Travelling with Grandma–the benefits of Multi-generational Travel on our trip to Colombia #SeniorTravel

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Travelling with Grandma - The benefits of multi-generational travel
Travelling with Grandma – Senior Travel with Grandchildren

I love travelling with my family and the best part is being able to experience these special moments with my parents.  Some of the best memories are based on multi-generational or inter-generational travel with my mother or mother-in-law.  I come to this naturally because as a child, my grandmother came to stay with us for extended periods of time.  We often took weekend camping or road trips with her, my mother and father. I still remember loading up our family station wagon, pulling a U-haul with all our camping gear and heading off to see Canada.  We traveled as an extended family all the way to British Columbia one summer and the Maritime provinces the next.

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My mother and I creating memories

Making those kinds of travel memories for my children has been centred around dance competitions or sports. As my children are now young adults, I enjoy travelling with them more in the scope of adventure than as a parent dragging their kids to ‘another museum’.   On a recent trip to Colombia with my second child, we met up with my mother to continue this travelling tradition.

Multi-generational Traveling with Grandma - @DownshiftingPRO
My mom on the left with her older sister in the middle and younger on the right

On my last trip to Colombia, 18 years ago, was when my daughter was 18 months old. It was time to return and show her where I and her Lita (my mom) were born.  It was an opportunity for my mom to show her where she spent most of her life.  We were able to visit with family and even look through an old album or two.  This is one of the main benefits, seeing a place through their eyes. Letting grandma or grandpa tell you about what life was like ‘way back when”.  It’s a way for families to reconnect.  When travelling with seniors, there are a few tips and tricks to make it easier.

Pace yourself

Time changes and higher altitudes can affect anyone so you need to pace yourself.  The altitude can be a killer, so stay close to home and somewhat sedentary for the first 24-48 hours.  This will help your body acclimatize to the higher altitude and the jet lag.  Because altitude sickness can give you a very bad headache, it’s best to take medication to ease any pain. You may be going at a slower pace but the benefits of keeping healthy while traveling is priceless.

Rest when you can

Any tourist, you likely want to see as much as you can.  So you rush around from one museum to the other.  On our trip, we hit up three museums in one day.  We went to the Gold Museum in the morning, had lunch at the museum (rest #1) then headed over to the Emerald Museum – right across the street.  We then walked over to the Botero Museum and had a hot chocolate and snack before going in (rest #2).  We caught a UBER later and pick-up snacks for the long car ride home – about 45 minutes! The ride home provided rest #3 instead of taking a long transit ride home!

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Help Yourself Out

The best tip I have for anyone visiting a museum is rent the audio tour.  The sequence of steps will help guide you to see the most important pieces and will also limit getting lost!  When you are at the museums, take advantage of sitting down and taking it all in.  Don’t rush with your senior, make sure to read the placards and listen to the audio tour.

Gold Museum Bogota Colombia @DownshiftingPRO

Keep Close by

We wanted to tackle the museums in one day because it was no small task to get downtown – selecting attractions which are close together saved us time and energy.  Even as we traveled to other cities outside of Bogotá, we tried to cover off items on our bucket list. I wanted to go to a grocery store to take some pictures of all the fruits (for a future blog post) so we headed off to a nearby town that would have a great variety and it provided a day trip opportunity.  We also picked up some fruits to make fresh juice later on. My mom and aunt then taught my daughter how to make one of my grandmother’s favourite juices.  This task brought with it stories about how much Granny loved gulupa juice, this brought up other memories which were shared with us.

Create greater memories

History has a way of integrating itself into memories of events they experienced first hand.  This kind of information makes your parent a ‘real’ person to your children – they went to school, had a childhood home in the country, a love for a particular region.  On a side trip, we came across a satellite site of her elementary school.  It was a special moment for her to share with her granddaughter.  The site was new to her but the school emblem and crest were not.  That created a whole different conversation on school uniforms and being taught by nuns.

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Multi-generational travel includes extended family

A great example of how rewarding traveling with the senior can be is when we traveled with my mother-in-law to Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, the cars that were displayed were ones that her parents had as a child or she had when newly married. I recall my MIL telling our son about a particular detail of her life which brought her joy.  It was a forgotten memory until she saw the car.

Cut your losses

Although it may be more cost-effective to take public transport, the public system is very well used here in Colombia so it can get packed.  Riding the Millennium bus system is efficient but avoid peak hours.  My suggestion is, if are at least two of you (there were three and sometimes 4 of us), it was most cost-effective to take an UBER.  Note that UBER is not yet legal in Bogotá or Medellin so be sure and have at least one person sit upfront with the driver.  We found travelling in UBER was the cheapest and safest way to get around.

Multi-Generationa. and Intergenerational Travel - Having fun with your Grandma @DownshiftingPRO
Three Generations of Travelers

Keep Perspective

Remember this is not a sprint it’s a marathon, you may have to adjust your expectations on how much you can do it one trip.  My daughter and I were looking to add a road trip that would take us out of Bogota for a few days.  We considered a trip to the family country home in Nilo but opted to go to Medellin instead.  I had never been and I was looking forward to exploring somewhere brand new with my daughter.  Medellin is about a 40-minute flight.  We would be flying in and out four days in total and then we were going to fly back to Canada 48 hours later.  This means many flights in such a short period of time were just too much for my mom.  Not to mention the fatigue of heavy touring days.  So we decided to go it alone.  The benefit was she was able to spend some quality time with my aunt before she left and we had some time to explore on our own. The only regret was we went to Guatape as a side trip and she has never been!

Just do it!

Putting those life experiences together makes the intergenerational or multi-generational trip very special.  As our population gets older and our parents are healthier in their senior years, take advantage and TRAVEL WITH THEM.  Travelling with a senior can be very rewarding and interesting.  All I know is this, we have a limited amount of time with our parents so the more we can spend with them, the better.  When I hear my children say: “remember the time we went on vacation and did this with [grandpa], [grammie], [Papis & Lita], it’s music to my ears.  We love the benefits of travelling with the senior members of our family because the memories which are created are ones we will remember for a lifetime.

Multi-Generational Travel Making it work for Senior Travel @DownshiftingPRO
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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.