Travel Bonding with Grown Children

By Gail Kirkpatrick

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It isn't every day that my 20-something daughter asks me to go on vacation. Taken by surprise and short on cash, my first instinct was to say no, but I was tempted by the thought of getting away to somewhere warm, and having one-on-one time with a daughter I don’t see nearly often enough.

When I got off the Canada line at YVR (Vancouver International Airport), and saw my daughter’s eyes light up, I knew I’d made the right decision. Why did I ever think that leaving the money in my savings account would be a better idea?

Still, I did have my travel comfort-zone concerns. My daughter works late nights and sleeps past noon; I like to get my walk in early. I can’t be without a book; she is never far from her iPod and iPhone. Both of us enjoy our own space and time alone.

Who would do the driving? Would I be expected to pay for everything? What if she stayed out late, would I wait up for her?

Our last trip together was to New York when she was 17. Then, our roles were clearly defined; we stayed in the same room, and went everywhere together.

Grown children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, who have lived away from home for several years have their own routines, and like their independence. It can be challenging to define your changing relationship with them over short visits at Christmas or other family celebrations.

At these times, too, you often have to share grown children with everyone else in their life. With limited time, it can be difficult to get beyond the superficial to the heart of matters. Who are these younger, complex beings? Who are we when we are with them? Is travel a way for generations to rediscover each other and the world?

According to travel agent Jori Mitchell, there is great value in cruises, and there are cruises available in almost every part of the world.

“Cruises offer something for everyone,” says Jori. “Everyone can do the day tours in port or stay safely behind on the ship hanging out at the pool. Both groups can do their own thing and then come back together for a dinner and share their experiences.”

Exploritas, the new program name of Elderhostel, offers both national and international travel programs. Their options vary from discovering how the pyramids were built to biking Normandy. The program suggests the age groups that would best be suited to a particular itinerary, and state the physical demands, like walking up hill on varied terrain or standing during field trips - not likely a problem for 20 year olds, but good to know if you are 50 plus with physical constraints.

Pat Gould has travelled the world. Now, she prefers to rent a condo in Palm Springs for a month and have her family visit for a week at a time to share the cost and spend time together at the pool.

“We have great conversations and laugh a lot,” says Pat. “Someone else does the cooking, and I get to see how everyone has changed and grown. One week my granddaughter from Boston might join me, and then my nephew and his wife will come down for a week of golf.”

Travel writer Suzanne Morphet recently spent a week with her father on a road trip that involved a ferry ride up the Inside Passage from Port Hardy to Bella Coola.

“We both love to travel and even though he's 88, he's game for adventure and getting out of the car and exploring,” says Suzanne. “We had a wonderful time and it was great to have him all to myself for a whole week, rather than the usual dinner at our place once a week.”

My own daughter and I shared an unforgettable experience. She got up early to go snorkelling, did some of the driving and came to a Boz Scaggs concert with me. I, in turn, survived a loud pub night with some handsome young locals. But the best moments were those of quiet companionship - long leisurely uninterrupted days together.

Our only disagreement occurred on the first night, in deciding who would get the pullout: we each wanted the other to have the bedroom.

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Showing 1 to 1 of 1 comments.

Great insights on traveling in harmony with grown children who beat to their own drum. My mother is an active 70-something who is a joy to have with us on our family vacations. She adds to fun, especially with my teen boys!

Posted by Deborah | July 26, 2010 Report Violation

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