It's the job of every grandparent to spoil our Grandkids. This is what gives us joy and happiness. Despite what Bill Cosby says, We're more than just "old people trying to get into heaven". We have a second opportunity to create precious memories with a whole new generation of our family. Of course, we want to give our grandkids the world...and the best way to do that is by taking vacations with our Grandkids.
Grandparent vacations are extremely popular! Here at Vacationkids, we've been asked to do more and more of them lately. We recently coordinated a multi-generational vacation with Bob & Ginnie pictured here along with their 6 kids and 5 grandchildren. Jim and Eleanor will be departing next week with grand daughter Ashley to Costa Rica on their Adventure by Disney. Paul and his 11 year old name sake just returned from a surfing safari in Hawaii. Dean and grandson Dusin spent their Spring break on a cruise, while Lynn, 8 year old Sophia and 12 year old Liza are looking forward to their girl's day shopping in London.
We've been doing so many Grandparent vacations lately I began to wonder. After hearing the news from my own daughter that I'm being promoted to the grandparent club, I thought perhaps I was just a bit more sensative. I then thought maybe it was because we're coming up on 15 years in the Family vacation business. Maybe the reason is many or our existing clients were simply entering a new life stage. I chalked it off to the same reason why suddenly we've been asked to coordinate travel for so many new destination weddings.
Then I saw a stat from the 2013 Portrait of American Traveler that states 1 in 5 leisure travelers is now a grandparent and 32% of Grandparents have traveled with their grandchildren on at least one leisure trip in the past 12 months. So these stats actually underscore the trends we've been seeing right in our own Vacationkids office.
So after putting together so many of these recent grand travel adventures for grandparents, we thought we'd pass along a few helpful tips:
1. Get professional help: True, some of your friends may think you're crazy for wanting to travel with kids again but having an expert travel consultant on your side can certainly help save your sanity. If it's been a while since you've hit the road with kids you may be just a little out of practice. Having an ally who is up to date on all the latest offerings on kid friendly destinations, tours and hotels will save you a ton of time and grief. let's face it, the last thing you want to hear from your beloved grandchild are those two most dreaded words in the English vocabulary... "I'm bored".
2. Do Not Be Outnumbered: Many Grandparents elect to take "separate vacations" with each Grandchild. Usually this works best when your grandchild is between the ages of 9-15 years old. I am a huge proponent of this idea. Separate vacations allow you to celebrate what makes each of your grandchildren individual and unique. They get to enjoy your undivided attention. It also allows you to take more vacations and not have to deal with any sibling rivalry.
These days, many boomer grandparents are triatheletes. The rest of us many not be the "spring chickens" we used to be. Even though you may have the very best intentions, be realistic and don't take on more than you can handle. If you have a big heart but simply cannot match the energy level or athletic skills of your grandkids then get help along the way. There are so many great vacations that come with built in help - Cruises and resorts with kids clubs. Daily sightseeing options geared with the right activities. There are even escorted tours complete with guides ready to help your grandchildren repel down a mountain while you sip wine and cheer them on from below.
3. Empower the Kids: The same study suggests nearly half (47%) of kids have a role in planning their vacation. Any grandparent trip can be customized to fit the interests of your grandkids. The more invested they are in the itinerary planning, the more engaged they will be throughout the trip.
4. Set the Rules In Advance - Be like Santa...Make a list and check it twice. You can even make it a contract and have your grandchildren sign off on it. Having a clear set of rules and expectations in advance on issues like behavior, electronics, spending will leave nothing to the imagination or discussion.
5. Strike a Balance - It's not all about the Grandkids, this is your vacation too. Make sure you plan some YOU time into your trip. Sure, you want your Grandchildren to learn about the world by traveling together but you also want them to get to know a little about the real you while you get to enjoy them. Again, if you're going it alone, plan a trip that offers a little help if you need.
Creating wonderful vacation memories with your grandchildren is something that will be discussed and shared around the kitchen table for many, many years to come. Some may say experience is the best teacher but I think our experiences with our Grandparents are the times that shape our lives.