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How to Travel With Abuelos

Photograph by Twenty20

My mother has spent the last 15 years being her parents' caregiver. She hasn't had much time for herself or to go on vacation. It's been nearly five years since the last time I vacationed with my parents. I finally convinced them to take a vacation with me, my husband and our son. However, thinking about a family vacation and planning one are two completely different things, especially when you're dealing with keeping every generation happy.

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We've decided to go to Walt Disney World. It's somewhere my parents have never been and since I've been there before, I know it's a destination that will make us all happy. This planning has been stressful, but I know it will be worth it thanks to all the thinking ahead we've done.

7 Things To Consider When Planning a Multigenerational Vacation

1. Cost
This will determine everything: where you go, when you go, what you do and where you'll stay. Be considerate of the people you're traveling with. Vacations are often a splurge expense, but there are lots of things you can do to minimize expenses. While you may prefer staying at a five-star resort, it may not be feasible when traveling with a large group. Planning in advance is ideal so that your travel companions have time to save money for whatever the group decides is feasible for all.

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2. Destination

Where will you go? Think about the kind of experience you want with your family. Originally my mother suggested Puerto Rico. It was "something different," she said. While I want to visit Puerto Rico with my parents, it's far from "different." Both of my parents were born there. I know that a trip to Puerto Rico will require visiting long lost relatives and friends. It would no longer feel like a vacation, but an obligation to make house calls. And so Puerto Rico was scratched off the list.

3. Activities

Is there something for everyone? As the planner for our family vacation, this was the biggest question I had to ask myself. Having a 9-year-old boy with autism, I know my son has very specific interests. A trip to a remote cabin in the mountains would probably not appeal to him. So I thought about all the things my parents like to do and the things that my son likes to do. And then I considered what my husband and I like to do.

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4. Time of year

When will you go? Timing is major factor. Think about weather and climate when traveling with your parents; you want them to be as comfortable as possible. My mother made it very clear that she didn't want to travel South during the summer months. (She hates the heat.) Which is perfect because I love traveling during the off-peak seasons and have no issues with taking my son out of school to go on vacation. Not only will your travel costs be cheaper, but your destination will most likely be less crowded.

5. How long to vacation

Real talk here: how long can you be with your family before arguing occurs? Think about what you can handle with your family. You want this to be a happy, memorable vacation, not the kind where you head home despising your parents or in-laws. So maybe your vacation is a long weekend, or maybe you can handle two weeks. Know your limits and plan your number of days together accordingly.

6. Lodging

Will you rent a large house or stay in a hotel? Renting a house may be more cost-effective especially when split between 2 or more families. However, let's think back to No. 5. You know your relationship with your family better than anyone else — it's perfectly OK to want or have some separation and get together during the day so you have a break from each other in the evening.

7. Amenities

What are the things that you absolutely need? This is a question to ask yourself when choosing where you will stay. For me, it's Wi-Fi (preferably free) and cable. The last vacation I went on with my parents, we rented a cabin in the woods. There was no Wi-Fi and no television. I knew this when I booked the room, and I actually thought it would be nice to be without those things for a few days. But then it rained the entire five days we were there. Lesson learned. Even if I decide not to use all the amenities, knowing I have the ability makes a difference.

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