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The Mature Traveler

Go on Escorted Tour With Your Grandchildren

November 23, 1986|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

Grandtravel, a tour concept of grandparents traveling with their grandchildren, has been launched for mature travelers by a Maryland-based travel agency with a program of 10 escorted tours designed to appeal to both generations and help draw them together.

"I got the idea when I became a grandmother," said Helena Koenig, a veteran of 34 years in the travel industry, who operates Ticket Counter Travel in Chevy Chase, Md. "I knew it was a natural," she added, "but it took seven more months of research and planning to put it all together."

The result is an escorted tour program that includes domestic tours to Washington, D.C., Disney World and the American Southwest and such destinations as "The London of Charles Dickens," "Castles of England and Scotland," "Holland's Waterways and Canals" and an "African Safari Adventure."

Working with a team of teachers, psychologists and leisure counselors, Koenig knew, of course, that grandparents and grandchildren had been traveling for years and when they did, they were drawn together and related to each other in remarkable new ways.

Easing the Stress

But most such travel was and is independent travel or on tours not specifically designed for that purpose. Koenig knew that there would be a market for well-planned tours, especially among grandparents who would be relieved of the myriad details of planning, making reservations, checking in and out of hotels, and generally easing the stress of travel.

"Our program is aimed at providing more time together to share the travel experience and to help alleviate the concern of grandparents having total responsibility of the child. And more single grandparents would be able to travel with a grandchild."

Thus the tour program was planned for escorted and well-paced motor-coach tours, designed in part by educational specialists to ensure that each tour itinerary would enrich school social studies programs as well as the child's rounded education.

But Grandtravel was also aware that while the tours were to stimulate a child's curiosity and share it with a grandparent, there should also be free time for them to explore on an individual basis.

They also recognized that on tours there should be times for the children to enjoy certain activities together without the grandparents, just as there should be time for the grandparents to relax among themselves, especially in the evenings.

Surrogates Welcome

"Children of any age are welcome on any tour," Koenig said. "But we've found that those from 7 to 14 especially enjoy such tours. And it's not necessary to be a biological grandparent," she added. "Surrogate grandparents, aunts, uncles or others who want to travel with the children are welcome as well.

"Grandtravel does require a notarized statement signed by both parents that indicates the parents have transferred responsibility for their child to the grandparent during their time together on the tour."

All of the tours feature deluxe motor-coach travel, first-class hotels, most meals, comprehensive sightseeing and the services of a trained escort. Here are some examples:

Dickens' London, Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, with Christmas holidays in London and Canterbury including Christmas service at Canterbury Cathedral, parties, presents for the children, elaborate English holiday dinner, sightseeing in London with the accent on the life and writings of Dickens, plus tours to Bath, Stratford, Oxford and others. Price, $1,750 adults, $1,245 for children under 12, based on double occupancy. Air fare is extra.

American Indians of the Southwest, April 11 to 19 and July 11 to 19, 1987. Visiting Albuquerque and Indian pueblos of New Mexico with ceremonial dances and crafts, a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, the Petrified Forest and a day on a Arizona ranch. Price, $1,195 adults, $995 children under 12, plus air fare.

African Safari Adventure, June 24 to July 8 and July 22 to Aug. 5. Featuring Kenya and several national game parks by minibus, Treetops Lodge and the animal viewing area, Mount Kenya Safari Club and the Masai Mara Reserve. Price $3,386 for adults, $2,487 for child under 12 sharing room with adults, including round-trip air fare from New York.

The Nation's Capital, Jan. 16 to 19 and Feb. 13 to 16. Includes sightseeing with accents on the National Zoo, Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of American History. Price, $465 per person based on double occupancy, plus air fare.

Holland's Waterways and Canals, Aug. 1 to 9, with nine days and eight nights in the Netherlands featuring a six-night tour on the barge Juliana visiting Amsterdam, Haarlem, Delft and several other cities. Price, $1,659 adults, $1,290 for children under 12, plus air fare.

Other tours include a President's Weekend tour to Disney World Feb. 13 to 16, Artisans of Ireland Aug. 3 to 13, a cruise to Bermuda from New York July 1 to 8, and a cruise/tour to Alaska Aug. 8 to 24.

Air fares are not included in most tour prices but can be arranged. Grandtravel will use the best fares available--existing senior fares if possible--and the best children's rates available.

For information contact Grandtravel, The Ticket Counter, 6900 Wisconsin Ave., Suite 706, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815, phone (301) 986-0790.

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