Traveling with grandchildren can build lifelong memories! It is estimated that 66% of grandparents travel with their grandchildren.
Think about it. Many grandparents enjoy spoiling their grandchildren with gifts of all kinds. However, clothes are outgrown and toys break.
Consider travel instead. Travel is a gift. It is the best form of education. Travel experiences and memories last a lifetime.
“Vacationing with my grandchildren is a wonderful bonding experience. Even if you have visited a destination 20 times before, everything is new and exciting when seen the first time through a child’s eyes.”
Roberta Sotonoff, Travel Writer
STEPS FOR TRAVELING WITH GRANDCHILDREN
STEP 1: Discuss the idea with the parents! Not all parents are comfortable with the idea of their child(ren) traveling with you. Some of their concerns should be things you closely consider:
- Do you have enough energy?
- Do you have a medical condition that could cause problems while away?
- Are you a reliable and safe driver with no impairments?
- Are you ready for the second-by-second responsibility?
Defer to the parents’ judgement. Compromise. Suggest all of you go on a trip together if it isn’t yet time to travel with grandchildren alone.
If the parents think a trip with the grandchildren is a great idea, you must:
KNOW THE RULES! MAKE CERTAIN YOU ENFORCE THE PARENTS’ RULES regarding screen time, language, bed times and phone use.
STEP 2: Plan overnights and weekends with young grandchildren at your home. Children must be ready to be away from parents for extended periods of time. Take it step by step. Also make certain the parents are ready to be away from their children for an extended period of time!
STEP 3: Involve the children in trip planning. Children as young as 5 can make valuable input for a vacation/trip. Ask your grandchildren to do some research and have them use picture books, magazines, or the internet to think of ideas for the trip.
STEP 4: Plan the trip with the child’s interests/needs in mind-not yours. Have children suggest activities or places they want to see. Older children will have lots of ideas for destinations. Make sure activities are age-appropriate. It is ok to stretch their interests but be realistic about their attention span. Do not set yourself up for disappointment because the child isn’t into a long stage play or is not an art lover. Research interactive and child-friendly exhibits at your destination(s).
Take advantage of all the “teachable moments” you will share with your grandchildren. Some grandparents give grandchildren some amount of money for the trip to teach financial skills. You can teach budgeting, shopping, pricing and more.
Build their other skills too! My 11-year old did all the navigation for a long trip using a map (this was before GPS and MapQuest). I was so impressed and her confidence grew daily.
STEP 5: Be flexible! Be willing to alter plans, the length of the trip and how much “down time” the children may need. Young children need a familiar daily schedule-time to nap and meals at normal times. A schedule that is too busy will leave everyone exhausted.
STEP 6: Plan lodging so everyone can have their own “space.” Pre-teens and teens need some alone time. You will need alone time if you travel with young children.
STEP 7: Prepare the children. Show young children videos discussing your destination(s). Explain what to expect. Describe what to anticipate on a plane trip. As you make your way through security, tell the children what will be happening and why. Discuss expectations with older grandchildren and ask them to describe their own expectations of the trip and you!
STEP 8: Bring essential documentation!
- Children under age 18 do not need identification, However, older children should bring their ID.
- A notarized letter of permission from the parents. (WHILE NOT REQUIRED, THIS LETTER IS A GOOD IDEA). You can find sample letters online at law depot.com.
- Make certain the letter contains: the name of the parent(s), consent from the parent(s) for the children to travel with the grandparents with the child’s full name and age(s), names of the grandparents, general travel destination(s), travel dates (allow for some additional days unplanned on either end of the trip), signature of the parent(s), contact information for the parent(s) including their full address, email and phone numbers, and the name of the notary and date notarized. NOTE: IF PARENTS ARE DIVORCED, THE LETTER NEEDS TO BE SIGNED BY BOTH PARENTS.
- If you plan to travel outside the US, you will need either the child’s passport or a copy of his/her birth certificate.
- Bring copies of the grandchildren’s medical insurance cards, prescription cards, dental cards and a notarized letter from the parents allowing you to obtain any necessary medical care for the child, if needed. See a sample letter of Child Medical Consent at: lawdepot.com.
STEP 9: Have young grandchildren carry an indestructible paper at all times with the parents’ name(s) and contact information and your name(s) and contact information in case you and a child become separated. You should carry a photo of each grandchild with you at all times.
I once worked alongside a wealthy elderly man whose grandmother had taken him on a trip around the world when he was 7 years old. He, in turn, took his 7-year old grandson around the world where they hiked to see the silver-backed gorillas in Rwanda! He was in his 80s at the time!
Travel with your grandchildren doesn’t need to be anywhere near that extravagant or extensive. You will have adventures of your own and a grandchild who will never forget the trip with grandma and grandpa.
NOW GET OUT THERE WITH THOSE GRANDCHILDREN OF YOURS AND CREATE MEMORIES TOGETHER!!