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Planning a Great ‘Grandcation’

SALEM, Ohio — Whether you call it gramping, a skip-gen getaway, a grandcation or grandtravel, grandparents are increasingly traveling with one or more grandchildren, without their parents. In December 2018, AARP reported that 15 percent of baby boomers were already planning a grandcation for 2019.

Connecting with grandchildren and creating lasting memories is key to a vacation everyone enjoys. A few planning pointers to share with first-time grandcationers:

• Get buy-in and information from the parents, such as what type of trip feels right for each child and trip timing that works best for the family. Scope out favorite activities and get agreement on rules of the road for bedtimes, spending money, screen time, meals and treats, and phone calls home.

• Consider carrying a letter authorizing your travel with the child, particularly if the parents are divorced and there are any custody considerations.

• Along with medications, bring a copy of the child’s insurance card; complete medical information, including allergies, immunizations and pediatrician contact information; and a medical consent form.

• Test out a short trip with one child before planning a longer trip. Many grandparents take grandcations with one child at a time to build closer relationships and tailor each trip to shared interests.

• Try to arrange adjoining rooms or a suite with a sofa bed to balance privacy/personal space with oversight.

• Involve kids in the planning by sharing travel books and information on the destination and researching activities and restaurants together online.

• Build in downtime each day for rest and to take advantage of unplanned attractions or activities.

A bus tour is a terrific way for families to explore scenic areas and travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations. Along with fun attractions and well-timed stops, make bus safety a key focus of your travel planning:

• Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Look Before You Book website (www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook), which contains important resources and tips to learn about bus safety.

• Before chartering a bus for a larger group trip, take a few minutes to research the bus company’s safety records online. The Look Before You Book site lets you search for a specific bus company, with tips on interpreting their safety records, to help inform your booking decision.

• Remind travelers to stay buckled whenever the bus is moving. Most newer buses have passenger safety belts, and all buses built after November 2016 are required by law to have them.

• For more pointers on onboard safety, check out the Learn Before You Board Fact Sheet, available under the Travel Planners section of the Look Before You Book website.

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