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Multigenerational Family Travel Tips

  • When traveling with both your children and your parents, keep in mind their limitations when planning the family agendas. Young children dont know how to pace themselves, and older travelers often try too hard to keep up to avoid “being a burden” or “slowing everyone, else down.” Seniors and children both need more frequent rest stops, greater hydration, etc.

  • Remind Grandma and Grandpa to pack (for easy access) any over-the-counter or prescription medications or therapeutic aids such as lower back or leg pillows that will make their trip safer, more comfortable and ultimately more enjoyable.

  • If you are planning the itinerary, consult in advance with your parents as to what they would like to do on the trip. They are adults, not large children.

  • Make sure all parties understand who is paying for what before commencing the family trip.  Nothing can ruin a trip faster than squabbling over money, and in this case hurt feelings can arise from either refusing to allow the grandparents to splurge, or from making financial demands upon them.

  • Make sure Grandma and Grandpa know your children's rules, such as no snacks before meals, or lights out at 8:00PM, to avoid misunderstandings and fights over how best to raise the children.

  • Don't assume Grandma and Grandpa will baby-sit at the hotel every night while you and your spouse paint the town.  Remember it’s their vacation too and they may also want to enjoy their evenings. Ensure everyone agrees in advance as to each party's roles and responsibilities.

  • Consult in advance as to your parents' physical/medical limitations and take this information into account when making plans for your trip.  Circulation problems in the legs, for example, may require pulling over and letting Grandpa out of the car once every hour.  This will alter your travel time estimates.

  • Before embarking on a trip, pay a visit to the physicians caring for family members whether they are pediatricians, General Practitioners or specialists. If going abroad, make sure all required or prudent immunizations including but not limited to Hepatitis A and B, and Tetanus are up-to-date. Knowing that everyone is physically able to make the trip an enjoyable one is the first step in a successful journey.

  • Remember to pack the simple things, the absence of which can make traveling unbearable including the children’s’ imaginary friends (if any) as well as cuddlies, blankies, storybooks or night-lights "necessary" for your kids to go to sleep each night. And d on't just pack for what you plan to do, but for what you might do, such as bathing suits, or rainy day toys/books/games. You can never go wrong packing a deck of cards; they are small, lightweight and can be used by one or all family members.

  • Don't forget the pediatric painkillers, kid-friendly bandages, kid-size nail clipper, pediatric stomach and cold medicines, topical antibiotic, anti-itch, and anti-burn creams and lotions, etc. A package of baby wipes or pre-moistened towelettes are multipurpose and useful for wiping melted ice cream from fingertips and faces as well as sanitizing a sudden wound. Also consider purchasing more sophisticated pre-packaged medical travel kits – such as those available from MEDEX -- whose contents can range from temporary dental fillings to sterile syringes and sutures.

  • Grandparents are most often indulgent of their grandchildren, and will often say yes to all requests. It is up to you to say, "Grandpa looks too tired to do that," or "Grandma already bought a souvenir for you."

  • Keep in mind that roadside fast food restaurants are not the best continuous choice for people with salt, fat, sugar, cholesterol or other dietary restrictions. This is true regardless of age but can have a more serious impact on older people due in part to age-related conditions. Carrying healthy snacks in a travel tote or cooler for all members of the family can help tide over hungry habitués of hamburger havens until a suitable restaurant can be found.

  • Children tend to run ahead, fall behind, wander and browse. You can lose them at the local mall. Being in a strange environment, possibly not speaking the local language only makes matters worse. Make sure your kids each have their own personal IDs on them at all times. Make sure the name, address, and phone number of where you are lodging is on the IDs. Make sure to drill your kids in advance as to what to do should they become lost or separated. Always remember to establish a meeting place and time at each new site, so lost or separated children know where to go -- and stay -- until their parents or grandparents return.

  • Finally, if you are traveling abroad, remember that foreign doctors and hospitals will generally require payment up front. Your medical insurance coverage -- at best -- will reimburse you at a later date. You will still need a means of immediate payment while traveling outside your coverage area. MEDEX provides medical, pharmaceutical and hospitalization coverage especially designed to protect global travelers and to assist in obtaining emergency replacements for lost medical records, prescriptions and travel documents; emergency evacuations, legal and translation services, emergency cash, and more