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.

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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 [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer it, or find someone who can. 

Written by Ben

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