There is no better way to bond with your grandchildren than to share the experience of travel. Inter-generational travel creates memories that will last a lifetime and your adventures together will entertain, enthrall, and educate.
Since I first covered this topic back in 2005, the inter-generational travel trend has grown and is now considered quite mainstream. It seems appropriate to revisit the subject because many parents may be going through a stage where they feel they cannot take time off from jobs or cannot afford to actually get away with their kids this year. At the same time they don't want to deprive their children of the opportunity to explore the world and discover the joy of travel. Often grandparents do not live in the same city as their grandchildren so extended visits are rare. If the grandparents are up for it, inter-generational trips are the perfect solution and bonding exercise.
In theory, any trip can be an inter-generational one but the advantage of booking through a travel company that specializes in this type of vacation is that itineraries will be designed to appeal to both age groups and you'll be traveling with like-minded people. Many suggested destinations are exotic or once-in-a-lifetime adventures, while others may be right around the corner. The prices may be high and often the children's rates are the same or only slightly discounted versions of the adults, but ultimately the experience will be priceless. International airfares are always additional.
Elder Hostel (tel. 800/454-5768; www.elderhostel.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing extraordinary travel and learning adventures for older adults to more than 90 countries, currently offers a diverse range of grandparent travel opportunities (over a hundred individual trips) with local and international destinations plus various themes from history to sports, music to literature, and photography to science. Itineraries are very thorough and indicate the degree of physical activity involved with each trip (i.e. walking two miles, lots of standing etc.) so grandparents can make informed decisions if their mobility is limited.
Many are the tours are unique or specialized for particular children's age groups like the "Magical Oxford: From the Narnia Chronicles to Harry Potter" trip for grandparents and their grandchildren aged nine to 11. Embrace the magical worlds of Narnia, Alice's Wonderland, Middle Earth and Harry Potter's Hogwarts through this journey of enchanted Oxford. Explore locales and meet characters made famous by some of the world's most creative and intriguing authors -- Lewis Carroll, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, and Philip Pullman. Adults engage in a writer's pub trail in the footsteps of authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, while children take storytelling, map making and drama workshops with local writers and actors. The tours depart on June 21, July 14, and July 28, 2009 and costs $2,975 per person (adult or child). The trip includes eight nights' accommodations at a three-star Linton Lodge Hotel in Oxford, all meals (apart from two lunches), all ground transportation, and entrance fees.
Elder Hostels' "Midnight Sun in Alaska" trip departs from Kotzebue, at the tip of the Baldwin Peninsula, on July 12, 2009. Venture with your grandchild to a world 20 plus miles north of the Arctic Circle and illuminated by 24-hour summer sunlight to interact with Inupiat peoples as they share their culture, customs, and survival techniques. Live in a fish camp on the shores of the Chukchi Sea as you gather food from the tundra and the ocean to make fireweed honey, caribou stew, seal jerky, and other Inupiaq foods. Hunt for 20,000-year-old wooly mammoth relics, learn indigenous games, dance, drumming, stories and crafts, and get to know the archaeological, natural and cultural history of this region while you explore. This five-night trip is geared towards grandparents and children aged eight to 11. Priced at $976 per person, the Alaskan adventure features transfers from the Kotzebue airport (accessible by regular flights from Anchorage) to LaVonne's Fish Camp; five nights' accommodations in simple double or triple cabins with modern portable outhouses; all meals and activities.
Grandtravel's (tel. 800/247-7651; www.grandtrvl.com) 2009 vacation calendar offers a wider selection of options including a week-long Washington, D.C. and Colonial Williamsburg trip. The one week tour departs on July 3 or July 11, 2009 and takes your multi-generational family on an historical adventure, discovering the many culturally and politically significant sites in and around the U.S. capital. The trip includes all ground transportation; six nights' accommodations (four at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C. and two at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg); breakfast daily, four dinners and three lunches; and admission fees to all monuments, museums and sites. Itinerary highlights include the National Air and Space Museum; a dinner cruise along the Potomac River; evening visits to the Lincoln, Vietnam War, Korean War, and World War II memorials; a guided walking tour of Annapolis; the U.S. Naval Academy; Mount Vernon; and a full day at Colonial Williamsburg. The cost of this local tour is $3,295 for adults and children based on double occupancy or $2,995 per person if there are three people sharing a room.
Generations Touring Company (tel. 888/415-9100; www.generationstouringcompany.com) is expanding its 2009 program of tours and in the next few weeks will be adding tours to the American Southwest, with National Parks and a dude ranch experience to include horse-whisperer classes; a family team-building holiday in Maine with lobstering excursions and a two-night Windjammer Cruise; and a Mayan Riviera adventure. Check their website in early March for details of these trips. For now there are three exciting opportunities available. Their highly popular "Baseball's Sacred Grounds" tour is a must for baseball fans and for the family that wants to see the places and teams that made the sport famous. Take tours of historic ballparks and watch American League rivals in action. Tour Boston and New York City, meet a sports industry professional, and then head to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame. This baseball tour is paced so both adults and kids can enjoy themselves throughout the week. Prices for adults and children are $2,499 based on double occupancy, $2,349 in a triple room and $2,299 for four people sharing. These prices include six-nights' accommodations, entry tickets, ground transportation, one lunch, two dinners and breakfast daily.
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