Great ways to make a trip with your grand kids a great experience By Jan Ross
Great tips for traveling with your grand kids. (Flickr: Andrew Dawes)
Our grandson is one of my favorite people to travel with. He is the perfect companion on a kid-friendly vacation. He’s easy to please as long as some of those meals include a milkshake or some fried shrimp. He can travel for hours in the car without complaint as long as he has some form of electronic entertainment or books. He allows me to kiss and cuddle him to my heart’s content, although just recently this has to be carried out only when none of his friends are around.
Travel with grandchildren has been around as long as there have been grandparents and grandchildren, and these trips can be a complete joy, providing memories for years to come. They just require a little patience and a lot of planning. Here’s how to undertake the perfect trip with your grandchild.
Involve the parents. Whether the parents will be going on the trip and making it a family vacation or will let you take their precious darling on a getaway alone, the parents will want to be involved in planning. Make sure the dates and the location you are thinking about will work for them, talk about plans for activities while you are traveling, and ask for suggestions about everything from how long the trip should be to where they might like to have some meals to what activities sound like fun. A kid-friendly hotel should be one of your first considerations.
Plan a trip that everyone will enjoy. The things you enjoy may not necessarily be the things your grandchild will enjoy. Some kids will adore art museums while others will be rolling their eyes and begging to head to the local water park. Talk to them about where they would like to go and what they would like to do. They may not always have any ideas, so be imaginative and give specific suggestions and ideas. It might be helpful to have some web sites to show them with photos and videos about the location you are considering. Destin, Florida with kids is one of our favorite places because of the gorgeous white sand beaches, gentle Gulf of Mexico, and tons of fun things to do.
Keep boredom at bay. If kids are bored, they get whiny, and when the kids are whiny, the adults are not happy. If you are going to be in the car for hours, have plenty of games, movies, books, art supplies, and whatever else you need to keep them content. Buy a few little surprises that you can take out when boredom inevitably happens. We often spend time reading aloud on car trips so do some research to find out what books will work for each age group. Don’t assume the books you loved as a child will hold their attention but certainly try if you think they will be interested. Kids know if you love what you are reading aloud and it often makes them love the book as well.
Keep everyone fed. Nobody is happy when they are hungry and young kids may not even know why they are so unhappy and irritable. Keep healthy snacks available and plan regular meal breaks. Fast food is fine occasionally and will definitely be a favorite for the kids but every child should know how to behave in a nice restaurant and should be taught to enjoy the experience. Be the family that others in the restaurant are marveling at, so impressed at how well-behaved your grandchild is!
Let them have their electronic games but keep them to a minimum. Kids are definitely going to want to spend some time playing with their electronic gizmos, but a vacation is not the time to spend hours hunched over an electronic screen. Compromise by agreeing on how much time they can spend playing and then make them forget the electronics because they are having so much fun doing other things! If you are visiting a kid-friendly hotel like Crystal Mountain in Michigan, they can stay busy with everything from ski lessons to dog sledding.
Don’t let time slip away without spending some travel time with your grandchild. Before you know it, they will think traveling with you is just not cool anymore. It’s hard to believe that our grandson is almost ten when it seems like a short time ago that he was born. Plan a trip now!
Jan Ross contributed this to MiniTime. She writes for a variety of venues, both print and online, and often travels with her photographer husband.