Alaska, the Virgin Islands, Kenya, Holland. Today's seniors are heading out on adventures—and suitcases aren't all they're taking with them. According to a 2002 report by Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell, Orlando-based market researchers, 35 percent of all grandparents traveled with a grandchild in 2001, up from 29 percent the previous year. Grandparents and grandkids can chart their own course (hotel and airline senior discounts available) or pick a tour designed for intergenerational groups. They can even sign up for camp together. Just make sure they remember to drop a postcard to the folks back home.
Take an organized trip
Butterfield & Robinson, Thomson Family Adventures, Abercrombie & Kent, Backroads, and scores of other outfitters orchestrate group outings for families. In addition, the following firms have trips specifically for grandparents and grandkids—in many cases, no parents allowed.
Grandtravel 800/247-7651 or 301/986-0790; www.grandtrvl.com . How about 13 nights in Alaska ($6,475 per adult, $6,010 per child, airfare not included) with sea kayaking, river rafting, and a ride in a sled pulled by huskies?Or maybe a 14-day Kenya safari ($7,995 per adult, from $6,950 per child, round-trip airfare from New York City included) with a tour of a giraffe refuge, a night game drive, and luxurious tented camps?Grandtravel, a pioneer in upscale trips for grandparents and grandkids (ages 7 to 17), leads 16 different teacher-escorted summer vacations (each with several date options) in the United States and abroad. Seventy-five percent of its clients are grandmothers; average age, 65.
Elderhostel 877/426-8056; www.elderhostel.org . This not-for-profit educational travel outfit, specializing in trips for elders, has also offered intergenerational programs since 1985. Bike through Holland ($3,020 per adult for 13 nights, airfare from New York City and hotels included; call for child rate); research UFO hoaxes and build rockets near Roswell, New Mexico ($550 per adult for 5 nights, airfare not included; call for child rate); bask in art and urban culture at Chicago's Art Institute ($684 per adult, $656 per child, with six nights in a hotel, airfare not included). There are 200 trips—and counting—to choose from.
Sierra Club Outings 415/977-5522; www.sierraclub.org/outings/national . It's off to the Sierra Nevada for the environmental organization's annual six-day summer experience, Just for Grandparents and Grandkids (from $425 per adult, $325 per child, ages five and up). Participants stay at the club's Clair Tappaan Lodge, near the Donner Pass, a 45-minute drive from Reno. Days are devoted to hikes, tram rides above Squaw Valley, and trips to Lake Tahoe. Meals are family-style, and everyone pitches in with clean-up. Thanks to the popularity of this trip, the Sierra Club is debuting two new itineraries—seven days in the U.S. Virgin Islands ($1,095 per adult, $845 per child) and six in the foothills of western Massachusetts ($595 per adult, $495 per child).
Go to camp
Great Camp Sagamore Raquette Lake, N.Y.; 315/354-5311; www.sagamore.org . Throughout July and August, grandparents and kids (ages 6 to 14) converge on the Gilded Age Adirondacks retreat of Alfred Vanderbilt—the only historic "great camp" that's now a public institution—for six-day "Grands Camps" ($595 per adult, $475 per teen, $375 per preteen; Elderhostel runs five of the six sessions). No phones or TV's in the lodge rooms, but there's plenty to do: canoeing, biking, swimming, outings to Sagamore Lake, and, of course (this being camp), arts and crafts.