When you’re traveling with grandchildren
Dear Savvy Senior,
My husband and I are interested in taking our two grandkids on a big trip this summer and are looking for some good ideas. Can you recommend some travel companies that offer special travel packages for grandparents?
There are a number of travel companies today that offer specialized, multi-generational trip packages for grandparents and grandchildren. They plan everything for you, with most activities for the two generations together, but some just for adults so you can get an occasional breather.
Available in various trip lengths and price ranges, these tours are designed for children, typically between the ages of seven and 18, and are usually scheduled in the summer, or sometimes during breaks when the kids are out of school.
Here are some top tour companies to check into that will take you and your grandkids on a fun, well-planned vacation:
Road Scholar (RoadScholar.org): This well-established not-for-profit organization has offered educational travel to older adults since 1975. They currently offer 130 different programs geared to grandparents and grandchildren.
About 75% of the grandparent trips are domestic; the rest are international. Some of the most popular destinations include the U.S. National Parks, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands and Paris. The average cost per person per night is $250 for domestic trips; $360 for international.
Tauck (Tauck.com): This is a large tour operator that offers 22 foreign and domestic multi-generational trips. Some of their most popular excursions are Costa Rica, European riverboat cruises, and Cowboy Country, which takes you through Wyoming and South Dakota.
Austin Adventures (AustinAdventures.com): This adventure travel tour operator offers 119 family friendly trips ideally suited for grandparents and grandchildren. Popular packages include destinations such as Yellowstone National Park, Alaska, Costa Rica, Austria and Holland.
Adventures by Disney (AdventuresByDisney.com): This offers more than 35 vacations all over the world, including itineraries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.
Smithsonian Journeys (SmithsonianJourneys.org): They offer seven different family journey trips to London and Paris, Tuscany, Iceland, Galapagos Islands, Botswana, Yellowstone and a Rhine River cruise.
Journeys International (JourneysInternational.com): This group offers customized multi-generational trips primarily to Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.
Take the right travel docs
Depending on where you go and your mode of transportation, you’ll need to gather some documents for your grandchildren to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Most travel experts recommend you bring a notarized travel consent form (letter of permission from the parents), and a medical consent form in case any emergencies arise. Also bring copies of insurance cards.
If you’re traveling domestically, you should know that airlines and trains don’t require any form of ID for children under 18.
But if you’re traveling to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or other areas of the Caribbean by land or sea, grandchildren 15 and under will need certified copies of their birth certificates. And if your grandkids are 16 or older, or you’re traveling to these locations via air, passports will be required.
If you’re traveling overseas, all children, even infants, must have a passport. Some countries also require a visa for entry, and vaccinations may be required.
Before booking a trip, check the U.S. Department of State’s website at Travel. State.gov for country-specific information.
Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of The Savvy Senior book.
Due to concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, exercise extreme caution when making travel decisions.