Some of my fondest childhood memories include traveling with my slightly quirky grandmother. She was a travel agent (as is my mother), so you could say I was born into the travel business. My grandmother introduced me to my love of archaeology and history by taking me to Roman ruins along the Mediterranean coastline and prehistoric caves on Mt. Carmel in Israel. At the time, I'm not sure I totally appreciated the inter-generational bonding aspect of the trips, but in retrospect they provided a special traveling foundation for me and my siblings.
Now that I am a parent, I am looking forward to my children being able to experience the same travel opportunities with their grandparents.
Intergenerational travel is now one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry with a number of companies offering packages specifically designed towards this niche market.
One of the preferred options for many intergenerational vacations is cruising. Although cruise lines may not have specific marketing campaigns towards grandparents and grandchildren, not only can it be an affordable option, but also a safe and secure environment with plenty of facilities, activities and dining options to suit all age groups. Many cruise companies also offer significant discounts for multiple cabin bookings or for more than two people in a cabin (i.e. triple or quad share). Cruises For Families (tel. 877/386-9243; www.cruisesforfamilies.com) has a "Cruising With Grandchildren:" section and can arrange your intergenerational cruise to a multitude of destinations. Or alternatively, try calling one of the specialists at Cruise.com (tel. 888/333-3116; www.cruise.com) for information about which ships have the best facilities to cater to your grandchildren's needs, wishes and desires.
Elder Hostel (tel. 877/426-8056; www.elderhostel.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing extraordinary travel and learning adventures for people 55 and over, currently offers 44 intergenerational travel programs both within the US and abroad. Many are budget options that cover the spectrum of cultural, outdoors, adventure and special interest trips. Their six-night "Tall Ship Adventure: Southern California Sailing" is priced at $721 per person and includes three meals per day while you sail the coastal waters of Southern California, including Santa Catalina and the Channel Islands. Professional crew members provide instruction and participants help sail the ship and stand watch. Prior sailing experience is not required. This trip is suitable for youth ages 12 to 18 and helps them develop awareness, communication skills, teamwork and a positive attitude. All accommodation is in single berths with shared facilities. This trip departs on March 24, 2006.
Their "Intergenerational Safari: Botswana's Wilderness, Zambia's Culture" is a spectacular 14-day adventure into the heartland of Botswana and Zambia. The tour includes airfare to Maun (Botswana), ground transportation to D'Kar (Kalahari), 4x4 vehicle transport to Moremi Game Reserve, airfare to Chobe Game Reserve (Kasane), ferry ride to Upper Zambezi area (Zambia), airfare to Livingstone and back to Johannesburg. Visit a variety of wildlife reserves and national parks and observe bountiful wildlife in its natural untamed habitat. Priced at $5,005 per person, this trip includes 36 meals (12 breakfasts, 12 lunch and 12 dinners), accommodation in comfortable private, tented safari camps, four-star lodges and chalets. This intergenerational program is geared towards Elderhostelers and kids 12-14 years old and the trip departs on June 21, 2006. International airfare is additional.
"The Vikings Are Coming By Sea" is a two week program that focuses on Denmark's Viking period from two perspectives: by land and by sea. Be introduced to the Vikings and Danish history from the Stone Age and explore central Jutland. Board a traditional schooner and sail along the Ise and Roskilde fjords of North Zealand and along the way discover old Viking haunts, historic landmarks, and the region's wildlife, archeology and history. A special feature is learning about the ship and having opportunities to assist with sailing. This program is designed for Elderhostelers and children 10 to 12 years old and is priced at $3,125 per person. This price also includes 32 meals and 12-nights' accommodation. This unique adventure departs on June 24, 2006. International airfare is additional.
Generations Touring Company (tel. 888-415-9100; www.generationstouringcompany.com) features a "Baseball's Sacred Grounds" tour which is an appealing travel idea for baseball fans of any age. Your grandkids will love you forever when you take them on this seven-day tour to the homes of the greatest rivalry on baseball -- the Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees. Next year this tour will run from July 27 to August 2 and will include visits to New York, Boston and Cooperstown -- the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Enjoy a tour of Yankee Stadium, dine with a sportswriter, watch the Red Sox and Yankees game, visit famous Fenway Park, lunch at Quincy Market and a tour the Baseball Hall of Fame
Approximate price of this tour is $2,499 per adult and $2,199 per child based on double share, $2,399 for triple share or $2,249 for a quad share (final price to be determined by the official price of next season's baseball ticket). These prices include six-nights' accommodations, entry tickets, ground transportation, one lunch, two dinners and daily breakfasts. Transport to New York and from Boston is additional.
Their nine-day "Pura Vida" trip to Costa Rica will introduce the young and the young at heart to a world of exotic wildlife. See toucans, monkeys, butterflies and frogs, visit the colorful Farmer's Market, take a boat ride deep into the rainforest and watch Atlantic sea turtles nesting, hike through the ecologically diverse Arenal Volcano National Park, tour the Monteverde cloud forest and Butterfly Farm and play soccer with Costa Rican school children.
Costa Rica tours depart on July 21, July 29 and August 5, 2006, and cost $2,599 per adult in a double room, $2,499 in a triple, $2,399 in a quad and $2,099 per child under 12. Prices include eight-nights' accommodations, ground transportation, entrance fees and three meals per day on all but the first and last days. International airfare is additional.
Larry and Jill Tours (tel. 817/545-0975; www.larryandjilltours.com) is running a "Families Only" tour to Bavaria (Germany) from July 8 to 22, 2006. The tour coincides with a special children's festival and is recommended for grandparents with one or two grandchildren only. The trip is priced at $2,800 per person for the first two adults in each room and $650 per child. Included in the cost of the trip is 13-nights' hotel accommodations -- one room per family, 12 breakfasts, welcome dinner in Bacharach, farewell dinner in Munich, admission and guided tour of Neuschwanstein castle and Berg Eltz castle, a horse drawn carriage, round-trip cog wheel train and cable car to Zugspitze, tickets for the Children's Pageant and seats for the Parade in Dinklesbuhl and all ground transportation. International airfare is additional.
Have you traveled with your grandparents or grandkids? Tell us about the trip on our Family Message Boards today.