We have all taken family trips, and upon returning home, sadly realized that there so many things we could have done differently. Attractions we would have skipped, campgrounds that didn’t suit our needs, or even adding to our list of friends who didn’t make good airline companions.   

Well, what if you could do it all over again? Take the lessons you’d learned from a lifetime of vacations and utilize them to spend cherished time with your grandchildren.

Skip-gen vacations are a new trend with families. While the parents stay home, grandparents are now travelling our highways and byways with their grandchildren. Some believe it’s a win-win situation for many families. Some are not so sure.

One of the obvious tricks will be finding a destination, or even planning a getaway that suits both the energetic grandchildren, and the less-active grandparents. All inclusive resorts have seemed to be an obvious answer to this dilemma for many who’ve chosen this route.

A vast majority of mid to large sized resorts have such a varied list of activities, that many skip-gen families are raving about their experiences. While the kids are roughhousing in the swimming pool and enjoying their pick-up game of volleyball, the grandparents can partake in a soothing cocktail poolside. For those with even wilder interests, many resorts offer windsurfing, snorkeling, and horseback rides on the beach.

With events organized right from the concierge desk at your resort, having to transport the family through unfamiliar towns and cities is unnecessary, which can be tricky for anyone travelling with either minor, or adult children.

When it comes to meal times, I’ve yet to see a resort’s buffet line not offer something for nearly everyone’s taste. Many even having dedicated pizza-nights to accommodate our North American pallets. Be warned before making promises, resort vacations are not cheap, and usually involve air flight. Be prepared to spend thousands of dollars on this type of holiday.

Destination holidays always sound wonderful, and can be, but there are a few basic ideas that it might be well to mull over if you’ve never spent extended time away with your grandchildren.

Grandparents must remember, that although little ‘Bobby and Betty’ might appear to be a chip off the old block, they are not your children. They’re your grandchildren, and they come with their own unique personalities and identities. And even though your own kids might have raved about their family camping trips of past, wilderness outings may not be something your next generation even enjoys.

A little research might be in order before booking any trips. What kind of outings do your grandkids like, and in return, is that the kind of trip you’d also enjoy and would ever consider spending your vacation money on? Everyone must enjoy the vacation for it to be a success. While booking and planning, you must consider everyone’s interests, as bored or frustrated vacationers are never happy and can ultimately ruin the fun for everyone else.  

If Bobby and Betty are only interested in visiting a national theme park, and racing back and forth between the rides, you have to ask yourself if you’re up to the pace? Strapped into a moving car that plummets off a man-made cliff into a splash pool isn’t for everyone. And I won’t even bother touching on the expenses that are very difficult to predetermine until you’re at the theme park and standing in line to buy their food and branded merchandise.

As for the grandkids themselves, many now a days come with electronics. It’s very difficult to get a teen, or even a pre-teen, to travel without their phone, tablet, or some other gaming device. You have to be aware that you may find yourself fighting for their attention, as their friends and family back home are never more than a click away.

Any child viewing endless online videos during a car trip can grate on anyone’s nerves; and attempting to fix the problem with headphones has just separated you from your passengers, as they’re no longer active participants in conversations, and have almost no interest in the passing attractions.

If you’re prepared to pay the entire freight, be warned that prices for kids have little to do with their age anymore. You’re still going to pay full fair for a plane ticket, and child discounts have dropped to as low as 10% in some venues, as promoters remind me that kids are taking up a seat that could otherwise be sold to an adult for full price. The days of ‘half-price’ for children is long past.

If your grandchildren are coming with money of their own, whether it just be for personal spending, or as part of the original vacation cost, be aware that brings a certain level of independence. Talking Bobby out of the $200 air pellet rifle that will supposedly replicate his movie hero’s own weapon can be difficult, especially if the child is packing their own spendable cash.

And when Betty wants a second glitter-coated unicorn to keep the other one company who’s already crammed into her suitcase, you might find a flood of tears at the mere mention of the word no, and a reminder that it’s ‘her money’.

Society continues to progress even further into a consumer driven economy. The days of bringing home only a mug, or a tee-shirt, are long gone. Advance conversations with the parents might be highly beneficial as to what your grandchildren will be allowed to spend on items you might find useless, or even possibly dangerous. Just bear in mind that your tastes are not theirs, and what you find pretty may be an outfit that Betty wouldn’t even wear to rake leaves.

Travelling with preschool children can bring on an entire set of additional issues. You could find yourself once again lugging around pull-ups, scheduling nap times, and sleeping four-to-a-bed when the hotel room seems a little scary come bedtime.

When having preschool children accompany you on a vacation, always make sure you are well aware of their medications, both prescription, and over the counter. Carrying a written document allowing you the right to seek medical attention for the minor is a must. Just as a signed document from both parents granting you legal permission to cross borders is essential.

Since many teens do not carry any identification themselves, a letter from the parents with their medical information citing you as their temporary guardian for the duration of the trip is also something you must carry.

Although your own children may be loving their honeymoon time without kids underfoot, they undoubtedly will want to keep in touch with you. If you don’t already carry a mobile phone, this might be the time to purchase one, even if just a temporary model for the vacation. Nightly calls consisting of a ‘we’re here’ update just don’t cut it anymore.

As a proud member of THE FIFTY CANDLES CLUB, I highly recommend skip-gen vacations. Start small with a night over in a local hotel, maybe something with a waterslide or a movie theater nearby. Test the waters to see if you are compatible for a longer stay, and if so, with a little preparation, you might find that it’s the best vacation of your life. We have.

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