You've been longing to spend more time with your grandchildren and now that they're older and school will be out for spring break in no time, why not take them on a fun-filled vacation? Not only will a trip serve as a way for you and your spouse to get out of the house, but it can also serve as an easy excuse to spoil your little angels in the best way you possibly you can, with heaping portions of love. Moreover, getting the grandkids out of the house over spring break can make for an adventure they may never forget while also giving your own kids a chance to get their own little R&R. Here are five great tips towards helping you plan the best and safest trip with your loving grandchildren.
Whether it's your spouse's kids or your own kids, you should plan on making a visit to their home to discuss your travel plans. During this get together, find out as much information about the kids you don't already know about, which may include their sleeping and eating habits, health information and what type of activities they enjoy the most. Your grandkids' parents may also have some questions for you as well, such as the costs, what to do in case of emergency, your own personal habits and, most importantly, whether or not you are up to it.
At the same time, you should also include your grandchildren to find out places they would enjoy going. An obvious destination would be one of America's favorite amusement parks, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios, but for many grandparents that may not be practical to visit for one reason or another. Nevertheless, the decision of where to visit is up to you and everyone else involved and you may already have the perfect spot in mind.
After everyone has agreed upon a destination, it's time to make lodging reservations. If you are an AARP member, you are eligible to receive up to a 20-percent discount on accommodations from hotels such as Wyndham Resorts, Hyatt Regency, Best Western, Days Inn and many others. Simply visit the AARP website and go to the travel section, where you will find a long list of hotels, in addition to other discounts such as rail passes and airlines tickets. Additionally, AAA is another good source for discounts on travel, dining and entertainment including discounts for attractions like Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios. But if you're looking to get the best deal possible, don't ignore the online travel sites like Kayak and Expedia and calling the hotel directly to determine if a better rate can be obtained. But please note that the age in which you qualify for senior discounts will vary from one site to another from low as 50 years old up to 65 or older. Lastly, if you have difficulty walking up stairs, make reservations for lodging on the first floor or with a property that has convenient elevator access.
Only Bring What's Necessary
Regardless of your mode of transportation, packing sensibly applies to everyone on the trip. This is especially important if your grandchildren are unable or will have difficulty carrying their own bags. If you and your spouse are tasked to carry the bags the entire trip, it means that much more work for the two of you and can increase the risk of injury. Each member of your party should only have one piece of luggage and another bag like a backpack or handbag, similar to most airlines' carry-on policies. If you're going on a road trip with the grandkids, plan on bringing plenty of snacks and things to keep them from getting bored, such as toys, video games and movies. To help decide what to bring along, make out a list of necessary items, such as your driver's license, cell phone and charger, emergency contact information for each member and, if necessary, personal medications and/or medical devices. Each member should also have enough clothing and personal items to bring along for the trip, like toiletries and electronic devices.
What To Do In Case Of An Emergency
One of the worst things to happen on a family trip is to have someone get lost or, worse yet, suffer an injury. A child getting lost at a large amusement park like Disneyland is a daily occurrence but there are ways to prevent this from happening. For instance, have your grandkids each carry emergency contact information and wear bright colored clothing or something else identifiable so they might stand out in a crowd. Other suggestions may include agreeing upon a meeting point in case of an emergency or better yet, have each child carry a smart device such as ATT's Flip wearable smart locator or the Amber Alert GPS.
Emergencies can also apply to you and your spouse so you both must gauge your physical limitations and pace yourselves, if necessary. Some amusement parks like Walt Disney World rent out manual wheelchairs and electric vehicles so if you think you need assistance, you can contact guest services. It's important to remember that senior citizens are more likely to have an injury on a trip than any other age group. Because of this, you might want to consider purchasing travel insurance, particularly if you have one or more medical conditions. Your rates will be higher than the average person, but it can give you peace of mind and protect you from financial burden.
Even your grandkids know that you and your spouse will have to rest from time to time. This may mean staying longer at a restaurant for lunch or calling it a day much earlier than the kids may prefer. But your down time might also the perfect time for your grandkids to reconnect with their parents by setting a time to call or use a video chat app like FaceTime. This could help if the grandkids are homesick or if their own parents are worried. Later on, relax, maybe rent a movie or play games that everyone can enjoy.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
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