Travelling With Your Parents: The Essential Survival Guide
Parents. Can’t live with them, wouldn’t exist without them. In my 28 years, I’ve travelled to over 30 countries, most of them independent of the two people who brought me into the universe and raised me to be the confident woman able to explore the world without them. I’m so grateful for their trust, encouragement, and support, which has led me on the path to move to the other side of the world – and know that I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunities I do to be able to travel at my leisure.Travelling with parents, tip #3: Next on your list is an old medieval castle just a 20 minute walk away? Don’t just account for slow walking, but also add in time to stop at every “interesting” thing along the way. Click To Tweet
I know plenty of people in the same situation, and plenty whose parents make that trip over the waters to visit their children; excited to become a part of the adventure. They’ve seen your photos of rocky shores, they’ve listened to your descriptions of ornate cathedrals built centuries before your own country was colonised and they’ve imagined doing it too.
And then they do. What now? Here’s are my Five Tips to survive travels with your parents.
1. Prep them for airport security
Yes, your chapstick counts as a liquid. Put it in the clear bag! How many electronics are you carrying!? No, I’m sure that even though they’ve asked everyone else to take their belt off, that you’ll be fine with yours… put it in the tray!
2. Be prepared for a lot of toilet breaks
Do all of our bladders shrink to the size of a pea when we hit a certain age or am I just dehydrated?
3. Account time for slower walking
I’m used to looking at a map, or the expected walking times Google Maps, and then shaving a few minutes off. Five years in busy London has equipped me with what is known as “the London Pace.” Your parents… they don’t have this speed setting. In fact, it seems their older model hasn’t even got what you consider as a “leisurely stroll,” so be prepared to move from A to B at a more measured speed.
4. Allow time to take photos… of EVERYTHING!
So when you’re planning your day of sightseeing and next on your list is an old medieval castle just a 20 minute walk from your accommodation, don’t just account for slow walking, but also add in time to stop at every “interesting” thing along the way.
“Oh, look at that sweet church! I need a photo of it and the windows and the steeple…”
“Oooo, take a photo of me with this tree.”
“I’m going to zoom in to that palace guard’s face (until the image is so blurry you can just make out a pupil).”
5. Give limited options for choosing where to eat
Husband and I have it down to a fine art. We jump on TripAdvisor, filter out anything super expensive or with reviews under 4 stars (we might be cheap but we have standards, you know), search nearby options that are vegetarian-friendly, and then off we go. Add in your ‘rent and they want to see the menu, check the prices, speak to the chef and request alterations of the non-English-speaking waiter before making their decision. My advice: break it down to three suitable options and allow them to choose from that. They’ll feel like they’ve been a part of the decision-making process but you’ve narrowed their search down drastically so that you can eat dinner before it’s breakfast time!
Some additional warnings to be aware of:
1. They will try to keep up with you – round for round
Mum and Dad might not be able to keep up the walking pace and they also might not drink like they used to but they’ll want to! This can often result in an early night to get them home before my next point…
2. They will embarrass you
Whether it’s talking extra slow and loud when addressing the cab driver who just asked where you were going in perfect but accented English, or taking 1000 photos and posting every single one on social media – yes, even that one of you eagerly shovelling the local cuisine into your mouth!
3. Prepare to be mothered again
It might have been a long time since someone has checked on the status of your bladder but be prepared for it. Once a parent, always a parent. There’s no off switch!
“You should put more sunscreen on.”
“Do you need to go to the bathroom before we go?”
“Are you going to be warm enough in that? Maybe take a cardigan.”
“Are you hungry? I’ll pack snacks!”
4. You will look like a tourist
For some reason, parents think that as soon as they travel abroad, everyone is out to scam them. I’m talking high-tech credit card slips to block hackers, special bags that can’t be sliced open with a knife and secret zips, huge water bottles to stay hydrated (and the reason for the frequent toilet breaks) and chunky, thick footwear that apparently keep your feet dry, warm, cool, comfortable, and light as a feather. The thing is, if they were out exploring their own hometown, these items would be back at home in the corner of their cupboard. I guess, whatever helps them feel safer.
And a final note:
While all of the above might ring true and you might occasionally Google when the next flight to another continent is, the main point when travelling with your parents is to be thankful that they are able to join you on the adventure. Not everyone has parents who are able to make and share these memories with you. You’ll cherish them one day and hopefully you’ll be able to do the same if you have your own little ankle biters!