10 Travel Tips for Grandparents

2013-02-20 001 113For the second time this winter season, we have returned from a week or so away in warmer climes to find one – or even two – new dumps of snow. If our absence had anything to do with these storms, I apologize. I’m staying put for the rest of winter, so I will not be accepting responsibility for any further storms.

During the Christmas season we were fortunate enough to be included in a last-minute decision by some family members to head to the Mayan Riviera for some extremely pleasant beach and relaxation time, plus no cooking. Altogether a terrific Plan B for celebrating the holidays. This most recent trip was even more special – a week at Disney World with our son and his family, starring our 4 year old grandson and 7 year old granddaughter.

castleThis was our first 3-generation trip to Disney and the first time our son or daughter-in-law had been in 25 years or more. My husband and I have been to the area every few years to visit close (and deeply missed) relatives, and on nearly every visit have spent some time at EPCOT and more recently Animal Kingdom. The adults had memories they wanted to relive. My son wanted to revisit his favourite ride from long ago, Pirates of the Caribbean. My daughter-2013-02-20 001 094in-law wanted to go on Thunder Mountain. I have been longing to get back to A Small World for a long, long time. My husband reminded me that we haven’t returned to Magic Kingdom for all these years for a reason: he didn’t want to! So, with those positions as a starting point, we made our plan for the week. There are many positives about Disney – they are very good at what they do – and there is definitely something for everyone. Our little group is not heavily into movies or even the Disney characters, and are very big on animals. Also, dark tunnels and screams don’t cut it for our younger set. Most families would probably spend more than one day at Magic Kingdom and fewer than 3 days at Animal Kingdom, and maybe even check out Disney Hollywood Studios.  Our personal highlights included:

• Kilimanjaro Safari (Animal Kingdom) – 5 stars from all 6 family members (in fact, we went on it 3 different days!)
• Flights of Wonder (Animal Kingdom) – 5 stars from all 6 (we saw it twice)
• Maharajah Jungle Trek (Animal Kingdom) – 5 stars from all 6
• Conservation Station with in-house animal doc (Animal Kingdom) – 4 stars from 3 generations of women
• Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom) – 4 stars from one person (my son)
• Tree House (Magic Kingdom) – 4 stars from all 6, a nice little surprise
• Small World (Magic Kingdom) – 5 stars from grandma and grandkids, no stars from others!
• Thunder Mountain (Magic Kingdom) – 4 stars from the 2 people who went on it (husband and daughter-in-law)
• Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom) – 5 stars from the same 2 people who went on it
• Lego Store (Downtown Disney) – 4 stars from everyone
• T-Rex Store (Downtown Disney) – 5 stars from 2 small people
• Oh yeah, and Disney FastPass – 10 stars from all 6, on a 5-star rating system!

Cruising the Jungle at Magic Kingdom

Cruising the Jungle at Magic Kingdom

From our Safari Truck in Animal Kingdom

From our Safari Truck in Animal Kingdom

Needless to say, pretty well everything we do with our grandchildren is fun. But there are a few things that can help make busy holidays even more fun. These are tips that work for us:

1.  Get lots of sleep before the trip begins.
2.  Make sure you have the grandchildren’s parents with you. They are very useful, as well as good company.
3.  Enjoy each day. Choose activities that are a good match with the children’s personalities, and don’t try to do more than is comfortable. Happy children make for happy adults.
4.  Find out in advance if rides include darkness and loud scary noises before you stand in line.
5.  Kid-friendly menus and kid activities at restaurants are worth their weight in gold.
6.  Consider adjoining rooms; they’re very popular with the grandkids’ parents.
7.  Get as much sleep as you can during the holiday.
8.  As with almost everything in life, don’t forget to pack your patience, flexibility and sense of humour.
9.  Get lots of sleep after the holiday.
10. Count your blessings.

And always remember: “There is just one moon and one golden sun, and a smile means friendship to everyone.” Ah, I love A Small World! 🙂

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6 Responses to 10 Travel Tips for Grandparents

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    I doubt I’ll be going with grandchildren but Florida was our one long-haul trip as a family, such is my dislike of planes. Nail on head with ‘happy children = happy parents.’ The only thing that riled me that week was the way various bills mounted up – e.g. in restaurants. Every tiny little extra had a cost attached and I ended up feeling we’d been fleeced. Happy memories on the whole though.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Florida is indeed a longer haul from Jersey than the 3 hours from our neck of the woods. I know what you mean about feeling nickeled and dimed (although I guess you wouldn’t use that expression!). We got around that by buying Dine at Disney packages ahead of time, good for any eating establishment on any Disney property, from ice cream cart to high-end restaurant. Funny how it feels like it’s free when you’re not paying at the time!

  2. alesiablogs says:

    Jane,
    Great Post. Animal Kingdom is my favorite too. I grew up going to Disney World since I lived in Alabama from the age of 12-25. Since moving to Seattle, we go to Disneyland! I get such a kick out of the folks there as they call Disneyworld the “fake” disney…lol Nevertheless I love both places. In regards to the sleep—I was completely exhausted everyday. It is just so overwhelming. lol But all in a good way.

  3. #1, 7 8 and 9 are definitely my favorites :>)

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Me too, not surprisingly! Being with small children all day reminds one of why we have kids when we’re young, and also reminds me why I firmly believe that teachers of young children deserve the same pay ranges as teachers of older children. So much energy, so many different needs, so much inquisitiveness that deserves engaged, patient, and knowledgeable responses. They are little sponges.

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