Travel & Leisure

Travelling as a Family

These ideas for organizing a trip with your adult children and grandchildren will help create a holiday that will please younger and older travellers alike

By Nathalie De Grandmont

After more than two years of living in a bubble, Canadian families are travelling together more than ever. “It was already a trend, but it’s roaring back,” Nicolas Ryan, CAA-Quebec’s director of public affairs, confirms.

The first step is to decide on a budget and figure out the preferences and potential limitations of each person so that everyone will have a good time. It’s best to get everyone together for an honest and open conversation early on. You might consider consulting a travel agent, who can coordinate all the details and maybe even help you get a few little extras you might not have thought of, says Manon Doucet of Club Voyages Solerama. “When it comes to a group—usually 10 or more people—you can sometimes get a few perks,” she says.

Tailor Your Approach

Kids and their grandparents may share a lot of things but perhaps not the same schedule. It’s a good idea to plan so that all your travellers have a bit of space and time for themselves; to that end, cruises or all-inclusive hotels are good options.

If you’re dreaming of a cruise, “more and more ships offer family suites,” Isabelle St-Amand of Espace Voyages says; these can accommodate up to 10 people. Royal Caribbean ships have lounges for teens, climbing walls, wave pools, and even go-karting tracks. “Many companies, such as Norwegian, Disney, and Royal Caribbean, can accommodate wheelchairs as well as double strollers,” St-Amand says.

For all-inclusive hotels, St-Amand cites the Dreams chain of hotels, which even have snack bars near water parks, and those in the Secrets chain, “which are family-friendly and very good at dealing with food allergies.”

Other good candidates are hotels that offer a section reserved for adults and another for families. Melia Caribe in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for example, has a dozen restaurants, pools, and activities for all ages, and at its neighbour, the Melia Punta Cana Beach Wellness, adults can enjoy some peace and a spa and then rejoin the others for meals.

Tour operators such as Transat and Air Canada Vacations, which have expanded their offerings for extended families, can help you find what you’re looking for.

Just Like Home

“In Europe or North America, many people choose flight and car-rental packages, which work well with an apartment or house rental,” Ryan says. This option gives you a lot of freedom: you can do things together or get out and about separately (a second vehicle or bikes can be useful) and then meet up for dinner.

“In Europe, Transat also offers a number of comfortable apartment-hotels in good locations, with separate spaces for each member of the family,” says Bernard Côté, Transat’s director of marketing, who mentions Résidence hotels (in Spain, Portugal, and Italy) and the Citadines hotel chain, found in more than a dozen large European cities. “All-inclusives in Greece, such as the Kinetta Beach Resort and Spa, and in Spain, such as the Palladium Hotel Costa del Sol, were popular in the summer of 2022,” Côté says.

Of course, whether you’re longing to visit Tuscany, western Canada, or a seaside resort on the East Coast, you can also find many apartments and houses on the Airbnb and VRBO websites. VRBO spokesperson Mary Zeggack recommends trying different dates and using filters to find accommodations that meet all your criteria.

One thing is certain: travelling with the family allows you to create memories that everyone will cherish and be reminiscing about often in years to come.

6 Top Destinations for Family Travel

1. Mexico’s Riviera Maya: for the quality hotels and cuisine, beaches, coral reefs, golf courses, and Mayan cultural sites.
2. Costa Rica: for the volcanoes, many national parks, and lush tropical nature.
3. Italy, Portugal, South of France, Spain: for the culture, history, and art, living the Mediterranean life, and castle vineyards.
4. Varadero, Cuba: for the turquoise sea, beaches, catamaran trips and new restaurants and bars in the Boulevard area.
5. Myrtle Beach, S.C.: for the beaches, fishing, dolphin watching, and golf and mini-golf courses.
6. Orlando, Fla.: for the theme parks.

A Few Tips

– Choose a project leader, who can stay on top of things and follow up with the travel agent.
– Give each person a role to play, such as research, taking photos, or planning a specific activity.
– Aim for flexible options, and leave room for spontaneous activities.
– Renew all passports as soon as possible and verify the vaccination or visa requirements for the destination.
– Buy travel insurance.
– If you’re travelling with your grandchildren, don’t always take on the role of babysitter. Think of yourself, too!
– For inspiration, check out the book Travel With Children (Lonely Planet; an updated edition is due out in July 2023).