because games and puzzles are sometimes bulky, considering bringing items that you don’t mind leaving behind. You can always fill that empty space in your suitcase with purchases you make during your trip!
My brother and I love to cook, and his daughters love to “help” us. So if it’s possible, we’ll all cook one meal together during our trip. (Well, Mom just sits with a glass of Bailey’s and watches the rest of us do all the work, but she’s still participates in the fun!) Cooking can be especially relaxing after a hard day of sightseeing, so if anyone in your group enjoys cooking, try to arrange your lodging and schedule to accommodate a stay-at-home meal one evening
What activities are your favorite while on vacation? Let us know! NEVER enough fun and games in the world!!