San Diego, California Travel Agent
Multi-Generational Travel Agent
As a grandparent and someone who plans my own multigenerational travels, I know that a key motivation for grandparents is to get one-on-one time bonding with their children and grandchildren. My husband and I usually like to plan something enriching and educational, and most important to provide our families with experiences that they will remember for a lifetime.
I plan trips for families to destinations around the world, tailored to the ages and interests of the participants. Many clients come to me with a desire to go to a particular destination or take a specific kind of trip. My job is to make sure we plan a trip that everyone can enjoy. I have sent multi-gen family groups on safaris in Africa, to the capitals of Europe, and on expedition cruises in Alaska.
One thing I keep in mind is allowing for differences in energy and concentration levels. I am currently planning an expedition cruise to the Galapagos for a family of 12. There are lodges there, but on a cruise, they will see more and can travel effortlessly between the islands, generally at night, so they will maximize their time. Their ship offers excursions that cater to children as well as adults and less-active family members. So while some may choose to go out on glass-bottom boats, others might want to snorkel or do landings and hike, and everyone can meet up to dine together. A big plus is the naturalists and guest speakers, who gear their talks to appeal to all ages. Some sailings also feature photography specialists or ecologists who explain how the diversity of life that Darwin first discovered here is being preserved.
Alaska is another great destination for multigenerational cruising. My family recently cruised there on an expedition ship. I prefer these smaller ships because they can go into areas—for example in Glacier Bay--that the larger ships cannot. Instead of the waterslides and climbing walls of the mega-sized ships, expedition ships offer opportunities to take off in zodiacs for wildlife viewing or shore landings for hikes into the wilderness.
“Skip-Gen” travel, where grandparents travel with their grandchildren, is also growing in popularity. (Just be sure to get proper documentation if you plan to leave the U.S.) My husband and I first realized what a great idea it was about 20 years ago when we met grandparents who were traveling with their ten-year-old grandchild. They said they took each grandchild on a trip when they turned 10 because it is just old enough not to get homesick and to appreciate what they are seeing, but not yet at the age where they prefer to be with friends and think their grandparents are sticks in the mud.
My husband and I have done that with our grandchildren. We find that when we spend holidays and vacations with our extended family, it is wonderful to have everyone together but there is very little one-on-one time. Traveling with one grandchild at a time is very special for the child and for the grandparents. We let our grandchildren participate in picking where they want to go. We took our granddaughter to Paris and had lunch at the Jules Verne restaurant and we took our grandson zip-lining in Costa Rica, which he described that as “the best day of my life!”
Many of my clients are now doing the same thing. One is leaving for Paris this weekend with their granddaughter. While you have to be careful how much time you spend in a museum, there are special tours that cater to children. They might turn a museum visit or city tour into a clever treasure hunt that is fun for kids and adults.
Many grandparents plan an annual trip for the whole family. The benefits almost go without saying. Done right, these trips something everyone looks forward to and they are a wonderful way to keep everyone connected, especially for families spread out across the state or the country. The time together also allows cousins to develop close relationships and can foster a strong sense of family.