Many grandparents will hit the road with grandchildren this year. If you’re thinking of a similar trip, here are five ideas to consider:
1. Choosing a destination.
Would the kids like to see the Golden Gate Bridge or to send selfies with the Statue of Liberty as backdrop? Maybe a sandy beach, a cozy mountain cabin or a river rafting adventure are more up their alley? Get input from the kids on a destination that intrigues them.
Then, depending on the number and the ages of the grandkids coming along, be sure it is a location you can handle without additional adult support. Check the weather forecast shortly before departure and be sure everyone is properly prepared.
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2. Meet with the parents before departure.
Sure, you know your grandkids. But make sure you are up to speed on any food allergies and preferences, anxieties about travel, the need for a certain stuffed animal at bedtime or a teen’s recent breakup.
Will the kids have their own money to spend and should it be monitored? Talk through family rules about TV and social media. Cover the final itinerary with the parents to uncover any additional insights they might have for making the trip as stellar as possible.
3. Set clear expectations.
Consider discussing the itinerary and the rules in a group phone or video chat. If the children are old enough, talk about bedtime, dining decisions and safety measures so it will be clear who is in charge.
If you’ll be traveling with older children, get clarity on guidelines regarding social media, phone and computer time and options for independent outings.
4. Plan for alone time.
Depending on the length of your trip, a little alone time may be in everyone’s best interest. Many dude ranches, resorts and cruise ships have safe and compelling programs for children of every age group that make independent time possible and appealing.
While the youngsters are in camp, on a ride or a tour especially designed for their age groups, the grandparents can recharge their own batteries. Later, there will be even more to share over dinner or at bedtime.
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5. Share stories.
Preserve memories. Traveling with your grandchildren provides an opportunity for you to get to know one another without the filter of their parents. Use the time to share your knowledge, interests and expertise and to learn more about their priorities. Your adventures can serve as conversation-starters.
Be sure to take plenty of pictures and consider journaling during your time together, recording scraps of conversation and your observations about the trip. Once you’ve returned home, keep the connection by sharing photos, a scrapbook from the trip or discussing aspects of the adventure that mattered most to you.