Why Traveling Alone with Your Grandchildren is a Great Bonding Experience
Have you tried traveling with your grandchildren? If you haven’t, my husband and I heartily recommend the experience!
In recent years, multigenerational travel has become a growing market. An emerging subset based on this is grandparents and grandchildren are taking trips together, leaving the parents at home.
My husband and I are quick to attest that such trips are great bonding experiences filled with wonderful memories. Good planning is the key.
Family travel was an important part of our children’s lives as they were growing up. It just seemed natural to continue the tradition as grandchildren came along. We feel fortunate that all six of our grandchildren (ages 7 to 21) live within an hour of us, so we are together often. As a result, they’re accustomed to spending weekends or overnights with us.
Winter holidays in Florida with us frequently involved their parents going off for a few days on their own. The parents thought they were the lucky ones, but we knew that we were! We loved having the grandchildren all to ourselves and the young ones appeared to feel the same.
Our grandkids have always been curious about the frequent travels of Nana and Jiddo (Syrian for Grandpa). They’ve wanted to know why we spend so much time in Europe. Maps and globes have been regularly consulted. They even like seeing our photos. Well, maybe not all of the photos.
As the young ones have matured, our travels with them have changed in scope. This past summer, I would say we reached a pinnacle.
Our two teenage granddaughters (15 and 17) flew to Nice, France and spent a very special week with us in nearby Antibes. They know the Côte d’Azur is virtually a second home. They were as thrilled to visit many of our favorite haunts as we were to take them. They were delightful, interested, appreciative and great fun!
As fate would have it, the girls were with us when the terrible and tragic attack occurred in Nice on July 14. We happened to be on a boat watching fireworks on the Bay of Cannes that evening. But the proximity was close enough to have an enormous emotional impact that resulted in meaningful and important conversations. Together, we paid our respects to the memorial in Nice a few days later. We all will never forget having shared the experience.
Our 21-year-old granddaughter also spent a busy week with us in Antibes. Then she met up with us again in Vienna, along with her 19-year-old brother. More unforgettable memories were made.
It was such fun to watch our grandchildren enjoy and appreciate the culture, the cuisine, and just hang to out together. They were also a big help with luggage and gave us lessons in using our iPhones, taking selfies, and figuring out Snap Chat and Uber.
Our two youngest, 7 and 8, are eagerly anticipating their turns to visit Europe with us. We can’t wait too! In the meantime, we will keep having winter fun in warmer climes with them along with the odd weekend at a hotel in downtown Toronto.
A Few Words About Planning
Once the destination is decided upon, get some travel brochures and library books about the area for the younger children. Send the older ones informative links to websites. Read about where you are going with your grandchildren and then ask what they think they might like to do there. Have fun developing an itinerary together.
If making your own plans to travel with your grandchildren feels rather daunting, here’s an excellent link to companies who will be happy to do the planning for you.
If an organized tour or distant travel is cost-prohibitive, plan to your budget. You don’t have to go far or spend a great deal. How about camping? Kids love to go hiking and exploring. The backyard can be a wonderful place. Rent a beach house or a ski chalet. City hotels often have discount family weekends.
The Most Important Lesson We Learned
These shared experiences are all about the memories. They are created from the time spent together along with the added dimension that develops in the bond you share with your grandchildren.
What Documents Do You Need?
No matter where you’re going, it’s a good idea to bring some ID. Photocopies of the grandkids’ birth certificates should be fine for all needs, if you are not leaving your country.
In addition, you should bring a notarized letter from the parents giving permission for medical care. Also carry copies of the grandchildren’s health cards (in Canada) or insurance cards. In the U.S., don’t forget prescription cards, dental insurance, etc.
Although most grandparents will never have to show it, carrying a letter of permission is advisable. Templates for such letters are available online, or create your own letter of permission using these instructions. If a grandchild’s parents are divorced, ideally documents should be signed by both parents, as sometimes children are transported across borders during custody disputes.
For Travel to a Foreign Country
Everyone, including infants, must have an up to date passport. Be sure you have photocopies of each one and take one copy with you as well as leaving one with family at home. Of course, this is a wise practice for everyone all the time.
Check to ensure what requirements there might be for a visa for entry or vaccinations. Some travel authorities suggest that you obtain a limited power of attorney if traveling abroad with grandchildren. At least you should have a letter of permission as described above.
Have you already joined the ranks and taken your grandchildren someplace special? Do you have any questions about planning such a trip? Please join the conversation. We would love to hear about your experience!