Navigating the minefield of expectations

Multigenerational travel is a tremendous opportunity for a family but it also can be a minefield that might need to be carefully understood before the trip starts. After all, no one likes a knocked-down, dragged-out family fight while on a beautiful beach, do they?

The first and most important lesson I learned from our trip to Brazil is that each generation might be looking for something different out of the trip.

For example, my MIL wanted to travel to Brazil with her family in order to be with the family – to have a shared experience with her son, grandson, and me (her DIL). She wanted to share with us the stories of her life growing up in Brazil. And, to introduce her grandson to the country that shaped her from birth to her 20s.

As a side note, it is also important to note here that depending on the health of the grandparent, travel with the family could be a goodbye trip. I can’t say for certain if this was truly a goodbye trip for my MIL but I do recognize that her health is not what it was when we first met over ten years ago.

In contrast, my husband and I wanted to go and see things. We wanted to be tourists and go sightseeing along the string of neighboring beach towns. We wanted to boogie board and try our hand at surfing or stand up paddle boarding. We wanted to visit the city of Salvador once again – this time with our son – and walk the historic center together. In addition, we wanted to use the vacation to decompress and rejuvenate away from the stress of work and our careers.

Finally, there is the youngest generation – in this case our six-year old son. For him, he too wanted a shared experience with us – all of us. And, he too wanted to explore and have fun playing in this part of the world he had never seen before. So in many ways, for our son, he wanted a little bit of both what we as his parents wanted out of the vacation, as well as what his grandma wanted out of the vacation.

Talking about and having a common understanding of our expectations prior to the start of the vacation allowed for us to create moments together as a whole, together as different units, and alone as individuals. This helped all of us to get the most of the trip together and separately.

Thank you for reading this post. Please come back again for more tips and advice about multigenerational travel.

Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.

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