Peru with Kids is Even Better When Auntie Comes to Machu Picchu Too
TRAVELING TO PERU WITH KIDS CAN BE A DAUNTING TASK TO TACKLE ALONE. THANKFULLY, THIS SINGLE MOM DIDN’T HAVE TO.
Any single parent knows the importance of having a supportive tribe in your family’s corner. One of my tribe’s MVPs is my Auntie Irene, now 80 years old, who has helped me raise my son since he was a baby. My parents don’t live locally, so my son has grown up with his grand-aunt (or “Grauntie”, as he calls her) cheering at his soccer games, picking him up from school, and doting on him in that special way only grandparents can.
Auntie lives alone, with no kids of her own, and has always been an avid traveler. As a single woman, she’s traveled to Turkey, Egypt, Japan and Mexico, just to name a few. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully appreciated the spirit of adventure in her travels.
This year, as we were planning a family vacation to Peru, she said, “I’d love to see Machu Picchu.”
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully appreciated the spirit of adventure in [Auntie’s] travels.
At 80, however, she was afraid that she might not make it there. I was afraid too, wondering how the heck I would take a 10-year-old kid to Peru and an 80-year-old to such a challenging destination. My friends had hiked and camped their way there on the Inca Trail, and the idea of Auntie hiking on the trail, my back heavy with gear, an incessantly complaining 10-year-old trailing behind, didn’t scream ‘vacation’ to me.
However, with a little planning and a spirit of adventure, Peru with kids and Machu Picchu are completely doable with a 10-year-old and an (active) 80-year-old. We decided to visit Peru in July, which is South America’s winter, but it was mild and beautiful. Below are the key tips that made this multi-generational trip to Peru a success for our family.
1. Use a Travel Agency.
Our travel agent shouldered a lot of the mental load of planning a multi-generational trip to Peru: logistics, meals, transportation, in-country flights… all the details that can make a vacation feel like work. Customizing our itinerary was key, as a standard group tour wasn’t going to fit our needs.
I found our travel agency online, but be aware that various travel agencies work together in Peru, and most of our travel was ultimately arranged through Condor Travel. They were a pleasure to work with and were well versed in how to plan a trip to Peru with kids. We had private transport and tour guides and someone to call with any questions or changes. Money well spent!
2. Mix in luxury accommodations.
On an active trip like this one, it’s imperative to relax, refuel, and even indulge. A hot bath and fluffy white robe went a long way to soothe frazzled travel nerves and remind us to appreciate the gifts of this trip. The standout memories included; playing lawn games next to grazing llamas at the four-star Aranwa Hotel in the Sacred Valley, and the bountiful breakfast buffet and dreamy underground pool at the five-star JW Marriott in Cusco, once formerly a convent.
3. Take the altitude medication.
One of my fears about traveling to Peru with kids was how we were going to deal with the altitude sickness. Thankfully, we all got prescriptions for Diamox, took it as directed, and had no problem with the altitude other than a little fatigue. We also planned our itinerary to start in the Sacred Valley, followed by Machu Picchu, and saved Cusco, at the highest elevation, for last, giving our bodies more time to acclimate.
4. Slow down.
I’m the type of person who wants to make the most of vacation and have been known to jam-pack an itinerary. Our trip was 11 days long, and I set the expectation that we might do or see one thing per day, allowing ample time to relax, play and explore on our own. From walking the streets of Cusco, taking a cooking class, or just playing Crazy 8’s in our hotel lobby, this pace gave us time in our day to connect.
5. Don’t forget about self-care.
It can be easy for us moms to do it all, as being responsible for an international trip like this can be daunting. Don’t forget to carve out a little time for yourself. A major perk of multi-generational travel is the luxury of built-in babysitting should you want to grab a coffee, shop, workout or take a nap. We didn’t have to do everything together during the trip, and each of us enjoyed alone time and quality time with each other.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Auntie looks and acts much younger than her age, and once I told our tour guides how old she was, they were more than happy to guide her by the hand over uneven terrain or up and down the rocky steps of Machu Picchu. And even though she insisted she didn’t need it, we also accepted priority boarding for seniors on our flights!
7. Be flexible.
No matter how well-planned your trip may be, bumps are going to happen. Meltdowns. Complaints. After taking a deep breath, accept the fact that whatever happens is how your vacation was meant to be. Lumps and all, sometimes the happy accidents end up being the vacation stories you’ll tell for years to come.
If you’re considering multi-generational travel, I cannot recommend it enough. Being able to see my Auntie fulfill her lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu was one of the greatest gifts I could give, but also a huge gift to receive, during a family adventure we will forever treasure.
Traveling with extended family can bring its own set of challenges, but it also brings a richness to our travel experiences, and irreplaceable memories of adventures my son was privileged to enjoy with his Grauntie.
Managing editor at Twist Travel Magazine, Amy Whitley has been a travel writer, editor, and columnist since 2009. Amy publishes the family travel website Pit Stops for Kids, writes monthly for US News Travel and additional national outlets, is a travel and outdoor gear reviewer and influencer, and is an editor at OutdoorsNW Magazine.