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GrandTravel: Tripping with Grandma

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flower grandma“Grandtravel” is the newest marketing term in the travel industry — coined for grandparents and grandchildren traveling together without the middle generation.

The result?

Tour operators and resorts are now focusing on multigenerational travel through a number of interesting and innovative programs and adventure-filled itineraries in which distant generations can find common ground.

Why has this concept struck such a chord among travelers?

Because everybody wins: parents get some time off, grandparents can stay youthful by trekking around the world with the young ones…and the kids? Well they get to spend time with the family members who spoil them the most.

Grandparents are more likely to involve the kids in decision making and trip planning, so the end result is usually a much more democratic experience.

While grandtravel may be a win-win situation for all involved, here are some tips for the parents to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as planned:

1) Talk to your kids before talking to the grandparents about what to expect in this trip, and that the experience may be a little different than other family vacations.

2) Set up ground rules with grandparents and kids. Grandparents tend to be more lenient with the grandkids, so creating a set of limits is not a bad idea. Also make sure grandparents understand your children’s abilities–are they good swimmers? Good bikers?

3) If you’re a little hesitant to let your parents take full reign over your children, start with a “practice” overnight or weekend trip.

4) Parents need to provide a notarized statement for grandparents to travel with children outside of the U.S.

Here are some ideas for grandtravel companies to get you started:

Elderhostel

Elderhostel is a company known for being a non-profit leader in educational travel for older adults. Elderhostel organizes all-inclusive camping trips designed specifically for grandparents and their grandchildren. The programs send grandtravelers on trips throughout the United States as well as other countries.

Trips range from four to ten nights, with prices starting at around $300 per person for a four-night trip in the Poconos to about $2,500 per person for a ten-night excursion in the Canadian Rockies. Elderhostel incorporates outdoor activities into their programs, like jetskiing, hiking, biking, fishing, archery, and canoeing. Elderhostel also provides a newer intergenerational program focusing on children’s fantasy literature, with a spotlight on “Harry Potter.” Offered in Oxford, England, this program has been quite popular since its conception in 2002.

CowboyKidOne of their most popular programs is their “Rowdies, Roughnecks, Rafting and Dinosaurs” program, based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The program offers Wild West fun for grandparents and grandkids ages 8-12. Grandkids can discover the area that was once home and hideout to outlaws, including Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. Grandparents and grandkids can also explore historic and cultural heritage in and around Salt Lake City. Afterwards, they could travel to Vernal, where a geologic showcase spanning 3 billion–including nine Jurassic periods–years has occurred in the Uintah Basin. This program is in association with Utah Valley State College.

Continue to the Flaming Gorge Dam area and raft down the Green River (some white water) with certified, experienced guides to see where dinosaurs once lived. During a “Dinosnorzz” sleep-over, spend the night under the belly of a dinosaur, along with other exciting activities at the world’s largest dinosaur exhibit: the North American Museum of Ancient Life in Lehi. You also get to visit one of the largest and most competitive rodeos sponsored by the National Rodeo Association.
http://www.elderhostel.org; 800-454-5768.

Generations Touring Company

Generations Touring Company is an adventure-oriented program which offers many adventurous opportunities for grandparents and their grandkids. They focus on cultural connections and finding the lesser-known “jewels” of your destinations. You can take part in a volunteer vacation in New Orleans starting at $1899 per person, a forest adventure in British Columbia for $1799 per child, or a baseball tour in the Northeast for anywhere from $2199 to $2699 per person. Or you can sign up for more intrepid trips to destinations like Vietnam for $1399 per child and $1699 per adult, and Peru for anywhere from $2299 to $2699.

Generations Touring Company has a program called “The Soul of the Andes,” which takes grandtravelers to Peru, offering exciting explorations of Machu Picchu. You can spend time in a Quechuan community in the Andes Mountains and learn about the ancient art of tapestry weaving. Listen to a Peruvian storyteller recount tales of the lost Incas and enjoy the hot springs at Aguas Calientes. You can also tour Tipon with a shaman guide.

On the first day, guests fly to Lima and stay in a guesthouse in the heart of Miraflores, near the Pacific Ocean. At the morning breakfast the next day, you will be oriented on the upcoming events. Later in the trip, guests will visit Machu Picchu with a private guide. Kids can explore the nearby jungles and caves while learning about the geological aspect of the earth.
http://www.generationstouringcompany.com/; 888-415-9100.

Grandtravel

Grandtravel is a company which specializes in creating packages that are especially designed to appeal to both generations. Dig for dinosaur fossils in Colorado, explore Monet’s home in Giverny, or take a game-viewing drive through the wilds of Nairobi, all at a pace set for children and older adults. Trips are available for access the world over, and prices start at around $2,000 per person. All programs are available in the summer months of June, July, and August.

Grandtravel offers a 10-day trip called “London & Paris,” which departs July 21st, 2007. Prices are $7,690 per person/double, or $7,490 for triples. This trip gives grandkids a great opportunity to learn about the world through their grandparents. The company runs trips in Europe and has many activities, which include attending a performance in London at the West End Theater, riding the London Eye, taking the train through the Chunnel to Paris, and seeing the original Mona and Venus de Milo at the Louvre. Two evenings include a bateaux-mouches dinner cruise on the Seine, and meal highlights include lunch in Covenant Garden, the setting used for “My Fair Lady,” and dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

On “Italy’s Splendor” trip, grandparents and grandkids get to explore Venice, Florence, Siena, and Rome. Some activities include riding the gondola along the canals of Venice, taking a private cooking lesson in Florence with a Tuscan chef, and touring St. Mark’s Square, the Doges’ Palace, the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, St. Peter’s Church and the Sistine Chapel. Some meals include a Tuscan-style barbecue, a gourmet picnic amidst the idyllic scenery of the Tuscan countryside and dinner at a lively Tivoli restaurant. The 12-day “Italy’s Splendor” departs on July 17th. Prices are $6,595 per person/double, or $6280 for triples.

Grandtravel also offers an 11-day exploration of Alaska called “Winningest Musher in the World.” Grandkids and grandparents will visit with Jeff King, a four-time winner of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race and two-dozen other races. They will also get to tour his training facility and kennel and learn what it takes to be an Iditarod champion. Other activities include landing on a glacier in a helicopter, visiting a glacier dog sled camp, viewing the scenery of the Denali National Park from a luxury sternwheeler riverboat, and looking for Orcas and Humpbacks on a whale-watching cruise in Juneau. This trip departs August 2nd and is priced at $6,995 per person for double occupancy. http://grandtravel2.liveelements.net/web/guest/Home; 800-247-7651.

Banana Courtyard, New Orleans

The Banana Courtyard is a bed and breakfast located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Banana Courtyard offers a grandparent/grandchild “Explore New Orleans” package, which is available year-round. The purpose of this package is to enable grandparents to spend special one-on-one time with their grandchildren and build special memories. Kids get to stay in the Pirate’s Attic room, next to their grandparents.

For $495, two adults and one child get to spend time together at various venues around New Orleans. Included in the fee is a two-night stay and admission tickets. Venues include the Aquarium of the Americas, IMAX Theater, Audubon Zoo, Children’s Museum, D-Day Museum, and a roundtrip cruise from the French Quarter to the Audubon Zoo on a Mississippi Riverboat. Regular low season rates for the B&B start at $60 a night for a double occupancy room, and regular rates start at $79 for a room. http://bananacourtyard.com; 504-947-4475.

Safety Harbor Spas

The Safety Harbor Resort and Spa is a luxury resort located on the Tampa Bay coastline in Florida. The resort is based around using the 2,000-year-old natural mineral springs to promote health and well-being. Their Mother/Daughter (or Grandmother/Granddaughter) package provides women with a relaxing experience and time to reconnect and celebrate the bond between females. The package includes a four-night stay in premium accommodations including a bay view with a balcony, a choice of one herbal wrap or hydro-aroma bath, a choice of one sixty-minute Total Wellness or Nutritional consultation, a deluxe pedicure, and two meals per night, among other amenities. From January to April, it’s $806 for grandmother and granddaughter (or mother and daughter); from May to September, it’s $754, and from October to next January 2008, it’s $774. http://www.safetyharborspa.com; 727-726-1161.

By Sharon Uy for PeterGreenberg.com.

If Grandma wants a night on the town, check out Swingin’ Senior Singles.

Previously by Sharon Brooke Uy:

Eco-friendly Volunteer Vacations in Your Back Yard.

Top Five Trips for Women Travelers.

St. Pat-tastic!

Literary Tours: Great American Writers

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