Hit a hotel
Loews Hotels 800/235-6397; www.loewshotels.com . Eighteen of the chain's hotels in the United States and Canada put up grandparents and grandchildren in suites or adjoining rooms at 20 to 50 percent off standard rates. They'll also get you tickets to sporting events and arrange V.I.P. tours of places such as the San Diego Zoo.
Candlewood Suites 888/226-3539; www.candlewoodsuites.com . Grandparents who bring a grandchild (or simply flash a photo of one) when checking in for the first time, or during one of 11 major holidays, get to stay a second night free. Candlewood has more than 100 locations, from Syracuse to Sacramento.
The Homestead U.S. Route 220, Hot Springs, Virginia; 800/838-1766 or 540/839-1766; www.thehomestead.com ; doubles from $198 per person, breakfast and dinner included. The newly expanded spa at this old Virginia resort—Thomas Jefferson steeped in the mineral springs here—is set up for grandparents, parents, and children to have tandem treatments. Pile onto a sofa for side-by-side pedicures (herbal soak or chocolate soak, your pick). Ready for more?The "Generations" package buys an adult mini-facial and manicure, plus a "Teen Facial" and "Fun Fingers" strawberries-and-cream manicure, for $139.
—Reported by Leah Cumsky-Whitlock
Five Road Rules for Seniors and Squirts
How can young and old travel well together?WE asked dozens of grandparents and their sidekicks for advice. The consensus is that kids ages 9 to 12 make the best on-the-road companions (teens are not to be ruled out—especially if they agree to leave their tongue studs at home). When it comes to itinerary planning, a grandkid should be allowed plenty of input, but it's best not to be too ambitious in scheduling or total number of days spent. And shared interests should be kept in mind—no need to head straight to the roller coaster.
Before heading out, grandparents and grandkids can read books, watch movies and search the web together to bone up on what they'll be seeing—and to get excited. Lastly, grandparents must consult with parents on often tricky issues, such as bedtimes, and then be prepared to lay down the law.
1. Cap the sugar count
In addition to inquiring about a grandchild's favorite (and most despised) foods, and willingness to try new things, grandparents should learn the parental restrictions on soda, candy, and other treats—and make sure the child understands the limits. Who wants to bicker over Diet Cokes and Kit Kat bars?