We like to bring a grandparent on our adventures. We started small with weekend trips in North America and have extended to long explorations of Europe and beyond. If you communicate well with one or more of the elders in your life, start traveling together. The benefit to all three generations – you, your kids, the grandparents – is huge.
1. Grandparents have skills.
Your French skills need improvement and how are you going to find time for a language class while wiping tiny bums and picking up everything junior hurls from his/her sticky grip. Let gramma/grandma show off their new-found skills or re-found fluency, and teach you in the process. You want to document your adventure but you’re always juggling tiny humans. Guess who built a dark room and got obsessed with Flickr in their retirement? Gramma/grandpa. You get the idea.
It’s tough to find a nanny service you trust in any location; on the road, it’s particularly challenging. Our best solution is a grandparent. They (usually) like being used, we mean depended upon.
Plus the babysitter deal works on two levels. First off, grandparents babysit for parent date nights. Second, the parent who’s parent is resident grandparent usually gets double the nights out, because they get nights on the town with the grandparents too.
3. The fun factor.
Assuming you have a good relationship, it’s awesome to travel together. More humor, more chaos, more help, more love.
Is that museum really as kid-unfriendly as it seems? Is there any other way, other than 35 stairs, to get to the waterfront? Is it worth waiting in line for that bakery? Can you fit a double stroller in that bookstore? Grandma/grandpa can scout it. They can also get the exhibit details, buy the bread etc.
5. Multigenerational bonding.
Travel brings nuclear families closer together. The same special process happens with small folk, you and grandparents. Problem solving when the sh*it hits the fan. Experiencing untold beauty. You’ll all treasure it.
Perspective becomes especially valuable on longer travels, when you aren’t quite in a location long enough to infiltrate, but you’re gone from home long enough to lose it. Enter the voice of wisdom and reassurance.
Yes, everyone’s kid goes through that awkward phase. You are a good parent. Two more weeks of gently correcting that behavior pattern and you’ve got it sorted until the next one crops up. No your ass doesn’t look fat in those pants. Yes, your career will go somewhere, just not in the next week.
7. It takes a village.
The new and wonderful vocab words your small folk use that come from conversations with gramma/grandpa. The restaurant meal at nap time where the small folk decide to be monkeys rather than show off their manners and you need six hands on deck. The time when you must pack for the next leg of the trip and would prefer the kids go to the park/read a story/do a craft rather than veg out. Whether it’s fun and games, utility or crisis – it’s easier when you’re playing with a full team.
Lead image: Liguria by our resident grandparent Lee Ann Cafferata.