Traveling with Three Generations

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

I hate being so predictable. When I recently read that multigenerational vacations remained the single hottest travel trend in 2014, I realized I was one of many seeking quality time with both parents and children. None of the research captured why I organize these trips. It’s very simple. I don’t have enough time with either generation.

This is the time of my life filled with departures—some permanent and some temporary. And time is really flying. I don’t want to turn around and find many of the people central to my life aren’t around anymore for anything, including making new memories. I’m planning the trips more frequently now, as the clock runs faster for my parents and since our daughter wants to travel on her own or with her friends.

Years ago, we started to travel with multiple generations—a trip to Venice, Italy with my mother and then four-year-old daughter. More recent trips included a week in Maui with my mother and stepdad.

Let me share a recent trip as a primer for planning your own three-generation trips. I look for places that are near good medical facilities and that have non-stop flights. The island of Maui fit the bill.

Renting lodging was the first step. We needed enough bedrooms so that each generation had their own private space. Don’t do this unless you, as the organizer, also want to plan all the meals. If not, pick a hotel or resort. We rented two cars, so every generation had access to an escape route. And planning naptime into the day is important.

We found a lovely beachfront, first floor, no steps, three-bedroom condo, at the Kahana Villagewith a nice living room and a huge lanai. With separate rental cars, we met at the condo. My folks took the master, so they had their own bathroom—another key point in traveling with elders.

We made a plan for the week that included together time and alone time.. Breakfast every day was together, but everyone was responsible for his or her own. Lunch was a pick-up affair, and dinners were planned as either in or out. My husband and stepfather wanted to go winetasting, while my mom, daughter, her friend and I wanted to go snorkeling. Perfect.

The younger generation wanted to drive the road to Hana and hike to the waterfalls. The road to Hana is listed on every top ten list of things to do in Maui and consists of miles of hairpin turns, punctuated by opportunities to hike up to waterfalls. My folks passed on that, and my husband and I shared the driving and the girls hiked all the trails. The highlight of one stop was a young man proposing to his girlfriend, which my daughter captured on her iPhone and then emailed to the happy couple! The girls wanted to sample the nightlife in Lahaina. My husband chaperoned while I stayed home with my parents.

We all used the beach in various configurations, except my stepfather who doesn’t like the sun. Our all group outing to another beach featuring sea turtles was rather comical. We arrived in our separate cars. My parents wanted full shade, the girls wanted full sun, and I wanted to scream. It was a fun day at the beach shuttling between them! My solution was to rent a raft and float out on the ocean.

The best memories, however, were the simplest things we did together. We had a great meal out at Roy’s, a Hawaiian fusion restaurant with a few locations on the Islands and elsewhere. Going to the farmers market and the fish market and then cooking dinner together was probably the best moment of the trip.

Traveling with my parents and daughter is the stuff of lasting memories.