It all starts out with good intentions – lets make some lasting, happy memories, adventuring the world together and catching up on some much needed quality time. Yet all too often, traveling with parents can quickly morph from one of the best ideas you’ve had into one of the worst! Stress, tension and disagreements can easily build between people who perhaps don’t always see each other that often and certainly are not always in each other’s company for such continuous stretches of time. I mean traveling with friends is hard enough, without the greater age difference and level of shared history parents bring to the equation!
This post was inspired by the fact that I recently had my parents come and join me out here in Australia on a 3 week holiday. Luckily, I get on really well with them, as they are quite laid back and enjoy doing similar things to me, so it was actually a delight to have them see the little life I’ve built for myself Down Under. However, I do understand not everyone is in the same boat and that for many, travelling with family can be a recipe for disaster. To ensure you make the most of any family holidays you have planned, here are my top tips for traveling with parents.
Choose Destinations that Excite you All
When planning a trip with anyone else it’s super important that all parties feel inspired by the thought of visiting your intended destination(s). You might be really into hiking and camping, but if the thought of sleeping under the starts horrifies your parents, then a week trekking the wilderness of a great National Park probably isn’t going to make for a harmonious trip! We often like doing the same things as our friends, but our parents might have totally different interests and that’s why vacation destinations are even more important to consider when traveling with family.
My tip would be to try and choose locations that provide some pique of interest / entertainment / activity for everyone involved. These various areas of appeal don’t have to be the same, but there does need to be something that everyone is happy to do there. For example, if the girls are keen to go to London for a shopping trip, is there another alternative activity that the boys can enjoy there i.e. watching a sport match or visiting a museum? In this way, you don’t have to choose destinations that excite everyone for the same reasons. As long as your intended location provides something interesting for everyone to enjoy.
Other destination factors to consider when traveling with parents are the age appeal of your intended location, the sort of accommodation provided there and the levels of comfort / security / access. Again make sure these are suitable for parents and children alike!
It’s a dreaded word by many of us fiercely independent people, but sadly when you travel with others it’s a necessary one. This is particularly true when journeying with parents, who might not be as worldly wise, as adventurous, as energetic or as fit as you. Ultimately, unless everyone compromises at some point or another in a family trip, someone is going to be unhappy and that will only result in a worse trip for all. Remember you are there to holiday as a family, so that should be your focus.
If things are proving difficult in this area, you could try setting a bit of a schedule where, for example, one person gets to choose the activity or restaurant or daytrip one day and someone else the next. If you’re traveling with young kids (and perhaps some big kids as well!) this can be a great way for them to learn you can’t always get exactly what you want in life exactly when you want it!
Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Time Apart
One of the best tips for traveling with parents is to remember that you don’t have to spend every waking moment with them! In fact, some timeout can be a positive and healthy element to your trip
When my parents came over to Australia, they spent a week with us, before going and visiting Sydney by themselves for a few days. This time apart gave us both an opportunity to do our own thing for a while and made it really exciting again when they then came back to stay with us.
The key to spending time apart is communication – you want to make sure people’s feeling aren’t getting hurt. By the same token however, it’s also important to make sure you get some time for yourself and do things you enjoy. For example, if you’re keen on scuba diving but mum isn’t, just talk to her before booking a trip. Explain that you really want to go on a dive, but check she is going to be happy to sunbathe on the beach while you’re gone. If not, see if there are alternative activities she might enjoy, like snorkelling or a boat trip. Openly discussing separate trips or adventures is the key to making them work. Time apart spent doing these things can then invigorate your relationship, providing some great conversation when you meet up again at the end of the day.
Appreciate a Different Style of Travel
Traveling with your parents is not going to be like traveling with your friends or by yourself. Indeed, one of the great tips for traveling with parents is to expect that things will be different. Recognise this and stop comparing the trip to previous ones you might have had with other people. Instead, try to appreciate this different form of travel. Sure a lot of the vacation is about seeing new places and discovering new things, but it’s equally about spending time together; after all, isn’t that why you’ve chosen to travel with your parents? Learn to appreciate this very fortunate opportunity you’ve been given and be grateful for the positive experiences it generates. If you feel like the trip is shifting you out of your comfort zone and /or normal habits of travel, take a minute to consider these and your feelings around them – they might help you learn something!
Aim to Make Memories you Want to Keep, not Forget
In the heat of the moment, when we feel emotional or things don’t go our way, it’s easy to make decisions or take actions that we later regret. Try to keep in mind that any rash decisions you make may actually end up being the things you remember about a trip rather than what initially agitated or upset you. One of my top tips when traveling with parents therefore, is to always aim towards creating memories that you will want to reminiscence over, rather than regret! If you don’t get to do exactly what you want on a trip, let this go and try to appreciate the quality things you did do with your parents instead. After all, traveling with them won’t be an opportunity that you have forever, so make the most of it.
So those are my top tips for traveling with parents. Let me know if you’ve got any other suggestions that could help readers create some great memories from their family holidays.