We've had this fantasy about whisking our entire family off to an exotic location for some time now.
Imagine the five of us blissfully getting away from it all, laughing and sharing our experiences as we sip umbrella drinks while the sun sets into a tropical ocean.
Putting together a family vacation after the kids are grown and living on their own seems like it should be a snap compared to traveling with toddlers, or worse yet, teenagers.
So why is it so hard?
With no roadside diaper changes, exploding sippy cup disasters, "Are we there yet?" shouting, or hours of headphone-induced sullen, silent stares, how difficult could it be?
We've learned that getting everyone in the same place at the same time comes with a whole new set of complications.
Working around your adult offsprings' schedules can make travel planning problematic to say the least, and even more so if they have kids of their own, but we've uncovered a few tricks that can help.
Split 'em up. Our fantasy of a full family vacation has yet to be fulfilled, but we have been able to whisk them off one (and once - two) at a time to less-than-exotic locations. By keeping it simple and having just one schedule to work around, we have found merits in spending that one-on-one time.
Side note: To avoid unfairness issues, we have been careful to make certain that all of The Spawn get equal time away with us.
Take a trip to their new hometown. This can certainly cut down on costs, and the newly self-reliant don't have to find a way to take off work. Most young adults are early in their careers and don't get a lot of vacation time, so heading to their hometowns is how we do manage to get our whole brood together for the holidays now that they are all out on their own.
Lucky for us, our girls, The Piglet and Decibel, live in New York City and The Boy lives in Alaska -- both fantastic destinations -- but almost every place has something to offer. Like most people, they have never been to many of the attractions right in their own backyards, so our visits become a vacation for us, and stay-cations for them.
Rent a house for a week (or a weekend). Pick a location that is easy for everyone to get to and has accommodations big enough for everyone to stay together, just like the good old days.
Try a condo on the beach, or a house in a cool town, or a cabin on a lake, maybe a chalet in the mountains, anywhere that has plenty of opportunities for everybody to have fun. Best of all, visiting times can be flexible, the whole clan doesn't have to arrive at the same time and everyone can come and go at their convenience.
Keep it simple: Don't over plan. Tours and planned excursions can be fun, but too many can lead to unnecessary stress. Leave plenty of downtime to allow everyone to explore their own interests or -- best of all -- simply hang out and enjoy each other's company.
You might have to kick in some dough. In addition to time constraints, it's important to remember that most fledgling adults are short on funds. Planning a big hootenanny may be fun for us, but it can be a giant financial stress bomb for them.
Why not go all Godfather on them? Make them an offer they can't refuse. Pick a destination that everyone's always wanted to see and then offer help with their expenses.
Give them some time. It might sound like fun to make a trip a big surprise, but practicality dictates that discussions should be held ahead of time. Remember, the little buggers are all grown up now, they are busy people with busy lives. Springing something on them could badly backfire.
We don't want to make them feel like putting on those headphones again.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Help us out here! Have you had a successful vacation with your adult kids? Where did you go? What did you do? Do you have any planning ideas to help us out?
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