Authentic luxury travelers know that planning any customized trip takes considerable time, and when multiple generations are involved it makes the process even more challenging. Having said that, the popularity of “3G” (three generation) family vacations is soaring because so many busy people want an opportunity to re-connect with kids, parents, spouses, and siblings in a relaxed environment.

Because of time constraints, the planner designated by the family might compromise and book a cruise or an all-inclusive resort for the 3G vacation – in spite of the fact that the trip won’t be an authentic travel experience.

Another alternative is to use a proven tour operator who has experience in planning exclusive itineraries for family groups. That way, family members spend their time having fun together – not laboring over the plans – and still enjoy an authentic travel experience and personalized service.

The following tips are courtesy of award-winning tour operator Austin-Lehman Adventures. ALA provides adventure vacations on five continents, including North, Central, and South America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Africa. The company specializes in adult and family multi-sport, hiking, biking vacations that emphasize history, culture and the natural environment.

Whether you make your own arrangements or ask a tour operator to customize an experience for your family, here are some points to consider:

- Will the accommodations meet the needs of both adults and kids? Have you considered a vacation rental or another type of lodging with a kitchen so kids can grab a snack when they’re hungry and enjoy familiar food?

- Do the plans include age-appropriate activities for everyone? Parents and grandparents may want to enjoy a spa and play golf, but kids like pools, beaches, and playgrounds. On a Montana trip, ALA guides spontaneously set up an easy half-day horseback ride for grandparents who otherwise would have sat on the porch as younger family members did an intensive hike.

- What kinds of equipment are used for activities and how is the equipment adapted for 3G use? Are kid-size mountain bikes and/or tag-along kiddy carriers available?

- Are there children’s menus in the places you’ll be dining?

- Are there safe places where children can play when parents and grandparents are enjoying adult time? It’s also a good idea for kids to bring along a few favorite toys and books. A Trunki is the perfect size for pre-schoolers and older children can use a backpack.

- Have you made arrangements for children to be cared for, fed, and entertained while the adults enjoy their own quiet meal (if desired). Seventy-five percent of Austin-Lehman’s custom trips are for 3G families – and many of those are in national parks. At Chico Hot Springs Resort in Yellowstone, they arrange for adults to dine by candlelight while the kids have pizza by the pool.

ALA recommends a maximum of 18 on a customized family trip, in order to allow personalized attention and service from the staff and guides. They also suggest a guest-to-guide ratio of no more than six guests per guide.

Click here to read "A Place for Family Bonding," as well as other articles I've written about family travel.

If these options sound too tame and everyone in your family group is at least 12 years of age, consider a walking safari in Zambia. Our trip there was one of our most memorable - and I'm counting the years until our youngest will be allowed to participate.

Photo credit Austin-Lehman Adventures.


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Comment by cupida s.r.o. on December 13, 2011 at 8:08am
Comment by Elizabeth Hansen on December 11, 2011 at 9:43pm

Hi David,

Thanks for your comment. I hear 'ya about cruising...not for all the tea in China - except it is a good way for multiple generations to travel together. However, I'd much rather have an authentic travel experience.

Comment by David Lawrence on December 11, 2011 at 8:34pm

Did this a few times with my family. Tough to pull off because different generations had different interests and strengths and weaknesses. Best time we did it was a cruise even though i normally wouldn't cruise for all the tea in china.

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