Road Trip Tips – for Traveling with Your Grandchild

My family has kind of a tradition of Grandparents taking grand-kids on trips. Mom started it, taking my son to Boston when he was 9. My aunt and uncle took each of their 4 granddaughters on one trip – one at a time after they turned 8.

We took a whole family vacation a couple of years ago (2012) – paying for a road trip for our two sons, their spouses and children to Yellowstone National Park. It was one of our best ever vacations.

This year, we plan to continue the family legacy by taking our oldest grandson (almost 10) on a road trip from the Midwest to Colonial Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle.

I’ve planned out the structure of the trip and the dates are rapidly approaching. Knowing that road trips with kids can be chancy at best, I decided to do a bit more research on traveling with grandchildren and thought I would share my findings with you.

I had a few things in mind already (such as packing healthy snacks and drinks, more than one swimsuit, games and electronics as well as making sure things are planned for kid and elder friendly activities), but I’ve learned a few more tips during my research. Here are all of my tips for traveling with your grandchild.

Get parental permission and share plans before talking to your grandchild.

Long before I said anything to my grandson, I coordinated the trip with others. First, of course, I spoke with my spouse to see if he was willing to spend 10 days in a car with a kid!! He was eager, so then I asked the parents for permission to take our grandson on a trip and coordinated the best dates (considering their schedule) with them. After that, I did some trip planning and shared the plans with the parents to make sure they didn’t object to anything we would be doing. Only after that did I start sending things to them to share with our grandson, or start talking with him about the trip.

Give the parents your plan.

Once you finalize your plans share what you have with the parents. Let them know the route you plan to take, where you plan to spend the nights, what you will be seeing each day and how you can be reached in case of cell phone failure. It’s not a bad idea to make sure the parents have the license plate number of the car you will be driving either.

Get official proof and documentation – you aren’t the parent!

Get a notarized letter from the parents – signed by both – giving permission for you to seek medical care for the child during the vacation time.

Get copies of the medical and dental insurance cards, prescription cards – just in case.

If you are leaving the country , you will need passports (and in some cases birth certificates) as well as (potentially) a limited power of attorney over the grandchildren.

You will also need a (notarized) document showing that you have the parents permission to travel with the child – most especially if you leave the country, even if it is just to dip over the border to Canada or Mexico. It is a good idea, in these times, to have this even if you are just traveling across state lines.

My grandson’s other grandparents took his cousin to Canada last year and the border patrol quizzed not only them, but also the kid – asking if he was traveling with these people under duress and if they were really his grandparents!

Make sure the kids are old enough.

I’ve always heard that there is a travel ‘sweet spot’ for taking grandkids on vacation – old enough to be self sufficient yet still young enough to be interested. Typical ages quotes for the sweet spot are between 8 and 12. Kids this age don’t tend to get homesick, can typically handle most activities, don’t get as tired as younger folks and yet haven’t yet reached that teen stage where they no longer want to be seen with anyone in the family! Better still (for grandparents) they don’t ever have to be carried around!

Our grandson will be 10 this summer, 9 when we leave for the trip – just the right age.

Be sure you outnumber the kids.

I’ve held my Grandma Rie’s Money Camp for the past 3 summers with between 2 – 3 kids and it is no picnic for one senior to keep up with that many kids. The more kids you have along on the trip, the more fights you will get!

No one in my family has taken on more than one grandkid at a time and we plan to continue that vacation tradition. We’ll take our grandchildren on vacation one at a time. That way they get our full attention (and we adults can switch off and rest up if we need it).

Know their allergies/health issues/medial history.

You will be away from their own doctors and care facilities. Have the parents give you a list of any medications, allergies, heath tendencies, their medical history, including shots (especially tetanus) and things for which you should watch (like do they constipate easily, how much time do they need in the bath, will they get queasy reading in the car and etc).

Get an approved and preferred food list from parents.

You might be tempted to load them up with junk food and sweets – after all, they will probably love you for it, but don’t. You are going to be the one dealing with their body’s reaction to all that sugar and salt and grease. Keep them on a regular food schedule. Let the parents tell you what the kids should have, what the kids will eat and what to feed them when they are feeling a bit off. Then follow the schedule without a lot of deviation (hey you are the grandparent, so you do get to provide a treat now and then!).

Follow routines.

Talk with parents before leaving to understand the normal household and bedtime routines, if you aren’t up to speed on the latest and greatest. When do the kids usually spend quality time in the bathroom, what time do they usually eat, and play. When is bedtime, how long do they usually sleep and what is the night time routine. Is there a sleep aid they need to take and use (like their own pillow, books to read, some music or a night light).

  • Plan for plenty of bathroom time – at the right time of day – for all of you.
  • Feed them the right kinds of food to keep their systems humming.
  • Give them plenty of water.
  • Follow their normal routine (and yours!) as much as possible.
  • Give them time to run around, time to unwind.
  • If possible, let everyone have their own bed at night.

I like to reserve the hotel room in advance – making sure I can cancel if need be. That way, we are assured of a place to stay and have a destination for the day. When my own Mom and Dad took me on vacations as a child, they would just drive until dark and then start looking for a room. There were many nights that we looked a long time and settled for pretty nasty looking rooms.

I also like to stay in one place for multiple nights, when the schedule allows. It’s just easier than moving beds every night.

Psych the kid up for vacation.

Share the planning so the child feels invested in the vacation. Talk about what you hope will happen on the trip, share the planning you have done and let your grandchild make some of the decisions. Write up a travel itinerary with pictures so they know what to expect.

I emailed a document with highlights of what I had planned and lots and lots of pictures to my son and my son printed it and had my grandson read it aloud to him.

Soon, I will ask our son to help our grandson select some things he would like to see and do while we are at Colonial Williamsburg. He will also get to decide on things to do (most of the time) in the evening. He can choose between swimming, put-put golf, table tennis and more. I’ll also ask our son to start talking about some of the history we will experience with our grandson – to make sure he knows the difference between the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the Colonial period.

When the dates get closer, I’ll talk to my daughter-in-law to get her into the psych up act (she does it naturally so I just need to check in with her). She will talk up the trip and pose questions to my grandson about the trip – what will he want to take, what he will be doing, etc.

Do all the normal trip safety stuff.

Make sure your car is in good shape for the trip and that your insurance and registration cards are handy. Do the normal stuff like making sure your car fluids are good, having emergency supplies available (flashlights, tools, food, water, extra oil and coolant and etc).

Take along all contact numbers.

Make sure you have all of the parents contact information, plus any emergency contact numbers (maybe the child’s nearest relative, babysitter and etc) and medical numbers needed (doctor, dentist, etc so if the worst does happen, the doctor on the trip can consult with the child’s own doctor).

Check in with parents once a day.

Let the parents know that their child will be calling them once a day at a certain time (and make sure to inform parents of any deviation from this so they don’t worry). Make sure you have all the numbers you need – work, home, cell and etc. as well as a general idea of which to call when. Parents will want reassurance that their child is OK and they will get much more information about how much your grandchild is enjoying the trip if they talk each day.

Make the drive time more enjoyable.

Pack your own snacks and drinks to have along the way. I’ll be taking a cooler which we will restock here and there.  That way we can have something without stopping.

Stop when needed to stretch legs, empty bladders and enjoy the countryside. Let your grandchild run off some energy. Some folks pack jump ropes, chalk (for hop scotch) or look for playgrounds for some of the stops.

Use electronics – but with a plan.

Our grandson would spend both of the 8 hour days we will be traveling playing on his tablet if we allowed it. The parents don’t want that to happen and neither do we. Our son will set the device so that it can only be used for certain things for certain lengths of time at certain hours and set the expectation that our grandson will be spending a lot of time unplugged.

Don’t forget chargers. There’s little more frustrating than lugging around an electronic item that is useless because you forgot the charger.

Prepare for road games.

Puzzle books; family road games; sharing stories about family members and family history; discussing what you will be seeing and doing and tracking expenses and trip progress are all activities that work well with the sweet spot age group. I hope to let our grandson track the trip on a map and to make sure he has a camera all of his own to use to document the parts of the trip he wants to record. A blank tablet for him to use as a journal of the trip may also be an option.

What to take.

Of course you’ll want to make sure you have appropriate clothing, including shower/beach shoes, a couple of swimming suits each (in case you need dry time between swims) and all your swim paraphernalia (goggles, nose plugs, water wings and etc), but also consider health and safety items like these:

  • Adhesive bandages, in various sizes
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Children’s pain reliever/fever reducer
  • Thermometer
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet wipes (among other things to wipe down those nasty toilet seats before your precious sits on it)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kid shampoo
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss

Most of all, enjoy your grandchild.

Don’t let the vacation schedule, stress or activities get in the way of the real purpose of your trip – which is building that good relationship with your grandchild, enjoying each others company and building memories together.

Have you traveled with your grandchild? How did it go?

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Choose Wealth! Be a Millionaire by Midlife.

Jamaca beach flattenedHave you ever wondered how people get rich? Why is it that some folks manage to accumulate significant amounts of wealth while others just scrape by?

Only 1/4 of Americans end up with more than half a million by their 60′s. Will you be one of them? I am.

You don’t have to be a best selling author, a rock star musician, a tech guru wizard or a high powered lawyer to be a multimillionaire, you just need time and persistence. Anyone can do it if they know how. YOU can do it if you want it badly enough, learn how and persist. You just have to choose to be wealthy. This book helps you figure out how to choose wealth.

My new book, Choose Wealth!  Be a Millionaire by Midlife, is now available – on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes  and many other online outlets. I’m so excited to have completed this effort and hope that folks find it helpful in pursuing wealth of every sort, whether financial or other. Continue reading

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Lets Rewrite History!

Have you ever noticed that it can be easier to imagine yourself doing something if you know about someone else who has done that same thing? You think to yourself, hey if she did it, so can I!

It’s even easier to imagine that scenario when the person who did it is like you. If you are a little white boy reading about some kid who grew up to be President, you think, hey, I’m a boy like him, I could do that too.

In most of the world, societies are patriarchal. The histories and stories that have gotten told and re-told and written into the books are usually about male accomplishments. Little girls study those history books and read those stories and think to themselves, well – a boy did that, it must only be for boys.

For example, when I was growing up in the fifties everyone wanted to be a scientist or engineer. American and Russia were locked in a space race and it fired the imagination of an entire generation of kids. My brother was pretty smart and the entire family and all of his teachers encouraged him to be a scientist. He ultimately earned a Master’s degree in biochemistry. I was smart too (turns out that I was much smarter financially!), but don’t remember being challenged or encouraged to pursue science or math studies or projects.

I’m planning a history trip with my Grandson this summer and have been reading up on the colonial and revolutionary days of America. As it turns out, some of the books I am reading today totally refute the stories that my grade school history books taught. George Washington apparently did NOT have wooden false teeth and did NOT tell his Father about chopping down a cherry tree!

History, so they say, is recorded by the conquerors. The story is told to make their heroes look good. Parts get left out that were vital to the conqueror’s successes and other, not necessarily true, parts get written in.

So it was with the story of America’s first satellite, Explorer I according to a book I just completed: Rocket Girl by George D Morgan. Continue reading

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Review of: Outsmarting the System

Lower your taxes, control your future and reach financial freedom by Anthony C Campidonica, Copyright 2014, published by Sciopress, inc

Summary:

Campidonica is a CPA and former IRS tax auditor. He promises a high level book and delivers it. The system he is talking about is society’s expectations that we go to school, go to college and get good grades, land a job working for someone else, buy a house and contribute to a retirement fund.

He believes that the system fails to help most folks reach financial freedom. He suggests, instead, that folks should either a) invest b) be landlords or c) be self-employed.

The first seven chapters are sky-high descriptions of these three items, with most emphasis on being self-employed.

He spends a chapter on the tax system, one chapter describing some of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the three ‘solutions’ (investing, landlording or self-employment) and goes into some of the tax benefits of each. He spends a chapter talking about the challenges involved in running each of the three solutions and then a chapter devoted to being a business owner – giving sky-high conceptual information on a few business concepts, such as products or services to offer and the beginnings of some of the things you need in a business plan.

The eighth chapter (What the rich know that you don’t) is the most substantive. In it he reveals information about the IRS and its audits that most folks won’t know.

The last chapter is intended to help get you started in a business by having you list out things he suggested you think about (what is your business idea, what do you need to learn, what advisers do you need and etc). Continue reading

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Your Digital After Life

Should your heirs be able to access your online accounts after you die?

The internet is such a relatively recent adventure that everyone is still trying to figure out what should and shouldn’t happen to your online accounts after you die.

Currently, according to a PEW research article entitled What happens to your digital life after death? some states are beginning to pass laws to regulate who can and cannot access digital accounts like Facebook, or a website you run, or your email accounts.

They say in that article:

“Until the legal procedures are made clear experts are advising people  to treat their digital assets as they would any other asset.  They recommend that users appoint someone to be in control, make a list of accounts and passwords, and give clear instructions on how to handle each individual account.”

Most people don’t think about including anything related to online accounts as part of their estate planning – after all, there is nothing important there – right?

Wrong, as you well know.  Here are a few things to consider. Continue reading

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