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A Guide to Travelling with Grandchildren

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In these modern times when generations may live far apart, grandparents are finding a new way to beat geographical separation – holidays with the grandchildren.

As the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) points out, it’s a win-win-win situation. Grandparents get to see the grandkids, parents get the break they need, and children get to spend special time with those precious figures, Grandma and Grandpa.

It is not uncommon for seniors to take active holidays well into their eighties today. However, matching a child’s stamina and energy is too much to ask of a senior. So how can you plan a rewarding trip for both generations?

Itinerary

  • It’s a mistake to plan a top-gear trip entirely around the children’s desires, says ASTA. Instead, stock your itinerary with activities that suit both generations. A good starting point is historical sites like temples or ruins, and natural sites like lakes, walking trails and mountains.
  • Ask your grandchildren what they want to see. Gauge activities to their age, and hide your disappointment if they lose interest or have a meltdown. It’s a fine line calibrating activities to a child’s interests, so be prepared to change course mid-tack.
  • If the resort, cruise line or theme park offers supervised activities for kids, take up the opportunity.

Know your grandkids

  • Arm yourself  with advice from your own children – your grandchildren’s parents. You need a good grasp of your grandkids’ pet likes and dislikes, sleeping habits, favourite foods and foods they won’t touch.
  • Forbes blogger Deborah L. Jacobs advises to be sensitive to the parents’ attitude to this holiday. Maybe they worry you won’t cope, or don’t want the kids in the car with you behind the wheel. Yes, you were a parent once, and in some ways perhaps a better one than your kids. But kids have changed, and maybe you have, too. So talk with your kids about it.
  • It may be wise to trial a weekend away with your grandkids if you haven’t travelled with them before. If it overwhelms them , or you, you know to plan a shorter trip.

Safety

  • ASTA says it advises grandparents constantly to take proper identification (a good idea for both themselves and the child), the child’s medical history, and written medical instructions and approval to give medical treatment from the parents (ideally signed by a JP). Carry contact information, your health insurance policy, and recent photos.
  • Some countries will not permit minors to travel with anyone but their parents, unless written permission is supplied by both parents. If you’re heading overseas, look into the laws of each country you plan to visit, especially as those laws affect kids.

Three’s a crowd

  • One last piece of advice from ASTA. Play favourites! This may seem counter-intuitive, but with every extra kid in the room, the energy quotient escalates. Stick to a maximum two kids, or even just one. You can take the other ten grand-kids away on another occasion, one or two at a time.
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