There are a lot of travel blogs out there: solo travel, solo female travel, couple travel, gay travel, family travel, traveling with your twin, traveling with your dog, traveling with a disability, travelling with a gluten intolerance, travelling with a gluten ‘sensitivity’ (aka. I don’t want to get fat while abroad but really have no problem processing gluten), travelling as a specific religion, travelling as an asshole (ok, these don’t exist on purpose, but…). But you know what is sorely lacking and therefore leads me to believe not that many adults have done this kind of travelling???? Travel with parents. That’s right, travelling with your parents, I’m not joking.
So why do I assume people do not travel with their parents? With ultra sophisticated research methodology, I starting typing “Travelling with your parents” into Google. At “Travelling with your-” the following emerged, in this order:
- Travelling with your partner
- Travelling with your best friend
- Travelling with your dog
- Travelling with your pet
- Travelling with your partner quotes
At “Travelling with your pa-” the drop down provided these options, in this order:
- Travelling with your partner
- Travelling with your partner quotes
- Travelling with your partner for the first time
- Travelling with your parents
- Travelling with your parrot
YES!!! Human beings Google “travelling with your parents” far less frequently than mere quotes about travelling with a partner and travelling with your dog or a pet in general, while barely ranking better than “travelling with your PARROT”!!!! Seeing as most people have parents at some point in their lives, and very few people ever have a parrot, this is amazing.
Now that I have blown your mind with real truth, let’s get into the details of my parents, Sue and Kevin. Sue and Kevin are in their early to mid 60’s, both healthy, very mobile, very energetic. They have been married for 36 years, and have been blessed with myself as a daughter (and another child, his name is Aaron). They are both retired and financially comfortable enough (but not crazy comfy, and this is a point of contention).
Quick disclaimer before I go any further: I love my parents. I adore them. I have a wonderful relationship with both of them, and they have a wonderful relationship with each other. They have never been anything but supportive to my dreams, even when they had their doubts. They signed legal documents allowing me to travel internationally by myself as a minor. When I said I was going to quit my job to go to Nepal, while Dad was slightly skeptical (for a few minutes), Mom was jealous. All of this love and affection allows me to write a post like this one and stay in the will. I hope.
Travel with Parents: A Background
Most of us travel with our parents as children and teenagers. For some of us, our parents are our travel inspiration. These trips are normally full of rental cars, beaches, and hamburgers. My family would go to Galiano island every summer, we did a week in Mexico in 1995, before the big all-inclusive boom hit the Yucatan, and we did two different trips to Anaheim to experience the magic of Disney, Universal, and Knott’s Berry Farm. One of these trips hosted the infamous scene wherein I was 5 years old and I screamed in horror, during the Universal tram ride, convinced “WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!!” My father thought it was hysterical, and luckily captured the audio on video tape. Kevin thinks he is really funny.
But all the childhood traumas aside, you don’t really truly travel with your parents, as they are as individuals and not just Mom and Dad, until you’re an adult, which is unfortunately when most people stop travelling with their parents. Maybe because you’re supposed to travel with your ‘partner’ as Google suggests. Or your parrot. Since I don’t have either of those, my next best option, besides by myself which I clearly do frequently, is Sue and Kev.
My parents always enjoyed holidaying, but really didn’t start spreading their wings until a 3 week trip to Argentina, Peru, and Chile for my cousin’s wedding. I think after that, and combined with hearing my adventures, the travel bug caught. It was several more years before I had my first experience travelling with my parents…
Travelling with my Parents: Round 1
I was in New Zealand for a study abroad, and invited Sue and Kevin to come down for a 2 week road-trip around the North Island and then 10 days in Fiji. Why not? they said, as if this was something they were invited to do everyday. I didn’t really plan anything, but my Mom had done some reading and I knew some highlights having lived in NZ for 5 months. And the first thing I learned was that Kevin just goes with it.
I had booked a hostel for their first night in Auckland, because I stay in hostels. I had gotten them a private room and then I was in a dorm. What I overlooked was that my Dad, who has a ton of body hair and shaves his face everyday would have to share a co-ed bathroom space. Kevin Kydd shaving topless in front of a mirror while 20-something backpackers flitted past him was not ideal.
The only other prep I had done was to book a rental car. The Kydd family are big drivers, and I knew the freedom to get anywhere whenever would be perfect. And it was. And I figured we would share the driving time. No.
It took .00001 seconds for both Kevin and Sue to give full driving privileges to me, for the whole two weeks. The main reason for this, understandably, was that neither of them had ever been in a country where you drive on the left hand side of the road, on the right hand side of the car. This led to me driving my parents around the entire North Island of New Zealand for 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS!!!!
Doing the math, just now, for the first time (this trip was in 2008), I drove my parents over 1500km. My mother Sue lost front seat privileges early on after 45 minutes of incessant shadow brake pedal stomping, and was relegated to the back seat for the rest of the trip. But still, everybody had jobs. Dad had the maps, and Mom had the guidebook, and I just took them where they told me to go.
We also did settle on an adequate housing situation, for everybody involved. We mainly stayed at local Mom and Pop style motels, where we could get a room with a bedroom for parents, a bed in the main room for child (aka 25 year old me), and a kitchenette, mainly so we could put our wine into the fridge. With the three of us, it turned out being basically the same price as a private hostel room plus a dorm bed, and we all had a bit more privacy. Well not, me. But whatever.
After New Zealand, we hit up Fiji for ten days. Again, with little research done, we ended up on the Yasawa Flyer, island hopping over the gorgeous Yasawa group to 4 different ‘resorts’. The term resort is used loosely in Fiji, as it could either mean a 5 star all inclusive, a pretty nice collection of bungalows, a bunk house with bunk beds, or thatched huts with no electricity and sand for floor. As you can guess, with the Kydds, we stuck to the latter three. That’s the great thing about my parents, they are able to go rustic!
They are also able to be the anomalies. The backpacking scene in Fiji is much like the backpacking scene everywhere, mainly young people. And I wouldn’t want to call my parents sore thumbs…but… more than once did someone ask who I was travelling with and when I said “my parents” the response was “Ohhhh, the older people!”
Travelling with my Mom: Mother-Daughter Time
My Mom and I have done a lot of mini-trips together ever since I was a kid. Recently, we have a bit of a routine, to drive down to Oregon and hit up the Southern Oregon Coast to see my Mom’s highschool friend Loretta, and then northwards to the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport. We love the Sylvia Beach Hotel. We might also drive to Eastern Washington to see Aunt Kay and Aunt Joan, or we might go to the Washington Coast where my Mom grew up.
All of that says a lot of driving, and a lot of together. Which is great, we get along awesome! During these trips we drink tea, drink wine, read books, judge people, and do fun things. One time I made Mom ride in a dune buggy on the Oregon dunes, while she made me go to the Sea Lion Cave. We both had a great time at each others destination of choice. When you spend this much time with your mother, you start to notice things, the good, the bad, and the “oh shit, I’m turning into my Mother”.
If you have read even one of my other blogs, you know that food is really important to me. Like, one of top 5 priorities in my life. This is not so for Sue. She eats like a baby bird, skips meals, and legitimately considers a granola bar lunch. I could not be more opposite from this. Food is the source of most of my and my mothers historical clashes, which I realize is pretty good considering there are mother daughter duos who throw things at each others heads.
One classic memory was in Astoria Dinner Clash of 2011. We were in a great B&B (my mom is queen of finding awesome places to stay!), full of antiques and things to look at. I love looking at things, but not at dinner time. Dinner time is for eating. We left the room and I beelined for the front door and I was standing on the street, ready to go. Meanwhile, my mom was examining tea pots and Cracker Jack boxes. I was so hungry. I focused on my breathing. I thought I could will her along, so I walked down to the corner of the lot on the sidewalk. Finally, Sue emerged, moseyed her way down the walk, came out on the street, and then stopped. SHE LITERALLY STOPPED AND SMELLED THE FLOWERS. AT DINNER TIME!!!!
I couldn’t handle it. “You need to be faster!” 20 minutes later I was eating and was less of a Devil child woman.
Travelling with the Parents: My Best Friends Wedding
My best friend Lindsay got married while I was living in Kyrgyzstan. Not the most convenient time, for me. For the first while of the engagement, I was not going to attend the wedding, it was just too far and too expensive. In the meantime, because Lindsay has always had a lovely relationship with my parents, Sue and Kevin were also invited. Then I decided, if my parents were going to the wedding with all of my friends, I had to go! Screw the practicalities!
I travelled 50 hours to get to Regina, Saskatchewan, had a blast with Lindsay and the rest of my friends at the wedding, and two days later set out on a weeklong road-trip across the Prairies with Sue and Kevin. Driving from Weyburn, Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba with my parents; how is that not everybody’s dream?
This time, Kevin did all the driving, and since it wasn’t just Mom’s schedule, Dad and I ganged up on her and got to eat on a regular basis. I mainly sat in the backseat, enjoyed the view, and listened to my Dad’s tales of growing up in small town Manitoba. We even went to his true hometown and visited the site where his one room school house once stood. Getting to travel with your parents to places from their past is something not everybody gets to do, and taking the time to learn about how they lived before me (I know, I shudder at the idea of a world without me too), was a pretty special thing.
Travelling with Parents: The Kydds take Kyrgyzstan
Mere weeks after the Prairie road trip, my parents landed down in Kyrgyzstan for a two weeks visit during my Peace Corps service. This is when the real fun began. I was going to torture them with everything that Kyrgyzstan had tortured me with for the last 16 months.
Kevin and Sue arrived with an entire extra suitcase of stuff for me, which was like Christmas! We stayed with my homestay family for the first few days of their time in Osh, meaning my parents got to eat the sheep meat, use the outhouse, listen to the dogs barking, observe power outages and sleep on mats on the floor. Watching my 60+ year old parents rolling around trying to get up from their sleeping mats was a wonderful experience. For me. I also loved making them ride on buses that were far over their human capacities. As if that was abnormal!
I had many plans for my parents time in Kyrgyzstan, which all went out the window when my professional life started going very sideways. I won’t get into all of that, but it was very upsetting for all of us; not least of all because my parents long-anticipated trip to Kyrgyzstan was very disrupted and they didn’t get to see nearly as much of the country as I had hoped they would. On the flip side, I was very thankful to have them there. Their support was crucial to me during one of the hardest phases of my life and looking back it is almost as if they were meant to be there to help get me through it.
Despite the many issues that came up during their time in Kyrgyzstan (all my drama, Sue and Kevin were delights!) we still had a great time. We explored Osh, we hiked out in the Alay mountains, hitched a ride in a random 4×4 up a steep road to a high elevation horse pasture, and we even attended a classic Kyrgyz wedding.
Of course, they’re still Sue and Kevin, so they did crack me up along the way. After the first few days, we moved to a guesthouse in Osh, where Mom and Dad got to sleep in beds off the ground, but found out what Kyrgyz beds are all about. Meaning, there is little padding and waking up with springs in your back is not uncommon. They also learned that tomatoes and cucumber are served for breakfast, and that sheep truly are everywhere.
There was also one major debate: My Mom constantly wanted to downsize the luggage (only a big packpack and then a carry-on sized pack between the two of then), and was always nagging Dad to decrease his amount of shirts. Why was this such a big deal? I have no idea. Sure, Dad had a few shirts, but his argument was that he was the one carrying the big pack, and he wanted his damn shirts. This was seriously a daily conversation. This is when the child of the broken home realizes they just can not take sides.
After Kyrgyzstan my parents were heading to Turkey, without me. Due to the horrid Kyrgyz beds they had been sleeping on, Mom promised Dad that they could stay in a really nice place upon arrival in Istanbul. Dad was excited, they had come into some cash earlier that year and he figured they could spend some of it! Mom then booked a “boutique hostel”. What the hell is that? Mockery ensued. Just loosen those purse strings Sue!
How to Travel with Your Parents? 10 Tips!
- Recognize they might not enjoy everything you enjoy. When I was driving Mom around in that dune buggy, she was all good until we went up a really steep dune. The tone in her voice saying “I do not like this”, could not be ignored. As much as I like to torture my parents, I don’t want to actually terrify them. That being said, when I get the chance to make my Mom eat a hot dog (one of my favourite foods), I go for it!
- Go with the flow. For someone who is used to getting their way 100% of the time while travelling as a solo female, it’s important to chill out and do what they want to do sometimes. If you’re lucky like me, they won’t make you do awful things anyways, and when you hand over the reins, you end up going to awesome places you might not have considered (Mom made us go to a Rabbit Shear Shed in NZ and it was fascinating!).
- Establish what’s important. My parents know that eating real meals on a regular schedule is important to me, not that it always matters. I know my Mom likes to stay in quirky places and that my Dad doesn’t want any drama.
- Keep a sense of humour. Laughing at my parents is a life must. It’s sometimes the only thing that can keep my hungry tummy at bay.
- Welcome embarrassment. Understand, your parents conceived, birthed and raised you, so that they could embarrass you later in life. That’s what my Dad says anyways. This is from the guy who regularly has naps on park benches, in public. My Mom is the Queen of Questions, and there have been many occasions that this has mortified me during tours. Put your hand down…
- Travelling with your parents does not make you the coolest backpacker in the bunch. So do not expect attention from the opposite sex. Just accept it.
- You will hear the same thing over and over and over again. My Dad even coined a catch phrase in New Zealand. Whenever we were looking at a beautiful vista or view, he would pull out the video camera, and his commentary would always start “Well this is somewhat scenic”. Never say that Kevin Kydd is easily wowed. Mom wouldn’t stop talking about how waterproof their shoes were: “They’re waterproof you know?” I know.
- Travelling with parents often means they will pay. This in itself should be a great reason to not act like a jerk when your parents get a little annoying with their catch phrases.
- Admit it, if you’re backpacking with your parents, they will for sure make more friends than you will. In Fiji, my Dad was chosen as a judge in a cross dressing contest. My mom made coconut jewelry with the girls. Everyone knew who they were. They were, dare I say, popular.
- Give them a chance! Granted my parents are pretty adventurous, but all old dogs can learn new tricks! My mom learned how to swim before going to Belize after missing out on cool water activities in Fiji. Together Sue and Kevin went off on a hike to a waterfall that the younger folks had a tough time with. Just because they’re the “older people” doesn’t mean they’re not totally up for some new adventures!
So what do I suggest? If you get along with your parents generally speaking, like I do, then travel with them!!! If you’re a traveller, chances are your parents want to join you and experience something that you love, so invite them along! You might be surprised with the great times you end up having and as cliche as it sounds, you will create memories that you will always cherish.