This week’s Photo Friday post is about Gene Ray, my father, who over who over the years has shared his love of travel with his children and grandchildren. My love for travel, didn’t just happen, it was developed over multiple family trips throughout my childhood and now into my adulthood. Every other year, my father hosts a family trip that includes my brother and sister and their children. These trips have formed life-long memories and deepened our family’s bonds.
Over the holidays, I sat down and spoke with my father about his thoughts on the value and logistics of multi-generational trips.
Why do you go through the efforts to do a family trip? What do you, as a grandfather, get out of it?
It’s a time when the whole family is together and can relax without all the day-to-day requirements of family life — kid activities, household chores and work. When you remove these elements, it allows for high value family time. It is this time that brings the family closer together.
What’s your favorite part?
Having real individual time with each member of the family. I get to connect one on one with the children and grandchildren. It’s not just the events, but even the moments in between, like when just one of the grandkids and I are eating cereal together, where I get to really just hang-out with each person. I really attribute the strong bond that the family has maintained, even with the geographical separation, to these trips and connections.
How have the dynamics changed over the years?
Dramatically!! They have gone from having to worry about your own children’s activities, to being able to watch my children take care of their children and their activities. The funny thing is that when the two oldest children were 18 and 19, we took the family to Europe, figuring it would be the last time the kids wouldn’t want to travel with us … ha ha ha! That didn’t happen. We are still traveling together 25 years later. Through divorces, geographic dispersement and minimal vacation time allotments, we’ve religiously carved out time for these trips.
What are the ingredients for an enjoyable multi-generational vacation?
Go to places where there is something for everyone to enjoy either doing or seeing – mostly we’ve done relaxing beach trips that offer a multitude sports so people don’t get bored. With the exception of Italy, we stay in one large home for the week. This reduces the travel and logistics while providing the family a common lounging area and a kitchen facility. The house needs to be big enough for everyone to have some space. Another key element to the trips is that we have meals brought in or prepared at the house. Eating out with 9 young kids is seldom an enjoyable experience. So, this is a huge reduction in both cost and stress.
What’s been the hardest part?
The planning. Finding the time and the place. And in a small part – the noise! With 9 grandchildren we make sure that we have our own space where we can get a way when we need to … although it’s not often!
Where to next?
We tried to pull of a last minute trip to Hawaii over Christmas week in 2008, but were too late to make it happen. Sixteen middle seats would make for a tough trip. So we are now planning to go to Maui in 2009.