15th April 2019
As grandparents happily live longer, healthier lives, skip-gen holidays are on the rise, where grandparents take grandchildren on holiday, giving parents a breather. Family Traveller followed Jill and Marnie on their girls-only, skip-gen adventure to India
If you’re part of the Third Age and want an ideal travelling companion, then try your grandchildren! Having just experienced the trip of a lifetime with my 11-year-old granddaughter, Marnie, I highly recommend combining the generations. Far from a two-fold generation gap, this was a successful experience in closing the gap.
What could a 74-year-old with no knowledge of pop stars or social media, possibly share with a pre-teen? Well, numerous things as it turns out. Firstly, there’s the comfortable companionship. No taking sides, just the two of us to converse on the passing scene, sites we visited, or making joint decisions on what to do, where to eat. All were a joy.
It was nice not to have to make decisions alone, and for an 11-year-old I could see it was a valuable exercise in confidence building, all in good stead for one day striking out on a gap-year trip.
The pace was something we both appreciated. We were in India visiting the Golden Triangle sites. I recommend doing a trip with interest, as this one was, rather than purely beach type holiday. Visiting historical, architectural sites, wondrous in pure scale alone, provided us with fascinating insights into a completely different culture. We had plenty of opportunity to discuss things after our visits.
I may decry technology at home but it can be a blessing on a trip, filling ‘boring’ moments in airport departure lounges and on long road trips. Even keeping in touch with friends on Instagram made me feel that I hadn’t ‘kidnapped’ Marnie from her own world. And no worries over missing Mum with daily texts, calls to excitedly report on the day’s events, say good night. And I had great backup from her tapping out helpful information, directions, remembering room numbers and setting alarm clocks.
Dining in the evening was another pleasure. Happy to dress for a nice dinner and old enough to appreciate a nice dining ambience, recognising tunes played in the piano bar with our predinner drinks, Marnie was adventurous with menu choices. Mealtimes gave us time to talk about things that the normal busy schedule does not afford.
A 10pm bedtime conveniently suited both of us. She managed some school reading time while I had quiet time to think through the next day.
I heartily urge seniors to take a holiday with grandchildren. The trip itself was great, but the bonus of the companionship made it extra special.
The highlight of our trip to India was the Taj Mahal because I had seen it in magazines and on television, and always wanted to be there in real life. When I was actually standing in front of it, it was incredible. We were there at sunrise and the pink and blue from the sky reflected off the white marble making it glow.
Another one of my favourites was Shimla, in the foothills of the Himalayas, because it had a whole different feel to the rest of the places we visited. The views were incredible with layers and layers of green, continuous hills and it was not nearly as busy as the rest of India.
My main bit of advice about travelling with grandparents, is that the grandkids should take care of the technology, because otherwise you will end up with your grandparents asking for the WiFi on the plane in the middle of the air! It was my job to log us both into the WiFi as soon as we got to another new hotel, that meant we could keep in touch with my Mum back home who wanted updates every five seconds!
My favourite hotel was the Oberoi in Shimla – we met some lovely people who were doing the same tour as us and we chatted with them about our travels. I also tried a relaxing Indian head massage there and I also really liked the decor from the time of the Raj.
The food was delicious, not as spicy as I expected. My favourite meals of the trip were the Goan prawn curry at the hotel Samode Haveli in Jaipur because it was full of flavour, and the classic chicken tikka masala at the Oberoi because you could really taste all the different spices.
It was lovely travelling with my grandma because it built an even stronger relationship between the two of us. Also, she really wanted to go, so it made me happy that I could please her.