Plan for a Grand Vacation With Grandparents
Vacationing with the grandparents can create special memories and lots of benefits. Your parents and kids will bond. You'll have extra hands to help with your children. And you'll enjoy sights to treasure. But before you book travel tickets or pay a trip deposit, remember: Careful planning is key to a successful grand vacation.
Gretchen Kelly of Durham, who vacations in Ontario with husband Ryan, 4-year-old son Hudson, 2-year-old daughter Nora and her parents, says the keys to a successful vacation with the grandparents are going in without expectations and being flexible. That pertains to everything from schedules and bedtime routines to the number of cookies they get from Grandpa.
While this can be challenging, Kelly says the memories make it all worthwhile. "I love seeing my children with my parents," she says. "It's the sweetest thing. It takes me back to my childhood and it's really a special time."
Where to go
Jodi Woolard, branch sales manager with AAA Vacations in Raleigh, advises choosing a place that offers something for all ages. Consider the beach, theme parks or historical destinations such as Washington, D.C., or Williamsburg, Va.
Gretchen's family enjoys swimming, hiking, boating and canoeing. Even if the grandparents don't want to jump in the water, they love watching the little ones swim.
Woolard says trips to Disney World, the Wild West and Disney Cruise Line destinations are popular for multiple generations. What better way to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip than with your parents and kids?
Where to stay
For hotel rooms, Woolard suggests adjoining rooms or suites. Consider having one child stay with the grandparents and another with the parents. Look into options such as Disney's Value Resorts, which help vacationers stay within a budget.
Villas or houses offer conveniences like kitchens and additional space. But, Kelly advises, you do have to pitch in to help with household chores and offer friendly reminders like keeping noise down at bedtime. When assigning bedrooms, separate the early risers from those who enjoy sleeping in.
What to spend
Discuss finances up front to avoid surprises. If the grandparents are paying for flights and accommodations, consider paying for meals and activities. If the grandparents are covering all expenses, send a thank-you gift such as an album with vacation photos. Or follow the "every other" rule like Gretchen's family: Take turns buying meals and groceries.
How to schedule
Discuss your kid's schedules so everyone is on the same page. Moira Dutton of Cary, who vacationed in Hilton Head, S.C., with husband Brian, 16-month-old daughter Charlotte and her parents, suggests being flexible by maintaining a loose schedule.
"I wanted Charlotte to nap each day, even if it was later than usual, so we planned around it," she says. "We went to the pool in the morning, went in for lunch and naptime, then to the beach in the afternoon."
When to relax
Finding time to relax is a little more realistic when the grandparents are along. They might consider babysitting so Mom and Dad can take a break. Just be respectful and remember, it's their vacation too. They might want to sneak away for sightseeing without the kids. Naptime is the perfect opportunity.
"For us, it was nice to have the extra set of hands," Dutton says. "I had some time to sit back and relax, and Brian and I went out two nights alone, which was refreshing."
But everyone being together is what made the vacation memorable, she says. "I loved seeing my parents enjoy Charlotte. They're delighted by her, and everything she does is so exciting to them," she says. "It's nice to share the experiences with family."
Michele Jonczak is a mother of two boys and a freelance writer from Raleigh.
Also see Tips for When Kids Vacation at Grandparents.
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