Rex knows FAMILY TRAVEL:
Getting together - really getting together:
There is just no better way to invest your discretionary dollar and your time than in inviting your family, your children and grand-children to join you on a travel experience. My wife and I are firm believers in this. Our children are dispersed from Seattle to the Bahamas, and, even those close by are so wrapped up in their work and endless school activities that they don't know which end is up.
If it were not for getting everybody together on a trip we would never get to see our families - and they would never get to see each other.
Getting to know our grand-children:
We have followed a pleasant and rewarding habit of celebrating each grand-child's tenth birthday by taking him or her alone with us on a short trip - each one to a different destination: Alaska, Washington DC, Colorado, a 3-day cruise to Canada, etc.
Likewise, we have taken teen-age grand-children on a quickie spring-break visit to Amsterdam, Switzerland, etc. using the prevailing cheapie transatlantic winter weekend air-fares.
Most important, we feel, is that we yank them away from their TV-saturated world and expose them to a real foreign country and environment. We do not waste effort and money just sitting with them on a beach or visiting the make-believe (plastic) world of Disney. This they will do soon enough on their tribal spring-break rituals.
But, how long will it be before they experience a foreign country with people speaking a funny language and food that does not include fries and ketchup? Our teen grand-daughters had never seen streetcars, never walked through an art gallery, never tasted a Fondue, never observed "working ladies" plying their trade, never seen high mountains, never used foreign monies, and never heard American hit tunes sung in a foreign language.
By the way, if you feel you cannot cope with traveling alone with your grand- child or children, we use a great tour operator that does nothing else but run fully escorted group tours exclusively for grand-parents and their grand-children - mostly within the USA and to Europe. What a neat idea!
Such travel experiences remain in your and your grand-childrens' memories
Celebrating the BIG event in your life:
Instead of investing effort and lots of money in yet another boring birthday or anniversary bash - that, sadly, many of your closest family members cannot attend, do what we and more and more people are doing: Namely, celebrating such an event surrounded by close family on a trip.
Here are just a few examples of family vacations we have planned:
For our own honeymoon (2nd marriages for both of us) we chartered a large sailboat and invited all our children and their significant others to cruise the British Virgins with us. Even though we hit a lot of rain, had the engine break down and one of the heads (toilets) back up. . . . all nine of us had a helluva good time.
For Barbara's BIG birthday we rented a large beach-front, fully staffed villa at Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The fifteen of us - of all ages - just had a ball. We even designed and wore matching t-shirts - see the picture.
This June the S. family in Lake Forest, IL, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by inviting their children and grandchildren on a one-week cruise from New York to Bermuda - a perfect vacation for all, as the ship spends 3 days on Bermuda. This gave all family members the opportunity to do their own thing
.. beaching, golf, sightseeing and shopping. Their highlight was our arranging a privately chartered boat to snorkel the reefs around Bermuda.
Mr. and Mrs. H. of Pasadena, CA, had us arrange a cruise to Alaska for their extended family of 19. So, while enjoying the many facilities ranging from Broadway shows to a climbing wall, and, most important, special programs for all ages of children, they all got to see the wonders of Alaska: The glaciers, whales, the Inside Passage, the White Pass & Yukon Railroad, etc. Needless to say, this family get-together was an outstanding success.
We are already working on a family reunion for Mr. and Mrs. N in Burr Ridge, IL. For next June when they are celebrating both a big birthday and a golden anniversary they want to take everybody - a total of 23 (!) - back to their roots in Italy. We shall lay on for them their own chartered motor coach with private guide and carefully plan with them a day by day program that will please every member of their family. What a great event this will be!
Two large Wisconsin families are getting away on a Christmas Cruise into the warm and sunny Caribbean. This sure beats trying to get everybody to fly into frigid Chicago or Milwaukee and fight through possible snow-drifts to their Wisconsin homes.
Why is cruising so popular for families?
There are plenty of activities for all age groups. Most ships have planned childrens' activities, special meals, etc.
Nannies and baby sitters are readily available.
Just about everything is pre-paid. Voracious teens can eat their fill.
The family is together most of the time. Most meals are enjoyed together.
Special events can be arranged
The grand-parents really don't relish sitting all the time on a sand beach.
The ship offers endless opportunity to let off steam, from the pools to the fitness center.
Much time is spent ashore. Depending on the itinerary the shore activities can range from water sports on tropical beaches to hiking the rainforests of Central America to landing by ski-plane on Alaskan glaciers.
The cruise lines with their air/sea plans will arrange for all family members originating from all over the USA to get to the pier and return home.
No, the little darlings will not fall overboard - haven't yet.
They're having too much of a good time!