Grandparents + Grandkids: It's a Trip!
There are more than 70 million grandparents in the United States and many of them have a passion for travel, providing an incredible opportunity to share this love with their grandchildren. Traveling with grandkids offers a unique bonding activity that can’t be experienced during a family get-together or a short visit.
Travel and lifestyle expert Nan Zimmerman has partnered with BoomerTowne.com, an informational Web site for baby boomers. She has advice for any adult traveling with younger children, including grandparents who might not do it frequently.
Test the Waters
While hitting the road with the grandchildren might seem like fun, younger children might not be ready to travel without a parent. Test out the waters first by visiting a nearby museum or zoo together. This can help determine whether a grandparent can handle a situation without Mom or Dad around. Or consider traveling with only one grandchild at a time, which allows for one-on-one bonding and saves grandparents from being sibling referees.
Planning the Trip
One of the first obstacles when traveling with a grandchild is picking a location. The destination should be kid-friendly but also provide entertainment for the grandparents. All-inclusive resorts are great, as they provide activities to do together, as well as some entertaining kid-only activities.
Planning the trip can be a lot of fun, so make sure to involve the grandchildren. Once a location is selected, share pictures of the destination, brochures and maps with them. Go online to learn more about the trip together.
While grandchildren may have traveled with parents before, be sure to go over rules for the trip before embarking on the journey. Outline the consequences if the children’s behavior doesn’t measure up to expectations.
If flying, explain airport security so that a grandchild doesn’t get scared. It might also be a good idea to go over what it feels like to fly and how people behave on an airplane.
Learn about all medications a grandchild takes, both prescription and over-the-counter, and be sure to take them along. A notarized permission letter signed by parents will authorize a grandparent to have limited power of attorney over a grandchild in case of an emergency. This is especially important when traveling outside the United States.
Traveling to another Country
Children of all ages are required to have a passport when traveling outside of the United States. Plan ahead and apply for a passport well in advance, as there is a long processing time. Children under the age of 14 must apply for a passport in person.
Also, be sure to check with the U.S. Embassy of the country you’re visiting and make sure you have everything you need to travel with your grandchild. Some countries may require a notarized letter authorizing grandparents to accompany grandchildren in place of a legal guardian.
In case of an emergency, such as a lost child, be sure to have a plan in place. Share it with the grandchildren upon arrival. At the hotel, show him or her how to get to the front desk and have it be a meeting place. Tell grandchildren to go to the nearest uniformed employee if they should get lost. Give them a slip of paper with important cell phone numbers, hotel name, location and phone number so authorities can contact the appropriate person as soon as the grandchild is found.
For additional security and peace of mind, if grandchildren are over the age of 12, have them carry a cell phone or walkie-talkie. This will allow them to contact someone immediately if something is wrong.
For more travel info and tips from Nan Zimmerman, visit BoomerTowne.com.