One of the most fun and heartwarming ways to spend time with your grandchildren is to travel together. Whether it’s a weekend trip close to home, or a longer excursion to a faraway vacation destination or even another country, more women over 60 are discovering the joys of traveling with their grandchildren.

Here are a few tips to make traveling with kids as fun, joyful and efficient as possible:

Plan Ahead

Children respond well to structure, and being on vacation is no exception. Make some detailed plans for where you want to go, what you want to see, and how you want to spend your time on each day of your trip. Some families need and enjoy more structure than others, but you should at least have a basic itinerary of the “must see” places on your schedule.

Involve the Kids

Every day, try to involve the kids in making decisions about what to do and where to go during the trip. With younger children, they often respond better to choosing between two options (“Do you want to go to the amusement park or the swimming pool?”) rather than an open-ended question (“Where do you want to go today?”).

Stick to a Budget

Kids often are easily captivated by toys, souvenirs and attractions, and this is even more the case while on vacation. Try to avoid spending beyond your budget – you might even give each grandchild a “vacation allowance” of money that they can spend, or help decide how to spend. If you encounter behavior problems, you might even consider setting up a “point system” where your grandkids earn spending money for good behavior and lose it if they misbehave.

Share Your Passions

Traveling with grandchildren is a great way to share some of your passions and values in life. If you love shopping for antiques, this could be a fun activity to introduce to your grandkids. If you’ve never been to a waterslide park, perhaps your grandchildren can introduce you to their favorite vacation activity.

Seek the Unique

Avoid the usual “tourist traps” and look for ways to make your vacation distinctive so you can share a more unique experience with your grandchildren. Can you stay at a special bed & breakfast instead of a chain hotel? Can you look for a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant instead of a fast food franchise? Grandchildren are often more adventurous and willing to try new things than we give them credit for – especially when on vacation.

Make it a Learning Experience

Every vacation is a beautiful opportunity to get out of our comfort zone, see the world through new eyes, and learn something new about the world and about ourselves. Talk with your grandchildren each day on the vacation about what they were most impressed by or surprised by. Share your impressions.

Write a journal or make a photo album together – create a lasting memento of the vacation that is unique to you and your grandchildren’s special experience. Read books together (before and after the trip) about the places you’re visiting.

Help your grandchildren cultivate an appreciation for travel, not just for the sights and experiences, but also for the knowledge and life perspective. Being a “good traveler” is a life skill that will serve your grandchildren well for the rest of their lives.

What is your favorite vacation destination when traveling with grandchildren? What tips would you offer to the community for traveling with kids? Let us know in the Comments section.  

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Watch my interview with Barbara Nathan on the 6 important principles for raising grandchildren.

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