The Traveler Spotlight series continues, with the mind behind the awesome travel blog Time Travel Plans, Dana!
Dana Carmel is a world traveler, cultural explorer, and a frequent volunteer. When she’s not at her day job, she spends her time freelance writing, volunteering locally and abroad, and plotting travel adventures for her travel business, Time Travel Plans.
I love her blog and I especially love her posts about Brazil: she tells it like things truly are, without sugar coating and without making things a bigger deal than they are! She was kind enough to accept my invitation to write this guest post in the midst of getting ready for her Europe travel – nicest girl ever! So here you have Dana’s tips for planning travel with parents!
If you’re a parent who travels with kids, you probably spend countless hours researching accommodations, activities, places to eat, and so much more to ensure that your children have a comfortable, fun, and memorable travel experience that fits within your budget. But one of these days once your kids are grown, if they’re kind enough to plan (and perhaps pay for) a trip for you, the travel planning roles will certainly be reversed. And if and when that day comes, hopefully your kids will go above and beyond to ensure that your travels are enjoyable.
I’m speaking from experience here. By the time you read this, I’ll be in the middle of or perhaps back from a three-week journey through Europe. My husband and I will be visiting three European capitals on our own before meeting up with my parents in Paris a third of the way into our trip. We’ll spend five nights in Paris before moving on to Provence, the French Riviera, and Rome. While I’m really looking forward to this trip, planning it has taken a lot of careful thought, planning, and energy.
The goal of this post is to share some of my tips for successful parental travel planning with you.
While searching for an accommodation in Paris, I was hard pressed to find an ideal place to stay that fits within everyone’s budget and comfort levels. When we first decided on Paris as one of our destinations, I knew that there would be no better way to get a taste of life as a Parisian than to stay in an apartment given the fact that the majority of Parisians live in flats.
So I tirelessly scoured the web for the ideal 2-bedroom flat and kept coming across the same issue: many Parisians advertise their apartments as having 2-bedrooms when in reality they have one bedroom and a loft or one bedroom and a sofa bed. While my husband and I would be perfectly fine staying in a place like that on our own, that type of living arrangement is unacceptable for two couples staying in an apartment for five nights who need their privacy.
Finally, after months (yes, months) of research, I found the ideal apartment in Le Marais without a loft or a sofa bed in sight.
Different Strokes, Different Folks
I’m fortunate in that I rarely if ever have any issues when making travel plans with my husband as we share many of the same tastes and interests. However, my parents’ tastes tend to vary. Take food for instance.
My dad is the antithesis of a gourmand. According to my dad, gourmet restaurants serve mediocre food in mediocre portions for exorbitant prices and they justify it with beautiful plate presentation. My dad would be perfectly happy dining at budget friendly buffet style restaurants where he could eat to his heart’s content for a minimal amount of money. On the other hand, my mom understands and appreciates the art of gourmet dining. She makes no qualms about occasionally splurging on an expensive meal – especially French fare. For my mom, gourmet dining is an experience to be enjoyed, savored, and accompanied by a glass of fine wine.
So how did I go about incorporating memorable dining experiences into our itinerary that would satisfy both of my parents’ tastes in a city like Paris? I found a middle ground. I focused my restaurant research on well-reviewed French bistros that offer an extensive wine selection (pleasing my mom) and that fall within the 2-€€ price range and serve reasonably portioned, rustic cuisine with non-fussy, albeit beautiful, plate presentations (pleasing my dad).
While it’s unlikely that you’re going to find the perfect fit to please everyone’s tastes, you can always find a middle ground. I apply this same principle when it comes to planning activities, tours, and all other aspects of travel.
Alone Time is Golden
When traveling with your parents, you may start to get grumpy and irritable, especially if you’re not used to spending extensive amounts of time with them. These feelings are perfectly normal. Give yourself permission to spend time alone with yourself so that you can reenergize, refocus, and refresh and hopefully return to your travel mates (in this case your parents) with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.
Another way to minimize probable annoyances is to incorporate solo activities into your itinerary. Then, meet up at some point during your day to share your experiences. Giving yourselves time apart has a way of helping you to appreciate each other that much more when you reunite.
Go with the Flow
While travel is rewarding, enlightening, and downright fun, it can also be uncomfortable and exhausting in part because no matter how well you may plan your trip with your parents, chances are that your plans won’t be followed to a “T”. There are bound to be bumps, hiccups, and roadblocks along the way, and sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow instead of trying to fight against the current.
I’m sure that I’ll be following a lot of my own advice – especially about alone time and going with the flow – during my upcoming trip through France and Rome with my parents.
Have you guys traveled with your parents? Do you have any other useful tips for ensuring smooth travels with your folks?