Domestic family or multi-generational travel is a priority for travelers 50-plus in 2023, according to AARP research. The annual AARP Travel Trends study found that 14 percent of travelers expected to go on multi-generational trips. With so many ages and needs to consider on such trips, how do you plan an unforgettable and low-drama vacation involving multiple families or friends and maintain your sanity (without going broke)? These six families show us how it’s done.
The classic giant beach house confab
Destination: Corolla, North Carolina
Number of travelers: 18 to 20
Trip organizer: Charles Oransky, age 72
We’ve been going to the Outer Banks (OBX) since the mid-1980s. Back then, it was just my wife and me and our four children. Now each child is married, and we have eight grandchildren. Sometimes a friend or two join us too.
We’ve always gotten a beachfront house (usually through Twiddy & Company), and as we’ve grown in size, our house needs have grown. The one we had last time seemed to have two of everything: two refrigerators, two freezers and two stoves, and a separate kitchen on a different floor. We used them all.
The great thing about a house as opposed to a hotel is if you have little children, they can run around and be free. Sure, there are challenges. People are on different schedules and vacation differently. The really young children make a lot of noise. But you can always find your own place. You can go sit down on the beach. You can sit by the pool.
I have several favorite times of day. I get up early, and we’ll take some of the little kids to the beach around 6:30 or 7, as the sun comes up. And then we go buy bagels. And dinner is great, because everybody’s at the table. It’s a lot of work to put together, but it’s an amazing experience for all of us. Most of our friends, once their kids are in their 40s, they don’t go on vacations with them. But for us, this trip is a tradition. Everybody loves it. We talk about it all year. When we go away together, there are so many precious moments — the little moments that you can’t plan.
Beach house tips
Rent a year in advance. “When we leave, we book the house for the next year,” Oransky says. Yes, demand is that high.
Try staying for more than a week. “With this many people, it takes a few days to get in the groove,” Oransky says.
Be meal smart. Schedule one big food shop on day one, bring supplies from home, rotate cooking and cleaning, make dinner each day’s one group meal and skip the restaurants, Oransky advises.
Tent and RV rendezvous
Destination: Gunnison County, Colorado
Number of family members: 40-plus
Trip organizer: Patti Acheson, age 72
My nine brothers and sisters and I were raised on a farm in Louisiana, so we love the outdoors. As we got older, we all wanted our kids to know their heritage. So we started to have yearly get-togethers. My sister Debbie and I manage the planning. We have a family Facebook group, and we use that to get input. Once we choose a campground, Deb and I prepare a menu for each meal. We post it, and everybody signs up for food, meal prep and cleanup.
The best moments are the campfires at night. We’ll sing and tell stories. I now know family I would never have had the chance to be close to. And we have so much fun.
Be budget sensitive. A plan to print T-shirts ended when it turned out one family would need to buy eight. “We try to do stuff that doesn’t cost a lot,” Acheson says.
Rent a group campsite. It’s cost-effective, and it’s better for campers who aren’t part of your group. Book a covered pavilion to serve as the kitchen and gathering place.