Happiness is . . .
The main directive of any multigenerational family trip is that everyone enjoy themselves and have a good time—not always an easy task for families with babies, older children, and grandparents combined.
Consider enlisting the help of older children when making your travel plans. Including toddlers as well as teens in finalizing your trip will help establish a feeling of ownership and investment. Young travelers may be more inclined to participate in activities they might not otherwise have enjoyed if they are balanced with excursions that came from their own ideas.
Babies and toddlers crave routine—something that will provide much-needed comfort in unfamiliar surroundings. Pick locations and travel options that allow for your little ones to still nap and eat at approximately the same time as at home. Cruise travel is a fun option, renting a cabin or condo at your final destination are others. In these instances, children are able to connect with a "home base," helping them feel safe and secure after a day filled with new sights, sounds, and experiences. Travel can be overwhelming for little ones, and coming home to the same environment while on vacation will be to their benefit.
Pack items that can help your littlest travelers—and you—enjoy your time away from home. Child and baby backpacks such as the carriers made by Kelty (www.kelty.com) or front carriers like the Baby Bjorn, www.babybjorn.com) are perfect for family travel. You can use them while out exploring a new city together, or while taking in the sites on a family cruise. Another important item is a collapsible stroller (you can find inexpensive umbrella strollers at stores that carry baby gear). There are several companies that combine both a collapsible stroller and a carrier for added convenience (Kelty makes these hybrid carriers for infants and children). Other helpful items include a comfortable backpack-style diaper bag such as the Ultimate Stress Free Diaper Bag made by One Step Ahead (www.onestepahead.com), and a portable play yard or pack-and-play, which can also be used as a safe crib, play area, and changing station—a good example is the TravelSport by Graco (www.gracobaby.com).
Remember that older family members may also need some quiet time during the day to refresh and recuperate. Allowing for time to read a book by the pool, take a quiet walk alone, or stretch out for a nap are all aspects that should be considered when booking a vacation with grandma and/or grandpa.
And quite frankly, mom and dad may need some alone time too. Ask grandparents or older teenage-children if you can set aside time for them to look after little ones while you and your spouse spend time alone. Schedule this time into your trip's itinerary so everyone can plan accordingly.