Inside: Benefits of traveling with grandparents and the best ideas to make sure your vacation is enjoyable for all three generations.
My children and I have been traveling with their grandma since they were two and three years old.
We’ve traveled with grandma through a failed 12-hour road trip with two toddlers, and an ER stop in the middle of Western Kansas in which we coined the “Hell-ation” to years later a fabulous overseas trip to Paris during a heatwave.
Extended family travel was on the rise before the pandemic. And traveling with grandparents is undoubtedly memorable.
Traveling with grandparents has its benefits if expectations and planning contain everyone’s input.
benefits of Traveling With Grandparents
1. Depression Decreases
When children and grandparents spend time together, symptoms of depression decrease.
A study from Boston University spanning many generations showed decreased symptoms of depression from both grandparents and grandchildren the more time they spent together.
This study is encouraging because this means it takes into account our teenagers which is often a less than happy time for many families.
2. Less Stress
Vacations are stressful for parents, and if you’re a single parent, you know exactly how stressful traveling alone with your kids it can be.
How many times have you uttered the phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation”?
A grandparent available to step in and entertain your child or help with meals or assist with bedtime or even give you a chance to unpack or take a bath for your “vacation away from your vacation” is gold.
Grandparents are often more patient with our children than we are. They aren’t around our kids as much as we are and sometimes they don’t have full-time jobs and all the other demands.
When vacationing, they’re usually much better at fully being in vacation mode. Let your kids gravitate to the calmness of grandma or grandpa while you take care of the security checks or hotel check-ins child-free.
Time spent on vacations is often the most memorable.
If your children are still at ages that they love going anywhere and everywhere with their grandparents then go on at least one vacation with them before your kids grow into the teen years and aren’t as agreeable. The memories they’ll have can’t be replaced.
If you don’t live near your parents, vacationing with them for the sake of your children can be an excellent way for them to spend extended time with your children.
Your kids may need some extra time to warm up to relatives they don’t see very often to form a real bond. A full week of one-on-one time in a new setting can do precisely that.
How to have enjoyable Vacations with Grandparents
Agree ahead of time with your parents if there are any activities you want to do with your kids by yourself, or if there are any activities your parents may want to do on their own.
Ask beforehand if your parents are willing to help with the kids if that’s your expectation. It’s possible your parents are looking forward to a carefree vacation.
If there’s anything you know in advance you’ll need help with or if you want to go anywhere sans children, ask before you leave.
Pick a location that friendly for three generations. As the middle generation, you’ll likely to get the most frustrated if you pick a place that’s physical as you’ll be helping both sides. All-inclusive resorts and cruises are the safest bests but not the most cost-effective.
Stay flexible. Having a general idea of what to do on your vacation is fine, but a schedule won’t work for multi-generation travel.
Grandparents will need breaks at different times than your children and possibly more frequently. Be okay with people staying back on some activities or having a half-day or full days of rest.
Consider an Airbnb instead of a hotel. This way everyone can stay together but have separate bedrooms, and you’ll have a kitchen to prepare meals. Overall, it’s usually less expensive than a hotel when you figure the cost of multiple people and rooms and eating out.
Above all, consider your family.
Our three-generation vacations have included road trips, international trips to multiple countries, and a beach vacation – all of which are suggested as vacations not to take with grandparents and children but we had a wonderful time at all of them.
Well, maybe not the road trip.