These are “musts” for travel with grand-kiddos!!
If you ask me, nothing is better than taking a trip with your grandchildren. Where and when to go is different for everybody but, here are a few spots that will put a smile on everybody’s face (and, won’t have you running to the wine cart…..). Both the location and the duration will depend upon your budget. The ages of the grandchildren and the amount of time allotted are also a consideration. A couple of ideas to share – do not try to cram too many things into one trip, make a budget and stick with it, make sure your trip is age-appropriate for the child/children and involve the child (children) in the planning process. With these in mind, here are a few suggestions based on trips that we have done or in the planning stages.
Visit a National Park
There are 58 US National Parks. If there is not one in your state, chances are there is a Park within a few hours drive. Consider flying into a central location and visiting multiple Parks. Denver will give easy access to 4 Parks – Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde. Jackson Hole allows you to combine Grand Teton and Yellowstone. A flight into Boston can give access to Acadia and Boston’s Freedom Trail. Accommodations within the Parks fill early but there is usually lodging in surrounding towns. If you are over 65, you are eligible for the Senior Pass which allows you and everyone in your vehicle Park access.
- – Plan a Visit to Washington DC
We both think that this is a must visit for our grandchildren. So much history there that the children should be over 8 years old in order to appreciate what they are seeing. The best thing is that there are virtually no entrance fees. Remember that a DC summer is hot and very humid. For an added treat, hire a cab or car/driver for a night tour of the monuments – less people and a totally different perspective. The monuments are dramatic and there is NO ONE around so you can stroll and really take your time!
- – Visit a Major US City
Think New York, LA, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, etc. Immerse yourselves in the city sights and lights. Most large metropolitan areas have a theater area – go to some live theater (we took Missy K to Lion King…..she STILL talks about the evening), eat at a fancy restaurant ( this gives an excellent opportunity to review those table manners) and order room service. Missy K and I truly excel at this crucial skill and know how very important CONSTANT practice is…..
Plan a European Trip
If you have the time and means (and are comfy with the idea of taking the “Grands” out of the Country on a long flight), a Rail Pass will make getting around easy – just go light on your packing. Europe is compact but do not try to do too many stops – this is where involving the kids in the planning will really help. We just completed a great trip this summer and everyone survived. Package trips can be okay but you are at the mercy of everyone else – better to plan yourself. One of the “grands” did research on the various stops and had a list of “must-sees” and “if we have time sees” in each city. It helps with what can be “guesswork” about what a child would like to see and learn about…..
- – Visit Asia
Asia is huge and often overwhelms the senses. That being said, nothing will prepare your grandchildren for the sights, smells, sounds and commotion of Asia. Pick one country and immerse yourselves in the people, food and culture. Do not cave and take them to KFC or Mickey Ds – be adventurous and eat local foods. We love Asia and look forward to introducing the grandchildren to the likes of Japan, China and Thailand amongst others. A word of advice – stay in the best Hotel that you can afford – you will need a nice place in which everyone can relax after visiting the markets and temples. A Japan Rail Pass makes travel fun and fast. China is huge – pick 1 or 2 cities that interest you. Hire English speaking guides and realize that the English may not be the best.
- – Plan an African Safari
Probably one of the penultimate experiences. Unless you are familiar with Africa, you may need help with this one. Our advice is to stay at a Private Game Reserve – yes, it costs more but it is definitely worth it. We are fans of South Africa. Namibia and Botswana – all allow night game drives and use open vehicles. Every Private Reserve includes a room, 2 game drives and full board. You will spend a bit more…..but, the getting SO close to the animals makes it worth the expense.
Whatever you choose to do, know that the “grands” will chat about it FOREVER. I love to be a part of making new memories AND it’s so much fun to watch them see a new part of the world/country for the first time. It really is important to share that time……one thing we all know for certain is that we cannot buy more time, right? I am going to make mine count. I know you want to as well.
Get the kids involved well ahead of the actual trip. Buy guide books for the cities or countries of interest and let the kiddos choose tours or points of interest. The more involved they are with the planning the more fun.
Whatever you plan to do…..get ready to SMILE and enjoy an amazing time! Take plenty of pics (don’t we just LOVE the endless capacity of the digital cameras these days?! Remember the endless piles of photos (even the bad ones) we used to have????)
Travel safely and have a blast!