Taking a trip with your kids and parents is a great way to bridge the generation gaps in an extended family, but you may be worried it will be too much to handle. Here are some tips to make your trip go smoothly and build unforgettable memories for parent, children, and grandchildren:
While spontaneity can be fun when you're spanning several generations it's a better idea to plan carefully so you know what you're getting into. Know ahead of time how long both the young and the older can ride comfortably in a car and plan your stops accordingly. While you may cover 200 or 250 miles in four hours while driving alone that probably isn't feasible with a mixed group. Know where rest areas are on your route and plan 15 to 20 minutes per stop so everyone has a chance to walk around and get their circulation moving before you get back into the car.
Be flexible. While you should have hotel and meal reservations in advance keep in mind that stuff happens. Have your hotel number handy in case you need to cancel and note a couple of alternative hotels on your route so you can modify your plans if a child gets carsick or a senior can't ride any longer.
Medications and Necessities
According to WebMD the average person over 65 takes four prescription medications every day and another three medicines available over-the-counter, so you should know in advance what your parents need to take and when and have the medications in an easy to access spot. Pack drinks and snacks as well as wipes and napkins and add a small first aid kit to your road trip bag.
If your parent has medical conditions you should have a contact list with the names and numbers of their primary care providers. Add the number for your kids' pediatrician and your own doctors as well as your personal phone number and any other important contact numbers. Add the number of hospitals or urgent care providers on your route in case someone gets sick or injured. Copy the list to paper and put it in the road trip bag in case you lose your phone or there's an emergency.
While most kids are used to playing on electronic devices or watching DVDs while on the road your parents come from a different era. Make a list of topics they can share, activities such as travel games they can play with each other. In a time where GPS is a standard travel necessity something as simple as a road map can be a great key to bridging the gap between generations as your parent teaches your child what the GPS is talking about.
Rest stops and meal breaks can be a feature instead of a necessity if you make them part of the plan. Make sure you think about safety and security every time you stop, and consider asking your parent to lock their bag or wallet in the car when you take a break. Make sure adults have time for a short walk and kids have time to run and play a bit before you return to the car and you'll all be more comfortable during the next leg of the journey.
While you probably already know where you're going double check the destination to be sure it's both child and senior friendly. A historic location may be enjoyable to all but if your parent can't maneuver steps or uneven pavement they may not be able to join a tour. Likewise if your children are young you may spend more time chasing them than enjoying the sights.
When you make your reservations ask for a room on the first floor or near an elevator so you don't have as far to walk with kids, parents, and suitcases. If possible consider a multi-room suite or connecting rooms so your parents have some quiet space to recharge. Remember, as much as they love you and their grandchildren they're probably used to a routine, so don't be surprised if they all vote to take a nap on arrival!