Bridging the generation gap--whether it is measured by miles, years or technology preferences--can be challenging for grandparents and grandchildren. One of the best ways to bring these two groups closer together is through a shared experience, such as a special vacation together.
One of Bushtracks' travelers, Abby Campbell, is about to embark with her husband Leon on their third safari with their grandchildren, and shared her advice on how this can be a wonderful bonding experience.
Make it a Tradition
Having been to Africa themselves, the Campbells thought it would be a great place to share with their grandchildren. Unfortunately, their combined group of 13 grandchildren, with ages spanning 12 years, made traveling as a large group difficult.
They decidied to break down the group and invite smaller groups of three grandchildren to accompany them as they hit their early teens. As a bonus, the cousins, spread across the United States from Boston to Honolulu, got to spend extended time with one another, as well as their grandparents, on the trip. This idea took hold in 2007, and has proven a successful formula that continues to the present.
Pick the Perfect Age
11 to 13 years old has been the best age for their grandchildren to travel with them, according to the Campbells. The kids are old enough to be independent, but not yet so far progressed into their teenaged years that they are disconsolate without the constant presence of cell phones or boyfriends. They find that this age group is enthusiastic, willing to try everything offered to them, and so appreciative of the adventure. In preparation for their upcoming trip to Tanzania, their grandchildren have already read, unprompted, the books on Africa that Bushtracks supplies.
Find the Right Mix of Activities
Still, it's important, they caution, to acknowledge that teens can get restless if game-viewing is the only activity on offer. For this reason, structuring the trip to include safari activities and cultural experiences over the two weeks is a must. Over the years the Campbells have taken their grandchildren to Soweto Township, met children at an orphanage in Livingstone, and visited Robben Island in Cape Town together. MalaMala Camp in Kruger National Park, is a family favorite where they saw all the Big Five wildlife during a sundowner capped of by their grandchildren learning songs and dancing with their guides.
Even for repeat-visitors to Africa, like the Campbells, an adventure of this type ideally requires a year's advance planning to coordinate schedules.
Take your Family on one of the best safaris for all generations. Have a look at a Bustracks favorite: Southern Africa's Best Private Reserves.