Nontraditional Travel Options: Gramping, Giving Back and More

by | Dec 2019

A mother holds hands with her children on a beach.

Photo: Mark Murray

Experiential gift ideas from a local travel advisor.

Family-focused cruises offer a variety of activities to satisfy everyone in the family.

According to Claudia M. Laroye, founding editor of The Travelling Mom, “Once you’re onboard the ship, family members can be as active or as relaxed as they wish, stay together or go off independently. Plus, your parents or in-laws can easily get one-on-one time with their grandkids without a logistics hassle.”

Other family travel alternatives include luxury retreats. You’ll find well-vetted homes in truly breathtaking destinations. And you’ll find that luxury is more affordable when you divide the day rate by six to eight family members.

A more structured option is “gramping” programs at ranches in Montana, farms in Pennsylvania and all-inclusive resorts. Many of these focus on grandparents and children.

In these cases, an intended consequence might be parents enjoying a week at home alone.

Keep the Giving Going …
Children ages six and up can participate as part of a family volunteer program in destinations from Ecuador to Poland, Italy or Greece through nonprofits like Twin Cities based Global Volunteers. Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers connect families from all over the country to projects worldwide.

According to Michele Gran, Global Volunteers co-founder, “Baby boomers first discovered the sense of fulfillment that comes through volunteerism, and they want to pass it on to their grandchildren.”

Families can serve in a range of roles in destinations as far as China or as close as South Dakota. As volunteers, children can engage one on one with people in another land while exploring local cultural attractions and architectural sites in their free time. The result is families bonding with each other as they bond with new cultures.

Most safari outfitters also have philanthropic arms that can arrange visits to small villages to plant trees, serve meals or socialize with children. Actually, anytime you’re visiting poor or remote regions in less-developed countries, your travel advisor can help you find opportunities to do some good. It could be as simple as packing supplies to donate to local schools upon arrival.

Yes, for many families, the question of “What to give” is being replaced with “Where to do the giving” and the experience will be treasured for a lifetime.

Mark Murray is a travel advisor at Newmark Travel, an Edina based affiliate of Pique Travel and member of the Virtuoso Travel Network.


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