Many grandparents create indelible experiences with their grandchildren through travel. Creating bonds, memories and experiences to last a lifetime, is a dream shared by many, especially as distance and logistics intrude on families getting together as often as they might like to. Grandparents often have more free and unstructured time as well as unassigned financial resources, and find that taking their grandchildren, whether on a short weekend car trip, a cruise to numerous ports of call, or on week-long trips to the beach are all excellent ways to accomplish these goals. Trips may be lavish or inexpensive: as exotic as going to Istanbul or as delightful as feeling the sand between your toes on a nearby beach. Alone or In Tandem
Especially for the first time, grandparents may choose to take their grandchildren in tandem with their parents. If so, several potential issues are solved: parents know what each child’s habits are, their allergies (if any), their likes and dislikes, and their interactions with one another. Parents also are helpful when grandparents need a break or when one wants to go to the spa and the other wants to go to the beach. It gives everyone an opportunity to discover everyone’s needs in small quarters. The rule of thumb seems to be that if you are taking children solo, it is often best just to take one, or perhaps no more than two. If more than one child is going with you, you might think to invite a friend or your spouse to come with you. Choosing Where to Go on a Budget
Often, short trips are the best way to start. You can consider driving to one of many exciting National Parks
, which usually have numerous activities for children of all ages, and which you can explore online for more details.
Discounted multi-day or week-long bus and rail passes are available in many places. Going to nearby cities or all sorts of day trips are a great way to be with your grandchildren and to learn their habits and needs, especially if longer trips are in the offing. What You Must Take with You
Of great importance in any travelling situation is each child’s medical record
, their insurance information
, and any medicines
they may regularly take.
Overseas travel may require notarized permission forms, preferably as detailed as possible, explaining where and when the travel is to take place, and who has permission to be with the children. Having up-to-date medical information, with insurance cards and information about allergies and medications with clear indications as to times, amounts and frequencies are very important.
Personally, I think travelling light, whenever possible, is best. Besides toiletries, plenty of underwear, and at least two-three changes of clothing. It is always useful to have rain parkas (many of which come in their own bag and weigh very little), insect repellant, sunscreen, bathing suits and sandals, walking shoes and sneakers. I always travel with hydrogen peroxide, band-aids and small scissors and fingernail clippers, and with a sturdy large bag or two which weighs no more than a couple of pounds that I can fill up with purchases and check as baggage on the trip home. Obviously, even if you are on a road trip, carrying an extra bag or two for mementos or presents is never wasted; the bags can be used to separate laundry or for other timely uses. If Travelling Overseas
Make sure to check that passports are up-to-date before travel.
Depending upon the country or countries to be visited, special visas may be required, and may require a trip to a Consulate, and inoculations may be required or recommended. It is best to plan for these things with plenty of time. Plan for the Unexpected
When travelling with grandchildren for the first time, it may at first seem to be a simple decision, but it rarely is. Taking children out of their normal routines into entirely new ones may present unforeseen issues for which it is best to plan.
Leaving space here and there during the day for unstructured play or for rest is important for everyone, and cuts down of stress and disappointments. It is often better to reorganize or to eliminate an activity when children become overstimulated, cranky or tired.
Even with a structured itinerary, it is very helpful to leave time for doing nothing in particular. Older children may use this time to contact friends through e-mail or mobile phones (and it’s important to check whether their phones or yours have access to international calls. Usually, these can be purchased for a small fee but may cost a small fortune if left unstructured).
If luggage gets lost; children get cranky; everyone gets tired. Carrying favorite games which all can play can be useful, and trying to get enough rest improves everyone’s mood. Learn as you go, with Help
Starting out, try a day trip, or a weekend trip. It is important to remember that no matter how well you may think you know your grandchildren, they may surprise you in unexpected ways. For example, two of the children are very competitive and fight constantly, or, a child becomes tired after two hours of activities or one detests museums while the other loves the mountains and vice-versa.
As ambitious as your plans may be, keep in mind your own limitations as well as those of the children involved. How much physical activity are you interested in doing? What are your interests? Discussing upcoming trips with the children is an important aspect of any trip. If they are young, give them two or three options that you would enjoy. Regardless of their ages, children enjoy being included and consulted and more enjoyment may ensue for everyone. Professionally Organized - Travelling with Grandchildren
There are now numerous travel venues and organizations which plan cruise trips for grandparents and their families. Their information is easily found online, with most details readily available, allowing you to compare them.
If the rah-rah carnival atmosphere is not for you, there are numerous “expedition cruises” available. These tend to be smaller ships with various experts including oceanographers, marine biologists, historians and others who can explain the history, geography, topography and many things of interest about your destination(s). They are especially popular when taking cruises to places such as Alaska, the Galapagos, the Antarctic, and many places where larger boats simply cannot go. These trips are ideal for older children.
Cruises are a common way to create a variety of activities, often on a budget, as many tours are heavily discounted, and often include all meals, gratuities and entertainment. Some include discounted airfares as well.
The possibilities are endless, and the best part is that you will find all the help you need to make your vacation with your grandchildren enjoyable and memorable. Although trips never go exactly as planned, it is very possible that they may turn out even better than you expected. One thing is for sure: you are not alone in doing this, as you will readily discover when you begin to explore just how many ways you can approach spending extra time with your grandchildren, and whatever your concern, there is a website to help you navigate it. Author Bio: Rebecca is a writer and editor at Sunway.ie, Ireland’s leading holiday provider with over 70 destinations available worldwide including professionally organised family cruises and sun holidays. We look forward welcoming you aboard!