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Parents, grandparents, kids and more: Tips for traveling with extended family

Family travel, also referred to as multigenerational travel, is a growing trend not likely to slow any time soon, with more and more people considering the benefits of traveling with extended family. If the idea of taking a trip with your family – children, parents, grandparents or more – appeals to you, here are some tips that will help ensure your vacation is one everyone in the family will enjoy.

Forty percent of U.S. leisure travelers – 20.8 million people – had taken a multigenerational trip in the previous 12 months, according to a 2011 Preferred Hotel Group study. This year the numbers could grow even more. To plan the best multigenerational trip, possible, follow these insider tips:

Tip 1: Make planning a group activity
The most successful multigenerational vacations are when all family members are involved in choosing the destination. It will take some research to find the right locale for your vacation, and brainstorming with the entire group, young and old, to get ideas of where to go is a wise way to start your travel adventure. Do more people want a secluded trip with outdoor activity options, or does your family lean more toward travel to a big city with lots of shopping and museum visits? If everyone has a say in what type of vacation they enjoy up front, it’s easier to narrow down destinations that will make everyone happy.

Tip 2: Find group accommodations
While getting separate hotel rooms can work for multigenerational travel, having a large suite or private residence where the entire group can reside provides a more unified travel experience. The key is to find a place that is comfortable for all and provides many of the conveniences of home, but still feels like a grand escape. An extra consideration: Look for accommodations with a full kitchen so your family can cook and eat meals together as desired. Starting the day with a full family breakfast or ending it with fresh baked cookies and milk can be a bonding experience in itself.

Many resorts have accommodations appropriate for groups, such as the Inn on Woodlake or The American Club Resort in Kohler, Wis. The resort recently opened a nearby private cabin, Sandhill, nestled on 350 acres in the wilderness near the western shores of Lake Michigan and approximately an hour north of Milwaukee. The cabin is close enough so groups can enjoy the amenities of the resort, yet far enough away to feel like a private retreat. This charming, yet rustic, private cabin sleeps six comfortably and has a full kitchen and an attached sauna and poker shack with fireplace.

Tip 3: Research activities
When you’re narrowing down where you’d like to take your multigenerational vacation, consider the activities that are available. You’ll want options to entertain both young and old, so be sure to seek variety. Access local travel resources and online travel reviews to find destinations that are a good match for your group. You might even be able to schedule some activities in advance to reduce stress once you have arrived.

Guests of the Sandhill cabin, for example, have access to renowned golf at Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run, home of the 2012 US Women’s Open. Both kids and adults enjoy top-notch golf lessons at Kohler Golf Academy. While group activities are plentiful, there are also many options for alone time too – while Dad and Grandpa hit the greens, Mom and Grandma can head to the Kohler Waters Spa and the kids can head to Kamp Kohler, a four-hour camp full of fun activities including crafts and swimming.

Tip 4: Adopt the multigenerational mindset
Traveling with a group of different aged people brings with it a unique set of variables. It’s important to remain flexible and set a comfortable pace. There are always traveling snafus, such as uncooperative weather or the kids losing their luggage, but remember to relax and deal with any bumps in the road as they arise. Sometimes overcoming these obstacles can make for the best family memories because you must figure out solutions together and spontaneous activities are often the experiences that are most cherished.

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