Family holidays are an amazing way to bond and spend quality time with your nearest and dearest. Planning a trip to accommodate multiple generations can be tricky, so we asked Lonely Planet staff about the trips they've taken with their families, how they planned, what worked and what didn't.
San Miguel, Mexico
Sheeka Sanahori, Director of Video
My parents used to live in San Miguel de Allende before they had me. They'd always dreamed of revisiting but had not in about 40 years, so I took them along with my 3-year-old son. I travel frequently with my husband (who had to work during this trip) and son, but I had to plan some things differently for this trip. Transportation was a big change; normally my family takes public transportation on trips, but since my parents are in their 70s and my dad (77) has mobility issues, we opted to rent a car.
We flew into Mexico City (CDMX) and drove to San Miguel. I researched this trip like hell to make sure the hotels didn't have steps, which are harder for my dad to do. I still ended up having to ask the hotel in CDMX to change his room because there was a huge step up to their bathroom. My parents were amazed at all the technology I use to make the trip possible (Uber, AirBnB and other phone apps like maps.me).
I made sure we took a slower pace on this trip so my parents wouldn't get worn out. My parents had to adjust to vacationing with a toddler, which means stopping for naps and the occasional temper tantrum. My parents had a great time showing off their Spanish skills (they still remembered!) and showing my son and I their old stomping grounds. They had many wonderful stories about their time living in Mexico, and it was fulfilling to me to learn more about their lives.
Jess Cole, Commissioning Editor
It was my dad's 70th birthday wish to gather his whole family for a week's ski trip: him, my stepmum, two of their friends, five sets of grown-up offspring and their partners and four children – including our own son, then a mewling 9-week-old. I'll admit to a degree of new-parent anxiety as the trip approached, but in the end it really helped break us out of our comfort zone. A few years earlier, my dad had become an amputee; there's nothing quite like seeing a septuagenarian parent learning to paraski for shifting that 'world-revolves-around-the-baby' mindset.
Amtrak tour, the US
Meghan O'Dea, Digital Editor
My grandmother was an irrepressible traveller and train enthusiast, and it was her dream to take each of her grandkids on a special trip. As the oldest grandchild, I got the inaugural and most ambitious outing – an Amtrak tour around the perimeter of the United States (one of the world's most amazing train journeys).
I was twelve years old, and it was my first time travelling without my parents. The trip was manageable for my grandmother in that the train was a contained space where we could sometimes do our own thing. Meals were taken care of in the dining car, we had our sleeping compartment that converted to a living room by day, and the observation car where we could meet fellow passengers.
When we stopped for city breaks of a day or two in New Orleans, LA, San Francisco, and Denver, we stayed in hostels and ate cheap meals like ramen, oatmeal, and instant soup heated up on a communal hob. My grandmother gave me a wonderful gift in this way. She didn't just impart her love of experiencing new places, but taught me the art of thrifty travel she'd been practising since she was a teenager. We walked everywhere, did our laundry in the sink, and carried everything we needed in our backpacks. To this day, I travel much the same way, whether I'm going solo, showing my parents around Portland, or introducing my aunt to Greece on her first trip to Europe.
Disney World, Florida
Amy Lundeen, Senior Editor, Video
My sister and I planned our first family trip to Disney World last year for our families and my mom. Our ages ranged from 6 to 76 with some teenagers thrown in the mix. Disney being Disney, we knew most of us would have fun, but my mom was worried about the walking and the food. We ended up planning like crazy before we went so we wouldn't have to think about it when we arrived. Key smart moves we made were:
1. Hotel with pool
2. Not overplanning
3. Looking into food options before we arrived (we also had several food allergies to think about which Disney was incredibly prepared for).
During the free time we had planned my husband could go off with the teenagers to the 'real' rollercoasters while my mom found a spot in the shade to have a snack and I took who ever was left on another Star Wars ride (my favourite). The only snag we had was my family of four getting hit with a stomach bug... miraculously we all have great memories of the trip.
Matt Phillips, Digital Editor
My father lost his dad to cancer at the age of one, and he and his two older brothers grew up with my grandmother (known endearingly to me as Nanny Phillips) in a poor neighbourhood of Belfast. In his early 20s he followed his middle brother to live in Canada during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and it was there he met my mother (who emigrated from England). I was born in Mississauga, but grew up in Vancouver.
A poet, story teller and romanticist, he spent countless hours of my childhood telling me tall tales of his adventures along the Antrim Coast, up in the Mourne Mountains and in the bogs around Belfast. He also spoke of the many hardships he endured in the city. Knowing his creative nature, I'm not sure I fully believed many of his stories. Yet it all came to life in 1997 when I travelled to Ireland with him. We wandered his old street, explored his stomping grounds across Northern Ireland and south in the Republic. It was a rather magical three weeks. I didn't just get to know my father's homeland, but I finally got to understand him as well.
You might also like:
- How to plan the perfect big family holiday
- Tips for planning an affordable family vacation