The impetus to post this blog yet again, was a retirement webinar for small business owners I took part in earlier this month. During the webinar I discussed this topic, which reinforced to me, how valuable these trips can be for family bonding (taking the optimistic viewpoint, as opposed to the possibility that too much togetherness may not be good for some families).
A Family Vacation- A Memory Worth Not Dying For
I have written several times on the topic of whether parents (parent can be interchanged with grandparent wherever used in this post), who have the financial means, should provide partial gifts while they are alive, as opposed to just leaving an inheritance to their children or grandchildren.
I am a proponent of providing partial gifts while alive if you have the financial resources. My rationale is simple. Why not receive the pleasure of your gift either directly (such as a family vacation) or vicariously (by observing your children or grandchildren enjoy their gift such as a bike, car or even cottage).
The concept of a partial gift being used at least in part for a family vacation has substantial appeal to many parents. A family vacation is appealing because a parent can participate in the experience, the vacation more often than not, results in memories that last a lifetime for all the participants, and lastly, the parent has control over the gift.
I can attest personally to the benefits of a family vacation. Several years ago, my in-laws funded a Disney Cruise vacation for their children, their children's spouses and their grandchildren. This trip had a profound impact on the bonding of the grandchildren. In the case of my in-laws, the memories and enhancement of their grandchildren’s relationships was priceless and continues to this day.
Another very poignant and moving example of the gift of travel is the story of Les Brooks. Les, a Vietnam veteran, had unresolved issues relating to the war and as he states in this Princess Cruises travel blog.
One day during the course of a conversation, Les’ mother asked him if he could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would he go. After thinking about the question he surprised his mother by saying Vietnam. Unbeknownst to Les, she later booked him on a cruise to Vietnam.
While Les’ gift was not a family bonding vacation, it was a gift provided while his mother was alive, a trip that may never have occurred if Les inherited the money and spent it otherwise.
The concept of using a partial gift to fund a family vacation has become popular for both family bonding and financial reasons. As grandparent David Campbell says in a USA Today article (link expired), he is mostly motivated by a desire to make his children's lives a little easier. "It's getting to a point I'd like them to enjoy life," says Campbell, a regional sales manager. "And if they're going to enjoy it, they might as well enjoy it with me."
I have observed the family vacation phenomenon on several of my own vacations. Suddenly a horde of people arrive at the pool or restaurant (not necessarily a welcome site for other vacationers) with corny matching t-shirts, saying “Smith Family Vacation 2011” or some other similar sentiment.
Although we all know that any large family gathering can veer off the rails, these trips often bridge the generation gap between offspring and grandparents and parents. I often hear people reference these types of family vacations when they have a family get-together or the topic arises over dinner with non-family members.
Personally, I would rather hear my grandchildren say or know they are saying "When I was young, my grandparents took me on the most amazing trip!", than, “I just inherited $25,000 from my grandparents, what should I buy with it?”
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