Thinking about the wonderful stories I hear from clients when they return from their trips and the joy they had sharing various experiences together inspires this week’s article as we move into the holiday season…
The Gift of Travel
As we’ve moved into November, the upcoming holidays are already obvious as shopping centers are already decorated and the Christmas commercials are starting.
As the Black Friday advertisements begin, I’d like to suggest the most meaningful and memorable of gifts – travel. Travel is a special and exciting way to bring people together, and it can be a way to provide amazing life moments.
Instead of standing in line at stores or clicking on Amazon, gifting travel experiences is simple and profound at the same time. One of the benefits of giving experiences is that it provides anticipation of the future, and the excitement lasts for a longer time.
For many people, the opportunity to experience adventures together is valued more than ‘stuff’.
Think back – do you remember that gift you unwrapped last Christmas?
Various family members can be hard to buy for, and sometimes we just run out of time and just get…whatever. Creating a family travel experience can take ‘whatever’ to amazing. And create such special memories.
I think we all learned from the ‘2020 situation that dare not speak its name’ that we can’t expect to wait to do special activities and travels in some long-unnamed future, and that we need to capture the special moments together now. The kids will only be this age now. Elderly parents will be able to travel only so long.
“Fill your life with experiences. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” –Unknown
If you have older parents, consider planning a trip together. They don’t need more stuff but would be thrilled to spend time with their grown children. I know my mom was so excited when I got to that stage to invite her on a few trips, and she loved the time with me alone, without my husband or kids.
One of my favorite memories is a cruise we took from Rome to Venice when she was 88 years old, about four months before she broke her hip. She was in her element, enjoying the music, meeting new people, and appreciating the amazing opportunity to explore the cities of Italy and Croatia.
If you have grown kids, a trip together for the parents and ‘kids’ to be together in a new environment can present the opportunity for deeper conversations and seeing each other with new eyes. Sharing time discovering new destinations and trying different activities creates recent memories for family stories.
I started doing that with my kids and I treasure that time so much. In 2018 I traveled with my daughter Mary Kate on a cruise in Alaska, in 2019 I did a two-week cruise around the islands of Japan with my son Johnny, and in 2021 my son Michael and I did a Danube River cruise together. It’s fantastic to get that one-on-one time with them now that they are grown, and I have unique memories and stories for each one of them. Granted, I am in a unique position to make these trips happen, but you can too with proper planning.
I’ve found that traveling together has created some of the best memories.
For those who are into the grandparent stage, your role as patriarch or matriarch is a great excuse to bring the family together to travel and share time outside of the usual home situation. Multi-generational trips are a growing aspect of travel – with families spread out across the country, travel allows family members to gather together and strengthen bonds. Grandparents want to spend quality time with their adult kids and grandchildren, and travel provides new experiences that create opportunities for sharing special moments.
My mom started traveling with her friend Doris after I went off to college and wanted to share the love of seeing the world with her grandchildren. She came up with a plan that when each grandkid graduated from grade school, she would take them on a three-week trip to Europe. Those trips were so special for her and each of the kids that traveled with her, and stories of those trips are still told within the family thirty years later.
By the time my kids were graduating from grade school, Meca (their name for my mom) was older and had already done a few of those three-week European trips, so she shifted the plan to give each graduating kid a check with the funds specifically earmarked to travel. I was disappointed that my kids didn’t get to do those one-on-one trips with my mom but understood that it was getting harder for her to keep up with the pace of the tours.
It was one of the great joys of Mom’s life when my two boys pooled their ‘Meca money’ to plan a six-week trip around Europe. After watching them fight as young kids, the fact that they were now traveling together made her so happy. Her goal of blessing each of the grandkids with the love of travel was a gift they all appreciate.
If you’d like to give travel as a gift, you don’t have to make all the decisions up front. Depending on the travel idea, we can work with you to come up with the general plan for the gift, and then the recipient and gift-giver can plan the actual itinerary or details in the new year. Of course, unwrapping presents is part of the fun, and we can assist in creating the special package to announce the excitement of the travel gift.
Travel is more than an item to be unwrapped. It’s a conversation and ideas discussing the details. It’s anticipation and excitement looking forward to the possibilities. It’s reading travel books and looking on Instagram for cool pictures of the destination.
Travel experiences bring folks closer together. Shared times become a future inside joke, a story repeated every holiday, a memory that makes you tear up.
The joy of travel is that you create lasting memories together – long past the time of getting ‘stuff’.