Following up on our ‘Gramping‘ story, Belinda Ward, Managing Director at G Adventures talks about Baby Boomers and Grandkids travelling together.
Hitting the road with the grandkids isn’t just a case of throwing them in the back of the four wheel drive and shipping them off to the beach anymore. As Baby Boomers are pursuing travel well into their golden years, they are forgoing the clichéd road trip to the Big Banana or the beach excursion with their grandkids for trips to remote and exciting locations overseas.
A common theme among many Boomers is that they don’t think of themselves as old, or ‘past it’ in any way. The generation has always been up for a challenge, which may in part explain the rise in popularity of adventure travel amongst Boomer travellers. These days nothing is off limits for able-bodied senior adventurers: exploring the Amazon, cycling through Italy or taking a culinary tour of South America proving to be increasingly popular travel choices. Pleasingly it seems grandparents are keen to pass on this love of adventure travel to their families, with 10 per cent of leisure travellers 65-plus taking their grandchildren along for the ride in 2012*.
Exposure to diverse cultures around the world is undeniably positive for young minds. Fostering a respect and understanding of other global cultures allows children to expand their horizons and develop more cultured insights of the world. Who wouldn’t want that for the next generation? Everything is new and exciting as a kid, and grandparents across Australia are realising that in travelling with the youngest members of their families. They’ll be able to discover things for the first time again through their excitement.
Just as there is a growing trend generally around grandparents taking their grandchildren on the road for a unique travel experience, there has also been significant growth in grandparents booking small group adventures, with G Adventures recording a solid 20 and 25 per cent growth in senior travellers over the past two years. With increased security, tailored itineraries to engage both senior and young travellers alike and generally taking the stress out of travel, small group adventure travel is proving increasingly popular with Boomers. The only question is where to head on your next ‘Grand Adventure?’
While the Galapagos Islands secured their place in history thanks to a portly English gentleman named Darwin, restricted numbers of visitors to the national park and strict environmental management have ensured that the natural state of this remarkable site is still largely as it was thousands of years ago making it the perfect ‘out there’ destination to show the grandkids the wonders of nature.
Referred to colloquially as “the land that time forgot”, the Galapagos has the greatest concentration of preserved unique wildlife on earth. Many of the species that inhabit these tropical, volcanic islands cannot be found anywhere else in the world. For travellers of all ages with a love of wildlife, admiring a 300kg aged tortoise while a Blue-footed Booby dances around you and your grandkids clumsily is something you’ll only get in the Galapagos Islands.
This island, with a revolutionary past, has the potential to be life-changing for you and your grandkids, too. A country rich in culture and history will be an eye opening experience for all travellers. The grandkids will surely love the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world-famous music, learn how to salsa and journey through history-infused Havana and the cobblestone streets of Trinidad which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When the little ones are all tired out from soaking up the cultural atmosphere, just head to Cueva de los Peces and soak up some sun while relaxing at the beach.
National Parks of Western USA
While younger generations and backpackers may flock to the perennial tourist traps around Las Vegas for snaps in front of Caesar’s Palace, senior travellers should be looking to get off the beaten path when travelling with younger members of their family and explore the amazing environment America has to offer. Travelling through national parks, without the minivans and cheesy tourist attractions, will have you seeing the USA in a new light – hiking mountain trails and uncovering some of the most picturesque parts of the world such as the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. The grandkids will also undoubtedly love the opportunity to bunk at a cowboy camp and learn roping, horseback riding and archery.
Costa Rica is a country packed full of natural wonders and unique active adventures and is a destination sure to keep even the most energetic grandkids entertained. The national parks of Costa Rica present a calm atmosphere for grandparents yet are sure to engage the little ones as well. The search for monkeys, sloths and a range of unique birds is usually seen as a great game for the children, hitting that perfect balance between education and entertainment.
For an authentic travel experience, why not live like the locals while you are in Costa Rica and get involved in an authentic cultural exchange with a native family at La Fortuna. The grandkids will love the opportunity to make tortillas from scratch and then eat your creation after having them cooked over a rustic wood-fired stove. If that isn’t fresh, cultured eating, then what is?
Being a country surrounded by the ocean, Costa Rica also presents families of all ages with time to relax on the beautiful beaches, or to go wild in the water. For the kids, learning to surf will be a highlight of their adventure and a new hobby to bring home with them to show mum and dad.
From the intensity of Saigon’s streets, to the beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam has been a draw card for Australian travellers over recent decades. While many young adult travellers flock to the beaches and bars of southern Vietnam, this amazing country has so much more to offer travellers at the ‘grand’ ends of the age spectrum.
Gifted with a staggering abundance of flavourful food, fascinating culture, untouched nature and disarmingly friendly people, Vietnam has more than earned its reputation as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Grandparents can rest easy knowing their younger companions will be captivated by the opportunity to cruise around Halong Bay, explore the Imperial Citadel and even boat to a floating market. Parents back home will also surely appreciate the highly educational museums which will ensure children have the opportunity to keep learning and broadening their horizons even when on the road.
A few tips for grandparents
- Always have a gold coin on hand (maybe in several currencies) in case of surprise visits by the Tooth Fairy.
- Don’t put limits on the amount of clothes a 10-year-old boy will go through in a week (it will always, always be much higher).
- Kids aged 10 to 15 generally have less ‘tricky’ travel needs, can carry their own bags and they are still at the age where they think you’re ‘cool’ but anything over the age of six is do-able depending on the trip.
- Set up a Skype or Facebook account to communicate with parents back home.
- Bringing along journals and scrapbooks to document the journey and be able to report back to parents is always a great idea and kids will love collecting ticket stubs, brochures and postcards at each destination.
- Book a great group adventure for peace of mind and ease of travel at some point in your trip.
For more information about unique family travel experiences, please contact G Adventures on 1300 180 969, or visit www.gadventures.com.au
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