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Traveling with adult children: 6 tips for an unforgettable, stress-free trip

With our families often scattered across the country – and the world – these days, the idea of bringing adult children together for a family vacation is more appealing than ever.

Though we all dream of a perfect trip with precious time devoted to fun and just being together, it can be tricky business dealing with different ages, interests, and levels of income among our children. I talked with friends about this before we took our own family on a trip to the Southwest last summer and found there are many different ways to organize a trip like this, from parents hosting the entire vacation to presenting a plan and inviting adult children to join in and pay their own way. There is also the mixed approach: parents provide housing and maybe breakfast and adult children cover transportation, activities, and other meals. You may cover expenses for your college age kids, while your employed twentysomethings cover their own.

Whichever way you go, the logistics required put it all together are, at least to me, not the biggest challenge. That lies in navigating the plan through the family with as few misunderstandings and as much anticipation as possible. It’s a lot of work! But planning the trip can be another way to connect us to our children – and nearly a year later, I know my family will remember our Southwest adventure forever.

Here are some ideas to guide the process. I know there must be a gold mine of experience out there on this topic and I’d love to hear about how you’ve handled it.

  1. Have a crystal-clear plan. This as the most important factor in organizing a family trip with adult kids: be sure that everything is clear upfront to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.
  2. Give everyone plenty of advance notice. Plan at least a year ahead to give everyone time to schedule and budget for the trip.
  3. Location, location, location. We all know our own families, where they are traveling from, and have some knowledge of their interests and a realistic budget. Either choose a destination or present two or three ideas for a family vote and then go with it (a riskier approach).
  4. Set a no-surprises budget. Set the amounts and then be completely clear about who pays for what. If you are the organizer, be sure to provide realistic expectations for what the extras will cost so there are no surprises.
  5. Check in regularly prior to the trip. A quick email every few months with an update will be a reminder for them to let you know of any complications in their plans, while also building anticipation for the trip.
  6. Expect the unexpected. If one of your kids has something come up that just won’t let him/her be part of the trip, it will be disappointing for sure. But they are adults with their own obligations and sometimes that’s just the way it is. Lots of lead time will help to minimize the chance of this happening.

Do you have your own guidelines for enjoyable, stress-free travel with adult children? Share them below!

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Posted in live it! lists, travel.

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