Family Affair: Republished from Beyond: The St. Regis Magazine

The words “family” and “vacation” can strike fear into the heart of even the most dedicated parent or teenager. Thankfully, these days there are far more appealing ways of getting away with your family – or from them

Words by Deb Schwartz | Illustration by Alex Doherty

The Learning Vacation

In the late 16th century, young aristocrats (well, the males ones at least – young women did not have this option) were sent off to France and Italy to complete their educations by immersing themselves in classical art and architecture on trips that became known as the Grand Tour. Today, Petits Tours can begin at any age, as long as parents are willing to give, give, give, sacrificing themselves by, for example, limiting their travels to only Francophone countries so that their children might be able to practice their French. Pity the poor parent who simply must suffer through a stay in Paris, followed by a lengthy beach holiday on Mauritius. But in this day and age, any self-possessed young person should know how to order a local drink in the local tongue. Taking an art history-themed vacation in Italy with a child has literally no downside: everyone gets to see magnificent cathedrals and sublime works of art and usually right around the time that your store of knowledge on a given subject is running out, your child will become bored or hungry, which helps to ensure that days assume an appropriately leisurely pace and one has time to digest Great Works as they were meant to be digested: slowly, and with relish.

The Wedding Vacation

You love them, so you go to their destination wedding, and you don’t even grumble about the fact that it’s halfway across the globe. That’s the deal. And if you’re a member of the inner circle – close family, best man/maid of honor, bridesmaids and the like – you can now expect to show up a few days early. For the wedding vacation is becoming a globally recognized trend – with large parties gathering at the resort of the happy couple’s choice for prolonged socializing and celebrations. Perhaps this isn’t going to please everyone, and coming on top of the bachelorette party in a prime spa, or the bachelor party in some far-flung city, this constitutes an investment of time and money we’re only inclined to make on someone we really care for. Still, if you have come all this way to meet up with people who live all over the world, who you seldom see, perhaps the wedding vacation is the perfect solution. And since you’re already in a beautiful spot – really, it would be foolish not to tack on a few extra days to enjoy yourself, entirely on your own schedule, with your own dress code. After all, just because you’re not the one getting married it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fabulous honeymoon – or reunion, or a few days of golf, all in the name of love.

The Skip-Gen Vacation

There might be no better “job” than that of grandparent (unless it’s grandchild). This magical role offers the opportunity to enjoy the delightful bits of family ties while largely avoiding the button-pushing too often perpetrated by one’s children or siblings, who also rarely appreciate one’s wisdom and charms in the same way that grandchildren do. Bringing your beloved wee one on tour offers so many opportunities for the two (or three, perhaps, if your partner joins) of you to bond in a new way, experiencing adventures that will provide memories for years to come. Naturally, the youngster will benefit from the education travel brings. while you will reap the rewards of having someone on hand willing and able to help you with your smartphone, reach beneath your table for runaway coins and, oh yes, enable you to see each day through fresh eyes. No, they cannot help to book flights, but you will score many Best Grandparent points by involving the youngsters in the planning. Choose activities you’ll both enjoy, and luxuriate in the knowledge that your young charge – at least for a few golden years – will adore being the center of your world, while seeing the world, without those pesky parents around to tell either of you what’s what.

Reprinted with permission from Beyond: The St. Regis Magazine.