1. SKIP-GEN OR GRAMPING

Family life is busy. Remedy: skip-gen or gramping vacations. Parents get a break and grandparents and grandkids get to know each other without the filter of mom or dad on the scene. Grandparents: take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with your grandkids. Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic or rural neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or visit the old stomping grounds. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there than what they’ll find in school books. And, remember, you are part of their history.

2. MILESTONE MOMENTS

Planning ahead to celebrate birthdays, graduations, retirements and anniversaries can be an important touchstone and meaningful part of a family’s legacy. With plenty of advance notice, the odds increase that more family members will be able to take part in the fun. Consider a cruise or an all-inclusive resort for your gathering. You’ll find a long list of intriguing itineraries and appealing destinations from which to choose. With activities to engage every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater (and plenty of volume to satisfy hungry teens) you’re sure to see smiles all around. Separate sleeping quarters provide the privacy and flexibility required for early birds, nappers and night owls.

3. ROCK STAR RELATIVES

Are you an amazing aunt, an unbelievable uncle or a cool cousin? Perhaps your birdlings have flown the nest or your own kids have fur and four legs. Either way, you may want to join the increasing number of relatives choosing to explore the world with youngsters as their trusty travel companions. Share your passion to fish or hike, learn a new skill together or plan a mutually engaging adventure to a National Park or a far-off land. You’re certain to return with a deeper bond and memories to share for a lifetime.

4. FAMILY REUNION

The true value of a family gathering has less to do with boarding a snazzy cruise ship or checking in to a faraway resort. That option might not be in the cards for your crew right now. It’s more about the quality of a shared experience. So, whether you are planning a small gathering in a state park picnic area or a mass meeting of the clan, organization will be key. Gather input regarding a budget, destination and lodging preferences, activities and meal planning. Get a date on the calendar as soon as possible. Communicate well and often. Keep your sense of humor at the ready and be grateful that at least some portion of your family is eager to spend time together.

5. LIKE FAMILY

With relatives spread far and wide, our best friends often become “like family.” Traveling with another crew, particularly one with children of similar ages and interests, can be fun and festive. Still, proper planning can go a long way toward keeping relationships and expectations intact. Family groups often choose to share a ski cabin, beach house or urban condo. That can mean divvying expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated with a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets underway. No matter how much you enjoy your vacation buddies, carve out private time with your own family. You’ll be glad you did.

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (www.LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and explorer.

Tribune Wire

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