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Why We Love Traveling With Grandparents


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.

traveling with grandparents offers bonding timeOn 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

multigen trip costa ricaOver 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

traveling with grandparents makes great memoriesOur 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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Vacations with kid, parents and grandparents can be fantastic experience for all three generations. Mom and Dad get extra help and grandma and grandpa get quality time with your little one. Here are 3 reasons to give multigeneration travel a try. #vacation #family #multigeneration

Heather Cross is the owner of Vacations By Heather, a full-service travel agency that specializes in helping families plan great vacations, and the expert behind New York Travel on About.com.

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12 Comments

  1. March 10, 2016 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    We love multigenerational travel, too! We often travel with grandmother and aunt. Besides the help of extra hands 🙂 we love the memories we all make!

  2. January 25, 2016 at 10:12 pm — Reply

    It’s a real treat being able to travel with grandparents. I really wish I had, especially before they got slower.

  3. January 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm — Reply

    We have had great experiences travelling with grandparents. I find that cruise ships are the best option for multi-generational fun as there is something for everyone.

    • Eileen at FamiliesGo!
      January 25, 2016 at 10:42 am — Reply

      i agree!

  4. January 23, 2016 at 2:42 am — Reply

    Lydia, I couldn’t agree with you more. Traveling with children is really rewarding, but it is work so spreading the responsibilities and giving everyone that added break really makes for happy travelers.c

  5. January 22, 2016 at 9:40 pm — Reply

    Lovely for you all to travel so well together.

  6. January 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm — Reply

    It’s lovely that your family all enjoy travelling together.
    But every family and child is different. For us our son was always happy to nod off to sleep in the pram, that didn’t matter if it was in the middle of a busy night market.
    Of course we had the holiday when he was 3 that I had to take him to time out every meal, but having my Dad their wouldn’t have helped – I think would have just put me more on edge as he can’t stand the tantrums.
    Enjoy your family trips I think it’s wonderful that your parents get to enjoy this time with their grandchildren.

    • Eileen at FamiliesGo!
      January 25, 2016 at 10:44 am — Reply

      i agree it depends on the family and their dynamic. I’m sure for many people, having the in-laws or their own parents around might make it harder to relax. But it’s nice when you can make it work!

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  8. January 22, 2016 at 6:20 pm — Reply

    How lucky you are to have healthy, able-bodied grandparents to share your trip with you and your children. Sounds like heaven to me!

  9. January 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm — Reply

    It’s nice to share a trip with other people – we do it with friends a lot but only did it for the first time with the in laws this Christmas (they held their xmas get together out of town, so some of us made a holiday of it) It was nice.

    • Eileen at FamiliesGo!
      January 25, 2016 at 10:46 am — Reply

      We find traveling with friends works very well — especially when they have kids the same age. The adults out number the kids and we can take turns handing the kids off to one another. Grandparents are not always the help you hope they will be for many reasons! But it’s nice when they are able-bodied, adventurous and easy going.

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