SKIP GEN TRAVEL: Robyn Nixon and her grandson Josh.
SKIP GEN TRAVEL: Robyn Nixon and her grandson Josh.

Grandmother skips a generation to share travel passion

ROBYN Nixon is skipping a generation to focus on introducing her grandchildren to the wide world, which is helping them to develop a keen interest in what's outside their Melbourne backyards.

Her love of travel, which has been fuelled by 66-year-old's job as general manager of the Intrepid Foundation, has led her to organising international travel experiences with three of her six grandchildren, without a parent in sight.

"When my daughter had the grandchildren, they were living overseas in different places for a while, so we travelled together with the kids quite a bit," Robyn said. "Then I decided, because we have a range of Intrepid family holidays, that one of the things I would like to do is take the kids away on their own, just with me. I started that with my eldest grandson when he was 11 and we went to China."

Robyn enjoyed the shared travel experience as she watched grandson Josh became enthralled by the country and make new friends with the other children in the group. She also found herself with like-minded adults who were wanting their children and grandchildren to have similar experiences.

"We experienced The Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, quiet country villages and the energy of big cities," Robyn added. "All the kids were super excited about the Great Wall of China. They literally ran up it.

"The other thing they got into, which none of them had done it before, was bargaining for things in the markets. They were kind of blown away by that. Also, we had a hot pot meal so they got to cook their food."

Robyn came back from China determined to give the same travel opportunity to her other five grandchildren. She has since taken Isaac to Japan and plans to in February to Ben, 11, to The Galapagos and Equatorial Amazon.

"When you get to spend a decent amount of time with your grandchildren and you see them interact with other parents and children, you build more of a relationship because their parents aren't there so it's just you and them working it out," Robyn said

The decision on where each child travels is based on each one's personal interests. Robyn chose China for Josh as he had just done a school project on that country. Isaac chose Japan. Ben talked about going somewhere with animals. "He is a mini marine biologist," Robyn said

Each trip Robyn encourages her grandchild to write a daily tour diary along the way. She also collects mementos which Robyn then puts into a scrapbook and gives to her grandchild. "I also takes lots of photos and videos, and get them to talk to camera. I then get that made into a video for each of them to have as a memory," Robyn added.

"It really opens their eyes to the world - that people speak different languages, don't have all the advantages that we have, and that countries have different history and traditions. The trip really brings it to life for them. It also gets them to understand their privilege.

"The travel has definitely created an interest in them seeing more of the world; it's broadened their horizons massively."

Robyn's tips for travel with grandkids

  • Book somewhere you haven't been before so you can discover something new together. This makes for the best memories.
  • Consider booking a small group adventure where you can benefit from local tour leaders and the company of other children, parents and grandparents.
  • Encourage kids to keep a journal or a daily video diary so they can look back on their cherished memories.
  • Embrace all opportunities for them to get outside of their comfort zones and try new things from local food to playing popular local children's games.
  • Carry books, cards and activities for long travelling days, plus take extra snacks than usual. Also, pack refillable water bottles and cloth bags, to avoid single-use plastics and plastic bags overseas. 

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