The hottest trend in travel these days? Taking a trip with three or more generations of your family. The Virtuoso Luxe Report crowned multigenerational travel as the top choice for upscale travelers. It’s been big for the past five years, and its popularity just continues to grow.
“People are of the mindset that they want to experience all they possibly can with the people they love,” says Misty Ewing Belles, Virtuoso’s managing director of global public relations. “They’re no longer in this luxury goods accumulation mode. They really want to accumulate experiences, and what better way to do it than with your children and with your grandchildren.”
Belles shared the latest multigenerational travel trends and tips in a recent installation of the Wall Street Journal’s Watching Your Wealth podcast.
Where to Go?
Says Belles, “The tried and true favorite destinations are Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, Orlando, England.”
However, some of today’s multigenerational travelers are looking for further-flung spots. Those more adventurous destinations include Antarctica, Croatia, Iceland and even Mongolia. “One of the reasons they’re so good for multigenerational travel and family travel is that they have so many activities that are just part of that destination so you can really experience it to its fullest,” explains Belles.
She recommends looking for a destination with appeal on different levels: “You want a good mix of activities but not so many activities that people feel overwhelmed. You want one that’s going to be scenically beautiful but then also offer enough activities at different levels for different age groups because in some situations you have people in their 70s traveling with infants and toddlers.“
Old Favorite or New Place?
Another destination dilemma for multigenerational travel: go back to the same place, or try somewhere new?
“There are some who love to go back to a place that has a special meaning to them but then you also have families who do the ‘same time next year’ idea where they pick a time of year where they want to travel, they’ll vary the destination but have a similar type experience,” explains Belles.
They may go with the same people at the same time of year. They may stay in similar accommodations, such as renting a house or villa. Or they might go to the same style of destination: say, the beach or the mountains.
Others may want to sample a variety of different destinations and travel styles.
Best Multigenerational Travel Activities
Travelers don’t just want to sit still anymore. They want to experience a destination. And they want whatever they’re doing to be interesting and enjoyable for everyone.
“Whether it’s some sort of local cultural immersion, whether it’s learning a language, whether it’s learning to cook the local cuisine, whether it’s doing something more like trekking and hiking, it really can be tailored to whatever it is you want,” Belles comments.
Why are activities so important? “People are looking for this very genuine connection to the destination and looking to share that with the people they love,” she explains.
Everyone Has a Say
To determine those activities, Belles recommends interviewing every member of the family who’s going along. “Find out what exactly they want to get out of it,” she explains. “What are they hoping to achieve, what are they hoping to see and do, what are some of the must-haves and what are the things that are sort of nice to have or can slide.”
Decide Who’s Paying
Belles says the number-one rule here is not to assume anything. Talk about who’s paying up front so there are no surprises, awkwardness or hard feelings.
Who typically funds multigenerational travel? “Pre-retirement, people are really more sort of paying their own way,” says Belles. “Once the grandparents get really into their retirement years, then you’re seeing where it’s more and more common for the patriarch or the matriarch of the family to cover the costs.”
Stick to Your Budget
Once who’s footing the bill is settled, the next step is to budget for the trip. How much do you want to spend? Who’s paying for what aspect?
Then, says Belles, “adhere to that budget. That’s a big piece of it because when people get in the moment they start to spend more and then sometimes regret it when they get back home.”
Best Advice: Long-Term Travel Planning
When asked for her best piece of travel advice, Belles recommends thinking big picture. “Look at your travel planning the way you look at your financial planning and set a long-term strategy with a professional advisor,” she says. “At Virtuoso we call it Return on Life travel planning and it’s a way to look at your travel planning five, 10, 15 years out.”
Return on Life travel planning is important for everyone. But families in particular need to make the most of their precious time. “As a parent I can tell you someone once told me, “You only have 18 summers,” and that really resonated,” Belles said. “So set a long-term strategy to make sure you see and do everything you want, especially with your kids.”
Not sure where to start? A Virtuoso travel advisor is here to help. They can help you create a long-term multigenerational travel plan that will create memories your family will never forget. And they can do something you can’t do on your own: “No matter how much money you have, you can’t VIP yourself,” Belles notes.
Find a Virtuoso family travel expert and start your family’s long-term travel planning.