Thursday, March 31, 2011
Mulitgenerational Travel Bargains
When I was a little girl and dinosaurs roamed airport tarmacs, my Spanish grandmother took me back to Spain for the vacation of a lifetime. “Abuela” was a no nonsense woman, so I was on my best behavior. She asked the man sitting next to me in the airplane to put out his cigarette (yes, they used to smoke on airplanes back when).
He refused, so she took care of it.
When he went to the bathroom, leaving his ciggie on the ash tray, she leaned over, snubbed it out, then took his package of cigarettes and hid them. When he returned, he was confused for a minute and gave me a hard look. It was then he noticed the evil eye my 4’ 10” Abuela was giving him and he dropped the subject of smokes.
Ah, traveling with Abuela. Good times. Good times.
Multigenerational travel has always been popular, but thanks to a recovering tourist industry and great bargains available in a post recession economy, there has never been a better time for grandparents to hit the road with their progeny. Here are some trends and tips to keep in mind when planning this year’s travel.
Being a part of a military family, meant that we had extended family members visit when my spouse deployed. Or, they may come to just see our part of the world. It also means that sometimes grandparents want to bond with their grandchildren and take the kids off your hands at the same time. Whether you are hosting family or getting rid of family (for a little while), you can take that multigenerational vacation for less.
To help extended family members get the best deals, start by subscribing to the top travel email alert sites and check them daily in order to begin your research. Don’t forget to check for military discounts, too! Some of the best alerts are found at travelzoo.com, kayak.com, smartertravel.com and travel-ticker.com . Be flexible with your destinations and get even more savings. If a cruise to the Mexican Riveria ends up costing ½ of what a trip to Disneyland costs, then readjust your expectations and save the mouse ears for another year.
Then compare the alert prices with values found at the one-stop shopping site called BookingBuddy.com . At this site, you’ll find deals from 140 travel sites including Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline. When in doubt as to whether “now” is the best time to book your flight or package, go to bing.com’s Price Predictor to see if prices are likely to rise or fall in the next week. But before you click “buy” be sure that you’ve also gone to RetailMeNot.com to find additional codes that might get you an even better deal.
Grand Times With Grandkids!
Some Grandparents’ idea of a dream trip is to vacation with their grandkids and make forever memories that provide enrichment and education. If they like the great outdoors, the look at some of the summer camps that are geared toward grandparents and grandkids, you can find these at found at Elderhostel.org. You’ll also find options to include intergenerational educational trips worldwide with 300 learning vacations designed for grandparents and grandkids such as Share a Marine Science Adventure in Virginia or Age of the Dinosaurs in Southwest Utah National Parks. Be sure to also check out Grandtravel.com, you’ll find a site that focuses on domestic and international trips with grandparents and grandkids. The founder, a grandmother of ten, believes in leaving your grandchildren with “a cultural inheritance” that will last them a lifetime.
If your family members are active grandparents, then check out the Sierra Club’s intergenerational program in Lake Tahoe, go to Sierraclub.org/outings to find other family camp programs in your area that provide affordable camping and hiking. If grandparents are 62+, then visit the National Parks site at NPS.com where they pay only $10 for a parks pass. Usually, children sixteen years of age and under get in for free. While at this site, look at the list of camps and trails for the young and young at heart to conquer.
The most important aspect of any vacation is to concentrate on meaningful time with family members. Families can do this in any part of the country by taking advantage of daytrips where multigenerational members can share a historical experience together in your city. For example, Colonial Williamsburg may not offer a specific grandparent program, but they do offer family packages that would allow the city’s exploration to stay within a budget. Other fun trips include buying a season pass to a museum that offers reciprocal passes to other museums across the country. Go to Association of Science Technology Center (Astc.org) or the Art Museum Network (AMN.org) to explore these creative options.
Sometimes a new experience for a child becomes an adventure as well, so look for activities that your children have never participated in and open the doors for loads of fun. For example, a cross-country train trip is a wonderful way to try something different while seeing the country through a child’s eyes. Creating forever memories with your family is what true adventure is all about!
So whether you’re going to Spain with a Spanish Grandmother or driving to the Grand Canyon with a beloved Grandparent—you can have the vacation of your dreams and your dream can remain debt free as well!
Sites for Savings
Hotels.com – Find best prices on hotels internationally and earn bonus stays
Ifly.com – terminal maps, estimates on how long security lines are, where to eat.
Flightaware.com – track flights by airline and flight number within 5 minutes of real time.
Otalo.com – vacation house rental deals
Tripkick.com – detailed info on hotels and specific room info
TVtrip.com – photos of lobbies, rooms and neighborhoods
Oyster.com – pros and cons of different hotels
Voyij.com – checks best sales, promotions and package deals from departure city
Seatexpert.com – guide to the best and worst airline seats
Smartertravel.com – gives real price of airline tickets with all fees including charges for blankets, sodas, luggage and seats with more legroom.
Tripadvisor –traveler reviews on hotels, package deals, airlines and destinations
Airfarewatchdog.com – dealhounds post latest and best deals all day long.
Tripfilms.com – see traveler videos of hotels, restaurants and activities
America's Family Financial Expert (R)