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Because my dad was a corporate pilot and our whole family accompanied him on many trips (his bosses always welcomed his bringing us along), I was practically born in the air. Those early years of travel influenced how I spent every spare dollar (and vacation day) as I grew older, and I developed a passion for exploring the world with my parents, with my friends, and even on my own if no one could go with me.
Although I occasionally traveled with my parents, my “busy life” (and adventures with my friends) typically took priority over family outings. When my father died unexpectedly in 2005, I realized just how many trips we had discussed taking as a family but never got around to doing—and that they would remain untaken.
The week after Dad’s funeral, Mom, my brother, and I went to Washington, D.C., because that city had always been at the top of Dad’s list of places for us to visit together. It was crushing not to have him there with us, and to this day I regret not going on that trip while he was still alive.
At that moment I made up my mind to avoid the same situation with my mom. Since then, she and I have taken numerous trips together (both in the U.S. and overseas) and now travel with each other several times a year. I used to believe that my burning desire to travel came from my father, but through our adventures together I’ve come to realize that I get it from Mom, too! She and I love seeing new sights, meeting different peoples, and experiencing other cultures. By traveling together, we’ve found that we both embrace differences and marvel at similarities. We’ve figured out that a challenge encountered while traveling makes for a great story when we’re back home and (most of the time) even gives us something to laugh about on the road.
If you haven’t traveled with your parents in a long time (or at all), remember that they won’t be here forever. Each trip with them that remains untaken is a missed opportunity for you to connect on a more meaningful level as adults. Traveling together as grownups has a very different (and in many ways better) dynamic from the family vacations of your childhood. Give it a try—I think you’ll like what you find.
True, travel with aging parents can pose some challenges. But taking a vacation with your parents is very doable and can actually be enjoyable! (Yes, you can have fun with your parents! Who knew?!) So let go of the past, embrace the future possibilities, and go create some new memories!
Make 2016 the year you travel with your parents!
Happy New Year!
Val and Mom