My mom is a worrier.  I’m sure many travellers can relate to this; dealing with parents is often difficult when it comes to visiting parts of the world considered dangerous or less-than-safe.  When I went to Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong over New Year’s of 2001, I know my mom was definitely concerned… and I admit to being glad of that when my friend and I were low on cash in Hong Kong and we were staying in less-than-amazing accommodations.

Though after reading the Travelling Editor’s great post on/for parents (and I’m so sorry we missed you while in Toronto!), I started thinking about our upcoming cruise in November with my mom and dad, and how much fun we’ve had travelling with my parents in recent years.

I’m not saying there’s not times that I feel a little like I’m fifteen again, like ‘Oh GOD Mom’, when my mom gets obsessively worried about safety (when I feel it’s unnecessary), or my dad gets super-friendly with people who aren’t interested (rare, but it happens).  But I know we’re late all the time, and that probably bugs them, and this annoyances are minor compared to how much I enjoy spending time with them, especially while we’re away from home.  And that’s nothing like being fifteen.

So what makes travelling with your parents work?  A lot of the same things that help make with a trip with anyone better.

My brother Chris: The eternal sober person in a crowd of drunks.


This is important with anyone, but particularly important with family and KEY with parents and children.  I was once taught that you can do three things about a situation: accept it, change it, or be miserable with it.  People are not easily changed, so it’s just better to accept them as they are.

It’s easy to fall into patterns where you get annoyed with your parents for stuff they’ve done a thousand times, but why bother?  You know what’s going to happen – just don’t let it bug you.  You’re not supposed to be stressed out, so make the decision not to be.

This speaks to the point above; you can feel a little of the ‘OMG Dad, GEEZ’, or you can BE that way.  If you end up acting out you teenage years, no one’s going to have fun.

Mom and Dad on a cruise with our assistant waiter

Time to Go Your Own Way

When we booked the upcoming cruise in November, my mom mentioned she’d told the agent that they didn’t need to put us in cabins across the hall from each other.  I said, “That’s fine, I don’t want to stay across the hall from you.”  She laughed and said, “I don’t want to stay across the hall from you either.”  We ended up being placed across from each other anyway, but the point is – we both recognize the need for time apart.

Whenever my mom has taken the family on a vacation together, she’s only asked one thing – that we all meet for dinner together.   We’ve often ended up spending more time hanging out than that, but knowing that we all need time to split off and wander on our own or spend time alone makes life that much easier.  On this trip, we’ve got a few things that I know we’re all doing as a group, but Gary and I are primarily making our plans independently.  We’ll happily welcome my mom and dad along, but are cool if they want to do something else.

Something In Common

As with anyone you travel with, it helps to a few things in common – if Gary and I didn’t both love museums, old ruins, casinos, and cities, we likely wouldn’t have that much fun together.  When we travel with my parents, we can usually agree on seeing sites, on finding local places to eat, and on possibly finding something to drink along the way.  We all love food, exploring cities and spending evenings having a few drinks, so that’s often what we’ll do together.

Though it’s good to agree on a few things, that’s about all you need aside from a willingness to get along.  As family, you likely all know conversational topics that are landmines – hopefully everyone has made a tacit agreement to avoid them.  For the most part, that’s been my experience.  No one goes away from home to bring their troubles with them.

This trip will be the longest one we’ve taken with my parents – about two weeks, with the time in Istanbul and Lisbon and the cruise between.  I’m looking forward to spending the time with them as much as seeing the new spots in Europe.

If you have any other ideas or must-haves for travelling with family, let us know in the comments.