Travelling with the family? Here are tips

A flexible itinerary, empathy and a dose of good humor can help make a family trip more a vacation than a vexation

FAMILY TRIP. Families with members of different ages can find ways to meet everyone's needs and still have a great time. Photo by Andrew Robles

MANILA, Philippines – Travelling with your entire family can be both pleasure and pain. While it’s a great way to bond and make beautiful memories together, needs, preferences, quirks and personalities often clash and contribute to a collective migraine.

I’ve gone on trips with loved ones of every age between two years old and 60. Undoubtedly, it’s a lot trickier than travelling alone or with a buddy or two.

But taking the extra effort to work around all these differences always proved worth it. 

Here are some tips to make multi-generational travelling easier and more rewarding for everyone:

1. Make sure everyone has what they need

People from different ages have different needs, especially for trips that will take them away from their comfort zones and regular routines.

Diapers and bottles have to be brought along for the baby. Your grandfather should bring medication for his headaches. Your sister will go crazy if she forgets to bring her iPad. 

So even before hitting the road, remind everyone to make sure they have what they absolutely cannot live without. This will prevent bad moods, sickness and the extra hassle of having to look for a substitute during your vacation.

2. Reserve your own transportation

Saving money by taking public transportation as a family may be more trouble than your money is worth. For example, taking a public bus with limited stop-overs, a crazy driver and noisy fellow passengers may prove too much for your youngest and oldest loved ones. 

The most stress-free family outings I have been on are those in which we rode our own car or rented a private bus (for especially large clan vacations). We had full control of the trip, stopping wherever and whenever we wanted for a bathroom or lunch break.

My younger cousins could make as much noise as they wanted (or as much as we older family members could take) and we never had to worry about the security of our belongings.

3. Rent a house or villa at the resort

Space is very important to accommodations when travelling with the clan. The last thing you want is for blood to boil because everyone is getting in everyone’s way. Houses or villas are great options because they come with a lot of space: multiple bedrooms, kitchen, living room, patio, yard and even a private pool. 

After every fun-filled day of the trip spent in the company of the whole family, family members would like nothing more than to retreat into quiet spaces to relax. Multiple bedrooms allow this. You can separate the older family members who really need a rest from the younger ones who still have loads of energy to spend.

This option also saves you more money in the end. Renting a house or villa may come out cheaper when you split the cost among family members compared to paying for your own rooms at a hotel.

You keep your wallet happy in other ways. You can use your villa’s kitchen to cook meals instead of spending money dining in a restaurant.

Lori Lite, founder of, shares these tips on travelling with younger kids:

4. Agree on call times

There will always be family members who are chronic late sleepers; but with enough discipline and encouragement, you can make sure they wake up on time for the itinerary. 

Call times are especially important to keep for parts of the trip that require faithfulness to the itinerary. A boat to an island that needs to leave before a certain time to avoid large waves will not wait for anyone.

Agree at least the night before what time everyone needs to be ready. Make sure this is communicated to every member of the family.

5. Understand that splitting up can be a good thing

Insisting that the entire family stick together the whole day can be suffocating. It’s not a bad thing to allow family members with similar interests to go off on their own.

Allow girls to go shopping while the boys watch a game. Maybe the older ones want to hit the spa while the younger or more active would prefer white water rafting. 

Keeping the itinerary flexible allows everyone to make the most of their trip in their own ways. Then at one point in the day, you can all agree to meet up for lunch or dinner.

6. Contribute to the budget

Even before the trip, the adults in the family should agree on a payment scheme. Will each member pay for their own expenses? Will one person pay for different aspects of the trip like lunch on day two or the toll fees? Will you divide costs according to how big the salary of each adult is?

The important thing is to never assume the head of the family will pay for everything. If the trip is a blow-out, find ways to still contribute somehow even if it’s just treating everyone out for ice cream or an elephant ride.

7. Have empathy, patience and a sense of humor

Your brother may have irritating habits or your cousin a strange aversion to white sand beaches, but you’ll survive the trip together with a large dose of empathy and patience. These two are the best ways to guard against bad vibes. Add a smattering of good humor and you’ll enjoy the trip even more.

Everyone has their weird quirks which may put a damper on the whole group. But try to put yourself in their shoes. Talk to each other, find a way to alleviate the distress or irritation, keep the itinerary flexible and your mind open. – 

What are your tips on travelling with the family or a group of varied people? Share them with us by posting your comments below.

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