Our relationship with our parents is cyclical. We begin our lives loving to spend as much time as possible with them. Then we assert our independence and drift away a bit. As we get older, we seem to find our way back and enjoy spending time together again.
I’m at a point where I am doing a lot of traveling with my parents. At first, it was just going to family events together, like weddings and Thanksgiving. Then it was sporting events like the NCAA Final Four (GO DUKE!).
In 2012, my parents and I went to Cuba as our first extended trip together with all of us as adults. I admit, I was a bit nervous before we left because we hadn’t spent this many days together in a long time. It was great and was a whole different experience than it is when I travel with friends.
In 2015, the three of us went on a private tour of Italy with Italia Speciale and cooked and ate our way around Italy. It was amazing and I realized I had found two new travel buddies.
We have since taken several more trips together including a cruise celebrating their 50th anniversary which I helped plan and then invited myself to go along. We are planning a winter holiday getaway for this year which I am really excited about.
We have invited several of my friends on some of our adventures, and this has been fun but different than just the three of us traveling alone together. I find myself feeling a bit torn between making sure they’re OK and happy and letting loose with my friends.
I’ve learned a few things when planning trips for and with my parents.
- Look carefully at transportation plans. I might be able to make an hour airport connection, but my parents don’t move as fast as I do. Running to a flight might be difficult and cause unnecessary stress. Planning a longer layover can solve this problem. The same goes for public transportation in cities. Lots of stairs coming out of metro stations can really be overwhelming.
- Don’t overwhelm with decisions. I might need to know the answer to ten questions, but spacing them out and asking them a few at a time is best.
- Pay attention to detail. So everyone knows what to expect, have at least a loose itinerary. A working document with each day outlined in a basic way can help everyone. Keeping copies of confirmations, addresses, etc., can help diffuse situations should they arise.
- Be patient. I might need to repeat things a few times before they sink in, especially when it concerns technology. Going over the difference between WhatsApp and SMS text for the 10th time might seem annoying to me, but I use these apps every day. They might not.
- Make smart activity choices. Pick things you all want to do, but realize there might be some opportunities to split up. That’s OK. It might be good for your sanity, and theirs.
- Separate accommodations. If it is financially feasible, get a room to yourself. Letting your parents be by themselves and you getting some alone time is a good thing for everyone. You’re not used to being with them 24/7 and they’re not used to being with you either.
Overall, enjoy the experience. Make new memories. Your good times on family vacations with your parents don’t just need to be in the past while you were growing up. They can be in your present and future.