When you tell your friends that a trip looms sparkly on the horizon,
the next question is often, “Who are you going with?” As they mentally
click on the dropdown friend list, scrolling for your best, brightest,
most-likely-to-get-someplace-on-time friends…and you’ll really enjoy
lobbing this showstopper.
Your parents? Are you nuts? The same people that enforced an 11pm
curfew when all the cool kids got to say out until midnight? The people
who are routinely and unconsciously able to push your buttons without
even trying (because they put them there)?
Before you discount out of the hand the chance of traveling the
globe or even a small corner of it with the people that begat and/or
raised you, from a wrinkled little whimperer ‘til now, consider the
following seven reasons why traveling with your parents is in fact, a
great idea. In the end, it might be your folks that have to be
convinced why it’s a good idea to travel with you.
1 - A break within a break
|jm3 on Flickr|
can invite your parents to pop in on a longer trip and give you a break
from ham sandwiches and late hostel nights. Hosteling has its high
points, lovers in the next bed notwithstanding, but eventually we could
all use a few creature comforts. Your parents are unlikely to want to
stay in a hostel (particularly after reading the previous line). They
are also very likely to raise your standard of living significantly
while on the road, no matter where you stay.
In her book Not Just about the Tapas, Author Polly Evans reports
that her parents brought her some much needed changes of clothes on her
somewhat ill-planned bicycle trip around Spain. She points out that
while her mother did choose the clothes she liked the best, they were
blissfully clean. As we all know, machine washed and dried, new (to
you) clothes on the road are well worth their weight in failed
laundromat experiences and I-sat-in-something mystery goo.
2 - Parents have a tendency to pay for things
|Bossco on Flickr|
not promoting taking your parents for a ride while away from home, but
they can certainly ease your budget on the occasional train trip or
They probably won’t keep you in tequila, but they might take you out
for a nice dinner or two, and maybe even replace that flopping-soled
shoe you’ve been humping around on for the last several seeks.
They’re probably also traveling with a higher-budget guidebook than
you would, which raises the daily budget out of hand. In addition to
sleeping in a (gasp) room! with (another gasp) a door! and maybe even a
(what?) private shower, you can expect that your parents will shun your
$4 dinner in the big city option (at least on a couple of occasions)
and decide to eat “a nice meal.” They might even surprise you with
their desire to go out and try the local brews.
3 – Experiences and memories last longer than possessions
|Mexican 2000 on Flickr|
acquisitiveness the cold shoulder and do things together rather than
buying things for each other. Let’s face it. We all pretty much have
enough possessions. Another t-shirt, more computer gadgetry, it’s just
more stuff. And in six months it will probably have fallen from favor
or into obsolescence. Traveling with your parents, while potentially a
bit more expensive for them than traveling alone, is a chance for them
to spend more than money on you, and actually spend time with you.
Offer to have one or more of the parts of the trip as a birthday or
holiday gift and your parents will swear they’re resourceful and brag
to their friends how mature and unmaterialistic you’ve become. Five
years from now when you’re remembering that birthday, that holiday
gift, you’ll say, oh, that’s the year we did X. And if you plan it
right, X could be the surfing lessons/elephant ride/skydiving trip of
4 - Parents are nothing if not sensible about racing around too fast
|Dental Ben on Flickr|
opposed to the frenetic do-as-much-as-you-can approach to traveling
that comes with too much cheap coffee and not enough money, parents
will plan out days that involve more sitting and enjoying and less
acre-covering. They’ve also been known to insist on eating (shocker)
three squares daily. While the pace may seem a little ploddy at the
beginning, a book, some patience and great people watching options help
the time to pass quickly.
It’s also a good time to check in on your parents as people, not
authority figures, and get a view of them how other people see them.
And they may have some quirky ideas about what would be fun. Indulge
them in the musical instrument museum or the candle-making tour and you
might just end up liking something you’d never have given the chance if
traveling on your own. You can also take advantage of their early
bedtime and take a spin around the town on your own.
5 - Show them you’re a grownup
|Shiraz Chakera on Flickr|
with your parents takes you out of those loaded zones, where they visit
you or you visit them. The home court advantage dissipates, because
you’re on neutral territory, and therefore, even ground. One of the
most surprising things about traveling with your parents is that it
gives them an opportunity to see how their parenting has panned out.
They get to see you (possibly for the first time) as an actual,
decision-making adult who deals with adversity, laughs at bizarre
translations, and maybe even has a conversation in a language they
never taught you. I have it on good authorities that it does parents
proud to see that their baby is a real, live, adult person. It can go a
long way to changing the dynamic even when you’re back in your hometown.
6 - Photo opportunities abound
|bearshapedsphere on Flickr|
take yet another picture on the family sofa, adults behind, kids in
front. Move away from traditional backdrops and even favorite family
poses. Did you ever notice that you always make the same face in
photos? Try something new with your family and you’ll have digital
proof that you actually went somewhere and had fun.
Away from home and the regular places you go, faces relax and
postures change. Take advantage of this, or do what I did and push your
parents into posing for ridiculous photos, like this one where I’ve
cajoled my mother to pretend that she’s hitchhiking along the highway
in the Atacama Desert. No parents were harmed in the posing or snapping
of this photo. You can later use these photos (but not this one, she’s
my mother, after all) as holiday cards or even postcards while on the
road, which will greatly contribute to the efficacy of number seven.
7 - Turn the rest of the family green with envy
|star5112 on Flickr|
in a tiny family, when most of you go somewhere, it means that somebody
didn’t. If you do a pilot run with your parents (and successfully avoid
or deal with illness and injury), it won’t be long before the whole
family will be clamoring to take a trip together. You just have to make
sure you really are a good travel companion, or else on the next trip,
it’s you that could get left behind.
Bon voyage, parents and all.