Need more advice on traveling with grandparents? Read Disney World With 3 Generations.
I caught the travel bug from my parents, who love to travel and always made it a priority to explore the world. I knew I wanted to keep traveling after I became a mother. I just didn’t know how much of that travel would continue to be with my own parents! But traveling with grandparents has turned out to be the key to a good vacation for us.
Our first vacations with a baby
My daughter took her first flight at 3 months, to visit relatives in Canada for Christmas. At 4 months we went to St. Maarten with her grandparents. And soon after we did New Orleans as a threesome.
Of course, when I booked those adventures I was (blissfully) unaware of the challenges of traveling with small children. For the Canada trip, I found myself schlepping through the airport with my daughter in a carrier, a stuffed-to-the-brim diaper bag over my shoulder; hoping with all my heart that I would nurse her and she’d just sleep through the flight. In New Orleans we were back at the hotel for her bedtime by 7:00 every night—in New Orleans!
3 Reasons Multi-Generation Vacations Rock!
Traveling With Grandparents Means Reinforcements!
Those first trips convinced me that a family trip wasn’t really a vacation unless we had other people with us to help out. Luckily, We have grandparents on both sides of the family willing to come along on our adventures. Traveling with grandparents and kids can create some new challenges. But to a much greater degree it removes many of the headaches of traveling with small kids–at least for us.
On our trip to St. Maarten my husband and I were able to slip off for a quick meal or some beach time while my parents kept an eye on our mostly napping daughter (right).
In Belize my husband and I were able to go on an extraordinary snorkeling trip while our 14-month old daughter stayed back with the grandparents at the resort, playing on the beach and drinking milkshakes.
In Costa Rica my husband and I visited an animal refuge that wouldn’t allow young kids and my in-laws spent the day with (by then) two kids at the resort.
I’ve found that grandparents are often willing to relax in the room if someone has to nap.
Of course, there was the time my daughter screamed through a very long dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. We barely ate our meals but couldn’t bail because we were sharing a rental car with my parents. But more often than not, having extra hands makes dining out easier.
Traveling With Grandparents Means Compromise
Over the years we’ve worked out the kinks, figured out what works and gotten into a travel rhythm that suits all of us. One of the keys to having a successful multi-generation trip is making sure that everyone’s thoughts and needs are taken into account.
• Grandparents–or other adults without children– might appreciate having some alone time and kid-free space. Don’t assume they want to spend every waking moment with your kids.
• Sometimes it makes sense to not share rooms or have directly adjoining rooms. Some distance gives everyone privacy and independence.
• Figuring out the finances for trips can be complicated. It’s best to have honest, straightforward conversations about what people can afford and/or who is paying for the trip.
• If you’re renting a house or other type of self-catering place, it’s a good idea to figure out how to share the labor of cooking and cleaning in advance.
• Another thing to take into account is how various people’s daily schedule, mobility and energy level will impact your plans. You have to consider you child’s nap time as well as grandpa’s morning exercise. Expect that people’s usual waking, bed and meal times might vary considerably.
Traveling With Grandparents Means Rewards All Around
Our two kids have grown beyond the age where we need lots of help. But we continue to do annual trips with alternating sides of the family. I think that the freshness and excitement of being with the extended family in a new place makes the kids happier and more cooperative, too.
My two kids have collected wonderful memories of their grandparents. The grandparents, who live several hours away, get a dose of concentrated time together with them away from the cares of everyday life. My husband and I enjoy time together with our extended family and we also get to relax a little, thanks to the extra hands we have around.
What has your experience been traveling with grandparents?
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