We are taking our twin grandchildren to Alaska for a combination land tour and cruise. In fact, we are leaving this afternoon. Though our grandkids are smart, they have not acquired travel smarts yet, so we helped them plan for the trip. Here is what we did.
PACKING LIST. I typed a list of all the things the kids would need for the trip. This list included clothing that could be layered (long sleeved t-shirts, long underwear, sweatshirts, etc. ) and clothes for one formal dinner aboard ship. Rain gear was at the top of the list.
AIRPORT SECURITY. We logged onto the FAA Web site, downloaded information on going through security, and gave it to the kids. We also gave them plastic bags for gel products. When we told the kids they would have to take off their shoes they were surprised. Telling the kids what to expect should make the trip go smoothly.
HELP WITH PASSPORTS. Our government center had so many passports to process we were afraid the twin's passports would not come in time. At the suggestion of the government center, we paid an additional fee to expedite processing. The passports arrived in record time. Each child has a neck passport holder.
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS. The American Automobile Association (AAA) made all of our arrangements. Our representative told us to buy the meal package and we followed her advice. This package includes hotel meals, train meals, an all-you-can eat lumberjack breakfast, and a dinner show. Nobody will go hungry, that's for sure.
LEGAL ARRANGEMENTS. Our daughter (mother of the twins) was killed in a car crash. One of the reasons we are taking the twins to Alaska is to give them a break from grief. The AAA asked us to get a notarized letter from the twins’ father, giving them permission to travel with us. I made extra copies of the letter, one for each child and one for us. To be on the safe side the AAA told us to bring a copy of our daughter's death certificate.
INFORMATION. When I accidentally found a television show about a train trip through the Yukon I called the kids and asked them to watch it. We have provided them with additional information about Alaska. Each child has a personal information packet - itinerary, airline tickets, meal vouchers - and is responsible for their own packet.
LAPTOP COMPUTER. The kids wanted to bring their mother's laptop computer with them to store electronic photos. We encouraged them to do this because it is convenient and, most important, a link with their mother. “You are our official photographers, " we said, a comment that gives them purpose.
MONEY. Teens want to buy stuff that proves they were “there. " The kids asked us how much money to bring and we suggested $50 each. We did not want them walking around with lots of money. If the twins are short of money we will help them out, and they can pay us back later. (It's a dignity thing. )
Our Alaskan adventure is the trip of a lifetime. We will remember it for years to come and our grandkids will too. Planning for the trip was part of the fun.
Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, " written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http://www.amazon.com. A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site (School Corner heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.
Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson