Going on holiday with my young children was simple.
Viewing wildlife was exciting, whether watching squirrels in a city park or orang-utans at the Singapore Zoo. They were not picky about where we travelled.
A holiday with twenty-somethings can require more planning. Choosing destinations that will keep older teens and ones in their twenties entertained is important.
A lovely resort on a small island was magical for my young sons. The children’s club was top-notch where they were exposed to Caribbean culture, songs and cooking.
The boys learned about marine life while strolling along the beach and the rainforest was their outdoor classroom.
Fast forward a decade. Two bored teens begged their former playroom teachers to let them come back with the little ones for various activities. Learned my lesson. We recently went to Dominican Republic which is a larger island with more action, such as zip-lining. There is the Water World complex which has marine life, events and a casino. They were pleased. The mountains were breath-taking and that alone was enough for me.
Our latest family trip to the Caribbean was a cruise. On quieter islands – more known for beaches than nightlife – my twenty something companions found entertainment on board.
There were shows, games, dancing, and staff who were their ages. My older son befriended two who worked in the Dutch Café. He had been to their homeland, The Netherlands, and enjoyed talking with them every evening over cappuccinos or beer.
These lively young adults were the highlight of my son’s cruise. At the beginning of a cruise, there is a gathering scheduled for singles. On a different one, it was for only twenty somethings and this group hung out together most of the time. A cruise is a good way to have a family reunion when there are three generations with various interests and energy levels.
Travelling with twenty somethings who have much younger siblings can be tricky. The islands that we explored have attractions for a wide variety of ages. The brightly painted buildings in Curaçao are stunning. Its city Willemstad, one of the larger ones we visited, has an aquarium and maritime museum which are appealing.
Wandering around the centuries old alleyways is an adventure in itself. The twenty somethings enjoyed the nightlife and the fireworks display. Aruba has a butterfly farm and a compact downtown area very close to the pier. Easy to navigate with a stroller and charming pubs with local brew for the young adults. We spent most of our time on Gran Turk at the beach. There is an informative exhibit of when astronaut John Glen landed here after being the first American to orbit Earth.
Bonaire is a paradise with water so clear one can look down and see beautiful tropical fish and coral. No wonder it is one of the dive capitals of the world. While older ones are part-taking in the plethora of water sports, the youngsters can splash around in the warm ocean. The shells, coral and beach glass washed ashore are amazing.
To get to the city (Kralendijk) from the pier, one goes through the historical Fort Oranje whose walls are partially constructed with coral. The shops and cafes contained within these walls are patrolled by iguanas. Kids of varying ages will enjoy the craft markets particularly on Dominican Republic and Bonaire. Talking to the locals and seeing their wares was educational and fun at these venues.
Look for resorts or hotels that have a kids ‘club, and activities, such as water sports. The older ones can learn surfing, go snorkelling and swim in deeper water. The wee ones enjoy sitting on the beach making sandcastles or playing with a plastic bucket and spade (which I would pack).
Friends have recommended an all-inclusive resort. The little ones are supervised and the older siblings are with their own peers. Mum or dad can sip a rum cocktail while soaking up the rays with a good book. There are excursions for families to local sites of interest. Twenty-somethings can have their own adventures yet still spend time with a parent.
Divorced parents sometimes travel with a paid nanny to take a child back for a nap, in order to continue exploring a locale with older offspring. Others like me, bring along a gran. My mother would get tired tramping around ruins and museum at about the same time as my youngest. Those two would head back to the hotel or ship for down time.
When travelling with family of vastly different ages, pack your sense of humour and curiosity. Leave expectations at home.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.