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It’s Summer—Pack the Grandparents, Parents & Kids in the Car for a Multigenerational Vacation

Notice to travelers: If your family is traveling with three generations, it’s a multigenerational trip, according to AARP. One third of travelers have made multi-gen travel a family tradition because it provides quality time together. I can relate.

Growing up, my family went to Ocean City, Md., for 43 years and stayed at the same place — the Commander Hotel — for 35 of those years (in the same rooms no less!) until the hotel was torn down. AARP research says 38 percent of multi-gen travelers choose a nostalgic destination — so for us OC would qualify in spades. It didn’t start as a multi-gen trip at first: it was only Mom, Dad and the twin girls. But as the family grew and the girls got married and we added our spouses and the only grandchild, Katie, our family tradition became multigenerational travel.


Our research shows that 80 percent of multigenerational trip destinations are domestic. This seems logical to me, since family may be coming from all over the country, and meeting in a place outside the U.S. could elevate the getting-there-and-back issues. In fact, my family always drove to OC whether we lived in Kentucky, Georgia or Canada. I think we had to as we had too much “stuff” to fly. One year when we were little we even brought our goldfish!

The majority of families (89 percent) stay at the same accommodations with their entire family. That worked for us as long as the Commander existed, but then it was torn down and the second-generation owners built a new Commander Motel (not Hotel), so our family split up with some just moving to the hotel next door and others staying in a boutique hotel in nearby Berlin, Md.

In planning the trip, 61 percent of travelers go directly to the hotel, airline or car rental site. Many people like to go to the same place repeatedly and know what they want. Also, 58 percent say one person did all the reservations for the family. Yep, especially if you want to make sure everyone is on the same plane and in the same hotel before they get booked.

Fifty-four percent say planning activities so everyone is having a good time is a challenge, as well as 46 percent identifying a destination that is appealing to all. You have to pick a place that offers a wide variety of things to do. In my opinion, OC offers all of that: fabulous white sand beach and ocean, fishing, golf (especially miniature), amusement rides, kite flying, good food (with one great restaurant in Berlin) and even antiquing for me. Our family always ate breakfast and dinner together and spent two hours on the beach together every day; otherwise we could choose what we wanted to do.

Did we ever get bored after so many years? Not really, because as the “girls” grew up and started to work, we had to shorten our stay to a week even though the grandparents stayed for a month. OC was a special place for us. The only negative was that we went to OC in August so we knew that when the vacation was over ... so was summer!





More from AARP Research:

AARP Travel Research:  Multi-Generational Travel

AARP Travel Research: Romantic Getaways

Life Reimagined Life Budget Survey


Becky Gillan is the senior vice president of AARP Research and is focused on fostering understanding of the interests and concerns of people age 50-plus and their families. Before coming to AARP, she served as the vice president of global market research and guest satisfaction for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In her spare time, she likes visiting her niece in Ohio, gardening and collecting American art and antiques.

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