Travel SOS: Help me not want to strangle my grandkids

Taking your grandkids on holiday can be rewarding, but you have to plan ahead.

How to travel with the grandkids

After a bad experience travelling with family, Ken is dreading an upcoming holiday with his grandchildren. So, in Travel SOS, he's asked us for tips on how to cope and make it a bonding experience.


Q. Ken
Last summer, we went away for a week with our kids and grandkids and, while there were good times, by and large, it was a 'testing' experience. Our kids want us to take them on a trip during the next school holidays and we really want to bond with our grandkids, but I'm also worried about losing my temper with them, because they are quite a handful. Can you give me some tips on not wanting to strangle them when we go on holiday?

A. You're not alone, Ken. Some people do dread travelling with children, but you're right, holidaying with grandchildren gives you an opportunity to bond, although making it a success requires some careful forward planning.

Here are some tips if you are planning a holiday with your grandchildren.

Work with the parents
Theoretically, your own kids should understand that you know a fair bit about looking after children, given that you successfully raised them, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to write you a blank cheque to look after their little darlings. Your kids may question numerous parts of your holiday plan, whether you have the energy to keep up with them, whether they will be eating the right foods and – even if they trust your driving – if you are taking a road trip. The fact is, no one knows the children better than the parents, and if you involve them in the planning process for your trip, it will help ease a lot of their concerns and worries.

Involve the children in the plan
Young children are wonderful tourists, if you gear the trip to their interests rather than yours. You might be planning your dream holiday, but if it doesn’t engage the grandchildren, the trip will quickly turn into a nightmare. If you haven’t got your mind set on a particular destination you can bring the kids in at that stage. There are some great children’s books that focus on exotic destinations and can spark their imagination and interest. If you have a destination picked out in advance, don’t plan to spend all day touring museums or art galleries as they will most likely tire easily while walking around. Find out in advance whether the places you are visiting offer children’s activities. Make sure you steer them towards age appropriate activities, and be flexible in case you don’t get it exactly right.

Travel light
If you think it is bad enough hauling a ton of luggage on a regular trip, try doing it with kids in tow! It is not pleasant. Discuss with them what to bring on the trip and explain that toys and books need to be kept to a minimum. Bring along important extras like soft toys they may be comfortable sleeping with, especially in unfamiliar locations, but try and get them to keep all the other stuff at home.

Don’t go overboard
This applies to both the length of your holiday and the amount of stuff you want to squeeze into each day. You are better off starting with a domestic trip away for a weekend to see if travelling together is going to work for the grandkids and for yourself, before spending big on an overseas trip that none of you might enjoy.

Have you ever taken a holiday with your grandkids? How did you find the experience? What advice do you have for others?

If you have a Travel SOS question for us, send it to and we'll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can. 



    To make a comment, please register or login
    28th Apr 2018
    Just make sure there is a swimming pool!
    28th Apr 2018
    Sorry that's not my idea of a holiday.
    28th Apr 2018
    Have travelled many times with the grandchildren - both with and without their parents. Swimming pools come in at number one for them. However, I have found that if you give them time "to let off steam" every 4 hours or so, they are much better for it. Try not to give them too many sugary drinks or sweet food. Hyperactive kids are not easy to deal with. Have card games like UNO handy. Get them to keep a diary and write in it each afternoon or evening. Just relax yourself, the holiday for you comes when the one with them is over! Have taken our 2 grandchildren (cousins) both together and apart overseas several times and within Australia. I love having them around. We are off again overseas with them later this year to one of my favourite parts of the world and so looking forward to it. They re now 11 and 12.
    28th Apr 2018
    Thanks Arisaid. I have spent my entire life putting myself last after women and children, in my old age I'm not inclined to continue that,it's just not healthy. These days if I don't enjoy it I don't do it. It's not my job to manage children, if they are too much trouble I limit my time with them. It's my experience that children are mostly spoilt and have no discipline these days by parents that don't have a clue which is not my problem, but it doesn't mean I have to suffer it. I've done my bit and it's all I'm going to do.

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