Designing Excursions with your Grandchildren


Designing Excursions with your Grandchildren

To your grandchild, you are a center of knowledge; travel together helps pass it along.

November 18, 2014

Multigenerational travel is a compelling concept. Two or three generations of a family – perhaps spread across the country in today’s mobile society – may develop special relationships as they share traveling experiences. It may be especially exhilarating for grandparents and grandchildren to have fun together.

In many cases, the bookend generations can forge unique bonds when they spend uninterrupted time together, absent the presence of the parental authority figure. Such circumstances can foster a more personal relationship between grandparent and grandchild.

However, whether you travel with your grandchildren to share your own childhood memories, introduce them to national parks and historical landmarks, expose them to cultural events or explore a theme park, it’s vital to plan ahead.

Basic documentation
If you do travel with a grandchild, it’s a good idea to carry identification documents of one kind or another. It’s a wise grandparent who carries some vital documents. Those may include a notarized letter from the parents giving permission for you to act as guardian during your travels, as well as giving you authority to request medical care. (Note: It is prudent to obtain signatures from both parents if they are divorced.)

You may also need medical insurance cards, prescription cards, dental insurance cards and others as fit the circumstances. Remember that such precautions are not only for extensive travel. Accidents can happen as easily during a daylong outing as over a two-week cruise.

Going international
If you’re off to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or certain islands of the Caribbean, your grandchildren (15 and under) may only need certified copies of their birth certificates. Otherwise, travel overseas requires passports, no matter if the child is an infant or a near adult of 17. Visit the U.S. Department of State website (, for specific country requirements. Intergenerational travel experts often advise simply getting passports for all travelers.

Safe travels
There are rules, too, for traveling by car, even for short trips. The days of children jumping into the front seat are long gone. Nowadays, laws in most states require children under 7 or 8 to be strapped into approved and properly installed car seats. Children under a year old or who weigh less than 20 pounds may have to be secured in a rear-facing child safety system. In many places, local fire departments may be available to check that the seat is installed correctly in your car.

The rules exist to enhance child safety, and they obviate the inclination simply to pull up and tell your grandchild to hop in the car. It’s a good idea to check your relevant state’s laws and requirements by visiting prior to planning a road trip.

Endless horizons
Your travel possibilities are endless. If you’re already a seasoned traveler with your grandchildren, there are few limitations. If you’re just starting out, begin with half-day or daylong trips filled with appropriate activities that everyone can be enthusiastic about. You don’t want to be cast as a boring grandparent. Fishing and camping trips may have appeal to both generations, but if overnight stays are involved, make sure your grandchildren are comfortable spending the night away from their parents. Small children may find the idea frightening, at first.

No matter how simple or elaborate your plans, including your grandchildren in the planning is essential. It allows them to feel more grown up – and that can enhance the family bond you are in the process of building, as well as your reputation for being one of the “fun” grandparents.

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