Dedicated to all of the cool Grandparents out there willing to give the “multi-generational travel” thing a chance!
Vacationing with Grandparents can be a great way to spend quality time as a family and really create some fabulous memories. Getting in quality time with family during crazy holiday visits, birthday parties, and normal routines is hard to come by in our fast paced lifestyle. I am all about creating memories for my kids, since memories will stay with them forever.
Since our Grandma and Grandpa live out of state, our visits always include sleepovers. We have spent several days together under one roof, without driving each other totally insane (insane, yes). Our sleepovers are always at one of our homes, which means that someone has to plan and host. When the visits are at my home, I’m busy with the daily routine, plus entertaining my guests. Laundry, bills, cooking, and running kids here and there. Hubby is busy with work and his iPhone never stops chiming. The kids are distracted by their friends, the phone, homework, and sports. All of the daily stuff plus trying to be a good hostess. The Grandparents do great jumping into our daily routine, fill in where they can, yet are ready to step back out after a few days of the craziness. We also try to make an annual visit to their world. It happens to be a 55 and older Country Club community. This is another story. We roll in like a tornado and never slow down. When their perfectly organized and quiet home is invaded by 6 people (4 kids and sometimes a dog) it is quite the adventure and not much of a relaxing vacation for anyone. Controlled chaos at best. Need I say more?
So, on one of our “regular” visits we started talking about travel, my absolute favorite subject. We have traveled together in the past…once. That trip consisted of a little multi-generation camping trip. I figured if we survived that without any major catastrophe, it was time to go bigger. So it was decided (after a few glasses of wine I’m sure) to travel together again, go big, and really make it happen. Costa Rica was a thought, I started planning, and we did it! It ended up being great and accomplished exactly the goal…a great experience for everyone!
I have to credit a good part of the success to the Grandparents giving up control and trusting my love for planning travel. We agreed on some dates, set a budget, they booked their flights, and showed up where I told them to go. Perfect. No stress in the planning! Then while on the trip, they rolled with the punches. They went on the tours I arranged and seemed to enjoy every minute. They weren’t concerned about the kids making a neighbor crazy (like at their house) and I wasn’t worried about picking up the next big mess. The kids loved the new and improved Grandpa and Grandma. While the kids knew that their Grandparents would be meeting us, they were still thrilled. The look on their faces when two familiar faces appeared in a very unfamiliar place was amazing!
I won’t lie and say that there wasn’t a couple (okay, several) times before our trip that I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision. I worried if my kids would be too much for my parents and my parents too much for me. I seemed to forget that being away from the real world and in a vacation frame of mind changes everything…for the better! Relaxed Grandparents, stress free parents, and rested kids makes for an amazing visit. This time away with the Grandparents allowed for some of the most amazing memories. My kids will always remember the special time they each had with each grandparent. No distractions and no real worries, unless you call where to eat dinner a stress.
While I am fairly new at planning this multi-generational travel, I feel really good about the couple trips we have shared . I think I can consider it successful if we can’t wait to plan the next one! Here are a few decisions we made that I felt were a big part in making our trip so amazing…
We traveled separately and met at the destination. Dragging a retired couple though the travel sagas of our family, on planes and in airports, would have been ugly . The stress of that alone could have pushed even the most most doting grandparent over the deep end. We even chose to spend few days alone before meeting up. Great decision. My kids were all relaxed, adjusted, and had some great adventure stories to share.
We made sure Grandma & Grandpa were set up with some of their own space. We rented a house with an attached studio apartment in Costa Rica. It worked perfect. They could escape for some R & R and it gave our family a little space as well. We didn’t invite them along to be built in childcare, we wanted them to have a great time too!
I planned a couple activities to let the kids see that the older generation is not all boring. Kayaking, boogie boarding, and zip lining. Watching Grandpa zip line through the jungle was a mind blowing experience for my “cooler- than-cool” preteen.
This experience was able to to create some great memories and let my kids see a very different side of their Grandparents. As a whole, it was awesome and we would do it again in a heartbeat. The memories that were created will last a lifetime. Now to decide where to drag Grandma and Grandpa next year!