A Guide to Travelling with Parents

A guide to travelling with your parents
A guide to travelling with your parents

As an adult, you’ve developed your own interests, routines and experiences. You’ve survived being an adulty adult. Sure, some of this enhanced by your upbringing but you are your own person. If you’ve got parents like ours, they don’t travel as much (or make return trips to familiar destinations). I guess, somebody’s gotta stay home and check your mail!

Have you ever returned to your childhood home after living on your own? Or stayed with your parents, as an adult, for an extended time? If so, have you realised they’ve resumed ‘parent mode’ and ask you where you are going and whom with? (I can guarantee you both the parents and the adult children have complaints about this!) Look no further, this guide is definitely for you!

Airport drop-off (again)

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have a fond relationship with your parents (and/or in-laws). You like them enough to leave the comfort of your own home.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t have made the choice or the plans to go travelling with them. No matter how well you get along with each other in daily life, travelling together creates additional stressors, and extra patience (from both parties) is definitely required.

I’ve travelled with my parents multiple times. I’d say it’s been pretty successful since we’re going away together later this year. Here’s what worked for us:

  • Communication:
    So you’ve decided to take a trip together, the first thing is open, honest communication. This sounds obvious but you’ll be amazed how often people are trying to please the other person (your Dad is keeping you company in the shopping centre and we all know this is so not his thing!) or spending more money than they can really afford or keeping quiet and missing out on an activity you have your heart set on. On the day we arrived, we did a 15 minute brainstorm about what were the must-see/do’s, then we drew up a visual timetable to make sure we could make the best activities fit into the time frame. *Practical tip: don’t plan more than 1-2 activities per day. This allows for incidental interesting things that you see or want to try (i.e. see an impromptu street show), transport and traffic time, as well as sleeping in and nanna naps (not just for the parent)
  • Budget:
    During the trip planning stage, (and it also falls under communication) have an honest conversation about how much money you intend on spending for the trip. Are you hoping to do this backpacker-style or make it rain (business class all the way, baby!)? It’s ok to have different budgets. If you discuss it upfront, then you’ll be able to negotiate the big-ticket expenses such as flights, accommodation, so forth much easier. Personally, the less I have to spend on flights, the more I can spend on actual activities I want to do, so I have no problems flying the red-eye or low-cost carriers whereas I have friends who absolutely do not want to sleep in a 12 bed dorm. This is no wrong answer. Just compromise, we’re all adults here. *Practical tip: If you can tolerate each other overnight, share the hotel room, just pick a twin, so you don’t have to snuggle with your Mum. It’ll be cheaper than two single rooms.
  • Expectations:
    Do you have specific plans or goals that you’d like accomplished on this trip? A common disagreement among travelling parties is that some people like go, go, go on their holidays by seeing and doing as much as they can whereas others can think of nothing worse and would prefer lazy days by the pool. Discuss what you expect. If everyone knows where they stand, it’ll keep feelings from being hurt.

    Taking in the sights of Singapore
  • Mobility and use of senses:
    Are you parents much older or have health issues, such vision or hearing impairment, mobility issues/use of aides (cane, wheelchair, etc), less fit or just getting old, that impact their ability to travel? What about medication that affects their senses, or makes the person dizzy or tired? Take these into consideration. Get them to see their doctor. Always check what their abilities are, and don’t just assume they don’t want to bungee jump. Though, you could be pleasantly surprised!
  • Patience:
    Travelling can bring out aspects of people’s personalities that you’ve never seen before especially in stressful situations. Patience is needed by the entire travelling group. Take note of those who will freak out if they are not super-duper early checking in at the airport, those who leave packing their bags to the very last-minute, those who pack 30kg of unneeded belongings and cannot carry it themselves.
  • Rest days:
    Depending on what type of traveller you are, you might want to sleep-in every now and again or have an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing, or want to wander through the markets on your own. You can be as scheduled (or unscheduled) as you like, as long as you let the other person know. On my last trip, we were in Singapore with my Mum, like everywhere else in Asia, it can be very humid and make you tired. My Mum would say ‘I could do with a nanna nap around 3pm’ and that was it. No explanation needed. We knew it meant we could also have a nap or reading time or whatever. Giving each other a physical and mental break from each other and the situation is vital.
  • Luxuries:
    This is so subjective that it needed its own dot point. My idea of luxury is very different to my parents. We’re probably at opposite ends of the spectrum (I’m a ‘dirty’ backpacker I think it’s a luxury not having to share a bathroom with 30 other people whereas for my parents, they expect there better be no one else in that bathroom). Talk about the treats and luxuries you ‘must have’, and accept that you can’t peer pressure the other person into it if they are not interested or cannot afford it.
  • Interests/personal preferences:
    Are you into museums and art galleries, and your Mum wants to swim with sharks? Or you’d like to do some fine dining and your Grandpa wants to do some trekking? Everyone has their own interests and that’s ok. Always ask your travel companion if they’d like to give something a go but don’t be pushy.

    Freshly grilled corn at the beach markets

A COUPLE MORE THINGS…

So, you’ve survived the trip planning and you still want to go together? That’s awesome news! A few more considerations to make this a successful trip!

Ensure you both pack appropriately

  • Have you got suitable clothing, footwear, toiletries and gadgets for the trip? (Lay it all out on your bed, get rid of half and bring your credit card coz I’m sure you can buy whatever you forget to pack!)
  • You probably don’t need to bring 2x first aid kids, but you’ll probably want your own phone charger
  • Excess luggage leads to fights, and to the younger person carrying it

Organisational skills

  • Check who’s got the passports, visa and other documents. Do you like to carry your own, or keep them together?
  • Email (or screenshot) important things to yourself (like hotel reservations, tour booking references, etc.). Help your parent out if they aren’t as tech-savvy.
  • A pen and paper is essential. As are tissues.

Photography

  • Does your parent expect you to be the ‘model’ in each photo they take?
  • Is your parent familiar with taking a selfie?
  • Don’t forget to share your photos with each other when you arrive home. It’s a nice experience to share them with the rest of the family and I’m sure you’ll both have lots of stories to tell

    Mum always needed to remind us to take photos of Belvadere

Since you came together on this trip (and you probably can’t ditch them), check out our post, Ways (not) to annoy your travel companion, for more handy hints here.

You’ll find the key to any successful trip is open communication and time away from each other (you can achieve this by silent reading time, nanna nap, going for a walk, etc). Trips together are fun, enlightening experiences where you can learn so much about (and from) each other, develop new interests, strengthen your bond or confirm that you should never ever travel together again.

Have you ever travelled with your parents? Share your experiences with us! What worked, what didn’t and would you do it again?

Mum and I hiking and taking selfies at Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Good luck 🙂

Happy family travels
Prue & Rob

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