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Traveling with the Grandkids: Grandparent Tips for a Kid-Friendly Vacation

By Diane Amato

Published October 17, 2019 • 4 Min Read

Spending extended time with your grandchildren and exploring new things together can create meaningful memories to last a lifetime. Putting some planning into it can make the trip smooth and fun for everyone.

1. Test the waters first

Before taking your grandchildren on a vacation, see how things go with a day trip or easy overnights. A trip to the zoo, museum or theme park can give you a sense for how you and the grandkids do without the parents around and give you some familiarity with their habits and needs.

2. Plan the big trip Together

Getting the kids and their parents involved in the early stages of planning can accomplish a number of things. For one, when the kids are part of the planning process, they’ll feel more invested in the trip and excited about the road ahead. Parents may feel more comfortable with the kids being away if they are familiar with where you’re going. Whether you’re thinking of exploring new things or aiming for simple fun in the sun, get everyone talking!

Tip: Discuss when and how often the grandkids should call or text their parents to make sure everyone feels connected throughout the trip. Check with your mobile phone provider to make sure you have an international plan that will meet your needs.

3. Give everyone enough room

You’re probably used to adult travel where you and your companion(s) are neat, organized, and put your things away. Kids aren’t often wired the same way, and asking them to clean up their gear could be tiresome. Try to book a place — condo, villa, or adjoining hotel rooms — that give the kids enough space to play and sleep, while keeping them close.

Thinking about a theme-park vacation? It’s a good idea to book accommodation on-site whenever possible, letting you – and the young ones – easily re-charge mid-day.

3. Schedule enough time in the day

Travelling with young kids means you probably can’t get anywhere very quickly. Try not to pack too much into each day. Leave time for naps, breaks, meals, unexpected accidents, missing shoes, changes of heart and trips to the bathroom. Downtime is your friend!

4. Pack snacks!

Kids get hungry. Often. Carry a bag or backpack with each kid’s favourite snacks while you’re out. Also it’s a good idea to pack some wipes, bandaids, spare clothes and other necessities for those just-in-case moments.

5. Keep bedtimes consistent

While it’s easy to get off-schedule during a vacation, it’s a good idea to try to keep the bedtime routine fairly consistent to what they are at home. Even if your grandchildren are older, kids need sleep to face the next day with enough energy and a positive attitude. Creating a sleep environment that’s relatively close to what they have at home can go a long way toward keeping kids happy throughout your trip.

6. Get your documentation in order

When travelling domestically, children under 18 don’t need a form of identification — but it’s not a bad idea to take copies of passports and/or birth certificates, just in case. Keep in mind that when travelling outside the country, such documents are essential even for infants.

It’s also smart to get a notarized letter from the parent(s) giving you permission to travel with their children and authorize medical care. Vaccinations and Visas are sometimes required for foreign travel, so be sure to do your research and ensure you’ve got all the documents together you need for smooth travel.

Traveling with your grandchildren can be a wonderful, rewarding experience for everyone. Follow these tips to help keep your travelling companions happy, entertained, and excited to join you on your next family adventure.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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