You want different things, but the end goal is the same.

By Kelsey Ogletree
February 27, 2020

If you’ve ever booked a trip with your parents as an adult (and chances are you have since as much as 40% of leisure travel now is multigenerational, according to Family Travel Association), you may have found planning it all a bit trickier than coordinating a trip with your spouse or with friends. AARP’s new 2020 Travel Trends report lays out many ways that Millennials and Boomers differ when they travel, all of which can affect how you plan a trip together. Read on for tips on how to plan a mother-daughter trip that will satisfy the wanderlust in both of you, while staying true to what matters most. “Regardless of age, we continue to see across all generations… that spending time with family and friends, escaping from everyday life and catching up on some R&R are the real souvenirs for families,” says Patty David, director of consumer insight for AARP.

Credit: gradyreese/Getty Images

Talk About Budget Upfront

According to the AARP report, Boomers plan to spend an average of $7,800 on trips this year (up from $6,600 in 2019), that's the most of any generation. They’re spending on higher-quality accommodations, more activities, longer stays and more expensive destinations. Millennials, on the other hand, tend to spend less on travel (about $4,400 this year). Be sure to have the budget conversation with Mom at the beginning of planning, determining what you can afford while balancing her expectations for the trip. (Psst! Booking through Costco can actually save you money on trips—here’s how.)

Consider going abroad. Don’t assume a quick road trip is all Mom’s looking for in a getaway. Half of all Boomer travelers anticipate taking an international trip or two this year, with European destinations such as Paris, London, and Barcelona, and tropical Aruba, drawing the most interest among this generation. Mexico is another popular destination on the rise. Boomers are also more likely to want to plan “bucket list” trips, such as visiting a country of their family’s heritage (such as Ireland) or heading Down Under to Australia, while they are in good health—so now may be the time to take the plunge.

Don’t Overlook Cruises

One-fourth of all international trips among Boomers will be taken via a cruise this year, in part because this generation enjoys the built-in entertainment (they don’t have to “go out” to find it), included meals and the fact that they can visit multiple destinations while only unpacking once. Cruises have surged in popularity among Millennials the last few years, too, with about 85% of this generation expressing an interest in cruise travel. This vacation option could be a good fit for both of you.

Share Planning Responsibilities

These days, it’s common to walk through an airport and find the vast majority of travelers (of all ages) staring down at their phone screens. A big difference with smartphones when it comes to planning travel, however, is that Millennials are using them to do nearly everything—including booking activities on trips—while Boomers tend to wait to lock down plans until they arrive at their destination.

With that in mind, consider alternating days of planning: Say, you plan a tour and a meal for the first day of your trip in advance of your travels, then let Mom plan the next day’s activities once you’ve gotten the lay of the land. (If you’re a Type A planner, you might even find spontaneous plans fun once in a while!)

Incorporate a Mix of Activities

A big difference between these two generations when it comes to travel is that Boomers travel to “see,” while Millennials travel to “do.” When planning a trip with Mom, first consider her physical stamina and strength. While you might be keen to explore all the parks and hidden nooks in Paris’ 1st Arrondissement, for example, she might be more content to spend an afternoon poking around inside the Louvre. According to the report, top activities for Boomers include dining out (with 57% of travelers planning to do this on a trip), followed by personal sightseeing (39%) and relaxing (30%).

Mix Up Navigation and Photo-Snapping Duties

While Millennials are likely to be posting daily recaps of a trip on Instagram Stories as they go, Boomers use their smartphones while traveling primarily to take photos (for their own remembrance), access maps, and to find restaurants and activities. (By the way, here’s what to do if your photos are taking up all the storage space on your phone.) If you’re keen on taking a live video while you traipse across the Brooklyn Bridge, for example, see if Mom will handle the navigation to get you where you’re going once you’re on the other side. Also, if you’re planning to post photos of Mom to social media, be sure to let her know and get her permission first, it’s a respectful thing to do, even if she is your mother.

Include Some Downtime

Along with spontaneous exploration, build some relaxation into your itinerary when traveling with a Boomer parent. For this older generation, quiet time is an important part of a vacation; whereas Millennials are more likely to take part in high-energy activities like walking food tours or thrilling experiences such as zip lines.

If you do decide to finally book that trip with Mom, it’s important to remember that the top reason that Boomers travel is to spend time with family and friends—followed by getting out of the daily grind, and relaxation and rejuvenation. That means that no matter what activities you do together or where you go, your main focus should be on nurturing your relationship. Take time to really talk and get to know each other better, making real memories, rather than simply flitting from one activity to the next. Making the effort to do so, combined with sharing experiences, will leave you both on a high following your trip and excited to plan the next one together.


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