Travelling with Grandparents
By Kathy Chin Leong

When three generations join together for a family trip, the chaos can seem like an episode out of "Everyone Loves Raymond." Food issues, medical problems, different interests, varying energy levels and bedtime routines can make for a stressful experience if you are caught off-guard.

Are you the one planning a family reunion or multi-generational vacation? Here are 10 survival tips that will help you get started and spare you from uncomfortable situations.

  • Consider everyone's special needs and life circumstances as you plan . For instance, in our family, grandma has high blood pressure, and she cannot take extreme heat. Planning a vacation in a pleasant climate becomes important whenever we go somewhere. Another grandparent cannot walk very far before getting tired, so we find places right near the action so we can drive him back or walk back together without too much strain on his body.
  • Consider everyone's budget and financial comfort level. While I like five-star hotels and don't mind spending more for the creature comforts, practical grandpa would prefer stretching his dollars and go for a hostel or a econo-motel. When there is a deadlock in the decision-making, it's wise to let the grandparents have their way.
  • Find a place with lots of things to do so no one gets bored . Grandma puts a premium on good food while my husband will enjoy a good hiking trail anyday. One summer we all drove to Lake Tahoe which has great buffets and wonderful outdoor hiking and biking trails. Everyone was happy.
  • Get a nice, big, comfortable house or separate hotel rooms if possible . Another grandpa in our family is 85 years old. He loves to be around the kids and family members, but is too frail to go out. We will spend extra bucks to rent a beautiful vacation house so that when some members go out on the town, whoever remains with him can enjoy the luxury of the home and its views.
  • Take turns having your way . Let each member have an opportunity to choose something special that he/she wants to do during the trip. Whether its going whale watching or attending an Adam Sandler movie marathon, giving one another options can soothe and even out the stress.
  • Save the delicate conversations for a later time . So, you've always felt that you could never please your mother, and you're still angry about it. Your vacation in Maui is not the appropriate place or time to bring up sensitive issues. Address them after you go home.
  • Do not insist on being together 24X7 . While you may be the type of extended family that loves to do everything together, most families cannot handle a round-the-clock reunion. At the outset, let the grandparents know that you will be doing different activities. Everyone needs a little break from one another, even on break.
  • Consider a cruise or an all-inclusive resort . Many families like going on cruises because the members can choose different activities but still come together at a set dinner time to share about their day. All-inclusive resorts, with on-site activities and restaurants, operate similiarly.
  • Be flexible . Things come up that are unexpected like a flight delay or a rainy weather. Remember that it's being together that matters more than the things you do. Getting upset is not going to help anybody.
  • Get behavioral expectations out in the open . Let the children know about your trip in advance so they are prepared emotionally and mentally. If they are not that close to their grandparents, encourage them to ask them questions about their lives and to sit with them whenever possible. Likewise, if your parents or in-laws are not familiar with your kids particular needs and sensitivities, let them know ahead of time.

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