Intergenerational travel is a bonding experience, the stuff of family lore. It’s an opportunity to pass along core values, skills, and interests, embedding them in the context of experiential travel. Whether a grandparent-grandchild experience or inclusive of parents as well, it is something unique. It has never been done exactly as you will do it and it will never be exactly replicated. You own it along with your children, grandchildren or whoever makes up the family tribe on this adventure. Intergenerational travel is about gifting an experience, not a physical, shiny thing. If you are not yet convinced it is the best gift you can offer your family, read on…
You’re making that ‘remember when’ moment happen
There are a lot of ways to make ‘remember when’ happen – big trip or small, expensive or budget-minded, a weekend or longer time commitment. With young children you’ll want to include the parents. Somebody is always crying (or enjoying dessert) and you just don’t want to manage that on your own.
On the other hand, you’re the built-in babysitter so the parents get out for a well-deserved evening out. See? Everybody wins.
Personally, my experience is with toddler – and under 10 – families. I treated one family in my tribe, with a toddler and new-born, for a long weekend in a rented cottage. We went berry picking…
and visited a petting farm to feed young goats.
For me, the ” I’ll remember this” moment was clamoring through the grounds…hiking sticks in hand…
And ending up in “Gran’s House”, my very own twig lean-to.
Sure, I’ll remember with greater clarity than my two-year-old grandson companion but in the moment, it was high adventure. Somebody invites you into their imaginary world with “sit here”, believe me, you sit. Happily.
More sophisticated travel, one-on-one, that they WILL remember lies in the future.
I was surprised recently when my 30-something son reminisced fondly about an Alaska cruise with his grandparents when he was 12 or so, his brother slightly older. Upon return, of course, it was “great!” — the highlight being a side trip to the Mendenhall Glacier with his grandfather. Yet twenty-plus years later, to hear the retrospective memory of glacier-chasing was touching. I made a silent pledge to follow suit, starting now.
2. It’s not technology; it’s warm, personal and YOU.
Skip the temptation of playing the holiday hero with a tech gift. Let somebody else get the iPad. Insert yourself into the equation; your focused attention is the secret sauce. Whether you see your family weekly or if distance makes visits infrequent, your initiative and commitment to making this happen won’t be lost on the next generation. And the younger ones will be simply thrilled.
Concerned there won’t be “anything” under the tree?
Of course there will – a big (or small) box to announce your intention. Include some brochures if you have a destination in mind (e.g. “beach house weekend”) but you know what will work best for your gang. This is about your gift, and if there are some loose ends, well, you are excused for not having all the detail in a time period divisible by nano-seconds.
Besides, a good part of the fun – and much of the anticipation – is in the planning. Engage them, at least on big picture stuff. I reckon you’ll pick up some valuable tips from the digital jockey in your family, probably the pre-teen. Sometimes the best memories begin with a Google search.
3. Start young – and it needn’t break the bank
I hope you’re getting the drift that this is a habit for a lifetime, and it’s never too early to start. In fact it’s easier to accomplish before demands on the older kids’ time overwhelm scheduling.
The price range is all over the map but there is a whole lot less stress with keeping it simple. Choose a destination that is easy to reach and a time period that doesn’t require all the parents’ vacation days. I mean, they love you, but…..
For example, a weekend intergenerational ski getaway with young ones can fit the bill just as well as a more exotic destination.
Last winter I witnessed my 2-year-old granddaughter make her awkward debut on the slopes with her dad…
while her brother wobbled down the hill in his season opener.
I was there to record for posterity and savor the time together.
Believe me, no one cared it was Pennsylvania rather than St. Moritz. It was close by, an hour away, and easy to organize – an important factor for busy young families.
And did I say how much fun it was to be part of it all? With an après ski orange juice?
What are your favorite intergenerational travel memories?
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