Grandparents and Grandchildren Hit the Road
Going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house for dinner every Sunday doesn't work if you're in Boston and Grandma and Grandpa are in Sun City. Distances separate many families in the United States, and increasing numbers of grandchildren only see their grandparents a couple of times a year, if that.
But the grandparents, rather than sitting by the hearth waiting for the children to call, may be off hiking the Alps or rafting down the Colorado River. Many want their grandchildren to share in their new adventures, and offer to take them along. Today's grandparents live more active and independent lives than did their own grandparents. The chance to travel together gives grandparents and grandchildren time to get to know each other better, and lets grandparents expose the grandchildren to opportunities they might not otherwise have. It also may give their own children, the parents, a hand with childcare or a much-needed break.
Is Everybody Ready?
Parents should decide with the grandparents if the child is ready to stay away from his parents on his own. Some children are ready as young as 7 while some teenagers are not yet ready to leave home. How well they know each other will also make a difference on a trip.
If you only see your grandchildren once or twice a year, it's best to start with a short excursion near your home or theirs to help you reconnect. Try spending an afternoon getting reacquainted at a museum or baseball game, and graduate to an overnight stay in a nearby town before considering a week away together. The age of the grandparents and the grandchildren is also an important factor. A ski trip might not appeal equally to a 17-year-old and a 70-year-old; similarly, pre-teens don't want to spend every night at the opera. Try to choose a destination that you will both enjoy. Options run the gamut from a weekend at a country bed-and-breakfast to self-guided or packaged tours of national parks, cities or other countries. Keep in mind that what a grandparent would find to be exhausting could be boring to a teenager!
Tour or Independent Travel?
Some people want to set their own itineraries; others prefer tours. For many people tours are the way to go, as they relieve you of the efforts of finding accommodations or coping with a foreign language and allow you to spend time to see the sights. The tour doesn't have to cater to grandparents and grandchildren; if it's a good company, you'll get to see what you want to see, and chances are there will be a mix of people of all ages.
Consulting with the grandchildren is an important part of traveling with them. It is imperative to make sure that all parties are participating equally in the planning as well as sharing in the overall travelling experience. When grandparents and grandchildren travel together, they are drawn closer and relate to each other in remarkable new ways. "Grandtravel" is a special and unforgettable way to spend time together.