Through the years, my family has taken several road trips with kids and grandparents. Our longest experience stretched from East Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona and then to San Antonio, Texas before arriving back home.
On this vacation, and others, I learned a few tips on how to take a long road trip with kids and grandparents in tow. The tips below kept me sane and gave my children lifelong vacation memories ‘” some of the road trip memories were even positive!
Your sanity may depend on choosing a road trip destination wisely. A theme park vacation may appeal to kids. Everyone will be miserable if the grandparents aren’t up to it. For us, involving all parties in selecting the vacation destination helped the road trip go well.
Sometimes even wide open Texas spaces are too small for three generations on vacation in the same minivan. Compromise is the word when it comes to a kids and grandparents on a road trip. Take a few minutes to analyze when a compromise might be needed. Tackling these issues before hitting the open road gets the vacation off on the right foot.
Talk about possible issues ahead of time
One of the issues we tackled was adult manipulation. Kids learn early that on vacation a no from Mom can get a yes from Grandmom.
Addressing this issue head on was the first step to a successful road trip that includes both grandparents and kids. While planning for the vacation my grandmother and I discussed everything from boundaries to discipline and medication schedule before leaving. In addition to deciding on tactics it opened the door for good communication.
Talk with the kids
Once the details were hammered out we presented our plan to the kids together. It’s important for them to know that all adults were on the same page and what the boundaries would be. This gave them an opportunity to ask questions and feel like they had more control.
On our road trip, the differences in schedules of kids and grandparents quickly became an issue. Giving each other permission to take care of persona needs helped make the vacation a success. This sometimes meant that Grandmother slept while I took the kids to the pool on vacation. Or, like at the Alamo, when one child tired quickly an adult went back to the car while the other adult and child continued the tour.
Giving each other space on the road trip also gave the kids one-on-one time with each adult different points of the trip. It helped each child develop special memories of the vacation. Giving each other space when needed was possibly the most important lesson we learned on the road trip with grandparents and the kids.
Plan different snacks.
Another issue that came up pretty quickly was snacks. Grandparents often have a different snacking routine than kids do. The one snack that everyone agreed on was party mix. Our road trip compromise included adding foods that the kids would normally not touch.
All other food was up for negotiation on vacation. Dry cereal was substituted for some chips, bottled water was supplemented with juice and pudding replaced Jello on the road trip. Everyone tried something new and everyone compromised. Objections were vocal at times but we all lived through the road trip, none of us starved and we had a great vacation.
Every road trip with grandparents and kids will involve complaints at some point. This is human nature. Plan for it and act decisively. Kids tire easily when being in the car on a long road trip. Stopping at the next rest area to let them run can solve the problem.
Similarly, when grandparents become grumpy it may be because of hunger or the need to stretch the legs. Whatever the cause of the groaning on the road it is important to get to the root of the problem. This is one of the keys to a happy vacation.
It’s amazing how music can help on a road trip. One important tip to remember is that grandparents don’t adapt to different types of music as easily as children. In this case, it’s wise to favor the grandparents.
We found that songs like, Twist and Shout and Happy Days can appeal to grandparents and children. Soothing songs with natural sounds can ease tensions. When heading out on vacation, bring songs that can calm moods and lead to great family sing-a-longs.
Taking a vacation with kids and grandparents takes planning. The lifelong memories to be made on the road trip are worth the preparation.