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Give the Gift of Multigenerational Travel This Holiday Season

Multigenerational travel and 'experience gifts' are both rising in popularity



The holiday season is upon us and the big looming question on everyone’s mind is, “What type of unique gift can I get for my loved ones this year?”  When you really think about it, does Grandma need a new pair of leather driving gloves? Does Grandpa want yet another silk tie? And do the kids really need the latest battery-operated toy? 

Why not cast aside these ideas and instead set your sights on a multigenerational family vacation? A gift of this magnitude is sure to satisfy everyone and be remembered for years to come. First off, grandparents love to spend their time and resources on you and your kids. Second, you can avoid trying to amass a pile of gifts that cost a bunch, but end up in the closet all too soon. Mostly importantly, everyone can reconnect with family without all of the hassles of trying to entertain at home. 

Experiences Overshadow Things

The “experience, not things” gift trend for the holidays is growing in popularity. Heather Klein Cross, a New Jersey-based vacation planner who owns Vacations by Heather, said her clients increasingly are asking for help with multigenerational trips. Further research suggests that grandparents are willing to pay for trips of this nature, in their entirety, more than ever before — in fact, upwards of 33 percent of the time. According to group travel experts such as Abercrombie and Kent, many of their traveling clientele boast about using the world as their classroom to share the educational value that travel provides along with the desire to share the life lessons of travel with their children and grandchildren.

Because family members are more apt to live in different cities these days, the opportunities to get quality time together are shrinking. So, in addition to traditional multigenerational travel, another new trend is emerging called “beyond parents” where young people are traveling with a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin – even without their parents. One in four is planning a trip surrounding a birthday, graduation or anniversary.

Where In the World?

There’s a slew of choices regarding the type of trip you can arrange that suit a wide range of interests and budgets, whether you stay in the country or travel abroad. Last year, Smartertravel.com published an article about multigenerational travel, highlighting popular vacation ideas including family adventure tours, all-inclusive resorts, cityscapes, wintry escapes, dude ranches, historic trips, villa/house rentals, national parks and cruises.

Signature Travel, a consortium of more than 7,000 travel professionals internationally, just this year named several cruise lines as the best of the best for multigenerational travel. They include Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian as the top three with Disney and MSC cruise lines as finalists. There’s a common thread among them—-they consistently provide round-the-clock activities, special attractions for kids, plus large, luxurious suites and a wide spectrum of dining options.

Presenting the Virtual Gift With a Bow On Top

To make the presentation of your gift of travel extra special, gather some destination-specific brochures and articles and wrap them up in a giant box, topped with a bright red bow. Once the kids open it up, let them help with vacation planning and encourage them to learn more about the vacation spot. Together, you can watch movies and listen to music about the places you’ll be visiting. The kids can even help plot the itinerary and create an activities calendar. If you want more for them to unwrap, give them each a personal vacation journal (and a disposable camera if they don’t have a smart phone) and colored pencils to bring along on the trip so they can document their adventures and create keepsakes to revisit again and again.

Earlier this year, Expedia and The Center for Generational Kinetics partnered to conduct a national study on travel trends and learned that travel is a “common way for all generations, regardless of age, to spend their disposable income.” There is a shift in American spending from an economy centered around materialism to one that places value on experiences, rather than things. This is evident among baby boomers, who are choosing to spend their money on travel as a top priority. And millennials are putting more value on experiences as well. Even Generation Z (ages 7-23) is serious about travel, even if it involves having to stay off the internet for a while. With this knowledge, you can be pretty confident that the glove, tie and toy ideas will quickly fade away, and you’ll be happy you chose travel for your family holiday gift this year.

Once you get to where you are going, remember that the best way to connect is to disconnect. So, leave your worries behind and dig deep in to creating last memories.  And, who knows, maybe you will make this holiday gift idea a family tradition from here on out. 

I would like to dedicate this article to my recently deceased cousin, Ron Reilly, who, over lunch at the Stonehorse Café in Tulsa, Oklahoma 11 years ago, encouraged me to explore travel writing as a new career path. He was a giant fan of family travel and spanned the globe with a slew of us over the years. Godspeed, Cuz!


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