I had a TWAP follower whom I’ll call “Susie” send me the following question:

My daughter is spending a semester of college in Dublin, Ireland. My 84-year old mother is of Irish decent and I have always longed to take her there. She is in fairly good health except she has bad back pain when she is standing or walking. Sitting is great. I am feeling a little guilty about the fact that I am dreading trying to travel with her and that she is going to hold us all back. Any suggestions to make the trip easier?

I offer advice on overcoming the guilt of not wanting to travel with your parent in the video, but to reiterate, having mixed emotions is part of the process. As most folks know, I’ve traveled 300,000+ miles with mom and yet, every trip, I have to gear myself up for both the physical and emotional toll it’s going to take on me. After all, no matter how old I am, she’s still my mother and I will always be her little girl. There are inherent challenges in that dynamic.

Susie, you’re going to have to let go of any emotional baggage you’re harboring or at least commit to not give it any weight. You really have to brute force yourself to just let go of your hot buttons or at least not engage when they’re triggered. Just keep saying to yourself that this is going to be an awesome vacation and chances are it will. You may not see all the sites but you’ll have a magical family vacation with three generations of women in a country where you have roots. That’s pretty awesome. Keep that in mind.

Beyond the emotional aspect, here are a few tactical ideas on how to make this a fantastic trip for everyone. Keep us posted Susie and good luck!

1. Get sleep

I’m seriously a LUNATIC when I’m tired. I can hardly stand to be around myself let alone anyone else. So try not to exhaust yourself (something that can be hard to do when you’re in a new place and want to see it all). Even if you push yourself like crazy, your mom will definitely need more sleep. Make sure to build in to the schedule rest periods and nap time for both of you (particularly in the beginning while you’re adjusting to jetlag).

2) Plan a few activities on your own.

Before you go on your trip, do some research and identify activities that you and your mom can do together as well as activities you can each do separately. Find out from your mom what she wants to see and then plan on doing those activities together. Assuming she may need to take a nap, you can then see the sites she’s not as passionate about on your own. Be sure and agree to a time when you’ll return – this way if your mom wakes up, she knows how long until you’re together again.

3) Bring fun activities for your mom.

Does your mom like to read or listen to books on tape? Do crossword puzzles? If so, surprise her with presents. This way, if she decides to hang out in the room for a few hours while you’re out exploring, she’ll have something fun to do while waiting. Another option is to consult with the hotel staff and determine if there is a place where your mom can people watch. If they have a café or restaurant, check to make sure it’s okay if she hangs out for an extended period of time. If your hotel has a pool, that may be a good option as well.

4) Hire a car/driver if possible or book tours.

Public transportation is not an option for mom and I’m guessing it may not be a likely mode for your mom as well. I recommend hiring a private car and driver. I know that sounds fancy, but it’s incredibly convenient and can be cheaper than taking cabs everywhere. The convenience factor will also let you explore more locations because you have quick access. Mom can also nap while you’re going from place to place. In addition, she may opt to hang out in the car while you do some exploring on your own (my mom can only see so many temples before she’s done!). Tour buses are also great way to explore as well and the same principle applies – if your mom gets tired, she can hang out on the bus while you run around. I always bring a book for mom to read so she doesn’t get bored while waiting.

5) Find a spot close to the action where mom can people watch.

Another option instead of leaving mom in the car is to find a spot close to the action (entrances always have plenty going on!) where she can sit and people watch while you explore. Make sure she has water and Kleenex before you head out. Confirm with your mom how long you’ll be gone. This is a great compromise and we’re still doing stuff “together.”

Additional blogs on this topic:

I also had a lovely guest post from Pam LeBlanc on a trip she took with her aging mother and just had a blast. Take a peek at her story: Travel with an elderly parent is possible, and also quite fun! Perhaps their success will help sway you that you’re going to have a great time!

Good luck Susie!