By Karen L. Rancourt, PHD
“I have an idea for our next road trip.” says six-year-old Mickey to his grandparents. “Let’s go to LEGOLAND®!”
More and more grandparents are starting a tradition of taking their grandchildren on trips, sans the parents. One grandmother, who wanted to start this new family tradition, made the mistake of calling the initial one their First Annual Road Trip. (Let the acronym settle in and you will see why her two young grandsons found it hilarious.)
Here’re a few basics when it comes to making road trips special:
Plan ahead: A grandmother I know takes her grandchildren, two at a time when they are around the ages ten to twelve, on a train trip to Washington, D.C. Prior to the trip, she helps them research the places they will be visiting. So far, four of her eight grandchildren have taken this trip, and the other four are looking forward to it.
Go places: Other grandchildren-grandparents road trips reported to me include: a variety of sports, science, arts museums, depending on the grandchildren’s interests; water parks; special interest places such as Hershey Park or an Amish village; places that recreate earlier times, such as Old Sturbridge Village, Plymouth Rock, or Valley Forge.
Do things: More physically active grandparents take their grandchildren trips for biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, paddle boarding or white-water rafting. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes the grandchildren pick the road trip destination, other times the grandparents choose. Once the activity or destination is selected, usually there are other activities and places of interest in the same area.
Make it Special: When I interviewed four grandchildren about their road trips, they were all in agreement that they liked this special bonding time with their grandparents, choosing what they want to do, and getting a break from their parents and usual routines.
And yes, the parents may miss their kids when they are on the road with the grandparents, but most admit to enjoying a little childfree time; especially knowing their kids and the grandparents are having a great time together, sharing and building lifelong memories.
Road trips provide a wonderful legacy for grandparents to leave their grandchildren.
Karen L. Rancourt, PhD, writes an advice column for parents and grandparents at Mommybites.com and is the author of Ask Dr. Gramma Karen: Helping Young Parents and Grandparents Deal with Thorny Issues