When your kids and grandkids start moving into the “grown and flown” stage, you can begin to travel in ways that are different from when they were younger – with and without them! Here are some of our favorite travel opportunities for empty-nester (or empty-nester adjacent) parents and grandparents:
I have fond memories of my family’s visit to Italy while I was studying abroad for the semester in Florence. I was able to share my love of the country and give them an insider view (and translation services), and they treated me to some shopping, restaurants and hotel stays that were beyond my student budget. When my older son chose Florence for his study abroad experience 30 years later, we made plans for our whole family to spend spring break in Tuscany with Will. Unfortunately, that was in April of 2020, so our trip didn’t happen… Now that many of my friends’ kids are back to studying, working, or taking a gap year abroad, this type of travel is back on the planning boards! How wonderful it can be to share in your child or grandchild’s joy and even channel some of that envy (C’mon, admit it.) into an extraordinary trip. Let your young adult demonstrate their international independence and act as your personal tour guide!
Pro Tip: Work with your young adults as well as with a travel advisor to build an itinerary that combines the student perspective with family-friendly accommodations and experiences that will be perfect for all travelers.
One of the wonderful aspects of moving into the middle years with a group of close friends is watching each others’ kids grow and celebrate their milestones together. From baptisms to bar mitzvahs and high school graduations, milestones are even more meaningful when shared with the family and friends who mean the most to you. Now that many of our friends’ kids are grown, we’ve been able to combine some of these celebrations with travel opportunities when attending their kids’ weddings. We’ve been to Charleston, Richmond, and New York City with the same group of friends, and during those trips we’ve spent time together in a way that’s very different than hanging out on our decks at home!
Pro Tip: Take full advantage of your empty nester status by extending the celebration weekend into a more extensive trip. Depending on the destination, tack on a few days at the beach, a tour of the nearby area, or an extended city stay.
I recently heard of a grandparent who has instituted a cherished tradition with their grandchildren. When each grandchild graduates high school, they can choose a domestic destination to visit with their grandparent. Upon college graduation, they choose an international trip. What an amazing way to build a legacy of lifelong learning, global exploration, and shared memories! My own dad had a smaller-scale tradition of taking each of the grandkids to see “Lion King” on Broadway for their 5th birthdays (which means he’s seen the show five times!). Traveling with your grandchildren adds a unique dimension to your relationship, and that one-on-one time is a priceless gift that you can give to each other.
Pro Tip: Build your itinerary together to ensure that the trip’s activities and accommodations meet the needs of both generations. Planning together is part of the fun, and is a huge aspect of relationship-building with your grandchild!
Are you experiencing the exhilaration of launching your child or grandchild into the world of adulting? Congratulations! And bonus points if they are setting themselves up in or near a great travel destination. Make the most of their move. Offer to do a road trip with them to their new location, spend a few days shopping for home decor and hanging shelves, and have some travel fun while you’re there. When our son moved to Nashville after finishing his undergraduate degree, we brought him a bunch of housewares and helped him set up his new apartment, and we did some sightseeing in Music City. We’re planning a return trip for his graduate school commencement along with more family members and hopefully more Tennessee fun.
Pro Tip: Do some research on your young adult’s new city and plan an special outing or event as a sort of housewarming gift. You could go to a highly-rated restaurant together or take a VIP tour to help them enjoy their new digs!
Business travel has been building back over the past year, as the pandemic shutdowns have lifted. If your company is having you travel for conferences or meetings, your status as an empty nester or parent of older teens can be a perfect opportunity to build in some travel time and have part of your expenses paid for. Since you don’t have to rush back home for childcare or kids’ activities, why not have a spouse or friend join you and extend the time at the destination with an amazing leisure itinerary? Take advantage of this time when you still have an income but also have the flexibility to spend more time away from home!
Pro Tip: Make sure you are clear on your company’s policies for spouses or other guests joining you when you travel for business. For example, will they be able to stay in the hotel room with you and participate in any of the company events, or do you need to plan your leisure travel completely separately?
Have you taken advantage of any of these opportunities for travel? What’s your favorite way to make the most of the flexibility that comes as your kids or grandkids become more independent? We’d love to help you explore these and other ideas for traveling into your middle and golden years. Contact us today to start planning!
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