Memories That Last: Traveling With Your Grandchildren
Does it surprise you to know that grandparents spend $179 billion each year on their grandkids? Probably not, if you’re a grandparent! Most grandparents love spoiling their grandchildren, buying them popular toys or gadgets and new clothes.
But as children’s schedules become more and more hectic, and with parents who often work full-time, most grandparents don’t get to see their grandchildren as much as they’d like. And, you may find that gifting your grandchildren with material things is becoming more of a challenge, just like Bethany Village resident Lowell Starling, and his wife Nancy.
“My wife got so frustrated with buying things for our grandkids! The clothes weren’t “in” or the sizes weren’t right. We never knew what toys and games to get,” Lowell said. “We have a lakefront home that we’d wanted our kids and grandkids to come to for family dinners, during the summer and so on. But with work and school and all the extracurricular activities, nobody ever came!” he exclaimed.
The solution? A family vacation. The Starlings are among the latest in a trend of grandparents planning multigenerational vacations, especially with their grandchildren. “We talked about doing a family vacation for years, but we wanted to wait until our youngest grandson was old enough to remember what happened,” he said. They also were adamant about finding the right environment for wholesome family fun, so bars, casinos and nightclubs were out of the question. In 2012 when the youngest grandkid turned seven, the Starlings booked a seven-day Disney cruise for their family of 11.
It was supposed to be a one-time event. “We started the cruise on a Saturday. But by Tuesday, everyone said, ‘Let’s do this again!’”
The Starlings and their adult children, son Travis and his wife Carrie and daughter Sandra and her husband Mark, decided to plan a family cruise every two years. “I told my kids that I’m spending their inheritance on these trips. They said, ‘Hey, as long as we’re included, we’re fine with that!’” Lowell explained with a laugh.
Giving the gift of travel to your grandchildren can play an important role in their growth and development, and it benefits the entire family as well. Here are a few ways that multigenerational family vacations are great for everyone:
Lowell jokingly refers to these trips as “forced family fun,” but he doesn’t believe it’s a burden at all. “We have dinner together every night. We can do excursions together. Or, we can just have family time and be engaged with each other without everyone running off doing their own thing.”
They have been to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the British Isles. The best part of these vacations is that the kids get exposure to new places and experiences – things that some people only get to read about. “When my grandson learned about the Leaning Tower of Pisa in school, he got to stand up and say, ‘I saw it in person!’ What an amazing experience,” he said proudly.
The Starling family has been to the Vatican, the Sistine chapel, the Colosseum and Stonehenge. His grandchildren especially enjoyed bobsledding in Jamaica and seeing Stirling Castle in Scotland, which was featured in the movie “Braveheart.”
“The key to remember with these trips is that you’re building memories. Clothes get outgrown. Toys and all that other stuff eventually get thrown away. But the memories and experiences last forever. You can’t put a price on that,” Lowell said.
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