Above: Joan Cioffi and granddaughters (left to right) Christina and Sydney in Hawaii at the Valley of the Temples, Byodo-In (a replica of Japanese Buddhist Temple in East Oahu); photo courtesy of Joan Cioffi

Retired Atlanta resident Joan Cioffi finds her “grandmother trips” one of her life’s highlights.

In fact, Cioffi recently promised to have one-on-one grandma trips with each of her seven grandchildren. “A seventy-plus year old grandma traveling alone with a teenager takes planning, a relaxed attitude and plenty of flexibility,” Cioffi said.

On one of those trips, Cioffi and her granddaughters Christina and Sydney visited Hawaii and stopped at the Valley of the Temples.

The destination and activities are less important than just being open to being with them in a new, less familiar setting, she says.

“No parents, no television and no rigid agenda helps us appreciate the person they are—and allows me to be myself,” Cioffi shared with enthusiasm.

Randa Barto (left) with grandson Andy in the cockpit of a Diamond Katana at the Provo Airport, part of the Intergenerational Program at Utah Valley University)
Photo courtesy of Randa Barto

Dunwoody resident Randa Barto raves about her experiences with her grandchildren on trips organized by Road Scholar, a travel organization that offers intergenerational trips.

Barto also has seven grandchildren. Hers live in three different states. “I’ve taken 14 trips with grandchildren,” she said, “at last count.”

In fact, Barto mentions a couple of (now grown) grandchildren that followed their dreams based on Road Scholar experiences. She advocates introducing grandchildren to career-related trips.

“I wanted them to try something out,” Barto said. “One grandson wanted to try flying.”

During a past shared journey, that grandson, Andy, then about 10 years old, told Barto, “Grandma, this is what I want to do.” Barto says she discovered three flight-related programs for the two of them and raves about her own experience as well.

Andy’s first flight as a copilot was at the Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan. He and Barto also took part in the Intergenerational Program at Utah Valley University at the Provo Airport close to Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Even Grammy got to fly a plane,” Barto said. She offered to share her student pilot’s log. Andy graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado this past May and is in training to become an Air Force pilot.

Randa Barto (right) with her granddaughter Morgan in front of the Louvre in Paris
Photo courtesy of Randa Barto

With granddaughter Morgan, Barto said they went to London to try Harry Potter Camp, but that was only the first trip. It was so successful that they chose a Paris vacation on a subsequent occasion.

Morgan was particularly interested in fashion design—and that’s the program they found together. Today, Barto’s granddaughter is a college graduate and is working in the fashion industry.

Another grandson, Jonathan, was intrigued with New York City as a young boy. And leave it to Barto, she discovered the perfect trip.

Today Jonathan is studying and playing football for Columbia University. Barto thinks that part of his comfort in choosing New York over other venues is due to exploring the city years before with his grandma.

It’s clear that with the many intergenerational trips to choose from, the only fear Barto may have is running out of grandchildren.

Judi Kanne is a public health communications consultant and contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.