SUMMERTIME.  Grandchildren.  A shared vacation.  Many of us eagerly anticipate the adventure, but how do we make it the kind of trip that will be one of our – and their - favorite memories?

AARP says a good place to begin is to talk to the parents and the grandkids and find out what interests them.  History?  Science?  Sports?  Being outdoors?  Do some early research.  Gather ideas and then let the children help choose.

For younger kids, it might be a trip to the zoo, aquarium or museum.  Older children may enjoy an adventure away from home.

Try a state or national park.  If you’re up for really grand adventures, watch Old Faithful geyser erupt at Yellowstone, raft in the Grand Canyon, hike the Appalachian Trail, explore ancient American Indian dwellings at Mesa Verde or visit a Civil War battlefield.

A trip to the beach?  A cruise?  If you opt for a city trip, older children might enjoy the theater, a sports event or an art museum.

Explore the idea of a volunteer vacation with older grandchildren.  The American Hiking Society offers volunteer trips on which hikers conduct trail maintenance part of the day and spend the rest of the day hiking and enjoying the outdoors.

Elderhostel will send you a catalog of a complete list of grandparent/grandchild trips, which includes worldwide educational adventures.

Consider how long the trip should be.  If a traveler is younger than 6, probably a day trip or maybe one overnight is best.  Elementary-age children can handle a week.   Highschoolers might last two weeks, as long as you plan together things you'll both enjoy doing.

Know their daily routines, nap times, safety needs, medicines, bed times, allergies and food preferences.

Set up rules in case the child gets lost or separated from you.  Inexpensive two-way radios?  Walkie-talkies?  Cell phones?

Remember the kids need to burn off more energy during the day than you do, so take time out for them to play – a swim in the hotel pool or a couple of hours at a nearby playground.

Take small games, books, music, toys and art supplies because in case of rain or long waits at restaurants or airports, you'll need to have things to keep them busy.

Take snacks. Yogurt and granola bars are preferable to sugary or high-fat foods.  

Be sure they drink a lot of water or juice to stay hydrated and, of course, an occasional candy bar, soft drink or ice cream should not be overlooked.

Be flexible.  Don’t have every minute planned.  Leave room for spontaneous adventures.

Most of all, have fun and be open-minded and enthusiastic and on the way home, talk about where you will want to go next year!

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