Travels with Father (Why You Should Travel with a Parent)

I’m still on vacation so enjoy this fantastic post by Melissa Hogan about how to travel with your parents. It’s got me thinking that I ought to do something similar with my own parents one of these days…

We were sitting shoulder to shoulder in a tiny car, bobbing and weaving around narrow Irish roads. After 6 days of travel, a comfortable silence had settled around us. My dad looked over at me and out of the nowhere said, “You did a good job planning this.” I almost drove into a shrub. Even though I know he’s proud of my successes, he’s never been one to lavish on praise so this was huge. That sentence alone made the trip worth it.

Traveling with a parent is probably one of the last things a twenty-something puts on a bucket list. You’re finally old enough to travel the world on your own and exert your independence, surely the last thing you want is mom or dad tagging along, cramping your style. But trust me, traveling with a parent can be a rewarding experience that you’ll treasure. You get to share with them something you love and help them understand why your wanderlust is incurable. It also gives you a chance to show them that you’re grown up now and can handle yourself on the road.

As a young adult, traveling with a parent may also give you experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have. I learned that my dad is a bit of a cultural traveller – his favourite moments were from interacting with the local people. When we stumbled upon a horse fair in Kilrush, Ireland I snapped a few quick photos of the stock while Dad went right in and started chatting up one of the sellers. Or the time in Kilkenny we ended up hanging out with a band because they heard Dad’s Newfoundland accent above the din and were intrigued. Those are experiences I wouldn’t have had on my own since I’m a bit more reserved when I travel solo.

You also get a chance to get to know your parent as a regular person and vice versa. You can show off the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired through your own travels. Depending on your childhood, you could also extract payback for past family vacations. But I know you’d rather give your parent a fabulous trip to say thanks for everything they’ve done for you growing up. Right?

I think one key to successful multi generational travel in your 20s is taking one parent at a time. If I had taken both I would’ve been outnumbered and just been the ‘kid’ again on a family trip rather than the savvy traveller I’ve become. Instead, my parents each had their own input into their trips but generally relied on me to handle logistics and deferred to me as the travel expert when it came to finding and booking flights, deciding on driving routes, etc.

In 2009 I won two plane tickets to anywhere in Canada and the first thing I did was call my mom and ask if she wanted to visit Vancouver. We’d never been and I wanted to get the most bang for my free ticket. I took care of all the details so Mom just had to show up. We saw the Rockies, touched the Pacific and had a lot of fun together. After the trip, my mother admitted that I knew what I was doing and could handle myself. Taking that trip put her a bit more at ease with my global wandering.

After my mom passed away in 2010 I told my dad that he and I should go on a trip. I was really feeling the need to connect with him in a new way and spend some time together. Ireland was one of his bucket list items. Mom always wanted to go to Las Vegas but never got the chance so I wanted to make sure that Dad got to see Ireland. We had a fantastic trip that he still talks about with a big smile on his face, two years later.

So don’t outright dismiss the idea of hitting the road with your folks just because you’re not a kid anymore. You never know what you could be missing.

9 Parent Travel Tips

  • Don’t overwhelm them.
    If your parent isn’t already the globetrotting type they may get overwhelmed if you throw too much at them. The things we find easy like getting a passport or even making connections in an airport can be anxiety-ridden experiences for some.
  • Plan some downtime and solo time.
    Consider their energy levels when planning a trip. Make sure you schedule some time with no activities so that you can both recharge your batteries.
  • Consider the physical requirements of a destination.
    You may be able to bound up the many steps of Old Town Dubrovnik to get to the guesthouse but how are the folks’ knees?
  • Include them in planning.
    If they show any interest, include them in the planning stages. Rather than throwing a guide book at them with a million options, make a shortlist and get them to help pick.
  • Check in with their bucket list.
    Maybe there’s something they’ve always wanted to see and now would be the perfect time.
  • Consider their travel style and be willing to compromise.
    You may be a budget backpacker but will your dad want to share a dorm room with a bunch of co-eds? Maybe you love adventure but your mom likes shopping and museums. Do your best to find a happy medium.
  • Work out finances beforehand.
    Are you treating them? Otherway around or will be each person fend for themselves? Have a chat before you hit the road to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
  • Preempt assumptions
    For sons travelling with moms and daughters travelling with dads… people may assume the relationship is something else and that can be pretty uncomfortable so find a way to work the son/mom, daughter/dad bit into introductions.
  • Don’t wait!

Melissa Hogan is a web designer by trade, a one-time amateur bellydancer, a shoe lover and a travel junkie. The travel bug has only hit her hard in recent years but she’s attempting to make the most of it while still working 9-5 and making St. John’s, NL Canada her homebase. Melissa blogs at Suitcase and Heels, tweets as@avalonmel and does all things Facebook at SuitcaseAndHeels.

21 thoughts on “Travels with Father (Why You Should Travel with a Parent)”

  1. Your dad sounds fun (and I love the Newfie accent!).
    I’m sorry you lost your mum, but it’s great that you have some nice memories with her.
    I have been lucky like you to have taken some trips with my parents. Recently, I went to Boston and Martha’s Vineyard with my mum. I actually often let her do the planning when we travel together because I’m easy going and I’m just happy to be taking a trip with her.

  2. Aww I love this post, such a great point to make. I always think about how much my parents would love this place or that place that I visit, but they tend to keep their traveling more local. They’re coming to visit me across the country in the spring, and I’m hoping to push their comfort zones a bit by planning something adventurous while they’re out here :).

    1. That happened to me and Dad in Belfast! The lady at the front desk tried to put us in a king room when we had one with two twin beds booked. A bit awkward for sure. We got used to slipping the father/daughter thing into conversations quickly with new people.

  3. My mom and I took a trip to New York City several years ago, and we had a great time. I’ve also traveled with my grandparents, but to be honest I’ve never really considered traveling with my dad. I think I’ll have to reconsider that.

  4. We’ve taken a few trips with our parents and enjoyed every experience. We have to adapt our travel habits (as you mention) but I feel this actually helps us grow as human beings. Traveling with our parents has certainly brought us all closer together!

    Wonderful post, Melissa!

  5. What a fantastic post Melissa! My Mom came to visit me in Turkey this year (her first trip overseas!) and those 10 days with her will remain one of the highlights in my four years of travel. An unforgettable experience – I’m so glad you had that with both your parents.

  6. I really enjoyed this post Melissa! I think it’s a great idea, and I’ve been working on planning a trip for my mom and I to Europe next summer. She’s wanted to visit since she was young, but she’s still never been! I’m really looking forward to taking her on this trip, and I’m glad you got to enjoy one with your father as well!

  7. What a touching post! I’ve been wanting to travel with my parents, but I never make it a priority, so nothing happens! Your post has inspired me to make it happen, ASAP!

    1. I really hope you’re able to make it happen Sarah. Find a destination that you’re both interested in and go.

      I didn’t know how little time I actually had with my mom and I’m so happy that we were able to do the few little trips that we did. Very special times. And it still makes me happy that I was able to make one of my dad’s travel wishes come true.

  8. I’m so glad you posted this. I am love to travel but unfortunately most of my friends are dirt broke and won’t be able to afford the places I want to go. (We’re all career-changers at this point, but I’m lucky enough that my dad still supports me.) My mom passed away a few years back and we all used to talk about traveling once she got better. Now my dad kind of sulks even though I know he loves to travel too so lately I was thinking of just going on a trip with him and your post just convinced me! The best thing I was considering is a short trip somewhere in Europe that has cooking classes and tours so it takes the edge off of being in close quarters and something fun we can both do!


    1. I hope you were able to make that trip happen. I’m sorry you lost you mom. For me, the trip with Dad let us have some fun again and kind of establish what our new normal was going to be. Going away was good for that since it didn’t have any existing memories. Three years later and it still makes me happy that I was able to give him such good memories.

  9. Great post! I’m traveling with my parents on an RTW but as a teen I guess I don’t have any other choice. It’s a great idea to travel with one parent at a time since you could then do what that parent’s interests are instead of trying to please everyone. I’m not too sure if I’d want to travel with my parents as an adult though…

    1. Don’t judge too quickly! You may feel differently in a few years after you’ve had a little solo travel experience. Just don’t take them on your first independent trip. That one’s for you!

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