Think family holidays end when all your children have flown the nest? Apparently not.Research reveals grandparents are increasingly more likely to not only attend multi-generational holidays - but to pay for them. However, even if you're not forking out for family members you should still have some say over where you all go. After chatting to a few gransnetters who’ve been on extended family trips – including some who were brave enough to travel with four generations in tow – we've come up with five destinations for multi-generational travel.
Making exceptions for the occasional grumpy teen, these holidays should have something to keep everyone happy!
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Italy is ideal for multi-generational holidays. You can opt for a big villa, enjoying the privacy of your own pool and the pretty gardens these generally have. The Italian lifestyle welcomes youngsters everywhere, even later in the evening, when families stroll around, or sit together sipping drinks and eating ice cream. Nothing is over-rushed, apart from the traffic in Rome, and the slower pace of life gives a chance for less speedy grandparents to join in. For active folk, mountain biking or hiking gets you out and burns off all that energy!
For art aficionados, Italy has a marvelous range of treats on offer, particularly if you head for somewhere like Tuscany. With Sienna, Florence and Pisa close by, culture vultures can soak up art galleries, museums and churches to their hearts’ content, with good shopping on offer too. You can also indulge in vineyard tours with wine-tasting, and cooking lessons. With child-friendly food, such as pasta and pizza on offer eating is simple.
Gran says: "I had a fabulous day with my daughter and her girls in Florence, with a visit to the Uffizi and a wander round Santa Croce while my husband and son-in-law immersed themselves in a little Chianti tasting."
Safaris are a fabulous way to share a truly marvellous experience. It’s hard to beat the thrill of an early morning game drive with all the anticipation of spotting a lion, a family of giraffes or a herd of elephants. This is a destination particularly suited to grandchildren who are over 12, as there are safety elements to be considered, such as sitting relatively still and keeping quiet so as not to scare the animals. This is a great opportunity to share hobbies such as photography and painting or sketching, too. And you may find a ranger willing to take you tracking and teach you bushcraft, Ray Mears style.
You can stay in true Out of Africa lodges, all canvas and wood, in the reserves, or you can opt for more standard hotels and travel out to the game parks each day. There’s a very real value in visiting local schools too: this can give grandchildren quite a shock to see just how valued education is here and how many children there are to one teacher, sometimes up to sixty! A few pencils and exercise books will be most welcome.
Grandson (14) says: "It was my job to photograph our holiday and make a family record. I got some great pictures of Gran on the truck, with an elephant just a metre away. I was amazed by how fast hippos can move on land. Videoing them was hard."
The obvious theme parks in and around Orlando are all well and good but don't forget everything else Florida has to offer. The laid-back feel of places like Sarasota, with Siesta Key and its stunning beaches, offer excellent opportunities for sport and an outdoor lifestyle. It’s a good spot for golf, with professional style courses and the more touristy mini-golf courses for small beginners.
The wildlife of Florida – alligators in particular – offers even more adventure. If you’re driving, be aware that what looks like a log in the road may well not be. Friendly manatees are here in abundance. You can swim with these gentle ‘sea cows’ in warm shallow waters. And if you’d like to try a spot of fishing, the Gulf waters are rewarding either on a boat trip or from one of the many piers along the coast. Kayaks, paddleboards and canoes are the perfect method for getting around if you head away from the more built up areas and want to explore the Crystal River and its surrounds.
Accommodation in America is plentiful, from budget motels to mini-apartment suites where you can make a simple meal, to fully blown resort hotels. You might be surprised by the big meal portions, so get a doggie bag or box to take home. And while in Florida be sure to try all the great seafood.
Grown up daughter: "As we left Sarasota, I was amazed by just how much space and wilderness there was. Swimming with manatees with my kids was incredible. Dad is loving the outdoors and has played golf even more than in the UK."
Twins (aged 9): "We loved the road trip, new places every few days and alligators are cool! Do they really make handbags from them?"
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An important thing to remember when visiting France is to do it any time other than August when Parisians take over outside the capital. The Atlantic coast is a tad less popular than the South of France and if you’ve got surfers in your family they won’t be disappointed.
A well-priced option is to stay at a holiday village with apartments, chalets and upmarket houses or camping parcs, which have offer tents, cabins and mobile homes, all surprisingly well-appointed. The beauty of these purpose-built resorts is that you share a range of facilities – shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, bike hire, swimming pools, tennis courts, even nightclubs and music venues. They’re often bang on the beach too, or in gorgeous countryside with a lake or river close by, good for kayaking and canoeing. There’s even a holiday village close to EuroDisney in Paris for anyone who is keen on Mickey Mouse.
You can self-cater or eat in the restaurants on site, which are usually good, you’re in France after all. You can also venture off-site for a bit of local dining, people watching with a coffee and a chance to practice your French.
Grandpa: "Once we got the hang of booking the tennis courts, I had fun coaching my grandson most afternoons. And I generally had a long walk on the beach each morning, either by myself or with my wife."
Son-in-law: "It was a real treat to wander in the local market – fabulous food, brilliant tasting samples – and have the opportunity to cook. Creating delicious dishes with fresh ingredients is something I only have time for on holiday."
This island is gaining a reputation for being family-friendly and it certainly is full of unique places. After a few turbulent decades last century, and the tsunami in 2004, Sri Lanka is putting its very best tourist foot forward, appealing to multi-generational families who are looking for a trip that offers unforgettable moments at every turn in a country that’s culturally diverse. Its amazing coastline is a great place to spend a few days after a week or so of sight- seeing.
Searching for leopards in Yala National Park has to be high on the list of must-dos, as are a visit to the lost city fortress of Sigiriya, with its Lion Gate and vibrant frescos, and a trip to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, a shrine to Buddha’s relic. And a day spent at a tea plantation up in the hills certainly brings a whole new meaning to the humble tea bag. There are bike rides through rice fields, a geography lesson in reality, and street food to taste – fish curry being a favourite here.
Where you stay can range from a smart hotel, especially on the coast, or a little more local-style in the interior, it’s up to you. The warm welcome from the Sri Lankans is authentic, whatever you decide.
Gran: "We wanted to do something special for my 75th birthday, make memories for us all. And this trip, with all the remarkable shared experiences more than provided that. The train ride up to Ella from Kandy is something we all talk about – it was fabulous."
Granddaughter (12): "I am the only person in my year who has seen Buddha’s tooth and helped to wash an elephant at a sanctuary."