Friday, January 16, 2015

Plan a grand vacation with the grandkids

It’s not too early to start planning spring break or summer vacations, especially if you’re a grandparent or parent who wants to include the kids. Multi-generational travel is more popular than ever with nearly 30 percent of traveling grandparents including a grandchild in this bonding experience. You can plan a trip to a national park or favorite destination on your own, or choose an organized tour specially designed for different generations. 
White water rafting in Costa Rica is a great adventure for older kids.
Many travel companies offer vacation packages geared to grandparents and grandchildren. This is a great way to go because other travelers are in the same demographic. All the details are planned with two generations in mind, and there are usually some activities specifically for the kids and others geared for adults as well as those that combine generations. Typically summer vacation packages are geared for children from age seven through teens, but check on specific activities to find tours that appeal to the interests of your family group.

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat on African safari
is life-changing for all ages.
National Geographic Expeditions family trips feature itineraries that span the globe and offer enriching, hands-on travel experiences that will inspire all the explorers in your family . Adventures are geared to children ages seven to 17 and cover destinations as varied as Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks, Alaska, China, Ireland, Spain, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and Australia during the months of June, July, August, and December.
Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel)   (800-454-5768) offers educational vacations in the U.S. and abroad for adults 55 and over. Popular intergenerational trips include Costa Rica and Cuba for college-age children and an African Safari in the Serengeti designed for children ages 7-11.

Glaciers in Alaska will wow even the most tech-dependent kids.
Sierra Club (415-977-5522) offers a week-long outing for grandparents and grandkids in Tahoe National Forest, California. Participants can help maintain the  forest while enjoying environmentally-geared activities.
Grandtravel (800-247-7651) offers Adventures by Disney tours with destinations to European countries, Alaska, and New Zealand. Some are geared especially to teens while others are suitable for younger children, too.

Generations Touring Company (888-415-9100) is a voluntour outfit that works like a travel agency dedicated to volunteering and humanitarian vacations. But they focus on projects that cater to the vacationer rather than the gung-ho volunteer--excursions are light on labor, but the mix is still a worthwhile bonding experience.
Feeding a dolphin at Sea World with one of my grandchildren.
Rafting America Families that crave outdoor adventure may choose a white water rafting excursion. Tours can accommodate youngsters from age five or get wild enough to challenge teens. In addition to the excitement of navigating a river on a raft, tours provide kid-friendly meals, river games (both on the river and off), teach kids the basics of whitewater commands, and share guide stories and whitewater lingo.

Cruise ships offer kid-friendly thrills like this ropes course--fun
for parents or grandparents, too.
Other options: Nature tour  company International Expeditions designates certain tour dates from their regular itineraries as family excursions. Or consider taking a cruise, where there’s a variety of activities to keep everyone happy. Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Princess are known for programs appealing to all ages. (877-386-9243)
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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