Your parents want you to go on a trip with them. I hear the groans! No, no, no! Not the parents! How will I possibly enjoy myself if I’m travelling with my parents???
But that wasn’t my reaction last year when my parents suggested taking a cruise on the Danube then calling past Paris to visit me. Nay, the opposite. I actually suggested that they ditch the ridiculously over-priced river cruise so I could take them on a personally guided tour of three times the length for approximately the same price… and for all three of us!
And so it was that my parents arrived one rainy spring evening in gay Paris and flew back to Australia seven weeks later having thoroughly explored Paris and travelled through northern France, southern England, Germany, Switzerland and Italy with a little stop in the Cote D’Azur on the way back, with more amazing memories than they had ever thought possible from one trip. Their sheer gratitude would have been more than enough repayment for the hard work it took to organise and manage the trip (yes, being a tour guide is hard work!) but, as an added bonus, I actually loved it.
What??? I hear you asking. How is this possible??? Travelling is my passion. I love exploring other cultures, learning about how people live, what they eat, and even where they sleep. And one of the main reasons I have had the opportunity to explore my passion for travel so extensively is thanks to my parents. They provided me with a comfortable home and a good education when I was growing up, and gave me a world full of opportunities on which I could build my life.
And so travelling with my parents seemed an opportunity to thank them for the sacrifices they had made along the way to ensure that I had the best possible chances in life. I wanted to share my passion with them. And the experience was most certainly as rewarding as I hoped.
Sure, there are some watch-outs when travelling with the fam. As when organising any non-solo trip, it’s important to factor in some time apart to ensure everyone retains their sanity. It’s also important to take the age and abilities of the travellers into consideration with regards to the pace of the trip. A journey that moves too quickly for any one of the participants will negatively impact everyone’s experience so it’s far better to cater to the slowest traveller’s abilities, and those with more energy can always find interesting activities to fill in their extra time.
It’s also true that our parents’ or siblings’ interests may be different than our own… I would probably never have been to Hamburg, and certainly wouldn’t have visited Minitur Wunderland if it wasn’t for my Dad. Forget a model train set, this is a complete model world, including airport! But, despite my scepticism, once there I actually found the display very interesting, and really loved seeing how much my Dad’s enjoyed the experience.
So from laughing together at Mum’s idea of posting her postcards from Germany using French stamps, to learning together about the Champagne making process, to grieving together for the waste of human life that took place during the World Wars at an Anzac Day memorial, to eating together through a variety of European cuisines, the shared experiences of our trip are memories that the three of us will always treasure. I will add them alongside my memories of our previous trip together and my trip around Europe with my brother and our shared experiences whilst we were both living in London.
The memories I have from travelling with my family on these different occasions are irreplaceable. Friends and lovers can come and go. But family is family. It is the constant that is always there. If you ever get the chance, try travelling with your family. You may just find that it’s more rewarding than you had previously thought.