November 2010

Intergenerational travel: a tale of two trips – Part 1

by Steve Brock on November 30, 2010

Many of the Tips for Meaningful Intergenerational Travel noted in the last entry come from hard-won personal experience. I will illustrate with two trips I’ve taken with my parents, wife and two sons. I’ll share the first trip here and the second in the next entry.

The first was a vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii. My parents have a timeshare, so we used the points from that to get a condo on the Kona side of the island. It seemed ahead of time like a perfect vacation: 10 days of fun in the sun. Except for one small detail.

On our second day there, my wife, Kris, and our two sons Sumner (then 9) and Connor (then 6) were having fun snorkeling amidst sea turtles in this beautiful cove. My parents then came back from a long walk they’d taken and announced they were ready to go. Go? We’d only been there for an hour or so and we (the younger four of us) were planning on spending most of this day – and every day – playing on the various beaches.

It was at that point that I learned something about my parents that I had never known my entire life: they don’t like beaches. More precisely, they don’t like sand or swimming in the ocean. We’d been to numerous beaches as kids. We’d even been to Hawaii with my parents and my brother when I was younger. I recall going to beaches all over the place then.

But that was then.

People change as they get older. With most of us, we get more set in our ways. And I’m not just referring to my parents…

On the one hand, I could understand if at this stage of life, my parents didn’t want to spend a lot of time at the beach. But – hello? – this was Hawaii! It’s an island, surrounded by ocean… and beaches. Why would you come here if you don’t like the beach?

You can see my line of thinking. Their perspective was that Hawaii offered plenty to see and do without wasting your whole time just at the beach. My counter to that was, “Great. You take the rental minivan and go see and do whatever you want and meet us back here…at the beach.”

But that wasn’t good enough. We were here as a family and their expectation was that we would do things as a family.

And therein lay the problem with this whole trip: We came with vastly different expectations that we hadn’t bothered to share with each other before we left. Was that an intergenerational issue? Not exactly. But the differences in age, attitude and the whole messed up package you get when dealing with your parents and all the baggage you all bring as a result makes a bad situation worse.

We’re a very close family. No “Mommy Dearest” skeletons in our closets. But it literally took almost a year after we got back before either side could have a conversation that didn’t contain some veiled snipe at the other’s position about beaches and vacations.

In fact, I think we might still to this day be harboring some grudges among all of us had we not done the most unthinkable thing at the time: we actually took another trip together.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait for the next entry to learn what happened on that trip. For now, just rest assured: It didn’t involve beaches.

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Tips for meaningful intergenerational travel

by Steve Brock on November 25, 2010

Since today is Thanksgiving, a time when many families gather together with children, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents, I thought it appropriate to post The Meaningful Traveler’s Tips for Intergenerational Travel.

You can find this downloadable PDF on the Tips and Tools page along with other general Tips for Meaningful Travel and Tips for Meaningful Business Travel.

If you’ve ever traveled with more than one generation of family members or friends, you’ve probably realized that intergenerational travel has its unique challenges, rhythms and rewards. But never before has it been so important.

In an era when the “traditional” family structure is less common and where blended families are on the rise, intergenerational travel takes on even greater meaning. Traveling with children and grandparents or just people of vastly different age ranges can bond you together in ways you’d never experience at home. Sure, you learn a lot about compromise. But you also discover new ways of experiencing life that you’d never find any other way.

We’ll explore the joys and issues related to intergenerational travel in the coming weeks. But for now, sit back, stuff yourself on Turkey, and check out these Tips for Meaningful Intergenerational Travel. Even if you’re not planning on a trip with people older or younger than you, you might just find some useful insights for you own next trip.

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The unexpected results of traveling expectantly

by Steve Brock on November 22, 2010

The closest I came to seeing the Alamo on my trip was a cafe of the same name on the other side of town.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned using an upcoming trip to San Antonio, Texas as an experiment in how to travel expectantly for business. I just returned from that trip and here’s how it went.

I left on a Monday morning, got in, had dinner with the client, was driven back to the hotel, went to bed, got up, went to all-day meetings, got taken back to the airport and flew home.

The closest I got to the Alamo was the Alamo Café for dinner, a decent Tex-Mex restaurant off the freeway, a compromise of good food and convenience. I only saw of the northern section of town (the area between the airport, my hotel and the offices where we met) and that seemed like a familiar confluence of strip malls and freeways. As we got further out of town – the client’s office lies ten minutes or so north of the city – we drove past highway-side retailers of animal feed and water tanks that quickly gave way to an undulating landscape (they call them hills there, a relative concept) of live oaks and cedars. That’s all I really saw.

We had a good day of meetings followed by a drive back through suburbs and shopping centers to the airport. I have no idea where the Alamo, the River Walk or even the river itself lie in relationship to where I was. Thus, in terms of seeing anything or tourist value, my trip was a bust.

But was it meaningful?

I got a lot of work done on the flight there. And I had small moments like extending my appreciation to the guy cleaning the airport men’s room – someone clearly not used to being thanked for a thankless job – or, conversely, receiving extensive gratitude from my client who was well-pleased with the outcomes of our time together.

I also got to know some of the people at the client’s office on a personal level and to discover shared interests and experiences.

On the stopover in Denver on the way home Tuesday night, I even saw orange-colored snow (the coloration caused by the exterior lights on the terminal) flowing horizontally above the tarmac, an odd phenomenon given that it didn’t seem that windy outside.

These were curiosities, moments of interest and some satisfaction. But were they meaningful?

Yes. At least to me. Here’s why.

I came on this trip primed to look expectantly to see what God would provide, how he might surprise me. And the biggest surprise of this trip was…no surprise. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened. But that may be exactly the point.

You can’t have a hot fudge sundae for every meal and have it stay special. Some trips like this aren’t exciting or glamorous but are meaningful simply because God is part of them. This may sound somewhat anticlimactic, but in the same way that sorrow often lies buried in our deepest joy, we frequently see or value the amazing fact of Emmanuel, God with us, only when that is all we have to see.

When I think of my trip to San Antonio this way, I can truthfully say that it was a good trip, a meaningful journey. Some day I may see the Alamo or the River Walk. That will be another trip – another kind of trip. On this one, I served my client well, made it there and back safely and intentionally sought God amidst all the non-events that happened. That was enough.

I’m content to know that despite a lack of “travel highlights” I didn’t make this trip alone. And most important of all, in reflecting back on my journey, it makes me realize that I never do.

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The art of choosing the right traveling companion

by Steve Brock November 19, 2010

Selecting the right traveling companion can make or break your trip. Learn the questions to ask and the differences to note so you can understand how compatible you might be on a trip…before you ever start that trip.

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Having a great time, wish you were her

by Steve Brock November 16, 2010

A misplaced quip in a postcard home from a trip reveal a good deal about how we travel with others and how even traveling companions who are very different from you can still lead to you having a meaningful journey…if you know how.

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Discovery and business travel

by Steve Brock November 11, 2010

A business trip to Chicago illustrates how you can discover something new and meaningful to you even when traveling for work. It may take some extra effort, but as the photos here reveal, it pays off.

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Tips for meaningful business travel

by Steve Brock November 8, 2010

Did you ever wonder how you could make your next business trip more meaningful and enjoyable? Wonder no more. Or rather, use these tips for meaningful business travel to discover a new form of wonder…even when traveling for work.

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