Traveling With Grandchildren

Traveling together is a great way for grandparents and grandkids to get to know each other better.

"I've had a blast taking my grandchildren with me on vacation," says Yvonne, who has four grandchildren ages 8 to 17. "I'm doing things with them, like white water rafting and scuba diving. I did not do these activities with my own kids."

"Parents are busy," she explains. "Grandparent travel is really on the upswing."

Where Do Grandparents and Grandchildren Go?

Orlando, the Disney theme parks, and cruises are great trips for grandparents and grandchildren. They offer activities that both generations will enjoy. Other ideas are beach tips, parasailing, and camping.

Developing Relationships

Years ago, multiple generations lived in the same household. There were many opportunities to pass along family history and wisdom. Now families must create those times. Traveling with grandkids is a way to have fun and build bonds. Unlike when the entire family gets together, there is time to interact one-on-one. And added benefit is parents get time alone together.

After vacations together, grandparents and grandkids can stay in touch through letters, phone calls, texts, and e-mails.

Where to Begin

Consider a short, 3-day trip when a grandchild reaches school age. Younger children handle shorter trips better than lengthy vacations. A teen might like a 2-week trip packed with activities. However, it is best to shorten the stay if you are traveling with little ones.

How do you know if child is ready for a night away from Mom and Dad? Consider a trial run. Try an overnight stay at a hotel not far from home. That way you can return home sooner, if you need to. Here are some tips to help plan your trip:

  • Discuss plans with the parents. Get their support.
  • Include the children in planning. Use the library or internet to find ideas for places to go.
  • Make plans that suit the children's ages and interests. Keep museum stops short unless they include a hands-on activities for younger kids. Arrange time for swimming and playing. This way, youngsters can use their energy while the grown-ups relax.
  • Balance major activities with those that are more relaxing. For instance, if you spend a day a theme park, plan the next day at the beach or a nature preserve.
  • Stay at a kid-friendly hotel or suite. If you are going to the beach, consider staying at a condo nearby.
  • Before leaving, tell the children what behavior you expect.
  • If you are driving, let an auto technician check the car. Make sure you get safety seats for small children.

Travel tips:

  • Keep the child's regular routine, if possible. This includes naps, meal, and bedtimes.
  • Pack items such as:
    • A night light, first-aid kit, suntan lotion, and comfortable shoes
    • The parents' notarized permission for medical care—in case of an emergency
    • Books, games, and age-appropiate activities for travel—such as a music player with headphones.
  • Leave a schedule of trip plans with the children's parents.
  • When driving, stop at least every 2 hours for stretching and restroom breaks. Go into the restroom with young children to keep them safe.
  • Drink plenty of water. Eat healthful snacks and meals. And pack a few moist towels for cleanup.
  • Spend time reading together, watching a movie, or walking.
  • Stay flexible. Not all activities need to be planned.
  • Encourage the children to keep a journal or draw pictures about the trip. Take photos to enjoy together after the trip.

Have Fun!

"The secret is to have fun with the kids," Yvonne says. "They give you a different perspective. It is the most wonderful experience. It slows you down and helps you take a breath."

RESOURCES:

AARP
http://www.aarp.org

Grandparents Foundation, Inc.
http://www.grandparentsfoundation.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Seniors Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Transport Canada
http://www.tc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Are we there yet? How and where to travel with your grandkids. Grand Times website. Available at: http://www.grandtimes.com/travelch2.html . Accessed October 11, 2021.

Traveling with children. Transportation Security Administration website. Available at: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children. Accessed October 11, 2021.

Traveling with grandkids. Road Scholar website. Available at: https://www.roadscholar.org/grandparent-travel-guide. Accessed July 10, 2017.

Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board   Last Updated: 10/11/2021