CHS students travel more with multiple generations, extended family

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Over winter break, freshman Nora Clemens went to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. It wasn’t just a simple getaway to soak up some sun, though. Clemens was accompanied by her immediate family, two aunts and their respective families, her grandparents and a great-aunt: 18 people in total.

“There were a lot more people than just my immediate family and me, so we got to spend a lot of time in each others’ companies. It was a lot of connecting and getting to know everyone better,” Clemens said.

Where People Travel

With three generations of family traveling together, Clemens’s vacation is considered “multigenerational travel.” According to a summer 2014 study by AAA, multigenerational family trips are on the rise, with 36 percent of families surveyed saying they planned to take such a trip by the summer of 2015. Compared to a survey asking the same question done in 2013, the percent of families planning to take these trips has raised by 4 percent.

Multigenerational trips have increased in popularity among CHS students’ families as well. Virtuoso, a luxury travel company, named multigenerational travel the biggest travel trend for the fourth year in a row in its annual Luxe Report in 2014.

Clemens said her family’s vacation was a celebration of her grandparents’ 50th anniversary. “Fifty is a pretty big number in terms of anniversaries, so to celebrate theirs, my grandparents wanted to fly us all out to the Bahamas,” she said.

A November 2014 Wall Street Journal article titled “The Multigenerational Family Vacation” credits the rise in multigenerational travel to an increase in people’s desires to have “meaningful experiences” and make to those experiences count.  Money, convenience of travel and increasingly active seniors are other factors.

Lila Torp, human development and family wellness teacher, said, “The trend to take multigenerational trips has been around and has been gaining popularity for several years now. Part of this has to do with the fact that healthcare is better, so people are living longer. Because of that, many grandparents are in typically better health than they would have been a few decades ago at the same age. Nowadays, they’re more active, more able to go (on big vacations) and have more money to travel.”

Clemens said her grandparents chose to go the Bahamas because it would be different from life in the city and suburbs where her family lives. Like Clemens’s family trips, most multigenerational trips are geared toward culture-based travel. Some of the most highly sought-after vacation destinations are in Europe so families can tour many countries at once, and in Africa for its safaris and cruises for accessibility to a wide variety of places.

Freshman Nora Clemens (far right) scuba dives with cousins. Clemens said her family found activities to fit the needs of everyone during the trip. NORA CLEMENS / SUBMITTED PHOTO
Freshman Nora Clemens (far right) scuba dives with cousins. Clemens said her family found activities to fit the needs of everyone during the trip. NORA CLEMENS / SUBMITTED PHOTO

According to Mark Moorhead, travel agent and owner of The Travel Agent, Inc., many families go to these places so younger family members can learn local cultures and older members can guide them in global experiences.

“It used to be that everyone went to Florida to just play on the beach. Now, my clients are a lot more inclined to expand on that and try new things. They’re going on African safaris and cruises in the Galapagos Islands,” Moorhead said. “It used to be that people just went to warm places they were familiar with. Now, it’s not so much. They’re more interested in adventure and learning and experiences.”

Despite all the benefits of going on a multigenerational trip, Moorhead said many problems could arise in the execution. He said people have to manage “three generations of calendars.” As a result, most multigenerational families take trips together during longer school breaks, such as winter, spring and summer.

Families also have to accommodate people’s individual needs. Torp said that finding activities that appeal to multiple generations and are simultaneously user-friendly are crucial.

She said, “If you’ve got elderly grandparents, something with a lot of climbing or walking probably won’t suit them well. On the other hand, something that doesn’t have much activity in it probably wouldn’t appeal much to children. So, you’ve got to find a happy medium, where you’ve got to find an activity that will appeal to all generations. That makes things all the more difficult.”

Clemens said her family found activities to suit the needs of everyone.

“If someone suggested that they wanted to do something, we would try to make room in our plans for it. We would just reserve a time for it. As for anyone else who didn’t want to do it or wanted to do something else in that time, there was always someone else willing to go along with them,” she said. “No one really got shortchanged; there was nobody who was sad because they had to miss out on something they really wanted to do.”Travel Speak-ups

According to Clemens, part of the reason they were able to please everybody was that her family had done a lot of planning. The November 2014 Wall Street Journal article stated many families plan their vacations up to a year in advance. Clemens wasn’t directly involved in the planning process for her family’s trip, but she said she assumes a lot of work went into it.

“My grandparents did pretty much all of the work, and it was a lot, because it was a huge trip and lots of people were going all the way to the Bahamas,” she said.

Clemson said her grandparents researched where to stay, what activities the Abaco Islands offered and coordinated travel times for the entire group. Clemens said the rest of her family only had to do easier tasks, such as packing.

Torp agreed on the importance of planning.

“In the trips I’ve been involved in, one of the most frustrating things is when things are not planned. Everybody gets together, and you know you’re going to go do something, but you also know it hasn’t been agreed yet as to what you’re going to go do. Then, you spend a lot of time waiting and wondering,” Torp said.

Even though Clemens was surprised her trip went so smoothly, she said the best part was getting to spend time with her extended family. According to Moorhead, the value of multigenerational family trips stems from the love and affection people feel for their families and the opportunity to be with them.

Other Travel Trends

Clemens said, “My family doesn’t take these huge trips with everyone a lot, and since we’ve all gotten older, it’s a way to catch up with everyone. It’s really nice to be able to spend all of this quality time with the people that you call family but you don’t get to see them that often and don’t know them very well.”

However, Clemens said she can’t compare traveling with family to traveling with friends.

“I’d be fine with either,” she said. “With each group, there are different interests and different things you’ll want to do together, so you can’t say which is better. I would have enjoyed it either way, because I’m doing things I love with people I’m close to.”

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