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7 Tips for Travelling with Grandparents

Terry farmer's Grandkids helping Granpa to load carI don’t remember any trips with my own grandparents, but now I’m at that stage of my life where I have grandchildren and the topic of going on a multi-generational vacation is in the air. In fact just last week, my wife and I visited our son and his family in Whistler where he recently moved. Although we were only there for three nights, it had a mini-vacation feel about it as we took in the sights as a family.

It got me to thinking how nice it would be to take a longer trip with them in the not so distant future. Of course, that made me think of the upsides and downsides of such a trip, so I came up with the following 7 tips for travelling with grandparents that from my perspective at least, would make such a trip more likely to succeed.

  1. Book separate rooms in a relaxed hotel such as an Accent Inn that has a kitchen, or kitchenette in at least one of them. Why separate rooms? Well as much as you may love each other we all need space and people of different ages need different things. Spending every waking minute together, no matter how much you love each other, will almost certainly get wearing. For me, it’s important to have some alone time and some private space.
  2. Adjoining rooms, or rooms in different parts of the hotel? This depends on whether you’ve travelled a lot together in the past. If you have and are happy being in and out of each other’s room this could work. If not, then having a little distance between the rooms might no be such a bad idea. Accent Inns is exceptionally family-oriented so you’ll have no trouble getting the right room configuration for your family.
  3. Choose a location that has something to excite everyone. Kelowna and Kamloops for instance have something for all ages. In the Accent Inns hotels at these locations there are swimming pools forKelowna pool (1) the children, hot tubs and exercise facilities for the adults and just about every activity you can think of within a stones throw of the hotel.
  4. Talk about who pays for what, before you leave. We grandparents have a habit of offering to pay for everything, whether we can afford it or not, and then privately complaining about it later. Go figure, it’s a hangover from when our children were dependent on us. Be aware that this grand gesture may pose a financial burden. Don’t take it for granted, and if we do insist then make sure you find a nice way to say thank-you. Perhaps a gift certificate for a restaurant, or an album of photographs from the trip perhaps would make a nice gesture?
  5. Be aware of different schedules. If you have three generations travelling together, what’s the chance everyone will want to eat at the same time? Allow, at least some of the time, for people to eat when they need to eat. Have flexible schedules in general – you’re on vacation go with the flow rather than be being regimented and try to get everyone to buy-in to that philosophy.
  6. Don’t assume we grandparents will be happy to baby-sit every night while you swan off to a fancy restaurant; it’s our vacation too and we might like a romantic night out too! On the other hand, we might just want some quality (read spoiling) time during the day to spend with our grandchildren – quality time without you parents tagging along.
  7. Remember, as much as we love our grandchildren, we often don’t have the energy you have. I feel and act young for my age, but I know from my perspective that two highly energized grandchildren can wear me down quicker than a five mile hike, or mountain biking down Whistler’s slopes!

Three generations (or more) travelling together is a wonderful thing and the experience can be incredibly rewarding, but before you leave for that trip; spend a little time thinking about the needs of all three generations and each individual. And, don’t be offended if granddad needs a mid-afternoon nap, or grandma wants time off to spend some time in that quilting store!

Mike Wicks
Blue Beetle Creative