A multigenerational trip for the ages

This tradition began long before the family grew so big. Jack and Marianne Marraccini first went to Aruba in 2003 and fell in love. They purchased a condo in less than a week.

“No matter when you go, the weather is always the same,” Marianne Marraccini told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Returning twice every year, the couple devotes their second vacation week to family. As the grandkids have aged, the experience has evolved for everyone.

“It’s fun to find out what interests the kids every year, watching them experience the sights and how they grow,” Jack Marraccini said.

Zara is a seventh grader and Roman is a second grader. They’ve been making an annual trip to Aruba since they were in diapers.

Creating this tradition has been crucial to the Marraccini crew because of the memories. Going back to the same place every year has allowed the family to establish a comfort zone when traveling. Now, Arbua is their go-to spot, which lessens travel anxiety and enables them to sink right into the trip without adjusting to being in a new place.

“This is a week that’s only about us, with really good family time and no distractions from friends, neighbors, or even phone calls,” Jack Marraccini said.

What’s even better for the family is that Aruba isn’t that far away. The Caribbean island is a short flight that, according to Jack Marraccini, is always full of happy people. Since Aruba’s primary industry is tourism, the plane is almost always full of vacationing passengers. Once they all arrive, the Marraccini family focuses on favorite activities, which include swimming, playing bingo around the pool, visiting the local butterfly farm and taking stock of all the growth and change on the island. In the end though, Jack and Marianne Marraccini enjoy seeing the experience hold more value for their grandkids as they get older.

“It gets better for us every year, and we hope it’s the same for the kids. Aruba will be “the trip” as long as everyone is able to go.” Jack Marraccini said.

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Ready to hit the water, and enjoy some quality time kayaking (from left) Wendy Cocke, Lily Cocke, Andy Cocke, Kathy Anderson and AJ Cocke secure their lifejackets and grab some paddles.

Credit: Courtesy of Wendy Cocke

Credit: Courtesy of Wendy Cocke

Ready to hit the water, and enjoy some quality time kayaking (from left) Wendy Cocke, Lily Cocke, Andy Cocke, Kathy Anderson and AJ Cocke secure their lifejackets and grab some paddles.

Credit: Courtesy of Wendy Cocke

Credit: Courtesy of Wendy Cocke

Kathy Andersons’ family travels to the Florida Panhandle

Family life for Kathy Anderson is a bit different. When it comes to vacation planning with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandkids, all she has to do is walk next door.

Anderson lives with her own mother, Katherine Craige. Affectionally known as MaMaw, Craige is 93. She joins in on the family trips but isn’t as involved with the planning.

When Anderson, aka Nana, is ready to plan a vacation, she begins the conversation with her daughter, Wendy Cocke.

“We love going to the beach and mountains; places where we can rent a house, have fun, and have our own space,” Anderson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The family tries to maintain a no-hotel policy.

This fall, everyone is piling into their cars for a trip to St. George Island in the Florida Panhandle. Anderson and Craige will spend a month there, while Cocke, her husband, and two children will make two visits timed to school holidays.

“Our normal activity is to sit on the beach or go to the pool. We like kayaking with dolphins, riding bikes, and eating ice cream as well,” Anderson said.

Being together at home, and while on vacation, Anderson and Cocke implement a helpful tag-team system to make sure the kids are always covered. At home, the kids will walk over to Nana’s for a sleepover most weekends. On vacation, each adult takes a chunk of time to focus on the kids so the other can have a moment to alone.

“Being on vacation just feels different than the kids coming over from next door,” Anderson said.

Cocke also confirms that the kids don’t function as well without Nana at the beach, thanks to the strong connection they all share from getting to spend so much time together.

“I love just being with the kids and sharing in their adventures,” Anderson said.

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For some, casual vacationing near a beach is ideal, but other local families hope to have a little more structure worked into their multigenerational trips.

A special grandparent-grandchild trip

Lawrence Baker and his wife are taking two of their grandkids on a special trip this year organized by Roads Scholar. The company offers a variety of coordinated trips, some just for adults and others specifically for grandparents and grandkids. Baker and his wife Suzanne Baker are taking an adult-only trip to Ireland in 2023 but decided to look into options for a special grandkid trip this fall.

“We wanted a trip with less variation in age and for younger children,” Lawrence Baker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The family selected a Plymouth trip for kids 7-10 since both of the grandkids joining them are 8.

“My wife was immediately attracted to the idea of ​​going to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Growing up, her father frequently said there were parts of the family descended from the original pilgrims and Native Americans,” Lawrence Baker said.

The family looks forward to touring the Mayflower, heading to a few museums, taking a marine biology lab study cruise, and going whale watching. For Baker and his wife, this trip also gives them a chance to form a closer bond with the grandkids traveling with them. Taking Eli and Eva, who are two of six grandkids, also allows the cousins ​​to bond.

“Even though we saw them almost weekly, we wanted to spend special time with them,” Lawrence Baker said. “Sharing a special experience with them should be more memorable than day-to-day interactions.”

Unlike with other vacations, the Bakers have someone else doing all the planning, reducing the stress for this family trip.

“Road Scholar is so organized that coordinating has been relatively easy,” Lawrence Baker said.

His biggest concern: simply keeping everyone healthy leading up to departure day.


Travel expert Tamara Jacobs of Destinations by Tamara offers some tips on planning a multigenerational trip.

Credit: Courtesy of Tamara Jacobs

Travel expert Tamara Jacobs of Destinations by Tamara offers some tips on planning a multigenerational trip.

Credit: Courtesy of Tamara Jacobs

Travel expert Tamara Jacobs of Destinations by Tamara offers some tips on planning a multigenerational trip.

Credit: Courtesy of Tamara Jacobs

Credit: Courtesy of Tamara Jacobs

Multigenerational travel tips

These helpful travel tips come courtesy of Tamara Jacobs at Destinations by Tamara. Picking the right destination, according to Jacobs, means talking about the trip with the family to ensure everyone has fun and gets excited about what’s to come.

  • Start planning early and talk about what each person wants to get out of the trip.
  • Make sure the destination has something for everyone.
  • Have a budget conversation that includes who’s paying for what.
  • Talk about a schedule, but don’t plan every moment.
  • Organize any special celebrations that may be the reason for the trip like a birthday or anniversary.
  • Pick a central decision-maker who handles all the details.
  • Consider all-inclusive trips — there’s something for everyone, including kid camps.
  • Cruises are also great for multigenerational vacations.
  • Travel together and think about wearing the same color shirt so it’s easy to stay together.
  • Institute the buddy system for boarding to make sure everyone gets on the plane.
  • Pack a lot of snacks for kids and adults.
  • Collect all travel documents and make sure every person has the required materials, such as their passport.
  • Fly direct whenever possible and try to have everyone get TSA PreCheck.
  • Check luggage; it’s easier with big groups.
  • Coordinate travel from the airport to your final destination in advance.
  • Get travel insurance that’s separate for every household.

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