Traveling with your Grandparents is Nothing New

  • August 1, 2011
  • Fran Stephenson
  • 3 min read
The author with two of her brothers and grandfather on a summer trip
Summer Fun with my Grandpa and Brothers

Multi-generational or 3G travel is an emerging trend that has gotten media and public relations professionals talking.

Earlier this summer, it was the focus of one of the livelier sessions at the PRSA Tour and Travel Section Conference held in June in San Antonio. (Disclosure:  I was part of the local, logistics team for the conference. )

Leslie Yap, an editor at AAA Journeys was joined by travel writers Evelyn Kanter and Norm Wilkens for a  session called Destination Family: Tapping the Burgeoning Market of Multigenerational Travelers.

Yap combined her personal experience of planning several recent extended-family gatherings with her nose for the business side of travel and offered some guidelines as to why this is an emerging trend. One of the most compelling is that 70% of leisure travel is planned around a life event – like a wedding, family reunion or anniversary.

“Families want to reconnect with what’s important in their lives,” Yap said, citing the fact that many of us live farther away from our families, so traveling to see them is a must.  Yap has researched cruise events, a camping vacation and a houseboat adventure for her extended family.

Her criteria – and theoretically that of anyone considering this type of vacation – is having enough variety in activities to keep all the age groups interested.

Kanter has really strong feelings about what she wants to share with her grandchildren –experiences.  She has taken her grandchildren to Boston, Quebec and Cape Cod.  As the American population ages, there will be more grandparents so there should be more opportunities to “grammy sit” as Kanter calls her sojourns with her family.

I do not disagree with anything that these well-heeled journalists shared with us.  But the more I thought about this session, the more it brought me back to my own travels with my grandparents.

Every summer, my grandparents put together a special itinerary of things they would do with me and my brothers.  They both worked in a Cleveland steel mill – grandpa in the factory, grandma as a file clerk – and when the plant closed each July for two weeks, they didn’t plan elaborate vacations , they planned events for the grandkids!

Riding a miniature train with my Grandpa
Riding a mini train with my Grandpa

Some of my greatest memories are visiting the Cleveland Zoo, riding a big dinner cruise boat on Lake Erie, eating in a train car restaurant in Hudson, Ohio, and taking a dozen day trips to events, festivals, fairs and attractions.  One summer, we even splurged and spent three days at Cedar Point’s historic Breakers Hotel, riding the rides, playing the Midway and eating their famous French fries.

Those shared experiences are some of my best childhood memories.  We didn’t call it multi-generational travel.  We just called it summer.