Mastering multi-generational travel

The Trip Sisters give their top tips on how to plan a vacation that keeps everyone in your family healthy and happy.

Sisters Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh smile at the camera with their arms around each other's shoulders.
Catie Keogh (left) and Colleen Kelly (right) have turned their family trips into a travel empire. Image credit: supplied

Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh, otherwise known as the Trip Sisters, know their way around family vacations of all kinds. On Thursday they spoke to Blacklane in an Instagram Live interview to share how they’re tackling family trips this year.

Choose the type of trip carefully

When traveling with several branches of the family tree, it’s paramount to find a travel style — and energy level — that everyone will be comfortable with.

“We love traveling with our parents, you know a multi-gen, but that can be very different from traveling with our kids. Last year, we were just looking back on this month, and we went to Iceland, Ireland, and Turks and Caicos with all of the kids in one month, and it was very adventurous and fun. So those are the kinds of things we do with the kids, whereas Ireland we go with our mother,” said Kelly.

Limit your contact with others

Camper vans and RVs are the perfect way to transport a big family which social distancing. Image credit: iStock/dan_prat

For the Trip Sisters, the solution to traveling with their children, parents, two dogs, and a new cat in the time of COVID-19 is a large RV.

“We’ve all been so cooped up, we’re all just dying to get on the road, and that’s one way to kind of stay relatively safe and keep within your own family,” said Kelly.

“For us, we want to be out there showing people what to do, but we also want to be safe… We’re going to explore the RV, we’re contemplating flying because our trip may be out west, so the question is do you fly or do you drive,” said Keogh. “Bottom line, it’s shorter tips until we get through this, and we will get through it for sure, we just need to be safe.”

“A lot of people are staying in a big house, like an Airbnb. That’s also another option for people because you’re not in a hotel, you’re not around other people,” said Kelly.

Keeping away from crowds doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some stunning settings.

“That’s what we need to embrace this year, nature,” said Keogh.

Some of the Trip Sisters’ favorite destinations to soak up the greenery include Colorado, Maine, and Park City, Utah.

Park City, Utah’s surrounding mountains make it ideal for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. Image credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

Take breaks from each other

Being in close quarters with your family can be trying, but Kelly and Keogh say that keeping things copacetic is all about carving out some “me” time.

“Airpods are great, because if you’re in an RV you’re right there with everybody, and that kind of brings you into your own little zone. Watching a Netflix show or something like that… also once you park just getting outside and doing your own activity,” said Kelly.

“After a few hours we all do need our downtime. So, I would say try to go for a walk, listen to your airpods, and just try to find some space and have just a few minutes alone,” said Keogh.

Be prepared to switch things up

“This is a great tip I heard, which is to travel at night. If you’re doing a longer distance, if you have little kids, travel at night because they won’t have to go to the bathroom as much and you can kind of drive through as parents,” said Keogh. “You really need to be flexible too, because you might be planning to go somewhere like Florida, and it’s a hotspot now. So, learning to be flexible.”

“And know the cancellation policies,” added Kelly.

For travel in the United States, Keogh highly recommends checking Harvard’s risk level assessment map for the latest on where and where not to go.

Use a travel advisor

Even before the precariousness of traveling now, travel advisors were a key component of the sisters’ toolkit for multi-generational travel.

“My mom would have all these questions, so the travel advisor was able to answer the questions and set us up an itinerary. The best part, though, is that if something got canceled you could just call her up immediately and she would have the inside scoop on how to get yourself a refund or whatever it is that you needed,” said Kelly.

“At the end of the day you have someone in your corner who’s going to go to bat for you,” said Keogh.

While they acknowledged the deals and ease of do-it-yourself sites like Expedia or Orbis, Kelly and Keogh said that travel advisors will have even better deals. 

If you do find a good deal online, Kelly suggested calling the hotel directly to ask if they would match that deal. Since third-party aggregators charge a fee for their services, the hotel will likely be more than willing to give you a great price directly rather than go through the platform. 

Plus, as hotels often reserve particular rooms for third-party bookings, you could end up with a better room by booking directly or having a travel advisor do so on your behalf.

Stay on the ground

“Personally, right now, I would choose the Blacklane chauffeur service because I am a little afraid of getting on a plane right now, I’m just not totally secure about it,” said Kelly.

Blacklane’s city-to-city rides are a great alternative to a crowded train or short-haul flight, and with rigorous health and safety standards, you can rest assured you and your family will be well taken care of.

Take a grab-bag of health equipment

“If you’re doing a short-term trip, just make sure you have an essential bag with you. Latex gloves, hand sanitizer that has alcohol over 60%, masks… If you have kids I would check in with their doctors, make sure they’re up to date with their vaccines. If you have elderly people consider a COVID test before traveling,” said Keogh.

“If you’re traveling to Europe make sure you bring medications. It can be difficult, especially if there’s a language barrier, to get medications so I always bring a little back-up kit,” said Kelly.

To keep up with their family RV trip, follow the Trip Sisters on Instagram, and check out their podcast.