Melissa's Travels

Multigenerational Trips

My grandmother was not an emotionally expressive person but she cared deeply about family, and the way that she showed it was by bringing her three children and their children together once a year for a family adventure. She didn’t start this tradition until after my grandfather died (she was in her early 60s), but once she did it was a command performance for sixteen of us. The trips ranged from a few days on the beach in Florida or Thanksgiving at the Greenbrier in West Virginia to a cruise around the Greek islands and a safari in Kenya. One year, we rafted down the salmon river in Idaho. With a silk scarf protecting her coiffed hair, Gaga, as we called her, slept in a tent like the rest of us but she rode in the luggage raft for more stability, often with a cigarette and, by sundown, a gin and tonic in hand. Those days spent seeing my father being a son and a brother, getting to know my cousins and hearing my grandmother’s stories of growing up on a farm shaped my ideas of family. After my grandmother died, my father carried on the tradition with my sisters and I and our children: his choice was an annual ski trip after Christmas.

In the case of multigenerational trips, the destination is less important than choosing a way to please different generations. There should be one central destination, so a big group doesn’t have to pack and unpack or move between locations. There should also be activities to keep children and teens interested and occupied as well as spaces for everyone to gather for meals together. Large resorts with lots of activities on site such as Enchantment in Arizona, Sea Island in Georgia or the Four Seasons in Costa Rica are a classic choice. Cruises, be they on river barges in Europe, boats down the Amazon or Mekong, or on ships in the Mediterranean, are excellent for those with mobility issues. They offer structure without rigid scheduling, and undeniable convenience: wake up refreshed at a new port each morning, while sidestepping the exhausting logistics of travel. Grandparents can stay put without missing out; the youngest family members won’t be overwhelmed; and everyone can enjoy built-in downtime on board.

Wilderness trips deliver a distinct kind of bonding time too. Whether you choose a safari or a dude ranch like Paws Up or the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana or Clayoquot in British Columbia. Charismatic guides, striking landscapes, and luxurious camps are sure to astound guests, young and old. Head into the wilderness early for a brilliant sunrise, spend the days tracking animals, and then reconnect over sundowners and leisurely meals in camp. With the absence of cell service and in the presence of buffalo and bear or elephants, lions and giraffes, children, parents and grandparents alike feel a connection—to the land, and each other—that becomes part of the family history.

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