1. Know your travel companions! The most important tip we can offer in your planning is to start by knowing essential data about the needs, interests, medical history, and capacities of your grandchildren. If you do not already have this key information well mastered, start with a short travel itinerary that is close to home. Don’t create difficult situations by planning convoluted or remote itineraries with unknown travel partners.
2. Make “Safety” your prime directive. Knowing the natures and abilities of your grandchildren will allow you to match the difficulty, exposure and trip length to the ability of the participant grandchildren.
3. Plan the trip together. Jointly planning the adventure builds “buy-in” from the youngsters and reduces the chance of the kids feeling dragged into an unwanted event.
4. Build a “quiet time travel bag”. Long periods of confinement in cars, airplanes, or airport layovers can be points of disassembly in your idealized adventure. Plan ahead by creating a bag with material to engage your grandchildren during these occasions of mundane travel. Easily transported games, paper backs, audio CDs and books, and hand held electronic games can salvage the “boring moment”.
5. Look for packaged vacations. All inclusive end-destinations make the planning easier and usually keep the costs down. A-la carte itineraries often appear to be cheaper on first glance, but by the end of the day, meeting the evolving demands and needs of the young ones can total a surprisingly high daily fare.
6. Give your undivided attention. Keep the agenda of bonding with the grandchildren at the heart of your planning energy. Create moments when you can share your passions, songs, family histories, and memories. The details of the vacation may fade, but the memory of your time together should be unforgettable.
7. Role Model. You have assumed the role of proxy parent by assuming responsibility for your grandchildren while on vacation. It is important that you demonstrate calmness, stability, good sportsmanship and all those virtues you hope to instill in your posterity. Whether you like it or not, your grandchildren will be learning from you while they are in your care.
8. Be spontaneous. Make sure you allow for impromptu detours in your travel itineraries. Often the highlight of the trip will be the mutual decision to change course and explore the unknown treasure that you stumble upon. An inflexible and rigid itinerary will disallow any creative and spontaneous detours.
9. Don’t overextend your capacity. Since the youthful energy of your grandchildren may far exceed the capacity of a “mature” traveler, you should plan on sufficient time for you to rest and recuperate. How can you keep the youngsters protected and engaged while you catch your breath? Another advantage to pre-formatted and packaged itineraries is that there is typically an allowance for age variances. “Young Buckaroos” at the guest ranch can be in private riding lessons while you relax outside the arena. Adventurous teenagers can kayak alongside your guide-driven raft, and counselor supervised events can supply those needed moments for you to rejuvenate in private.
10. Reaffirm the successful adventure. After the trip is complete, follow-up the adventure by building a scrap-book to preserve the memory and reiterate the love and common adventures that you shared.
A little advance planning and some help from the California Dude Ranch will make your Grandparent Travel adventure a memory to cherish for a lifetime.