The following is a sample from a piece I wrote while a staff writer at AAA Going Places magazine.
Travel brochures and old photograph books litter the dining room table as the family sits down to review their summer vacation options. Mom wants spa treatments. Dad wants to hit the links. Fifteen-year-old Dylan wants adventure. The twins want to ride the rails, and the baby, well, he’ll be happy to be fed and changed on a regular basis. But Grandma, she’s looking for new experiences. And she’s paying.
Multi-generational excursions remain a top trend in family travel, and far-flung families looking for quality time together are demanding–and getting–much more than your average theme park package or family reunion rental have to offer.
Imagine exploring the rainforests of Costa Rica together or taking a helicopter ride through the Canadian Rockies as a family. Imagine playing bocce ball against the backdrop of the Italian Alps, taking group dance lessons in Ireland or gold panning together in Alaska. It’s all possible at surprisingly affordable rates. But there are some tips to keep in mind before committing to an itinerary.
Allow plenty of opportunities for individual or small group time. “Make sure that everybody’s interests are met,” advises Janet Stevens, Manager of Travel Agency Services at AAA Auto Club South. “That may require separate excursions from time to time.”
Start locally, advises Britta Swensson of Tauck Bridges World Travel. “I would recommend something like (Tauck’s) Grand Canyon tour for the first trip,” she says. “There’s no foreign currency or language barrier to deal with. It’s a good way to see if this kind of travel is conducive for your group.”
Longtime AAA member Cheryl Payne of Naples, FL, just returned from a similar motor coach tour and was glad to have had other families with which to share the trip.
“There was something to do for everyone–kids and parents. The kids met other children, so we hardly had any whining or signs of boredom, which normally happens on long car trips. The bus was filled with great kids, and my husband and I got to relax. We will probably return to some of the national parks we saw and stay longer.”
Marge Köser, who hosts AAA SignaTours’ Grandma Marge tours, agrees. “My own grandchildren still keep in touch with children they met on tours years ago.” But Marge cautions parents…