Tips for new parents traveling with grandparents

3 tips for new parents vacationing with grandparents

Finding the sweet spot between schedule, setting, and seasons

Often vacations with tots aren’t the most soothing trip style—they’re energetic, busy, and full of firsts (just like your tyke-in-tow).

Enter grandparents.

When my son was just over a year old, our family of three (now four) met up with my husband’s parents in Mexico for some familia fun!

Because it was our first time traveling as a fivesome, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew we’d have a great time—how can you not on the beach in Punta Mita?—but I didn’t realize the trip would turn into a relaxing holiday (Olé), and I’d come home refreshed like I used to when I traveled with my husband (before kids) to chic beach resorts.

Three “S” rules

I attribute our relaxation recipe to shoulder season, setting, and schedule—a trip trifecta that allows for maximum escape!

how to travel with grandparents, a new parent guide

Viewfinder Tip: For the best chance of enjoying your holiday to the fullest when traveling as a multi-generational troop, find the sweet spot between setting, schedule, and shoulder season.

Shoulder season

The reason I’m such a shoulder season fan when it comes to multigenerational family travel is because navigating busy resorts in high season—something I’ve tried one too many times—can be a losing game. However, travel in low season and you win, as well as remove any question of “if” you’ll find the right beach chair, “if” you’ll get a reservation or eat when it’s convenient, or “if” you’ll find the right type of room for your brood.

After all, when a resort isn’t at full capacity, you can vacation to the fullest (read: Do what you want when you want).

Setting

Choosing a hotel setting with a restaurant (or five!) and a bevy of amenities is the perfect way to enjoy together time and alone time without having to constantly venture elsewhere. In this type of resort-style situation, the eat-spa-do options are all there for you and only a few steps away.

In addition to hotel conveniences in close proximity, another parents-traveling-with-grandparents suggestion is securing a two- or three-bedroom, two-bath suite. This type of quarters is ideal as it allows you to stay together without swapping rooms for each child’s nap, etc.

Schedule

Normally I would not pair the words “schedule” and “vacation.” They’re almost opposites. But, in the case of galavanting with grandparents, everyone having a general idea of the “daily drill” is important as far as setting the tone, maximizing together time, respecting alone time, creating play time, and allowing for date-night time. 

A guide for traveling with grandparents

Barring our holiday following a rigorous roster of vacation must-dos, we settled into a win-win schedule that worked really well for every member of the family. Here is what it looked like:

Note: The below timeline would morph daily based on everyone’s preferences and our baby’s wake/sleep schedule, but generally, here’s how our six-night trip played out.

Our daily drill

  • 7:00 a.m. – rise and shine
  • 7:10 a.m. – parents deliver baby to grandparents’ room for bottle and snuggles, and go for a run along the beach
  • 7:50 a.m. – parents return from their jaunt and get ready for breakfast
  • 8:15 a.m. – all go to breakfast
  • 9:15 a.m. – one parent would take baby back for nap no. 1
  • 9:30 a.m. – everyone else returns from breakfast
  • 10 a.m. – all head to the pool (except mom or dad, who is relaxing on the balcony, while baby sleeps)
  • 11 a.m. – baby wakes; all enjoy the pool and eat lunch
  • 2 p.m. – one parent takes baby to room for nap no. 2, and grandparents tag in while baby naps
  • 2:30 p.m. – parents relax by the pool and read
  • 4:30 p.m. – baby wakes; all go to the beach for playtime in the ocean
  • 6 p.m. – all head to restaurant for appetizers and drinks
  • 7 p.m. – parents take baby to bed, grandparents stay and eat dinner together
  • 8:30 p.m. – grandparents come back from dinner (to monitor sleeping baby), parents go to dinner
  • 10 p.m. – parents return, all go to sleep

For more, check out some related articles:
First trip with baby
Maui with baby
Cruising with baby
10 babymoon tips for soon-to-be parents

Have you ever traveled with grandparents as a new parent? What are your tips for maximizing together and alone-time?

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Trip Styler

Trish Friesen chose an unlikely profession given her fear of flying and propensity toward car, air, boat, train, and chairlift sickness. Thanks to Gravol, Sea-Bands, and cruise ship stabilizers, the reluctant—yet enthusiastic—jetsetter packs her bag once every two weeks to swim with sharks in the Great Barrier Reef or to sample the latest libation in Portland. Trish unpacks her suitcase in Vancouver, Canada, Eh! where she’s the editor-in-chief of TripStyler.com, a travel lifestyle website for aspiring jetsetters. Find her moonlighting on Expedia, Fodor's, Jetsetter, and as a travel expert on TV while circumventing the globe with her entourage: a MacBook Air, an Olympus camera, and the biggest carry-on she can fit on the plane.