Ever since my sister and I graduated from college, spending more time with our parents, plus giving back love, has always been our goal. Our parents have invested so much hard work and shown incredible selflessness for decades to provide us a comfortable life. They just need to be rewarded for everything they have done for us. We think we should give our parents the good life they deserve.
We think a way to repay their love is to treat them with a trip somewhere they can really enjoy and also someplace we can bond together. Traveling with parents might sound easy because it seems they can already manage themselves. But actually, our parents need a little bit of assistance, especially when they are more than 60 years old now.
I just want to share that, as of this writing, our family has been going to some local destinations several times a year since 2017. We were supposed to have our first international travel last April of 2020. It’s just this pandemic stopped all travel activities all around the world. So yeah, we’re stuck at home. But we are planning to continue our first international trip once we get vaccinated and other countries begin accepting tourists again.
In this post, I share what my sister and I do in preparation whenever we travel with our parents. I also wrote the things we consider for an international trip with them. Our goal is to make them happy and comfortable all along the journey. I know that you love your parents as well, so you stick with me throughout my post. 🙂
Catch up with your parents to know which place is to visit.
In this section, I’m giving you my advice on how you can determine the destination you and your parents will visit on your next travel together. And to make a trip that our parents will enjoy, the very first thing that we should do is invite them for a coffee date and ask how they are doing.
Our parents’ health
One thing that you must not miss asking during your catch-up is your parents’ health. Because depending on how well they are, you can determine the kind of travel you can give to them. Besides, travel aside, it is a way you can let them know that you care for them. Here are the things I think that you need to know during your chat with your parents:
- What was the result of their latest medical check-up?
- If your parents have a pre-existing disease, would their doctor allow them to travel to different time zones?
- Are they vaccinated, or do they have updated shots of the vaccine?
- Do they have medications or daily maintenance?
- Could they travel to places with extreme climates?
- Could your parents still walk a lot or climb stairs?
- Do your parents have dietary changes lately?
The answers to these questions will limit the places you can visit with your parents, but you can be sure that you and your parents will not be in health trouble when you come to your destination.
Know what our parents like
Asking your parents is the quickest way to identify which place you’ll go next with them. If you got a clear answer, and the location where they like to go does not conflict with their physical wellness, that’s bingo! You no longer have to think about which destination is to travel to.
However, if your parents can’t decide which place to travel to next, ask them more questions. So, in the coffee shop where you are catching up with one another, you can:
- Ask what kind of place they want to see. Is it the sea, mountains, lakes, city, or historical sites?
- Suggest different experiences to try. It could be food, culture, festivals, or even adventure!
- If you’ve been to many countries, you can tell them what each place made you feel. What destinations inspired you, put you in total awe, or made you very excited?
If you want to surprise your parents, you can’t directly ask them where they want to go. Instead, you can do the following:
- Tell them something about your travels or experiences, and ask them if your parents loved them.
- Spontaneously show them pictures of places or food and notice if your parents show interest.
- Open youtube and let them watch an exciting video about a place. Observe how they react.
- Let them recall the place they’ve been and ask if they miss going there.
A surprise trip to a place they love to see will surely make them really happy! What do you think?
By the way, you can use these seven questions alternately. There are no “hard” rules, of course.
Note what our parents dislike or fear.
Another factor that can help you decide which destination is the best to travel to with your parents is the things they will never be interested in. With those have in mind, you can immediately slash out places that will surely make your parents unhappy.
If one of your parents fears crowded places, don’t bring them to densely populated cities. Or, if they fear heights, don’t travel to high-altitude hiking destinations with trails at the cliff’s edge. Most of our parents are no longer concerned about conquering their fears. Unless they told you to do so.
Know what our parents need
Last but not least, or probably could be the most important of all, is knowing what they truly need. While you’re sitting comfortably and sipping the last drop of coffee, you can ask your parents:
- Are you having enough sleep lately?
- How is your back recently? Do you need some kind of luxurious relaxation somewhere else?
- Our neighbors were chaotic last weekend. I think we need to get some peace in a faraway place, right?
- The smog has covered the city for days. What do you think of getting some fresh air on a faraway beach?
Giving them what they need will make them happy for a long time even after the trip than just surprising them. Actually, what most old parents need is time with their kids. You know, we get busy with our lives, we work so hard, we chase our dreams, and we seldom see our parents already.
I believe our undivided time with our parents and letting them know that we still treasure them as much as when we are kids are things that fill them with joy.
Pick the best season to travel with your parents.
The next step in making a trip that our parents will enjoy is to know you and your parents must visit. Selecting the season to travel has much significance as choosing the destination you’re planning to visit. Why? Because it also relies on your parents’ health, likes, dislikes, and wants.
Do your parents love cold weather? Are they looking for cherry blossoms? Do they want to experience a colorful festival in South America or Southeast Asia?
Indeed when choosing a holiday spot, you must consider the temperature too. It is better to travel around spring break instead of the extreme heat and cold months. Your parents will surely love traveling without sweating a lot or with their eyelashes full of ice crystals. Besides, when it is freezing cold, our parents can have difficulty walking. Their joints aren’t just as movable as ours, and it could also hurt a lot with cold weather.
Another thing to consider is the peak season. It definitely would have an effect on your journey. If your parents did not request a specific season to travel, I suggest you travel during the shoulder season months. Not only you and your parents will like fewer other tourists, but you can also save money as dictated by the law of supply and demand.
Make an itinerary for your trip with your parents.
Arranging the destinations
When we make an itinerary for a trip with our parents, we always ensure a short travel time between our destinations. First of all, we do not want to waste more time on the road.
We also do it that way because I usually hear complaints from my parents that sitting for too long in the car makes them very uncomfortable. Of course, this may vary for different kinds of people traveling. Parents who love road trips want to stay inside the vehicle for a longer time.
A flexible itinerary
When we make an itinerary, we make it flexible as possible, especially when we travel to places with unpredictable weather. We do not book nonrefundable tours/passes months to a week ahead of our travel dates unless it is really cheap or if it is a promo. We always match our destination with the weather.
Grouping the destinations
If achievable, we create itineraries with destinations grouped per day. For example, the first day is an outdoor activity day; day 2 is for museums; day 3 is shopping. So if it rains on day 1, we can easily swap our supposed activity for day 1 to another day’s activities without missing a single destination.
Prioritizing your parents
One of the things that I notice as my parents grow old is their strength and energy to do work. They tend to get tired quickly after doing even simple work like walking. Have it in mind that we need to insert a short but relaxing stop every after destination we visit.
We should also give our parents enough time to regain energy at night. So, on the itinerary that you will create, I suggest you set the time to return to the hotel earlier at night. But still, it depends on the activity you plan to do for that day. Anyhow, you can still explore the city after you accompany them to the hotel.
Select the best hotel for you and your parents.
Near the public transportation
The long walk from their hotel to a train station was one thing that my mother disliked on her trip to Singapore with her older sister. Though the stations were only 5 to 10 minutes away (slowly walking) from their hotel, she said it was already tiring. She also told me that she could have spent that energy enjoying their destinations instead.
For me, it’s already a hint that she wants access to public transportation the moment she gets out of the hotel. Your parents might do as well. But note that convenience has a price. Hotels near airports and bus and train stations tend to have higher accommodation prices versus hotels with a significant distance from these terminals.
Facilities and Services
There are times when our activities can be so dead tiring. Just imagine a day hiking in a vast national park or shopping in an insanely big mall. It seems like all that you’ll ever want to do after it is bury yourself in the comfort of your hotel bed. For us, it can be gone after a night, but for our parents, it could last for more than a night.
That’s why you should know in detail how your parents are doing before you travel. If we know that our parents need more than just rest, we must book a higher-end hotel. Hotel facilities like spa and massage services could come in handy.
Choosing the best transportation for your parents.
Sometimes I can already imagine myself riding on top of a hop-on-hop-off bus with my parents and other senior guys also exploring a city. Just kidding! Well, kidding aside, it is really a fantastic way to go to all the must-see parts of the city without any footwork.
Tours for parents
I must admit, tours become my primary redemption when I am not really in the mood to create an itinerary. Based on my experience, they’re really convenient! It’s just you don’t decide when to move to the next destination.
I realize that tours are actually an excellent means to travel with your parents. Not only do our parents get to see the best parts of our destination, but they also can learn so much from the tour guide speaking inside the bus.
My parents, particularly my mother, love learning about history. I noticed it when we visited a park museum of old houses in the Philippines. With that, I bet your parents would also like to listen to the tour guides as well. That is especially when the tour guide gives trivia about your destination.
I always worry about my father’s mobility because of his aching joints and legs. Private cars could get really helpful when the ache attacks. That’s why we always consider renting a private car for a whole day or two to make traveling very convenient and easy for my parents.
Perhaps, public transportation would be our last choice in moving around our destination with our parents. Yet, we are not totally neglecting its use.
My sister and I think of using the public bus and trains just when going to a relatively distant place which renting a private car could cost really much. Also, when we want to experience how efficient, fast, or unique is their public transportation.
Ultimately, choosing the means of transportation while traveling with your parents will always depend on what’s available and should always be unstressful for your senior citizen parents.
Know what food your parents can eat when traveling.
Lastly, our parents’ bodies have turned delicate throughout the years. We could not just give them exotic or local food that could hurt their digestive system. Most importantly, we must not buy them food that we are clueless about the ingredients.
That’s why we must ask them what diet they have before traveling. In that way, we can find the shops and restaurants ahead of time where they can eat. It’s a crucial thing to do unless you want to hop from shop to shop with a growling stomach, wasting time while finding the food all of you can eat.
Other tips when traveling with your parents:
- Traveling with parents with a large generation gap could be really hard. Patience and understanding are needed. There’s nothing else that would feel happier than to see them enjoying their lives with your help.
- Seeing your parents happy is really a precious moment to capture. Check out how you can capture those moments beautifully with my iPhone travel photography guide.
- They could not be as techy as you are. In today’s world, where everything happens electronically, your senior citizen parents will need assistance navigating and making some transactions. Speaking of “electronic transactions,” you must be aware that some cities have digital pickpockets that can steal your money instantly without touching your stuff.
- There are many ways you can save money on a trip with your parents. Check out my travel on a budget guide.
- Here is my list of places to go on vacation if you need an idea where to go with your parents. Also, you can find ideas on where to travel to these sources of travel inspiration.
Making a trip for our parents that they will surely enjoy could be really challenging and costly. There are many things to prepare and consider when traveling with them. Unlike traveling alone or with somebody else, you just pack your bags and leave.
What’s more important is the dedication, care, or love that you’ll be sharing with your parents during your travels together with them. It will always be fulfilling to return the favor to the people who nurtured us well when we were still young.
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