For many grey nomads, one of the biggest drawbacks to taking the Big Lap is the prospect of being away from grandchildren for ‘too long’.
Not even Skype, mobile phones and the internet can make up for missing a milestone birthday, a first adult tooth, or a ‘real’ cuddle.
However, the solution to the ‘missing-the-grandchildren’ dilemma could be at hand. Travel experts have been documenting the rise of a phenomenon dubbed ‘gramping’ – whereby youngsters go camping with their grandparents … and it’s a win/win situation.
With working parents increasingly seeking help caring for their children during holidays, a willing Grandma and Grandad with a van or motorhome offers an ideal solution.
However, not all ‘gramping’ experiences come about because parents need cheap childcare. Grandparents want to touch base with their grandchildren’s lives, and a week or two on the road is a perfect way to do it.
The Grey Nomads spoke to Keiron a while back, shortly after the then 65-year-old had come back from a caravanning adventure with his three grandchildren Charlotte, 11, Riley, 9, and Campbell, 7 … and he will he long cherish the memories.
Leaving wife Margot behind, Keiron also shared the first part of the two-week adventure to Canberra, Gundagai, Temora, Deniliquin and Echuca with his daughter, and the second part with his son-in-law.
Keiron’s18’ dual axle Viscount Pop-top was ideal for the job but, by the time they all returned to their homes in the Sydney area, everyone knew each other an awful lot better.
“The kids were so excited and seeking out adventure, enjoying the moment and looking forward to the next,” said Keiron. “Because we had no pre-plan or agenda to follow or adhere to, we were able to be flexible and as we did several times say: ‘Okay, let’s do that’… we never had to say: ‘we don’t have time’.”
With no TV in the van, the children had plenty of free time to explore, and to talk.
“At night we talked, played cards, wrote up the daily journals of the day’s highlights, and discussed what the next day might include,” said Keiron.
While ‘Grumps’ was able to teach the children some navigation using the stars, how to play Euchre and Pontoon, and how to cook chocolate and marshmallow ice cream cones, it wasn’t all one way traffic.
“I can now tweet, text and Google … and I know who Rhianna is, and Pink, not to mention INXS and Eminem,” said Keiron. “I have learnt that the more people you can share your experiences with, particularly younger generations, the more rewarding.”
And would Keiron travel with his grandchildren again?
Well, when the Grey Nomads last spoke to Keiron, he was busy planning an opal-seeking adventure to Lightning Ridge.