An essential part of my new blog will be guest posts from travelers like Tiffany Lebel (see her post below) who have taken a trip with their parent(s). After all, everyone’s story is their own and by bringing in more voices, hopefully one (or more) will resonate and encourage you to take the leap yourself!  I’m not quite sure everyone will be up for hurricanes with your mom in New Orleans, but Tiffany’s story will certainly make you at least want to open a bottle of wine and sing along with Frank Sinatra on your iPod together.  Enjoy and thanks to Tiffany for being my inaugural guest blogger!

neworleans2New Orleans, where joie de vivre becomes reality!

by Tiffany Lebel, Los Angeles, CA

I learned of the upcoming launch of Val’s blog on Traveling with Aging Parents just as I arrived in New Orleans with my mom, Diane. Not knowing all the details, I photographed everything, took notes, and thought endlessly about what I would share. I thought I’d be telling you things like:

  • make sure to get your folks to walk more regularly prior to travel (even a jaunt through the airport can feel like miles),
  • or remind you to remind them, to be where they say they’ll be,
  • or to answer their phone,
  • and to re-check their gate at the airport… before walking off to use the restroom (Mom, where are you?)!

All good intentions aside, this is what I have share:

What an incredible opportunity it was to get to know the woman my mother is. Who she was at my age is not that different to whom she is now. She is funny and adventurous, wise and engaging, soulful and still full of mischief.

If she were my age we’d certainly be best friends. As it stands, she’s 27 years my senior and I ended my vacation feeling like I was introduced to the woman behind the apron. Her joy and enthusiasm for life is contagious. I experienced my vacation from a thoroughly different perspective, from a lady whose adventurous nature I’ve always admired.

Even after a few rounds of hurricanes at the piano bar in Lafittes’s, where made up lyrics were belted with gusto and wobbling home arm in arm became a mission, she made me laugh harder than I canneworleans1 remember in a really long time. I learned that just because she’s my mom doesn’t mean we can’t relate as adults (or act like adolescents!). We had the opportunity to engage in deep conversations about things like getting older, living alone, how the death of a parent can help you explore life with fresh perspective, breaking out of old habits, and finding yourself.

New Orleans is a hot, sticky, engaging community of people who love their city and are proud to share their history with you. Through the good and the bad, they’ve learned to live in the moment and seize the one wild and beautiful life they were blessed with. That is what happens when you put away personal baggage, preconceived notions, and just embrace the present: who we are now and who we are becoming. (And in some cases- yes, our parents, but aren’t they cool?!)

Traveling with my mom was more fun than I thought it would be and left me longing for another trip with her. I’ll arrive once again, with an open heart and mind to soak up a little more laissez les bon temps rouler, with my best friend, Diane.

Here’s to hoping you get the chance to really know who your parents are!

Tiffany Lebel Bio

Tiffany spent most of her youth moving from state to state, eventually graduating high school after attending 13 schools. Skipping college to continue her travels, she explored much of Europe and Japan before meeting her handsome British husband by sheer good luck and accidental timing while scouring the countryside of mainland Mexico.  20 years later they live in Los Angeles where raising 3 children keeps travel minimized to road trips… for the moment!  (And for the record, “are we there yet?” still gets old!) And, while incredibly fun to travel with family, “It’s not like the good old days when the freedom to travel came with a duffle bag and a $20 cab fare to LAX”!  Tiffany is currently making plans to explore Atlanta to find the perfect mint julep, suggestions welcome!