Malice and chaos: the joys of spending a gap year with your grandfather

Malice and chaos: the joys of spending a gap year with your grandfather

Malice and chaos: the joys of spending a gap year with your grandfather

grandfather and grandson trip gap year india usa australia vacation travel travel - Max Davis

grandfather and grandson trip gap year india usa australia vacation travel travel – Max Davis

Most kids love their grandparents, but London-based Max Davis took that affection to another level earlier this year when he decided to take his grandfather John on a trip with him on his gap year.

Student Max, 19, and retired businessman John, 84, from Gloucestershire, toured the world together for five months, taking everything from angry Indian border officials and pickpockets in Rome in the their step. Even more surprising is the fact that John had done a similar thing five years earlier, with Max’s older cousin, Conor.

“My wife was dead, I was in trouble and Conor wanted to broaden his horizons,” says John. “That trip was more experimental. Max and I were a little more refined. “

“The idea was born when I was still in school”, Max adds. “I knew I was going to take a gap year and I knew that my grandfather and I would do something together.”

The couple traveled to India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States and based their journey on visits to people they knew, although some of these connections were somewhat weak.

family vacation gap year - Max Davis

family vacation gap year – Max Davis

“We weren’t backpackers or tourists. We were visiting friends and family wherever we could find them – and I think that’s the secret to having fun, meeting locals, ”says John. “We met with about 100 people – I knew about 70% of them, but the other 30% were just friends of friends who had been passed on to us and Max had never met any of them. So some were pretty distant connections, but Max managed to charm them once they got there. “

The couple stayed in an Airbnb or hotel rather than asking to be hosted and tried never to stay more than three days in one place.

“We didn’t want to stay beyond our welcome, even though we broke this rule a number of times as people insisted we stay longer,” explains John. “We have been incredibly spoiled and I think we have managed to find the best in every place we have gone. We have always found people extremely friendly, welcoming and happy to see us. “

Their only rule was always to head east. As John says, “We had plans, but they were incredibly flexible. We had no tickets – we bought them on our way – and no reservations. That meant there were no deadlines, so we weren’t under pressure. “

Max took charge of the money, tickets and many of the practical arrangements – and proved quite good, once he got flights from Auckland to Vancouver for a tenth of the normal price of £ 4,000.

family gap year trip - Max Davis

family gap year trip – Max Davis

“I couldn’t have done it – I would have made a mess,” says John. “Max was like some kind of aide-de-camp. I would say “pay this” or “do this” and he would say “we don’t have enough money”. Finding friends and family to visit was my department, but I think Max could have done it just as well. “

The journey began in Rome in March, where Max had taken a course in Italian civilization. Disaster struck before they even left, when John’s wallet was stolen while he was traveling from the airport to meet Max. Max took over, nullifying all of John’s cards, and the couple were philosophical about it.

“Bad things are normal and they happen to everyone, so we didn’t invent anything,” says John.

They flew from Italy to Delhi, where John was able to meet his college friend, the Indian journalist and writer Prem Shankar Jha.

Highlights of their six-week stay included a visit to a tiger reserve where they failed to see any tigers, a trip to Khajuraho temples – “filled with statues and sculptures that are quite licentious” – and a stay in Shimla. , the former summer capital of the British Raj.

They found themselves in trouble again when they came to leave for Australia because they had accidentally delayed their tourist visas and were “taken away for punishment at the airport,” as John says.

“They looked at us and fined us £ 100,” Max recalled. “Then they changed their minds and said it was going to be £ 200. The plane was speeding down the runway, so we just paid.”

The two insist that there were no quarrels: “It wasn’t about putting up with each other. We were able to click on pretty much everything. Max even introduced me to Australian football, “says John.” I can’t remember any conflicts. But I wasn’t a parent, or in loco parentis. Parents always pull the ranks and tell you what to do. As far as I was concerned, Max it was completely his person.

gap year of Australian kangaroos - Max Davis

gap year of Australian kangaroos – Max Davis

“A lady we met in Melbourne said she would like to do what we are doing. I said don’t do it with your children, do it with your grandchildren. She replied that she would order one. Max was a great companion, he took care of me and I couldn’t have enjoyed the ride without his support. He has grown, but I have grown a bit too, accepting when things go less well “.

Max agrees: “I learned that Grandpa is very generous and I think our relationship has become more genuine: I have become more confident and more comfortable expressing myself and being myself. But I thought maybe he could have been more adventurous. He wouldn’t try any of the street foods in India. And he only drinks tea and wine, even when it’s very hot. ‘

As Max leaves for Canada to begin a degree in economics and Arabic at McGill University in Montreal, John, a grandfather of five, is preparing for his next adventure: “Max’s younger brother, André, wants to do the same. in three years “. time, “he says.” I thought I was past the expiration date.

Would you take a gap year with your grandfather? Or with your nephew? Let us know in the comments below

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