The makings of a Grand Adventure

Last week I revealed the signs that 2016 would surely be my year. Already, it's shaping up to be exactly that thanks to an upcoming, all-new experience I recently added to the last week of my January 2016 calendar.

I've known for a couple weeks now, but I've been a little leery of sharing publicly as it seemed a wee bit too good to be true. I'm still a little leery — despite plans officially in place — so I shall present it to you piecemeal in hopes of not jinxing anything.

My big reveal, a little at a time:

What do you get when you take an adorable seven-year-old...

seven year old 

plus a wacky four-year-old...

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Grandparents' guide to traveling with grandkids

Dear readers: This is a guest post from travel expert Kendra Thornton, written just for Grandma's Briefs readers. Enjoy!

travel with grandkids

Taking a trip with your grandchildren can be a great experience for you and your grandkids — a time away from Mom and Dad to laugh, play and explore. Being prepared for your trip in addition to any possible hiccups will maximize the fun and limit the stress. The first step? Start planning well in advance to ensure you have everything you need to make your trip with your grandchildren their best one yet!

car with grandmaEntertainment
A lot of kids have their favorite electronic devises with them at all times. Although you certainly do not want to spend your trip watching them play Nintendo, you also don’t want to be bombarded with the dreaded "Are we there yet's." Before you leave, sit down with your grandkids and their parents to make sure you are all on the same page.

Having a DVD player, iPad or tablet can certainly provide hours of entertainment for the transportation aspect of your trip and keep younger children well occupied. If you are leaving the United States, think about investing in a portable DVD player. Since the compatibility of DVDs changes from country to country, you want to make sure you’re all set to play your grandchildren’s favorite bedtime show.

Bring snacks
Kids will want to eat on schedule, whether you are mid-flight or headed down the interstate in your car. It is unlikely that you will be hungry as often as they are, and it can be hassle to stop and eat every time a tummy grumbles. Bring along some of their regular snacks or baby food to keep their stomachs happy during the trip.

For babies and younger toddlers, make sure not to introduce too many new foods during the trip so that if there is an adverse reaction to the food you will be able to pinpoint it. This will hopefully limit any frantic phone calls home as well.

beach with baby

Pre-register and research your reservations
Being stuck in a long waiting line for a car rental or arriving to find your check-in time has been pushed way back at your hotel can make a trip with kids stressful. Make sure that you take the time to make reservations beforehand, and register for a rental car online or over the phone before you leave home.

Most of us are already in the practice of solidifying reservations, but what do you know about the reservation you’ve chosen? Do your due diligence before booking by using a local travel agent or online review. When my family booked a trip to the Island state, it was great to be able to read through reviews of Honolulu’s best hotels to find the one that fit our budget and amenity requirements.

Essential documents
Unless you are listed as your grandchild’s legal guardian, you will want to have documentation stating that their parents have consented to the trip. Although this will be less of a problem for those traveling by car, having a letter of parental consent — ideally notarized — will prevent any hang-ups with law enforcement or customs. This applies to children traveling internationally with only one parent as well.

If you have special circumstances that make this consent form difficult to obtain, make sure to get in touch with the U.S. Customs office as soon as possible and bring a printout of all documented correspondence with you.

boy with binoculars

Dealing with sickness
Although we all hope our vacations go on without a hitch, sometimes we all need a little medical attention. Whether it be a scraped knee or a necessary visit to the local doctor, you want to make sure you’re prepared. Things like motion sickness are common during car rides, boat rides and flights. Hold small children during take off and try to make sure they have plenty of fresh air by rolling down windows slightly or pointing the air vents at the child.

Bring a first aid kit as well as an extra set of clothes within easy reach for quick cleanups. I find that decorated band-aids have magical healing powers to get kids back up and playing faster than generic. Also make sure to have a copy of their insurance cards on file at all times in case you need to make a quick doctors visit.

Kendra Thornton Kendra Thornton is a travel expert, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of three. She is a long-time travel advocate who has been packing her bags and traveling the world since she was three months old!


Today's question:

What are your travel plans for this summer?

Holiday travel with kids: 5 tricks for an easier time

I leave this afternoon for an early holiday visit with my grandsons. I've got my grandma bag packed with lots of festive fun, and I shipped my Christmas gifts via UPS yesterday to arrive at Bubby and Mac's house tomorrow. No sense lugging them in my luggage when I could ship them for basically the same price—and be able to wrap them beforehand, with no complaints (or tearing open) by TSA.

I'm excited and all set to go. The only thing that will be missing from the trip is PawDad. This will be a solo trip for me to see our grandsons as the primary reason for heading to the desert is to cover childcare while Megan and Preston cover their seasonal obligations and celebrate their birthdays (Preston's was yesterday, Megan's is Friday).

Mac and Gramma 2011It's pretty easy for a grandma to get up and go for a holiday visit to the grandsons. It's not so easy to do the celebrating the other way around, with the grandsons and family traveling to Grandma's. Megan and Preston know that for a fact, as that's what they did last year—traveled over the river and through the woods to Gramma and PawDad's house.

I naturally had no trouble at all welcoming my grandsons and their parents to my home Christmas Day last year. For Megan and Preston, though, the trip was rough, and they've sworn to not travel again at Christmas—at least not while the boys are young and restless.

Bubby at Gramma's 2011I would love nothing more than to have my entire family together for Christmas celebrations, but I get it: Traveling with young kids is hell challenging.

That said, there are some tricks for making an easier time of it. Claire Haas, mom of two and Vice President of Education for Kiddie Academy, offers the following tips for handling holiday travel with kids. Share her ideas with the moms and dads heading your way with your precious grandkids in tow, ripe and ready for seasonal spoiling by Grandma and Grandpa:

•• Consider traveling at off-peak hours. Start the trip at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. Doing so will avoid traffic, and the kids may just sleep for part of the trip. Increase the chances for sleep by an extended playground trip to burn off energy before buckling them in the car seats.

Courtesy Kiddie Academy• •A dollar store cookie sheet with magnets works great as a lap desk for the car or on a plane. The raised edge can help prevent crayons and cars from landing on the floor.

• •If facing a long car ride with the kids, pack each a "travel activity bag" with new games and activities to keep them busy. Keep the bag in the front seat and dole out a new item each hour. For example, a printed map for playing the license plate game or bubbles to blow out the car window.

• •Consider relaxing any restrictions on daily screen time. Video games, iPads and laptops can be true lifesavers when dealing with kids facing hours in close proximity to their siblings.

•• You have two choices on bedtime disruptions during holiday travel—stick to the routine while away from home, or just accept that rules are out the window and make the best of it. For some children, staying up past bedtime during the holidays is a special treat they'll remember fondly. Do what will work best for your family, and shrug off raised eyebrows from a great aunt or other relative because kids are allowed to stay up late or required to stay on schedule.

Today's question:

Would you rather travel to visit family at the holidays or host the family at your place?