Last year after my mom passed away, I invited my dad to join my husband and I on our Europe trip. “Yes,” he said, “This is the first thing I’ve been excited about since your mom passed.”
My offer was genuine, my husband and I did want my dad to join us on our trip. We just didn’t think through the logistics of what this meant for us and how we were all going to get along for two weeks.
Traveling with a parent is daunting. You are no longer a child, but you need to remain respectful. Thankfully, my dad, husband and I have always gotten along. We just had to discuss a few small things before traveling the world together.
The key to traveling with a parent is to establish boundaries early on. If you wait to discuss expectations, they may come up later during an argument when either party discovers that they need some clarification.
Regardless of whether or not you’re traveling with a parent or with a friend, be considerate and give a general timeline of when you’ll be home. When I was living under my dad’s roof, he set the rules when it came to curfew. Now, I’m a married adult. I don’t need to follow a curfew, but I need to respect that he still worries when I’m out late. Checking in if I’m going to be later than I expected will put his mind at ease and allow him to sleep restfully.
So there I was in a one bedroom apartment with my dad and husband. Who gets the master bedroom? My dad was gracious enough to give us the master each time, but that meant we were walking past his bed each time we got up to use the restroom. Humans need their privacy to stay sane. We all took turns changing clothes in the bathroom and were sure to knock upon entering another room. We may have only had 300 sq ft a piece, but remained as respectful as possible.
My dad made something very clear before we left for Europe: He was not going to waste his money on junk food. My dad is very health conscious and he worried that he’d fall into a bad habit of having pastries for breakfast, gelato for snack and beer all day long — not difficult to do in Europe. My husband and I were more concerned that we’d waste our money on three square meals a day. We think it’s more budget friendly to buy breakfast from a supermarket, have small snacks though the day and go out to dinner. We all had to compromise.
I was surprised, my dad stepped back and let us do all the planning. When it came to buying tickets, he’d either opt in or opt out depending on his interests. If he opted out he would go to a park and read or see a museum on his own. This worked for us, but I would recommend a more structured approach. Find common interests and focus on seeing those sights together. Then delegate certain hours of the day to seeing things separately. More on how we set a schedule for this trip here.
My husband and I are just getting started in our careers and my dad is retired. Our budgets are very different. Thankfully, we came to an agreement that all lodging had to come to under $30 per person, per night. And as a rule of thumb breakfast was $5 a person, lunch $10 a person and dinner $20 a person. Having this in our minds prior helped keep us from holding grudges when the bill came out and we were splitting it in 3rds. More on how we budgeted for this trip here.
Communicating openly on a vacation with your parent is hard. Before confronting my dad or my husband I had to check myself and ask if it was the hunger or exhaustion talking. It was usually exhaustion. If it wasn’t, I waited until we were all in a safe space to discuss i.e. not on the Autobahn driving 150 mph.
Vacationing with parents as adults can be confusing to navigate. But the reward is far greater than the risk. I got to experience some really spectacular things with my husband and my father by my side. And now we have inside jokes like, “Ein Prosit!” from when we danced on the tables together in Germany.
Thanks for reading,