For us, family travel is a legacy: It’s a priceless inheritance that’s been passed on from one generation to the next.
From immigrant families that established new roots in the United States to pioneering families who headed west and farming families who settled down across the plains, my husband’s family history is filled with trailblazing spirit and adventurous exploration. I vote for multi-generational travel because it gives us a chance to share this legacy of traveling as a family with those who are still an active part of that family history.
We are also “next generation” homeschoolers, and the many educational excursions my husband experienced growing up homeschooled by travel-loving parents played an important role in developing his love for learning. We knew we wanted to make educational travel a priority in homeschooling our three daughters. What better way for us to pass along the gift of the on-the-road, hands-on learning he received than to include his parents in our own journeys!
Taking Two Trips in One
One of my favorite traveling memories is worshipping in the same century-old little brick church my father-in-law grew up attending in a small Nebraska farming town. As we sat in those old wooden pews, filling the room with praise, I began to imagine how this tiny, humid sanctuary looked to all those present who had childhood memories here, from trying to stay quiet for the sermon to celebrating family weddings and baby dedications.
Later my father-in-law shared some fun stories with us about hiding out in the church basement to stay cool and climbing the trees that provided a peek into the church windows when they were sent outside. He brought the empty, inactive church building back to life for us.
When the grandparents come along, you’re not just sharing one experience together in real time, you’re also stepping back in time and experiencing that location’s history through their eyes. It’s a perspective only they can provide, and it adds deeper context to the adventure at hand.
In real time, this small town seemed like a simple traveler’s stop off the interstate: with a few hotels, chain restaurants, and gas stations. As we drove farther into town, we began to explore the area through my in-laws’ eyes, driving past the abundant fields started by pioneering farmers that built a community where there was none.
Our family roots in this small town were planted back in the 1800s when, as part of a government program, my husband’s paternal great-grandfather developed previously unused land with the trade-off of planting trees as he cultivated his farm. Now the rows upon rows of towering corn stalks and groves of shady trees we drove past had a story to tell!
Widening Educational Horizons
Remember how special it was to learn a family recipe with Grandma or get to help Grandpa with some yard work? Your children feel the same way — and they can soak up so much more when traveling with their grandparents. My daughters have learned to clean freshly caught fish from Grandma, and they’ve become junior “rockhounds” hiking with Grandpa. There are skills to be passed on and wisdom to be shared in the process when you’re on the road with the grandparents.
We’ve also attended homeschooling and discipleship conferences together. Attending Teach Them Diligently, one of our favorite yearly conventions, with my mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and some of our daughters, was an experience we’ll never forget. Not only did we have fun vacationing together, we sat side by side in sessions that inspired and encouraged us in different ways. Through nightly “downloads” in our PJs, we also gained a multi-generational perspective on what we were learning.
As homeschoolers, we want our children to see us learning just as much as we want them to learn from us. When we travel with their grandparents, we participate as students right alongside them as their grandparents share knowledge and wisdom with all of us.
My family would not have a backyard garden if my children and I had not worked side by side with my in-laws tending their garden and pruning their orchard. The best part was seeing my girls even more excited than I was to put into practice what we had learned together.
Strengthening Family Bonds
Multi-generational travel gives you the opportunity to strengthen family bonds in a unique and profound way. Although I have loved taking a step back in time through the eyes of my in-laws, and I’m grateful for all that my children and I have learned from them, I’m most blessed by the solid relationships we’ve developed traveling together over the years.
The destination is irrelevant: What matters is what takes place along your journey together. The conversations over many hours spent driving across the country, the teaching moments while hiking or sitting on a lakeshore, and the laughs around a hotel coffee table while playing board games — these are the experiences that have helped us grow stronger as a family.
Sure, there are moments when we want to retreat to our personal space when we don’t agree on where to eat or what activity to do that day. There are other challenges you might face, such as travel or physical limitations for the grandparents, or strained family relationships. However, if it’s physically possible, financially practical, and emotionally reasonable for grandparents to join you on some of your family adventures, I think you won’t regret it!
Pass on the legacy or start your own: Vote for multi-generational travel!
Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, consultant & home-educating mother of three daughters. She has been married for 21 years to her best friend Kenny, whom she met while attending Oral Roberts University in the early 90s. A former journalist, Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She is editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her outdoor-loving family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado when they’re not on the road having their next educational adventure!
ENTER TO WIN BELOW:
The Prize – A Four (4) Night Getaway Includes:
One (1) winner* will receive
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*Terms and prize details can be found at WordTraveling