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Family Vacations After the Kids Grow Up

Tips on structuring the perfect family vacation - when everyone's grown up

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Family putting suitcases in car ready for holiday
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Just because the kids are grown doesn't mean you have to give up family vacations. In fact, as many parents of young adults already know, an increasing number of families with teens, college kids and 20somethings continue to vacation together. These trips are "more a luxury than an obligation" to a cash-strapped young adult, says travel guru Donna Airoldi of TravelMuse.com, but there's more at work here than finances. Today's parents are far more involved in their children's lives than previous generations, and many young adults are discovering that working life interferes with family time. They may not be able to get home, for example, for Thanksgiving, so vacation time becomes a chance to reconnect with parents and siblings. Question is, how do you plan a family trip that appeals to everyone?

  • Location, location, location: When the kids were little, vacations probably revolved around amusement parks, wading pools and a museum-free existence. But college kids and 20somethings are adventuresome travel companions. They love physical adventure, cultural immersion, fine dining, cool shopping and nightlife. They may enjoy some beach time, but they want to mix that with ziplines, surfing and kayaking - activities, notes Airoldi, that are “great for 20s and parents in their 50s” too. Bustling cities, such as New York, Seattle and Montreal are all great choices - check out the "5 Great Vacations for Families with Young Adults" list. So are areas with voluntourism and educational opportunities. Cooking classes in Tuscany, anyone? Or tango lessons in Buenos Aires?

  • Home base: Hotels are fine, but don't even think, says Airoldi, of trying to save money by putting everyone in one room! A better option for families with grown kids may be a villa, condo or apartment rental in a central location, so everyone can get around on foot or via public transportation. Rentals tend to be less expensive and more comfortable than booking a series of hotel rooms. There's plenty of room for lounging and sleeping, and a kitchen gives you the thrifty option of cooking some of your meals. Try Vacation Rentals by Owners, Homeaway.com or simply Google the name of the city and the words "vacation rental" to find city-specific possibilities.

  • Scheduling: You've picked a great city with ample opportunities for entertainment, now let everyone enjoy it. Don't overschedule your time, says Airoldi. Plan on some togetherness, but realize that half the fun lies in spontaneity. You're traveling with grown-ups now.
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