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Surviving a Tri-Generational Trip to Ireland

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Traveling with anyone can be challenging, whether it’s a partner or your family. Only if it doesn’t work out, you can’t exactly break up with your family when you return – you are sort of stuck with them. What happens when your trip involves multiple generations to an international destination? Is it possible to keep everyone happy without going insane? The short answer is yes, but it isn’t always easy.  Jennifer Evans Gardner reports on surviving her multi-generational trip to Ireland.

I just returned from a trip to Ireland with my 76-year-old mother, who has mobility issues, and 14-year-old son, who has “teenager issues.” As one of the millions of families around the world who identify as being “part Irish,” we had always wanted to travel to Ireland, so when we heard about the upcoming “Gathering 2013,” decided that this was the time.

With three different generations, we had different schedules, different interests and dare I say it – different hormones; so it could have been a nightmare. Simply driving on the left side of the road in the rain could have caused nasty, stress-induced squabbles, but miraculously we got through it. We visited the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, the shops of Galway, Abbeyglen Castle and the hills of Connemara, the romantic Kylemore Abbey and the magical Ashford Castle – all without a single whine. We listed to traditional music in pubs, ate oysters and fish n’ chips in Clarinbridge, and took in the sights and sounds of Dublin. And we all had fun. How, you ask? Lucky for you, I took notes.

Top Ten Tips

1. If Possible, Break up Your Trip

While some people have no problem with an 11 or 12-hour flight, elderly people and young children don’t do so well, and cranky people can ruin your trip. Since my mom lives in Tulsa, and my son and I in Los Angeles, we met in Boston, got a great night’s sleep; then took a quick 5-hour flight to Shannon.

2. Decide ahead of Time who is the Navigator and who is the Driver.

Make sure you put someone in charge who can actually READ the map. Six-year-olds and half-blind octogenarians aren’t good ideas. Better yet, print out all Mapquest or Google directions (or program your GPS) ahead of time.

3. Be Patient

Not everyone walks as fast as you do! Practice the art of meditation while you take a few steps and pause, waiting for your mother, grandmother or 4-year-old. You’ll be waiting a lot on this trip, so bring a book.

4. Snore Alert!

Book a room with adjoining doors, if possible. The “triple room” and “family room” at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel and Ashford Castle saved our lives. If you cannot get a triple or a family room, bring earplugs. You might also need an eye mask in case someone wants to leave the light on to read.

5. Share

Entrees can be too large for both the kids and grandma, and can easily be shared. Sharing not only helps your pocketbook, it helps your waistline, too.