Why not pack up the grandkids and get out there

There are more than 70 million grandparents in the United States, many of them the types who like to pick up and go. Traveling with grandkids offers a unique bonding activity that can’t be experienced during a family get-together or a short visit. It can also be a minor debacle if not properly planned for.

To help make these trips a success, travel and lifestyle expert Nan Zimmerman has partnered with BoomerTowne.com, an informational Web site for baby boomers to make travel information widely available. Zimmerman offers the following advice for any adult traveling with younger children, including grandparents who might not do it frequently.

While hitting the road with the grandchildren might seem like fun, younger children might not be ready to travel without a parent, Zimmerman notes. Test the waters first by visiting a nearby museum or zoo together. This can help determine whether a grandparent can handle a situation without mom or dad around.

Or consider traveling with only one grandchild at a time, which allows for one-on-one bonding and saves grandparents from being sibling referees.

One of the first obstacles when traveling with a grandchild is picking a location. The destination should be kid-friendly but still provide entertainment for grandparents. All-inclusive resorts are great because they provide activities to do together as well as entertaining kid-only activities.

Make sure to involve the grandchildren in the planning. Once a location is set, share pictures of the destination, brochures and maps with the grandchildren. Go online to learn more about the trip together.

Although grandchildren may have traveled with parents before, be sure to go over rules for the trip before embarking on the journey. Outline the consequences if the children’s behavior doesn’t meet expectations.

If flying, explain airport security so grandchildren don’t get scared. It might also be a good idea to review how people behave on an airplane.

Learn about all medications a grandchild takes, whether prescription or over-the-counter, and be sure to take them along. A notarized permission letter signed by parents authorizes a grandparent to have limited power of attorney over a grandchild in case of an emergency. This is especially important when traveling outside the United States.

Children of all ages are required to have a passport when traveling outside of the United States. Plan ahead and apply for a passport well in advance since there is a long processing time. Children under 14 must apply for a passport in person.

Also, be sure to check with the U.S. Embassy of the country you’re visiting and make sure you have everything you need to travel with your grandchild. Some countries require a notarized letter authorizing grandparents to accompany grandchildren in place of a legal guardian.

In case of an emergency, such as a lost child, be sure to have a plan in place. Share it with the grandchildren upon arrival. At the hotel, show him or her how to get to the front desk and make it a meeting place. Tell grandchildren to go to the nearest uniformed employee if they get lost. Give them a note with important cell phone numbers, hotel name, location and phone number so authorities can contact the appropriate person as soon as the grandchild is found.

For added security and peace of mind, have grandchildren over 12 carry a cell phone or walky-talky so they can contact someone immediately if something is wrong.

For more travel information and tips from Nan Zimmerman, visit BoomerTowne.com.