Baby Boomer Grandparents
I am not sure about the rest of you, but seriously when did we get old enough to be grandparents. But what a splendid turn of events! For some, this season in life means more discretionary time and finances to play. For others it may be a time of frugality. Either way traveling Baby Boomers, with or without their own grandchildren, have opportunities to plant seeds of wanderlust in the next generation. While multi-generational travel comes with its own set of challenges and rewards, it is well worth the investment.
Practice Makes More Comfortable
The old adage actually says that practice makes perfect but if age has brought any wisdom, it is that perfect is highly overrated. However, I think that comfortable is a noble goal. Maybe you have the wherewithal, and the risk tolerance, to jump right into a round-the-world trip but most of us don’t. This is where small incremental experiences (aka practice) come in helpful. These small multi-generational travels allow everyone to learn their own comfort levels, physical stamina and curiosity niches. Take the time to honestly evaluate each experience afterwards. Make modifications as necessary for future trips. Keep broadening your scope with each event.
The concept of staycations has become trendy lately and there is value to looking at this as a multi-generational travel style. For younger children this is especially a great way to start out. Even though you think there is nothing new under the sun in your neighborhood, everything is still new to young explorers. During those early “magical thinking” years a small nearby park can be a wilderness.
I live in the beautiful state of Wisconsin and wonderland surrounds me. I believe every city, state, rural town or suburb has a gem suitable for practicing multi-generational travel. Look for parks, museums, factory tours, folk festivals…
Before you revolt, I remember as a child being sent off to the YMCA Daycamp and hating everything about it. But being put on a train and shipped off to Grandma’s was pure joy. The important component was Grandma! My sons (now Dads themselves) like to remind me: “it isn’t all about you Mom.” But in this case I think it is!!
So yesterday I packed myself and my grandson up and headed out on a daycamping experiment. I chose a place less than five miles from my house that I knew had a small campground, beach and hiking trails. Naga-waukee Park located on the east shore of Nagawicka Lake was a perfect spot.
It was just the two of us and he is only 3 so I was not sure how much we would accomplish. My only real goals were to get outside and make s’mores. We stopped at the grocery store for our gear; marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers and a jug of water (to keep from burning down the forest). Everything else we would find in the forest.
Multi-generational Travel Success
We did it! We found a campsite easily because it was a Monday morning in early May and the campground was empty. The 35 degree start to the day made it easy to have the park to ourselves. After picking our site we spent some time collecting sticks and pine cones for fire later. I figured we might be too tired after the hike for this task to be fun.
Then we took off on our hiking explorations. We climbed up and down hills, listened for birds and watched fishermen at the boat landing. There were rocks to throw into the lake and pirate’s treasure to dig for. We crackled through old oak leaves and discovered enormous fungi. There was a beautiful Chesapeake Water Spaniel swimming at the beach and dandelions to pick and count. Yes, our legs got tired and we needed some rests (more for Nana than the three year old).
Finally, back at the campsite we built our fire and prepared our s’mores. Turns out the chocolate bar is better than smoky marshmallows but it’s all good!
After a total of 3.5 hours we were done. We were sticky, tired, muddy and smoky. But most of all we were thrilled. Both of us! It had been a multi-generational travel success. It didn’t require an entire weekend that would have probably left us exhausted and cranky and it only required $5 worth of gear.