Just mention “unplugged vacations” to your multigenerational family and you’ll likely receive loud groans, eye rolls, and maybe even a “hell no” from your adult kids. But seriously, give it a try. Nothing brings a family together more than unplugged vacations, but before you get started consider these tips for your next unplugged multigenerational family vacations.
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Tips for Unplugged Multigenerational Family Vacations
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Our blended family consists of eight grandchildren and five adult kids along with their spouses and significant others, and we are all spread out across Colorado and Oregon. Hopping in the car to drive to rented vacation homes naturally became the best way to host our multigenerational family vacations.
And as the grandchildren grow older and the adult kids are now busy with work and family commitments, getting together gets quite complicated.
The older grandchildren are now teens, and even mentioning an unplugged vacation is greeted with moans, groans, and continuous eye rolls, right? To be fair, both my husband and I also may be guilty of checking Facebook too often, and in my case, opening up my email to keep a check on my self-employed workflow.
We all need a little less screen time…
But unplugged family vacations don’t have to be equivalent to no phone at all – because honestly, we (even grandparents) all need a little less screen time.
No surprise then that the American Psychological Association’s 2017 “Stress in America” study cited an astounding 65 percent of Americans agreeing that “digital detox” promotes better mental health. Further supporting that trend, the 2019 Alamo Rent A Car Family Vacation Survey revealed 91 percent of families find the idea of an “unplugged” family vacation appealing.
To ease your family into the unplugged mode, here are tips to keep everyone happy during those travel times and multigenerational unplugged family vacations.
1. Make Your Unplugged Vacations Social
“If you can’t beat’em join ‘em” and that’s even truer in today’s social media-driven society. Pre-planning is the key to any multigenerational family travel as we all have our own agendas, what we really want to do and see, and activity level. But when planning an unplugged vacation, it can get even more complicated.
Instead of starting a vacation with a negative vibe, keep it fun and positive by hosting a pre-family dinner or get-together at least two months before departure. Then as a family, download the Alamo’s fun Custom Phone Lock-Screen Wallpapers and/or the Custom Facebook Profile Frames. (All of these are located here on Alamo’s Unplugged Vacation Toolkit.)
Discuss the unplugged vacation scheduled and be clear about your reasons for wanting an unplugged vacation. Perhaps the biggest reason in our family is to truly have uninterrupted family time – and to be wholly present when those happen.
Be firm about the unplugged vacation schedule, when and where it’s okay to pull out the cell phone or computer and log-in to check what’s happening back home or at work.
Unplugged Vacation at Walt Disney World? Yes, You Can!
My first unplugged vacation was initiated by my two grandkids while exploring Walt Disney World. I was on assignment for TravelingMom, and I admit it…I can get a bit obsessive about photo opportunities and videos. After a long day in meetings, I had promised my two grandkids that just the three of us — without the pressure of my fun job and the pressures to get all the photos.
This all went down at the entrance to their favorite Disney theme park, Hollywood Studios. Once we arrived, I told them I would take one photo of us now, and put my phone away. Seriously…this was the most fun we had together, riding the coasters, taking the Twilight Zone plunge, laughing so hard we cried. I want a do-over!
2. Remember to Be Flexible
Okay, sure you’re embarking on an unplugged family vacation, but remember to be flexible. It is a FAMILY vacation. Memories can be both good…and unfortunately bad, especially with kids.
We recently enjoyed a multigenerational family vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii and rented a vacation home with that flexibility in mind. The house included a bedroom for the grandparents, the parents, and our two grandkids – and Wi-Fi.
We had preplanned a rather “loose” from of unplugged, choosing to take the phones when we embarked on a sunset cruise to capture some of our most favorite photos. And surprisingly, we left our phones in the house, unplugging while enjoying the outdoor pool and living space… and challenging each other to Monopoly. (For the record, this Grammie is the winner!)
Another unplugged family vacation was a little more accidental when we visited the Mt. Hood Territory and rented a beautiful mountain home, a little off the beaten path. The Wi-Fi was sketchy at best, but this turned into some of my best memories with my four grandchildren from Oregon, and my road-tripping-from-Colorado grandson (and my daughter and her hubby).
3. Choose the Right Unplugged Family Vacations
It’s easy to be unplugged when your family vacation is amazingly awesome or when it’s a bit off-the-grid. Both types of vacations make it a bit easier to unplug and get into the magic of making memories.
Road Trips: Perfect Unplugged Vacations
I love traveling by car, and with some of our grandkids here in Colorado, and the others in Oregon, that is less cost prohibitive than booking flights for the entire multigenerational family. It also contributes to unplugged as you’re driving in and out of cell coverage.
When that happens, take advantage of the unplugged moments by playing car games or just talking with the family. Find out what makes them tick – get to know those grandkids in this perfect moment. But then let go of the unplugged notion when cell service returns so the kids can catch up with their friends.
Unplugged When Renting Vacation Homes
As mentioned above, I’m a fan of renting vacation homes for multigenerational family vacations as everyone gets their own space and then comes together into the family space.
For a winter ski trip, we rented The Overlook, a family-friendly house in Grand Lake that slept up to 22, and we filled it with our blended family. Yes, there were times that we all had our noses in our phones. Yet the atmosphere quite simply created unplugged family moments as we all came together in the kitchen and living space.
Take the Alamo’s Unplugged Vacation Pledge
Our partner Alamo created an awesome unplugged family vacation pledge that we’d love to share with you and your crew. It’s as easy-peasy! Take the pledge to limit phone use during your vacation — and have everyone in the family agree to it and sign it. Either download this ready-made PDF or use it as inspiration to write out your own pledge. And add your commitment to Facebook.
The bottom line? Once you commit to an unplugged multigenerational family vacation, you’ll realize just how much you’ve been missing! Take the #unpluggedvacationchallenge!
What are your tips for creating a successful unplugged family vacation? Please share with us in the comments below.
For more travel inspiration, be sure to check out Alamo Rent A Car’s Scenic Route.