Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post brought to you by Jekyll Island Authority. All opinions are 100% my own.
Vacations are a time of relaxation and fun and loved ones and I wanted to share with you today some tips on how to make the most of your vacation with the WHOLE family. Vacationing with multiple generations is something that can be a little tricky (especially if you haven’t done it before) but with a little planning you can have a trip that you will talk about for decades.
This summer we spent almost a week in our favorite little coastal spot –Jekyll Island – and it was amazing! It was a vacation that makes other vacations jealous 🙂 We have in the past traveled with multiple family members (up to 25 different people!) and so we have learned quite a few tips and can’t wait to share them!
MULTI-GEN VACATION TIPS
Multi-generational travel is a really great way to do vacation. It gives you someone to hang out with, someone to dine with, someone to share your interests, and has so many perks I can’t even mention them all. That is why today I am sharing our favorite tips when it comes to traveling with the whole family. Hopefully this will help you and you can really enjoy the wind in your hair no matter where you end up….but I am gonna be also speaking into our recent trip to Jekyll Island (since it is a favorite hot spot for us to go with our family!).
During your planning process it’s super important to think about your individual expectations and discuss even minor things! Will you eat in? Will you eat out at nice places or quick joints? Do you have restrictions? Are you all activity people or do you want to stay in? Where and what you will go and do is all things to talk about beforehand and it helps in my family tremendously. It will also affect the destination you choose! Make sure to choose somewhere that everyone can enjoy.
We absolutely wanted to go to Jekyll Island (it’s the closest little coastal town and easy to get there and feels like an exclusive and quiet place to relax but has TONS of things to do and see for all ages) and we wanted to do a mix of eating in and eating out and all stay together for the most part. My mom was in a wheelchair from a recent injury and so everything we did had to be accessible. Talking about all of that before hand helps us with our plans for each day and allows everyone to be on the same page. It also allows us to opt out of the group event beforehand if that is what someone chooses.
PLAN TRANSPORTATION AND ACCOMODATIONS
Jekyll is chock full of great places to stay but for this particular situation we planned on staying all together in one big home. This afforded us the ability to cook for ourselves for some meals and to have areas for relaxation and to really spread out.
Since we have a large family with lots of little ones, I wanted an easy access to the beach, our own parking and quiet areas in case of naps. It also helps to have multiple bathrooms with such a large family! We had planned this out previously and it worked out fabulously.
If you prefer hotels or camping, we checked out the campgrounds on the island too and everyone we met there was just plain AWESOME. It felt like everyone was having the time of their life. I know my sister does this with her family and loves staying in an RV with her family of 6!
As far as transportation, my parents had to leave a day earlier than us, so we had to drive separate. But caravanning down together meant that we could utilize space in my dad’s truck. That meant that we could bring extra items that we would never take on a plane! It doesn’t take long for us to get to Jekyll Island at all (pretty much a straight shot – great for anyone in the Atlanta area) and cars and bikes ride all over the island so access to amenities is never an issue.
ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES
We are activity people. We like to have a plan for each day and do something new or different to make each day a little special. They don’t have to be bucket list items but even small things help the days go smoother and allow us to feel like we really engaged with the vacation spot. You know that we already hit up the Mosaic – the new Jekyll Island Museum – but there was so much more than that too!
On this particular vacation, we tried to pick activities that could be both appealing to young and old.
This past year, Money Magazine independently ranked Jekyll Island No. 1 among U.S. travel destinations on its list of “The 20 Best Places to Go in 2019.” After evaluating the cost and quality of nearly 750 popular destinations globally (including roughly 300 in the United States) and drawing on more than 43,000 data points, Money Magazine said Jekyll Island is a “tucked-away gem” that packs in a lot of action for its modest size. I mean….if Money Magazine says it’s good…it’s GOOD.
One of those gem-like-activities we did on the first day. We planned for a trolley tour of historic homes and cottages that were on Jekyll Island and we all thought it was fun and interesting.
A long time ago, Jekyll Island was the winter retreat for some of the nation’s most influential people (Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and more!), and many of their “cottages” remain on the island. SPOILER ALERT – these cottages aren’t what you think. They are HUGE. The trolley tour takes you through the National Historic Landmark District so you can see all these beautifully-preserved, historic mansions and learn about the island’s time as an exclusive club.
The adults liked it because we learned about the rich history of the island. Even typing that sounds adult-is. My mom, who opted to stay in the trolley because she didn’t want to tire out too easily, had a photo book she could look through of the interiors and a headset that allowed her to listen in on the tour guides narration of the inside. The kids liked it because they could “ride the train” 🙂
DINE OUTSIDE FOR LESS STRESS
One of the easiest tricks for us to do is to plan places to eat that we can dine outside. It allows the kids a bit more freedom (nobody is telling them shhh!) and in turn, that allows the adults to enjoy their meal a bit more too.
If you are going to Jekyll, one of our favorites is The Wharf. The kids love watching the boats go by, and the food is really good too!
I think all the restaurants are wheelchair accessible but my mom said she especially loved that one because the view 🙂
Another helpful hint is to eat lunch out and dinner in. Vacation days are a bit hard on kids schedules and they can be extra tired earlier than normal. If you eat dinner at home, it can save you some money and kids don’t have to wait long for a table or food. My parents liked it too because they felt no rush to doll up for dinner 🙂
INVEST IN THE EXTRAS
When you have a large group going on vacation together, you can opt to invest in extras and split the cost. For example, we knew that we were going to be hitting up the water park – Summer Waves – and would probably spend all day there!
Reserving one of the park’s cabanas was AWESOME. We had a ‘home base’ right there in the park where we could put all our gear, take a nap, keep our food cold and sit and eat all together in the shade. There was indoor and outdoor seating, electrical outlets to recharge your phone after picture taking, and a ceiling fan to keep you cool. They even provided a cooler with ice-cold bottled water. Also it was right next to the bathrooms (YASSSS!) and included a special wristband that allowed you to skip the lines at the food spots! My dad really appreciated that 🙂
The kids love the park, but honestly my parents could not stop talking about how the cabana was the highlight.
Investing in those little extras allows all of us to have an enjoyable time and staying happy is priceless.
Always ask if the park or resort or activity center has a discount or perk for large groups. You never know if they have reserved spots or areas for you or share tips on how to navigate their activities.
KEEP ACCESSIBILITY IN MIND
Prior to my mom’s injury, I never really thought about checking for accessibility for those in wheelchairs or those who have special needs. I loved that I could do a lot of research ahead of time about Jekyll Island in terms of what my mom would and wouldn’t be able to do. I was actually surprised to know that she could do everything with us!
The beaches had a number you could call to get a beach wheelchair (she opted to use her own chair), the water park allowed her to go into their zero entry areas in her chair so she could interact with the kids, and they even had a lift for the lazy river.
She was able to go to all of the kids activities and we will always look back at those pictures of her and celebrate that she could be with us no matter what! That’s a good Nana right there 🙂
PLAN SPECIAL MOMENTS
Vacations are obviously full of special moments – some planned and some not. We wanted to plan a special outing for my dad and my oldest Will to do something William hasn’t done yet….play his first round of golf.
To brag on my dad for a hot second – he actually really loves golf and isn’t too shabby either. He plays on the Golf Channel Amateur Senior Tour and loves it. And since he had never played at Jekyll Island, he was excited at the chance to not only play but get to share that with his son-in-law and his grandson. Jekyll has four beautiful golf courses to choose from so this was the perfect opportunity for this outing.
Planning special moments like that are where you are creating the opportunity for memories to be made. I loved it too because I have these photos of my dad doing something he is passionate about doing. It’s hard to think that the grandparent generation isn’t with us forever and tomorrow we are just another day older…so I’m a big believer in doing the things you want to do TODAY.
Also, Will and Jeremy got their tails handed to them so that probably made my dad feel like a stud 🙂
CAPTURE THE MEMORIES
Another aspect of traveling with a bigger crew that we often forget is that it makes capturing the memories a little easier. When there are more hands available to snap a photo, it means that more of those sweet moments are captured. I am always so grateful when I see a photo of me with my babies but sometimes, we are in a rush. When there is a larger group, it seems like mentally we all slow down a bit and that rush turns into opportunity.
Also, with the bigger group, there are moments that I can run off and snap a photo without holding a child. It’s only possible because there are more adults present!
We always love going to Jekyll Island but we honestly had the best trip this time when it was a bit longer and included my parents. Multi-generational vacations are where it is at! We created so many sweet memories and loved each and every one!
If you are looking to visit Jekyll anytime soon, I highly recommend going to the upcoming Shrimp & Grits Festival in September! This free, family-friendly event was recently named “Best Festival in the Southeast” for the second time by the Southeast Festivals & Events Association. I can’t question that! We went last year and the food is unbelievable. I say that it ruined me for all future shrimp and grits 🙂 Plus there were tons of fun things for the kids and grandparents’. It’s a great time for all ages.
I hope you got some great tips from this post and good luck with planning your own multi-generational vacation!