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Family holidays are a great way to catch up with everyone, get to know new in-laws and spend some real quality time together - whilst enjoying a well-deserved break. This may sound a little too pleasant to be true, but bear with us. With a little organisation and the right destination, multi-generational holidays can be full of really special experiences that the whole family will remember and talk about for years to come. So where's the best kind of place to go - and should you stay in the UK or go abroad? And how can you make it work without getting into family rows over who is paying for what and how to sort a cleaning rota? As always, gransnetters are full of good advice, so here are some of our favourite ideas for family holidays...
There is no doubt that this is an excellent choice for a multi-generational group, particularly if you go for something like a log cabin in the forest or a stay at a holiday park. Both of these give you a choice of accommodation e.g. staying all together in one large property or picking several smaller places so that everyone has a little privacy and space for downtime by themselves. By avoiding added costs of extras like flights and travel insurance, staying a little closer to home could make your money stretch so much further - and open up different possibilities. It may be a little less sunny, but with holidays in the UK you're spoilt for choice. Cottages, holiday resorts, farm holidays and city breaks - there's something for everyone and at a much cheaper price.
These can work brilliantly for large family groups, with the opportunity to do everything from relaxing in a quiet corner with a good book to exploring the countryside and other activities. In short, something for all ages and all tastes. Self-catering is popular and allows for different dietary needs and tastes. Available in all shapes and sizes, cottages and family houses are easy to arrange so the accommodation suits all. Arrange a food delivery and set up a cooking/cleaning rota so you're all chipping in. Taking a dog with you on holiday? Then this is a great option - just make sure you choose a place that welcomes pets.
"We booked a cottage for a week on the north Norfolk coast last August. Delightful. Six adults, five children, two dogs, five bedrooms and three bathrooms - plenty of space for all. Lovely safe garden for children and dogs, but plenty of other things to do there such as beaches and steam trains."
"We hire a large house during the summer for us, son, daughter, spouses and now five grandchildren aged one to 11. A swimming pool is a great asset or an area with loads to explore. We self cater - shopping and cooking is quite fun when everyone is mucking in together. Highly recommended."
"We had a great extended-family holiday in Margate last August, staying in a house right on the seafront. The grandchildren adored the beach and crabbing after tea."
"We have twice hired a large house in the UK near the south coast (all shared the cost and the catering). We had a Sainsbury's delivery which we all added to/amended and each family was responsible for one meal. Didn't work out to be that expensive."
"We booked a house in Windermere in the Lake District last year for five people. We had a lovely time because we could go on the lakes in a boat, shop in the little towns nearby and enjoy a ride on a steam train with the grandson who loves Thomas the Tank Engine. Nice and relaxing - I would recommend, especially as the scenery is beautiful around there."
Breaks like these allow the whole family the freedom to do what they want, when they want to. With a variety of outdoor and indoor activities the children will never be bored - and with things like saunas and hot tubs, we guess neither will the adults. Here's some helpful tips for going on holiday with the grandchildren.
"Center Parcs is great for multi-generational holidays."
"Centre Parcs - everyone can all do their own thing or you can all join together for fun and games. It's not cheap, but but great for all ages and we love it."
"We're going with our lot to Center Parcs in May. 12 of us, ages late sixties to four weeks old. We've booked two villas next to each other and the bigger one has a sauna, hot tub and games room in case of bad weather - and so that the adults have something to do when the little ones are in bed."
"We had a wonderful time at Bluestone Pembrokeshire; lots of activities for all ages. Beautiful clean lodges, lots of fresh air and a great time had by all! We have been there three times and have booked for next weekend too."
"Try Crieff or Peebles hydro. Loads of things for kids and adults to do. Good childcare included and a range of accommodation to suit all ages."
If you would prefer to spend your holidays sipping drinks at a poolside or lounging on a beach chair, then perhaps these types of family holidays are not for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy working in the garden, nurturing animals and getting up early to watch the sunrise, then this could be your ideal holiday. The grandchildren will love feeding the animals and being part of the farm setting and the adults will enjoy the quiet evenings in front of the fire after long days spent outside. Think homemade apple pie and the smell of fresh dew on summer grass.
Forest holidays vary greatly, from cabins to treehouses - this is a holiday for adventure seekers and nature lovers big and small. Wake up to the song of the local bird population, go bug hunting with the grandchildren and relax in a forest hot tub with a cold drink.
"Forest holidays! We went to one with my daughter and son-in-law and the grandchildren. Great nature trails and outdoor activities."
"Forest holidays for us too! Kids love the freedom - bikes, nature etc. Grown-ups love the accommodation and hot tub...super relaxing in lovely accommodation. We've been several times with our lot and they all loved it."
"We had a lovely holiday with the grandchildren at Coombe Hill Farm in Cornwall last summer. Every morning started with feeding the farm animals and riding on the tractor. We visited different beaches during the day and the little ones got a ride on the miniature train in the evening."
Cities mean different things to different people and a few days in an unexplored city can be fun for a wide range of ages. Museums, art galleries, shopping, people watching, restaurants, sporting and music or cultural events – plan them so that everyone gets to do something they like at least once. Even the younger grandchildren can enjoy an hour or two in museums before, perhaps, an open top bus city tour. One of the pleasures of a city break as a group is that you can discover a new place together, all enjoying different aspects of it. Airbnb is a great way of exploring a city like a local - and at a very reasonable price too! Here's our guide to Airbnb. Of course, you could also take this opportunity to share your knowledge or memories of the place with the younger generation.
Or if you do want to escape to a 'quieter time', why not visit a historical city? The grandchildren may struggle to 'see' the grandeur of ancient and more modern civilizations at first, but soon they'll want to understand how they lived and who they were.
"We rented a flat in Kensington last year. Loads to do in London, a lot of it free. If you have any Tesco vouchers they can be exchanged for experiences or eating out."
"Airbnb is wonderful. Have used it a dozen times, every single one a delight. Look under 'entire place', all sorts of homes, sea, near towns, all over."
"If you want a short family holiday you could consider a few days in Ironbridge in Shropshire. It's a World Heritage site and has a really interesting museums which will appeal to all ages. The Victorian Village is great with working shops to go into, a small fair, a schoolhouse with a scary teacher to contend with. Horse and cart trips, a pub with two Victorian entertainers and a fab fish and chip shop and a small bakers with fruit buns yummy."
If you're fortunate enough to be able to travel abroad with the whole family, the possibilities are endless - and can feel overwhelming. Where is best for family-friendly holidays, when is the best time to go and how can you avoid the arguments over planning and money? Going abroad is a bigger commitment and so requires more thorough consideration before booking, but it is entirely possible to get it right. Whether you're looking for a to guide cruising or top travel destinations, gransnetters have lots of advice on this subject.
Most would agree that, if possible, choosing a place with a pool is a very good idea. Not only will it entertain the grandchildren, but it is a good way to ensure that everyone is able to stay cool on the holiday. While you're there, introduce your family to the local cousine and countryside by taking them to places such as vineyards, orchards, markets and green areas. When you're travelling with children, it is a great idea to have more than one car so that you are able to split up and do things separately during the holiday.
"We love going on holiday with the family (all 18 of us!). This summer we have booked a French villa with a pool which sleeps 20. We draw up a little rota for shopping, cooking etc with 2 people each day being responsible for the evening meal. We do a Come Dine With Me challenge so they have to do the starter, main course and dessert and devise the entertainment. We then give them a score! We have had disco nights, wine tasting, tennis tournaments - hilarious!"
"We have rented big houses in France and Italy with pools and table tennis - and always had a great time."
"We rent a house in France with enough bedrooms for everyone to have their own and two bathrooms so we're not all scrabbling in the mornings. We take two cars so have lots of space to take the children's bikes and scooters and able to fill the car up at the end with wine and nice stuff from the French supermarket. "
"18 of us holidayed in a big house with pool in France this year. The kids had a whale of a time, and cooking was on a rota in couples, it was like Come Dine With Me every night. We really ate and drank well! We had a fantastic time."
A traditional family holiday at the coast cannot be beaten: sea, sand and if you're lucky, sunshine. Whether you're in a French holiday park, in the Balearics in a hotel, on a Greek island in a villa, or even on one of Britain's secret beaches, relaxing at the seaside in the company of grandparents and the wider family can be a joy. Beach cricket, paddling and playing in rock pools hark back to holidays everyone has enjoyed. There's time to potter gently, talk to each other and share meals in a leisurely way. Bliss.
"Brittany in France is a lovely family holiday spot. We have never been disappointed. We always find a large house with either a pool or jacuzzi, a garden or patio for evening wine drinking, near to beach and not too far from town and amenities so the teenagers can go exploring."
"I have enjoyed Santa Eulalia in the past. Good connections with other parts of the island, but a much more relaxed area for grandparents and grandchildren."
"We had a house in Cyprus last year. We went on lots of trips out to various things, the beach, shopping in towns and trips on the sea. We ate out every night because food is cheap there."
"Rhodes is good for families. Our family just had a wonderful week at an all-inclusive hotel - excellent food and clean rooms."
"We've often gone on holiday to Menorca to enjoy a beach holiday with daughter, son-in-law and children aged six, seven, 17 and 19."
It is often said that an activity holiday can make or break a family. Joking aside, all that fresh air and exercise and the close proximity of family members may not be what you dream about when choosing a holiday. However, with some good planning and an open mind, holidays such as these can be a real success. With the need for cooperation and everyone having a role to play, it is excellent for teambuilding. Camping, which doesn't have to mean wrestling with guy ropes in a field, could be a mobile home on a campsite or a 'glamping' experience with a vast range of facilities from swimming pools and golf courses to spas. For those who enjoy physical exercise and the mountains, skiing is a great holiday, although there is often many other things to do in these resorts – snow shoeing, walking, sledding, skating and sitting in the sunshine looking at gorgeous scenery.
"The best holidays our family have had over the years have been caravanning by the sea. Last year all our now grown-up grandchildren (and their partners) took us back to one of our all-time favourite holiday destinations to relive their childhood experiences. Of course it's not everyone's cup of tea, but very special for our family."
"I went on caravan holidays with son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. The children were well past the toddler stage and were able to make friends with other kids on the site. I was able to sit under a shady tree and read or go to the river with the family - whatever I wanted to do."
"I'm going camping (at 76) with the family this summer. I love being with them all - the grandchildren (teenagers) have their own 'pup' tents, so they can sleep in as long as they want in the morning! I might be crazy, but they all look after me very well and you never know when the chance to holiday in France will come again!"
"We've been away with our son and his family twice walking in Italy and had a fabulous time. My husband and I babysat so they could have some time to themselves. Costs were split between us, no problem."
For more inspiration, you could visit Silver Travel Advisor's website. Click the Features tab and scroll down to find the multi generational category to read about the best of such holidays. You can also send an email to [email protected] to request information.