DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: My husband and I are interested in taking our two grandkids on a big trip this summer and are looking for some good ideas. Can you recommend some travel companies that offer special travel packages for grandparents and grandkids?
— Doting Grandmother
DEAR DOTING: Grandparents traveling with just their grandchildren has become a growing segment of the multigenerational travel industry. Not only is this type of travel fun, it’s also a terrific way to strengthen generational bonds and create some lasting memories.
To help you with your traveling aspirations, there are a number of travel companies today that offer specialized grandparent/grandchildren and multigenerational trip packages. This is a nice way to go because they plan everything for you with most activities together, but some just for adults so you can get an occasional breather.
Available in various trip lengths and price ranges, these tours are designed for children, typically between the ages of 6 or 7 up to 18, and are usually scheduled in the summer, or sometimes during winter breaks when the kids are out of school. Here are some top tour companies to check into that will take you and your grandkids on a fun, well-planned vacation.
Road Scholar (RoadScholar.org): This well-established not-for-profit organization has offered educational travel to older adults since 1975. They currently offer 83 different programs geared to grandparent and grandchildren. About 75% of the grandparent trips are domestic; 25% are international.
Some of the many popular trip destinations include the U.S. National Parks; Washington, D.C.; Canada; France; Italy; Iceland; Costa Rica; and the Galapagos Islands. The average cost per person per night is about $265 for domestic trips, $365 for international.
Intrepid (IntrepidTravel.com): An adventure travel tour operator that offers “grandparent holiday” tours that bring together the young and the young at heart. They offer 35 one and two-week tours in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as in Alaska and Wyoming. To find these trips, go to Intrepidtravel.com/us/theme/family/grandparents.
Tauck (Tauck.com): This is a large tour operator that offers 19 foreign and domestic multigenerational trips called Tauck Bridges Family Tours. Some of their most popular trips are Costa Rica, the European riverboat cruises and the Cowboy Country, which tours you through Wyoming and South Dakota.
Smithsonian Journeys (SmithsonianJourneys.org): They offer 10 different family journey trips to Iceland, New Zealand, Italy, Greece, Japan, Ireland, Costa Rica, South Africa, Yellowstone and a Rhine River cruise.
Journeys International (JourneysInternational.com): They offer customized multigenerational trips primarily to Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific.
Grandkids' travel documents
Depending on where you go and your mode of transportation, you’ll need to gather some documents for your grandchildren to make sure everything goes smoothly. In general, most travel experts recommend you bring a notarized travel consent form (letter of permission from the parents), and a medical consent form in case any emergencies or problems arise. Also bring copies of insurance cards.
If you’re traveling domestically, you should know that airlines and trains don’t require any form of ID for children under 18. But if you’re traveling to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or other areas of the Caribbean by land or sea, grandchildren 15 and under will need certified copies of their birth certificates. And if your grandkids are 16 or older, or you’re traveling to these locations via air, passports will be required.
If you’re traveling overseas, all children, even infants, must have a passport. Some countries also require a visa for entry, and vaccinations may be required in some cases. Before booking a trip, check the U.S. Department of State’s website at Travel.State.gov for country-specific information.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or go to SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC "Today" show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Savvy Senior: Tips on planning trips with your grandchildren