Many grandparents will hit the road with grandchildren this summer. If you're thinking of a similar trip, here are five things you should do to prepare.
1. CHOOSE A DESTINATION Get input from the kids on a destination that intrigues them. Then, depending on the number and the ages of the grandkids coming along, be sure it is a location you can handle without additional adult support. Check the weather forecast before departure and be sure everyone is properly prepared.
2. TALK TO THE PARENTS Make sure you are up to speed on your grandkids' food allergies and preferences, anxieties about travel, the need for a certain stuffed animal at bedtime or a teen's recent breakup. Will the kids have their own money to spend and should it be monitored? Talk through family rules about TV and social media.
3. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS Consider discussing the itinerary and the rules in a group phone or video chat. If the children are old enough, talk about bedtime, dining decisions and safety measures so it will be clear who is in charge.
4. PLAN FOR ALONE TIME Many dude ranches, resorts and cruise ships have safe and compelling programs for children of every age group that make independent time possible and appealing. While the youngsters are in camp, on a ride or a tour especially designed for their age groups, grandparents can recharge their own batteries.
5. SHARE STORIES Traveling with your grandchildren provides an opportunity for you to get to know one another without the filter of their parents. Use the time to share your knowledge, interests and expertise and to learn more about their priorities. Your adventures can serve as conversation starters. Take plenty of pictures and consider using a journal during your time together, recording scraps of conversation and your observations about the trip. Once you've returned home, keep the connection by sharing photos, a scrapbook from the trip or discussing aspects of the adventure that mattered most to you.