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How to Plan a Stress-Free Multigenerational Vacation

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    Retying the Ties That Bind

    How long has it been since multiple generations of your family have connected for some much-needed getting-to-know-you-again time? If organizing such a vacation fills you with dread, relax! Here’s how to plan and have a fabulous time together.

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    Poll the Group

    Ask everyone for a vacation wish list (as long as the younger children understand they’re not in charge of decisions). Accommodating everyone may be simpler than you think. In any event, it’s worth a discussion so that all generations feel they have a stake in planning a good time.

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    Settle on a Budget

    Chances are not everyone can afford to spend the same amount, so sort out ahead of time who will pay what. Research the costs of big-ticket items such as flights, lodgings and car rentals. Then check the costs for separate items such as restaurants and activities, and determine a reasonable daily budget for everyone.

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    Don’t Crowd the Guest List

    You don’t have to include every member of every branch of the family tree. Think about it: When it comes to eating out, for instance, more doesn’t always mean merrier. If you do have a big group, try limiting meals together to one per day.

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    Think About All-Inclusive Vacations

    Cruises and all-inclusive resorts can level the financial playing field. Think about a ski resort for a winter vacation. You can spot the family-friendly ones by checking out lift ticket prices: Look for a high maximum age for kids’ passes and a low starting age for senior passes. You can go on a cruise just about anywhere, but think about river voyages — greatfor families since the boat always docks next to shore, and easy to get into town for sightseeing.

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    Take Weather Into Account

    Off-season travel often means lower costs and fewer crowds. But for children and teens, the colder, hotter or rainier days can lead to crankiness or meltdowns. So for multigenerational trips, consider sticking to high season — or close to it.

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    Not Too Much Sightseeing

    As soon as you start to move as a herd, stress starts to mount. So avoid places with important tourist sites (Rome, for example) you’d feel frustrated about missing. A good place for a multigenerational vacation is a city such as San Diego, where you’ll find Sea World, the famed zoo, Legoland, surfing, museums, theaters and beaches — but nothing you absolutely can’t do without.

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    Staying in a Hotel?

    If you’re staying in a hotel, investigate the concierge (club-level) floors. They carry considerable upcharges, but you’ll generally find food available all day, and you’ll have an exclusive lobby where everyone can congregate at his or her leisure for greeting and grazing.

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    Condominiums or Group House?

    Big group houses are fun, and a big kitchen with a full fridge and a common room can lead to lots of good times. On the other hand, individual condo units keep crying babies and late-night partyers from bothering each other and also can limit scrutiny of family members’ unique habits.

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    It IS Vacation, but Don’t Forget Routine

    We all (especially kids) thrive on routines. Let spontaneity be part of each day, but keep everyone’s bedtimes, meals and midday quiet time on a consistent schedule. In the end, you’ll have lot more freedom and fewer crises.

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    Get a Group Shot With Everyone

    Make sure a group photo is taken to preserve this great moment in your family’s history. (You can even book a professional photographer.) Then create an online photo album.

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