There’s a new travel trend emerging in the U.S., proving that grandparents are increasingly looking to experientially bond with their grandchildren in a place other than home. Industry experts agree that more and more, children, tweens and teens are vacationing with a grandparent – without their parents: a phenomenon referred to as intergenerational travel, whereas multigenerational travel would include parents. There are a few well-established companies that specialize in these types of trips.
Originating some 40 years ago across university campuses as a forerunner in the lifelong learning movement, Elder Hostel was rebranded as Road Scholar several years back and specializes in intergenerational travel. With over 200 such programs, both stateside and abroad, the learning experience on a Road Scholar trip is provided by local instructors who are experts in their fields.
Two of their most popular intergenerational trips in the U.S. are to Washington D.C., with grandchildren ages 11 to 13 and to Yellowstone National Park, with grandchildren ages 8 to 11.
Road Scholar spokesperson Despina Gakopoulos explains that the age range for grandchildren is narrow in order to foster relationships between the kids and so learning experiences can be shared by all of them.
Another in-demand destination is Cuba, as travelers are eager to see the country before it changes. Road Scholar offers a family (multigenerational) trip appropriate for children ages 12 and older. Families interact with locals, participate in art and music programs, and even attend a baseball game. A visit to a local farmers market gives visitors an idea of the cost of living here. Be forewarned that it is Cuba, so a visit to the Fine Arts Museum will be without an elevator and air conditioning. www.roadscholar.org
Boomers and seniors account for the majority of travelers with luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent. They, too, are seeing a movement towards intergenerational travel as grandparents are signing up to vacation and learn with their grandchildren.
They recommend their cruises to the Galapagos Islands as well as Antarctica because of the dedicated Young Explorers Guide that accompanies the group on these cruises, leading child-friendly programming throughout the journey and taking the pressure off of the grandparent.
There is also something for every generation with varying levels of adventure: from panga (dinghy) rides to hiking, kayaking and snorkeling, or just relaxing on deck. Sample workshops on the Antarctica trip include charting the ship’s course, a plankton lab, nature journaling and marine mammal identification. www.abercrombiekent.com
Tauck Bridges, specifically named for the goal of building bridges among the generations through shared experiences and enrichment, is the family travel segment of the Tauck brand and their fastest growing category; about two-thirds of these tours are inter and multigenerational.
With the 100th anniversary of The National Park Service being celebrated this year, Tauck’s already popular national parks trips are getting even more attention. The Red Rocks & Painted Canyons trip explores the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion, while Cowboy Country visits Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
For overseas travel, Tauck’s riverboat trips combine the convenience of an ocean cruise with the ability to see multiple destinations on one vacation. Their cruise along the Danube River winds its way from Budapest, Hungary to Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Every generation can join in strudel-making aboard the boat, biking along the Danube and seeing where Marie Antoinette once lived. www.tauck.com; 800-788-7885