Shared Experience — A Welcome Travel Trend

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on January 6th, 2016

More shared experiences, fewer material possessions – prognosticators say these trends are driving multigenerational travel and the way Millennials will prefer to spend their money and time.

During our family’s caffeine-fueled holiday gatherings (that require multiple coffee pots, if not IV lines), material possessions – “stuff” – certainly pervaded many conversations, whether with our twenty-something kids and their cousins or their grandmother and great aunt, who are in the home-downsizing stage.


Walter Wick, Forgotten from Can You See What I See? Toyland Express, 2011

Stuff is squarely at the epicenter of an ever-increasing avalanche of gifts (what recession?) during the nesting years – filled with graduations, weddings, baby-gender-reveal parties, baby showers, and birthday parties – bookended by the requisite, incessant stuff sorting, culling, and dispersing that pervades the latter end of the age spectrum.

No wonder our college-age kids who are witnessing all of this tend to be a bit wary of accumulating too many possessions.

Similarly, I think my brother- and sister-in-law are on the right track. They intend to invest in shared experiences rather than toys for their young grandchildren’s birthdays; a waterpark weekend getaway is in the works. As I’d hoped, the upcoming Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic exhibition, on view February 27 through May 29 at the Woodson Art Museum, piqued their interest. They know and love Wick’s I SPY books published by Scholastic Press. They’re intrigued by the idea of scooping up their grandkids to share a fun, educational spring-break trip, knowing that the parents, too, would greatly appreciate a vacation in their own homes.


Walter Wick, Nature from I SPY A Book of Picture Riddles, 1992

I had this couple, Randy and Linda, in mind while writing the Walter Wick tourism marketing grant application in late October. News that this grant bid was successful was a thrilling pre-holiday gift. The Woodson Art Museum will receive up to $20,000 through a Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Joint Effort Marketing grant to more widely promote the Walter Wick exhibition throughout the state, Chicago, and the Twin Cities to attract more visitors to the Museum and the Wausau area. The state is investing these dollars to help generate a greater economic impact in the area, knowing travelers will spend money at hotels, gas stations, retail outlets, and restaurants while in town.

Ironically, Walter Wick’s photographic illustrations are intricately and artfully assembled visual feasts of “stuff” – toys, gizmos, and gadgets, as the exhibition title proclaims. Riddles serve as clues to his visual puzzles and search-and-find challenges that engage both youngsters and adults alike.


Walter Wick, Blast Off! from I SPY Fantasy, 1994

Whether you, like Walter Wick, enjoy acquiring, assembling, and displaying copious collections or are intrigued by the idea of sharing a Walter Wick experience with others, I’m hopeful that the Woodson Art Museum will be the destination for many upcoming day trips and multi-day travel plans – a perfect fit for the multigenerational, educational travel trend. Because the Woodson Art Museum is always admission free, all that’s required is the investment of sharing time together, both a trend and cherished tradition certainly worthy of year-round support.


Walter Wick, Card Tricks from Can You See What I See?, 2002


Walter Wick, Sorting and Classifying from I SPY School Days, 1995

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