Like many other things in life travel can be scary and it is easy to live a life that revolves around the familiar ground of home. I believe one of the greatest gifts a grandparent can give to any grandchild is the gift of travel. As a small child some of my richest memories were traveling across America and Mexico with my Grandparents.
My Nana, was a free soul. She loved to climb in the car and just go on an adventure. I remember the excitement of climbing in the car with Nana and saying, “where we going?” Her answer was always the same, “I don’t know,” and we were off on another adventure.
I don’t have to wonder where I got my love for travel I got it from my grand mother who we affectionately called Nana. She taught me not to be afraid of new people and experiences. She taught me that just the joy of going was part of the trip. She taught me that a stranger could and usually was a friend you just hadn’t met yet. Most of all she taught me that travel and meeting new people and trying new things was not something to be feared but instead something to embrace and enjoy.
Charlene and I have seven grandchildren and like most grandparents we want to be positive forces in our grandkids lives. About two years ago we decided that we wanted to take each grandchild on a trip. We looked at our finances and our travel assets and decided that we could take one or two of our grandkids on a trip each year. Our idea was to get the grandkids comfortable with travel but also to have a chance to get to know them without there parents around.
Last year our first grandkids finally got old enough to go adventure.
We started planning the trip by asking Hanna 14 and Brenton 12 where they wanted to go.
Our options were limited by a problem that many grandparents who want to travel with their grandkids will run into. Hanna is our step granddaughter and in order to travel out of the country with her we had to arrange for her to get a passport. Hanna’s mother didn’t want her to travel outside the U.S. and without her permission Hanna couldn’t get a passport.
Our little problem was solved when on their own Hanna and Brenton called us one evening and informed us that they wanted to go to Washington DC and the East Coast.
With that phone call Charlene and I started planning a two-week vacation on the east coast with the kids.
A common problem when arranging airfare for your grandkids is with most airlines you will have to arrange for a direct flight. The airlines will allow kids to fly alone but only on direct flights and some airlines will require special documentation. When arranging a flight for your grandkids always take the extra time to read the airlines rules on children. With Hanna being 14 she was able to fly as an adult. Because Hanna was considered an adult Brenton was able to fly with her and didn’t require any special consideration by the airlines.
Hanna and Brenton live in Casper and all flights from Casper have to go thru Denver. That stop in Denver was our next big hurdle. It’s one thing to put a 14 and 12 year old on a nonstop flight it’s another thing to have them wondering the Denver airport. This problem was solved by our daughter Tera who sat Hanna and Brenton down with maps of the terminal and showed them where to go to catch their second flight. We also had the wonderful modern advantage of cell phones.
I remember the excitement in Hanna and Brenton’s voices when they called us from Denver. They had found their gate and were waiting for their plane to Philadelphia it was just a simple message but you could here the relief and pride of accomplishment in their voices.
It was pure joy and hugs when those two climbed off the plane in Denver. I know it sounds silly but they both seemed a little more grown up a little more self-assured as they explained, “their plane trip had been no big deal.”
Our trip with the grandkids was made possible by two huge tools in the Geezer traveler toolbox. We were able to get their flight with air miles and we used our timeshares to get two three- bedroom timeshares.
Our timeshares were in the mountains so each day for two weeks we either climbed in the rental car or caught trains to different locations. Hanna and Brenton were studying the Civil War in school and wanted to see as many historical sites as possible so much of our time was spent exploring the back roads of Virginia and Pennsylvania looking for obscure battle grounds and small museums. We made it to Washington two days and Philadelphia for a day and had some great train rides.
Because both of our timeshares had kitchen’s Charlene got to spend hours with both the kids cooking.
For two weeks we were just four friends exploring America. One thing that was surprising was how grown up our two grandchildren were when they were away from their parents.
Two of our travel friends Dennis and Dee invited us to their home south of Washington DC and we got the chance to listen to Denise play his guitar and enjoy some amazing East Coast seafood.
Twelve and fourteen are a magical time to watch kids, their still kids but they are spreading their wings and testing who they want to be and what they want to be.
As grandparents Charlene and I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of our grandkids lives but also to introduce them to the joy and the adventure of travel. During the trip Hanna and Brenton set the pace. We let them make decisions like what train to take and what road to go down. We let them say lets stop here so they could go play by a stream or climb a hill and look out over a hidden valley. It was a joy seeing the world thru their eyes, they made us stop at places Charlene and I would have driven by and missed, They expressed ideas about history and people that were new and refreshing.
In short, I don’t know if the kids taught us more or we taught them more but I can say they sure opened my eyes more then once.
This summer our granddaughter Alyssia will be 13 and we will be off to Europe for two weeks. The trip will take planning and we will have to dip into our Geezer toolbox to be able to afford it but the reality is like our trip with Hanna and Brenton it will be a magical time that Charlene and I will always cherish.
Taking a grandchild on a trip is a dream every grandparent has and with the tools you will learn at geezerswithpassports.com I hope all of you Geezers can go and see the world with your grandkids.