Travelling with grandkids is undoubtedly fun, allows you to see the world through younger eyes, and get away with doing outrageous and age-inappropriate things with them (like climbing a tree, to show them how it’s done) that may be looked at very differently if you did them without youngsters!
It is undoubtedly full on, though, and even though you may have experience of looking after grandkids during the day at home, or even overnight, travelling with grandkids (even if their parents are there too) will probably be a pretty exhausting and intense time.
Travel itself can be a tiring business, but if you factor kids into the equation, then it can be exhausting…but there will never be a dull moment!
Here are some of our top tips for travelling with grandkids:
No matter how many exciting excursions you have planned, there is always down-time spent travelling or in your hotel room. It’s always good to have a few entertainment options in your ‘bag of tricks’ to pull out when necessary. Technology like an ipad or 3ds is portable and doesn’t take up too much space. It can be fun watching your grandchild play a game, or do something together, such as a quiz. When we went on a family holiday to Germany, we all enjoyed playing ‘The Chase’ on a laptop and encouraging each other to try and beat the Chaser. This had the added bonus of helping us improve our general knowledge too! Books don’t take up much space when packing, and can help wind down at the end of a busy day before bedtime. One of our family rituals is that the kids can choose a children’s magazine from the huge range on sale in the supermarket before we go away, these usually have stories, colouring and other activities in them (as well as a free gift!) and this saves taking multiple activity books.
Bedtimes can be a bit more flexible whilst away, but just remember that a late night doesn’t always equate to a lie-in in the morning, children can be perverse like that! The more you can stick to a routine, the better for settling kids down, for a good night’s rest and recovery from the exertions of the day. If you bring familiar items from home (like a well-loved teddy) and a portable night light if appropriate, this can help settle them in an unfamiliar hotel room.
Children get hungry! Little and often is a good mantra to live by in regards to snacks. Taking your own snacks with you is often cheaper than buying snacks at an attraction, where they charge a premium. When we went on a recent roadtrip around the UK, which involved several days out, we packed a store of snacks such as crisps and cereal bars, as well as drinks, which we then used for packed lunches and snacks on days out. Rather than hauling this out of the car, this remained in a box in the boot, which we dipped into when we needed some portable snacks on the go. This no-doubt saved us quite a lot in monetary terms, and was more convenient than having to track down a supermarket en-route.
A few other things that we were glad we packed, were:
– packs of wipes (these are invaluable, for muddy knees, mucky mouths and general cleaning)
– hand-gel – great for when you can’t wash hands easily, before eating and after petting animals
– bin-bags – to keep dirty washing separate from clean
– a portable first-aid kit which includes plasters, to patch up little accidents, and Piriton as an antihistamine, Sudocrem or Savlon are also useful
– Suncream with a high factor, you need to be prepared at all times of year
Another thing to think about when eating out with kids is that they don’t tend to be content to sit and have a convivial chat whilst waiting for their food to arrive, and it can be stressful trying to keep them amused and in their seat without annoying other diners…Opt for a family-friendly eatery if you can, if the kids are happy then it is usually more relaxing all-round. This could be at a pub with a playarea in the garden, a restaurant which also has a soft-play or toy area, or a restaurant that provides colouring pencils and activities whilst at the table – all of these options up the odds of having a relaxing meal together.
Who’s doing what, and when?
If you’re travelling with children and their parents are also on the holiday too, it’s good to have a chat beforehand to agree a few things before you set off. Although you will want to help out with childcare, make sure that you agree what part you will be playing in the balance of responsibilities. Parents will no doubt welcome you as an extra pair of helping-hands, but make sure that everyone pulls their weight, otherwise resentments can creep in. Parents will, no-doubt, love it if you can offer to babysit for an evening, so they can go out without the kids for once, so that would be a lovely gesture. Be honest though, and if you are tired, then let people know that you need to have a bit of a rest and recharge your batteries.
The same agreements also apply to chores and expenses, as well as where people are going to sleep – as all of these things can be contentious if not agreed by everyone. The most crucial thing is to decide whether you are all going to stay together all the time – or whether you will split off and do your own thing occasionally – and also decide on an itinerary that everyone’s happy with. There are a lot of logistics to contend with, but don’t be put off, as the potential of an inter-generational holiday is brilliant. Everyone gets to spend quality time together, and the fun is amplified by having loved-ones share the special times with.
Illness and Allergies
If you are travelling with children, and without their parents, make sure that you are aware of any pre-existing medical conditions that they have. It may be that you need to let your travel insurance provider know about it, if you’re taking out travel insurance (which is obviously advisable, even for short trips in the UK) Check the questions provided by your travel insurer to see if you would need to do this. Take all of their regular medications and find out when they need to be given, and make sure that you store them correctly and safely. Make sure that you find out about any allergies, and what you need to do if the child becomes poorly. It’s best to be forearmed with all this information, rather than trying to find it out in a stressful emergency situation.
Is your accommodation childproof?
Accommodation isn’t always designed with children in mind, and it’s a good idea to have a look around a hotel room or holiday home when you arrive to try and spot potential issues and rectify them if you can. Check the locks on doors and windows to make sure the room is secure. Check balconies and railings to see if they are safe and child-friendly, and report problems immediately. Use insulating tape to cover exposed wires or sockets or block them off with heavy furniture. Check the temperature of the hot water and heaters too, and warn children if needed.
Children enjoy the freedom to run off and explore for themselves, and whilst it’s always reassuring to be able to keep a watchful eye from a distance, it isn’t always possible if they disappear into a labyrinthine soft-play area, or it is just too busy. Make sure that you let them know where you will be sitting, so that they can come and find you, when they need to touch-base (or are hungry and thirsty!) It’s also a good idea to let them know the area that they are allowed to play in, so they don’t go too far afield, and remind them of stranger awareness – as well as the dangers of water and roads. It may be a good idea to give younger non-verbal children a little identity tag with your phone number on it in case you lose them, so you can be contacted and reunited. Getting them to wear a brightly coloured garment is also a great idea, as it can help you pick them out in a crowd, or from a distance. When my young daughter became separated from me at Leeds Castle, the panic was rising in me, until I scanned the Maze, and spotted her in her bright, floral coat being held aloft by a very kind person above the hedges. It is so easy for children to become separated from their carers, it is always a good idea to let staff know if you have lost a child, as they can circulate a description among other staff members, and maybe put an announcement out for everyone to hear. Thankfully, my daughter was completely unfazed by her adventure in the maze, as she had been lost for such a short time!
Grandparents and grandchildren can have such an affectionate and mutually-rewarding relationship, that shared time on a holiday is a golden opportunity to really get to know each other and make some priceless memories. A little bit of planning and thought before you set off together, can make all the difference between the holiday of a lifetime and one you’d all rather forget!
Of course, not everything that happens on your travels, can be foreseen, which is why travel insurance is invaluable for peace of mind, whether you are going on a short trip in the UK with grandkids, or setting off for 4 months of winter sun in warmer climes!
Go Walkabout Travel Insurance is a great choice as our policies are competitively priced, offer great levels of invaluable cover, and we pride ourselves on our consistently high levels of customer service and customer satisfaction.
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Get a quote here, for your next trip.