With summer coming, it’s the time when many Americans start thinking about summer travel plans, whether that means beach time, touring a national park, or even traveling across the ocean to experience the culture in a different country.
Summer travel season is also the time when many grandparents enjoy excursions with their grandchildren. A fun trip with the grandkids can be a great way to reconnect, teach, and create lifelong memories. Whether the youngsters are elementary school–age or older, travel time with grandparents can offer opportunities to forge some very special bonds.
But there are several things to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip with the grandkids, both in practical terms for making the time go as smoothly as possible, and also considering the nature of the relationship and what you want to accomplish during your time together.
1. Don’t forget the travel documents. If you plan to cross any international borders, your young charges will need passports, no matter their age. If they don’t already have them, keep in mind that from time of application to receipt of the documents, it can take up to ten weeks. If you’re willing to pay an extra $60 for the expedited process, that cuts the time down to 4–6 weeks. And it’s also a good idea to bring a notarized letter, signed by the parents, that authorizes you to travel with them and also to consent to medical treatment if necessary.
2. Choose a destination that has something for everybody. Sure, your 10-year-old granddaughter will love Legoland and never want to leave, but the trip needs to be fun and interesting for you, too. Try to create experiences for everyone that allow you to share in their excitement—and vice versa. Being with people you love while they’re doing something that interests and excites them is an important part of learning about each other. And by the way, the idea of “something for everybody” is one reason that a cruise can be a great choice. Typically cruises offer plenty of fun activities for kids and teens, plus shows and other activities aimed at an older audience.
3. Consider travel insurance. Policies are available that provide cancellation coverage to reimburse you for nonrefundable purchases in the event of cancellation or unexpected schedule changes. You can also secure coverage for emergency medical expenses, including transportation.
4. Consider your grandchildren’s personalities. Especially if you have teenaged grandkids, you’ll notice differences in style, attitude, behavior—all of which can shift from day to day. Keep in mind that your grandchildren are in the process of figuring who they are and where they fit in the world. Resist the urge to critique or suggest what you believe are improvements; instead, commit to being curious and open-minded. If your grandson is sporting a new tattoo, ask him why that particular design is important to him or what it means to him. Find out what interests them, and give them chances to “be the expert.” Remember that they live in a different world than the one you grew up in. The passenger compartment of a vehicle can get pretty small when people are feeling uncomfortable with each other, so do all you can to create and maintain a positive atmosphere of fun, non-pressured conversation, and interesting experiences.
Mathis Wealth Management works with grandparents and others who are interested in providing enrichment and security for future generations. To learn more about how we work with family stewards, active retirees, and others, please visit our website.