The art of summer travel with grandchildren

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In just a few days, Chris Dibling-West and eight of her 10 grandchildren will
load up the car and head west for Lake Martin in Alabama.

Letting kids help with the planning of family vacations makes the trip more fun for everyone.

Tom Wilson, Special

Letting kids help with the planning of family vacations makes the trip more fun for everyone.

It’ll be a quick trip — no more than three days — but no less fun. Traveling
with the grandkids and, in this case, a few of their friends, the
58-year-old Woodstock grandmother said, is a chance to tune in and
rediscover that awesome feeling she and, hopefully, her grandchildren get
from just spending time with each other.

“It’s not so much about the destination as it is the joy of the journey
and being together,” Dibling-West said.

It’s become a family ritual that both she and her grandchildren look forward
to each year. But for others, summer traveling with children can prove to be
a dreadful experience. Are we there yet?

And so the question for Dibling-West: How does she do it?

“Proper planning is key,” she said. “I always assign each of
them a task”

For example, Dibling-West, a spokeswoman for Atlanta’s Goddard School, said
when she took them on a visit to Charleston last year, she asked one
granddaughter to research the food for which the city is famous. Another was
charged with finding out what part it played in the Civil War. And another
was asked to research plants indigenous to the area. Each of them had to
share what they learned with their siblings and cousins.

“No matter how old you are, there are always things you can learn along
the way,” she said.

They also help plan their itinerary — where they will stop alone the way, what
they want to see the most — and keep a journal.

To keep the costs down, they cook.

To raise the fun quotient, they sing at the top of their lungs.

“They can sing everything from the Mills Brothers to James Taylor and
Taylor Swift,” she said. “Getting to know your grandchildren this
way, for the people they are becoming, what makes each of them tick is

– Keep damp wash cloths available in a Ziplock bag should someone get motion sickness.

– Plan for an active stretch at a rest stop or a playground. Let them walk or toddle
for twenty minutes or so before climbing back in the car.

– For infants, pre-measure formula into bottles and carry a room temperature bottle
of water to mix on the go.

– If traveling by plane, a car seat can double as a feeding chair or nap location.
Call ahead for a crib to be sent added to your hotel room.

– Have some active playtime just before leaving. and plan for frequent stops.
In an airplane, let children walk down the aisle periodically.

– Airports can be a bustling place; check your luggage at the curb. This way, you
can focus on your little ones’ needs.

– Play window games to keep your child entertained — count the trucks,
cows or red lights.

– Buckle up a toy bin right next to the children so they can help themselves. Having
a variety of books, links, stuffed animals and puppets can help keep them
from getting bored.

– Use a laptop desk for drawing with paper and crayons.

Article source: