By Jenny Wisniewski
When Margie Jordan took her first Disney /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS -0.93% cruise alone with one of her five grandchildren, she jumped into every kid-centered activity her 12-year-old granddaughter desired — until it came time for the AquaDuck. The waterslide required passing through a sheet of cascading water at the end. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea of getting drenched and having to bother with her hair once again. After both her granddaughter and a Disney employee convinced her that she wouldn’t get “that wet,” Jordan, of Jacksonville, Florida, relented.
“Well, I got soaked, and we both came down laughing hysterically,” Jordan said. And just like that, a memory was made.
Vacations like Jordan’s are having a moment. While families continue to enjoy multigenerational vacations, which usually include children, parents and grandparents, duo-generational trips are gaining in popularity. This sort of trip might look like Jordan’s — a grandparent or set of grandparents traveling with one or more grandchildren.
In other cases, older adults travel with their adult children, leaving the grandkids behind. Regardless of the combination of family members, it is clear that the separations and tragedies caused by the pandemic have fueled a desire to spend quality time bonding on a more intimate level.
Disney cruising with tweens
Jordan wasn’t done cruising. After the first trip with her granddaughter, her next oldest grandchild wanted to get in on the action, so Jordan embarked on her second Disney cruise, this time with both of the eldest grandchildren.
“I tell you, the thing that was the best for me was getting to just spend time with them without their parents,” Jordan said. “We’re enjoying it so much that now, when we talk about taking another cruise — because the third grandson just turned 12, so now it’s his turn to join this little cruise thing that we’ve got going on — none of them, not one of them wants a parent to come,” Jordan said.
The dynamics change when the trip is multigenerational, Jordan has come to realize. If her two daughters came along, her time and attention would be split. She can nurture her relationship with “her grands” in a way that would probably not be possible with their parents present.
When not cruising with her grandkids, Jordan plans trips for others as a travel agent and the owner of Jordan Executive Travel Service, based in Jacksonville. She has advice for other grandparents planning a two-generation trip. First, she recommends waiting until the grandkids are 11 or 12. She also advises that grandparents consider their grandchildren’s interests and book the trip around that.
“The trip is about them and all the things that make them amazing. So figure out what their interests are and book the trip around that,” Jordan said. “Let the kids be kids and you be a kid along with them.”
Celebrating special occasions with teens
Angie Rice, co-founder of Boutique Travel Advisors based in Paradise Valley, Arizona, is also seeing a significant increase in duo-generational travel. She agrees that waiting until kids reach their tween or teen years is important when planning a grandparent-grandchild vacation.
“When the kids are little, it’s just a bigger undertaking for the grandparents to take smaller kids, and it’s also hard for the kids to be away from their parents,” Rice said.
Giving the gift of travel to commemorate a birthday or graduation has become a part of the trend. Rice planned one trip for a set of grandparents who took their high school and college-age grandkids on a Mediterranean cruise followed up with several days in Rome. The trip was a joint graduation gift for the six cousins.
In many cases, parents are unable to take time off from work for this type of extended trip. It also provides the grandparents more autonomy with their grandkids.
Another reason for an increase in grandchildren — grandparent travel: the middle generation needs a break.