Whether parasailing, beach bumming, or pounding the theme park pavement, grandparents and grandchildren can take advantage of traveling together as a way of getting to know one another better.
"I've had a blast taking my grandchildren with me on vacation," says Yvonne, who has 4 grandchildren ages 8 to 17. "I'm doing things with them, like white water rafting and scuba diving, that I didn't do with my own kids."
"Parents are busy," she explains. "Grandparent travel is really on the upswing."
Orlando, the Disney theme parks, and cruises are great destinations for grandparents and grandchildren, because they offer activities that both generations will enjoy.
Patty and Ron of Winter Park, Florida, frequently take their 8-year-old grandson with them on vacation. They have already visited theme parks as well as a family-centered vacation at a lakefront house, rekindling memories of a previous summer spent in North Carolina.
"Austin gets up in the morning and runs down to see Gramps, who's sipping coffee on the dock," says Patty. "They swim off the dock and fish and have a great time."
In addition to having fun together, traveling with your grandkids will help establish and maintain the relationship. When the entire family gets together, there aren't many opportunities for grandparents and their grandchildren to interact on a one-on-one basis.
Years ago, when multiple generations lived in the same household, there were many opportunities to pass along family history and wisdom. Now families must create those times.
Grandparents and grandchildren can follow-up their vacations by continuing to stay in touch through letters, phone calls, texts, and e-mails. They can become an important part of their grandchildren's lives by spending a couple of weeks alone with them during the year.
As an added benefit, when grandchildren travel with grandparents, it gives their parents some much needed time alone together.
A good place to start is with a short, 3-day trip when a grandchild reaches school age. Younger children handle shorter trips better than they do lengthy vacations. A teen might appreciate a 2-week trip packed with activities, but shorten the stay if you're traveling with little ones. If you're unsure if a child is ready for a night away from Mom and Dad, consider a trial run—an overnight stay at a hotel not far from home, just in case you have to make a midnight run for home.
The experts recommend several tips to make your trip the best it can be.
"The secret is to have fun with the kids," Yvonne says. "They give you a different perspective. It's the most wonderful experience. It slows you down and helps you take a breath."
"My grandkids will grow up thinking I'm the coolest grandmother in town. Traveling has been my best times with the grandkids," she concludes. "Some people may be hesitant to take their grandchildren, but once they do it, they probably won't want to travel without one."
5 ways to survive a road trip with the grandkids. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website. Available at: http://blog.aarp.org/tag/traveling-with-grandchildren/. Published June 22, 2012. Accessed July 23, 2015.
Traveling with children. Transportation Security Administration website. Available at: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/traveling-children. Updated June 16, 2014. Accessed July 23, 2015.
Last reviewed July 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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