I often joke about my dad’s trust fund, which goes a little something like this: he trusts that I will fund him.
Helping my dad, who still works part-time as a public school classroom assistant, isn’t too difficult. He’s a man of few needs, a man who lives in what I will lovingly refer to as a “mobile home community,” and who asks for not much more than my Netflix password. Still, dad will not be leaving me a heap of cash.
That being said, he’s actually adding a huge amount of value as a grandparent, not just in the obvious, sentimental, emotional ways, by being a steady, loving presence in the lives of my children. He’s also a really big help to us when we travel, providing an extra set of hands and a super cheap, highly qualified, pre-vetted sitter. And it seems we aren’t alone in taking trips with grandpa; more than a quarter of all U.S. travelers are grandparents, and 42 percent of them took a trip with their children and grandchildren last year. Prognosticators predict this will continue to trend upward.
Multi-generational travel isn’t just about grandparents, but a growing segment of the population knows as “PANKS” – Professional Aunts, No Kids.
You may not have heard the term, but I bet you know a few. PANKs are women with close relationships with children of friends or relatives, so close that they frequently travel with said nieces, nephews, godchildren, etc.
If you have a PANK in your life, you have hit the parental jackpot, and it’s the very least you can do to invite said PANK along on a road trip from time to time, footing the bill and always springing for an extra room. See, your kids will want to sleep with their PANK, who will likely have far more liberal bedtime and screen time rules, thus leaving you to sleep in and/or watch a marathon of some random MSNBC show about prison life.
We’ve taken gramps to Los Angeles, Tucson, Philadelphia, and beyond.
Sometimes parents are annoying, and that’s a story as old as time. Still, so many of my fondest memories of our family trips involve seeing my boys with my dad. Moreover, much of the reason I can be my most relaxed self on these trips, is because my husband and I have some breaks, vacations within our family vacation, that stave off the exhaustion and resentment that can creep into any family travel situation by about day two.
These days, technology has made it easier to “see” relatives.
But Skyping isn’t building a sand castle, or sharing a mango on a stick on the boardwalk, or jogging up the “Rocky” stairs, or jumping on a freshly made hotel bed together.
So, while I’m rarely “on trend” when it comes to just about anything (I’m still wearing pink knit Uggs and listening to Journey), I’m pretty psyched to be right on it with this one.
If there are relatives you want to see face-to-face, choose a destination that works for everyone and make it happen this year. After all, traveling with only your nuclear family is just so 2016.