While Barbara and Robert Kline kept their eyes peeled for elephants, their son Tom and his wife Betty scanned streams for glimpses of crocodiles. The antics of monkeys made 12-year-old Nancy and John, 10, squeal with delight.
Scenes like this are repeated around the United States and the world as family members of various ages share the enjoyment and education that are traveling together offers.
The concept is the same whether it’s called intergenerational or multigenerational travel. Members of a family travel to destinations near and far and return home with shared memories, new insights, and a sense of increased bonding with their relatives.
Travels with kinfolk is a wonderful way to connect and learn
With the number of new Coronavirus cases dropping, more people vaccinated, and health security protocols in place, many people plan trips with generations of kinfolk as a good way to reconnect.
According to a survey by the Society of American Travel Writers, the foremost organization of journalists in the field, family and intergenerational travel are among industry sectors expected to recover most quickly and gain in importance this year.
There’s no mystery why this type of travel has been growing. The benefits are varied and valued.
Family closeness, new friends, and other benefits
Family closeness. Spending quality time with children and grandchildren can bring you closer. When youngsters put aside their cell phones and share memorable experiences, they’re open to connecting in a new way.
Multigenerational memories. Some groups include great grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and other extended family members. That can build new bonds which last for lifetimes.
Adults learn too. You’re likely to get a new perspective on the world. Seeing things through the eyes of the younger generation can introduce you to attractions and perhaps activities you otherwise might miss.
Everyone may make new friends. Adults often stay in touch with other parents or grandparents they meet on a trip, and grandkids usually end up enjoying others in their age group and, in some cases, forming lasting friendships.
It’s for kids of all ages. Even adult children who have traveled with their parents report the advantages of doing so. One is the new level of closeness that results from sharing such an enjoyable experience. In addition, trips might include upscale hotels, better restaurants, and other luxuries that some young adults might not be able to afford.
Plan ahead for a successful experience
Like any travel, planning is important to ensure an intergenerational trip will be successful and enjoyable for all participants. A few guidelines can differentiate between the best possible experience and a bust.
Pre-trip talk. Discuss what each person would like to do, and seek a balance between group activities and spending time alone.
Active and passive. Block out some quiet time when both young children and older adults can rest and relax.
Opting out is o.k. Let family members skip an activity that doesn’t interest them or is out of their comfort zone without being judged.
Pick a destination that’s good for all. While every family’s preferences are different, some places have special appeal for people of all ages. Disney World resorts and similar family-oriented theme parks come to mind. Some families take to the sea on cruise ships, which offer activities and amenities for all ages. African safaris can provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Go with a pro. Some tour companies offer itineraries specifically geared to multigenerational travelers. Signing up for one of their trips takes advantage of their knowledge and expertise.
Companies with clout in intergenerational travel
In a typical year, more than 10,000 grandparents and grandchildren travel with Road Scholar. Age groups and interests organize their grandparent and family adventures. "Grandparent Collections” range from national parks, nature, and the environment to French Canada, international city discoveries, and African safaris.
Among intergenerational trips available from Overseas Adventure Travel are mother-daughter and grandmother-grandchild itineraries. It also offers private group departures tailored to multi-generational families' preferences.
African safaris are a favorite for family members seeking to share an unforgettable experience. They include an Ultimate Africa trip to Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Animal watching in the Serengeti, the vast region of Tanzania which is home to several game preserves, is fascinating. The second-largest mammal migration in the world provides wonder.
OAT Trip Experience Leaders go out of their way to personalize details to guests' preferences and tailor itineraries and the pacing of activities to each group’s interests.
Family trips offered by Intrepid Travel span the globe, from Yellowstone and Zion national parks to Scotland, India, and Vietnam. It offers children opportunities to hunt for wildlife with an experienced tracker and play football with Maasai tribespeople.
G Adventures teams up with National Geographic, using its expertise in geography, storytelling, culture, and other areas to run trips for families with children aged seven and up. Chief Experience Officers trained to engage with young travelers and kid-friendly meal options are among its offerings.
A single source for invaluable information
Travelstride.com is a helpful community marketplace for information about tour groups. It lists and describes more than 50,000 group tour packages and other trips, including many intergenerational itineraries.
Whatever the age span of your family members, wherever in the world you’d like to visit, there probably is a choice of trips available. Those who take them are likely to return home with shared experiences, a new sense of family closeness, and a treasure trove of fond memories.
Victor Block retains the travel bug after gallivanting throughout the United States and to more than 75 other countries worldwide and writing about what he sees, does, and learns. He firmly believes that travel is the best possible education and claims he still has a lot to learn. He loves to explore new destinations and cultures, and his stories about them have won several writing awards.