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(MCT)—Recently, Chris Dibling-West and eight of her 10 grandchildren loaded up the car and headed west for Lake Martin in Alabama.

It was a quick trip — no more than three days — but no less fun. Traveling with her grandkids and, in this case, a few of their friends, the 58-year-old Woodstock, Ga., grandmother said, is a chance to tune in and rediscover that awesome feeling she and, hopefully, her grandchildren get from just spending time with each other.

“It’s not so much about the destination as it is the joy of the journey and being together,” Dibling-West says.

It’s become a family ritual that she and her grandchildren look forward to each year. But for others, summer traveling with children can prove to be a dreadful experience. Are we there yet? And so the question for Dibling-West: How does she do it?

“Proper planning is key,” she said. “I always assign each of them a task.”

For example, Dibling-West, a spokeswoman for Atlanta’s Goddard School, said that when she took them on a visit to Charleston, S.C., last year, she asked one granddaughter to research the food for which the city is famous. Another was charged with finding out what part the city played in the Civil War. And another was asked to research plants indigenous to the area. Each of them had to share what they learned with their siblings and cousins.

“No matter how old you are, there are always things you can learn along the way,” she said.

They also help plan their itinerary — including where they will stop along the way, and what they want to see most — and keep a journal.

To keep the costs down, they cook. To raise the fun quotient, they sing at the top of their lungs.

“They can sing everything from the Mills Brothers to James Taylor and Taylor Swift,” she says. “Getting to know your grandchildren this way, for the people they are becoming, what makes each of them tick, is awesome.”

Tips for the Journey

To help you enjoy your summer travel time with the grandchildren, Chris Dibling-West offered these additional tips, ideas she shares with the Goddard School:

  • Keep damp washcloths available in a sealable bag in case someone gets motion sickness.
  • Plan for an active stretch at a rest stop or a playground. Let them walk or toddle for 20 minutes or so before climbing back into the car.
  • For infants, pre-measure formula into bottles and carry a room-temperature bottle of water to mix on the go.
  • If traveling by plane, a car seat can double as a feeding chair or nap location. Call ahead for a crib to be sent to your hotel room.
  • Have some active playtime just before leaving. In an airplane, let children walk down the aisle periodically.
  • An airport can be a bustling place, so check your luggage at the curb. This way, you can focus on your little ones’ needs.
  • Play window games to keep your child entertained — count the trucks, cows or red lights.
  • Buckle up a toy bin right next to the children so they can help themselves. Having a variety of books, stuffed animals and puppets can help keep them from getting bored.
  • Use a laptop desk for drawing with paper and crayons.

©2012 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services


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