Wall Street Journal - March 2008

wsj

All in the Family

Thinking about taking several generations on the same trip?

By GLENN RUFFENACH

After Nena Griffith lost her husband in 2005, the Atlanta homemaker wanted her family with her for Christmas and New Year's. But rather than stay home, Mrs. Griffith decided to try something, she recalls, to help everyone "move ahead."

She arranged for a family vacation -- the first to include all her children and grandchildren. The youngest in the group of 18 was 9 years old; Mrs. Griffith was 73.

"We hadn't done a trip like this -- where everyone was together," Mrs. Griffith says. But the resulting journey -- a trip to Africa, where the family took part in a safari -- "worked beautifully," she says. "We're a close family, but that experience really helped us bond." This summer, she adds, everyone plans to gather again, this time for a trip out West.

Travel companies and industry surveys indicate that so-called intergenerational travel is more popular than ever. A survey published last month by Orbitz, the online travel company, found that trips with "extended family" are the top choice for group travel. (Traveling with friends was No. 2.) Often such trips are driven by grandparents, who "have done a lot of traveling on their own and now want to bring the kids and grandkids," says Edward Piegza, president of Classic Journeys...

O.A.R.S. (OUTDOOR ADVENTURE RIVER SPECIALISTS)

WHAT: Started in 1969 by George Wendt, a former middle-school science teacher. Specializes in rafting and sea-kayaking trips on more than 35 rivers and coastlines in the Western U.S. and Alaska, as well as Canada, Latin America and Fiji. Private tours are available.

FAMILY TRAVEL: In the past several years, the number of intergenerational bookings and family reunions "has increased dramatically," says Steve Markle, marketing and partnerships director. "Many grandparents are relatively young [and] healthy and have been adventure travelers for many years."

SAMPLE TRIPS: One of the company's most popular family trips, Mr. Markle says, takes place on the Rogue River in Oregon, which winds through a pine-forested canyon. The trip includes inflatable kayaks as well as oar rafts, he notes, so that older adults and children "can choose the level of adventure that's comfortable for them." Hiking and fishing are options on the four- and five-day tours.

In contrast, the Green River in Utah cuts through red rock walls and Dinosaur National Monument. The park contains one of the world's largest concentrations of fossilized remains encased in river rock, Mr. Markle says.

TIME AND MONEY: Family trips range in price from less than $200 per person daily to more than $300. Tours last four to six days, on average. Family discounts of as much as 15% are available.