When we were young, our parents brought us overseas, no matter how we were shouting at the top of our lungs, disturbing everybody else on the transport; carrying all our prams, bottles and bulky belongings; going kids-friendly places instead of bungee jumping or skydiving; taking photos of us first – basically putting us before themselves ever since we were born. Now that we are all grown up and earning a living, how do we travel with elders without turning the trip into a complete fiasco?
20 Sep 2017
1. Travel with elders by joining a group tour
The best way to travel with elders will be to follow a group tour. Group tours are great if you don’t want to manage everything yourself, from planning prior to the trip to actual on-the-ground work. Let the professionals work their magic while you just sit back and relax! PLUS there is going to be other people whom your elders are gonna talk to – what’s better than making new friends?
Pros: Besides the above, you will get to visit most of the tourist attractions, chauffeured from one place to another without worrying about your poor feet being overworked and there will always be people around to take a family photo for you! HASSLE AND WORRY FREE!
Cons: Very rigid itineraries and usually just touch-and-go for each attraction. Waking up early and possibly ending late, which might be tiring. Cost wised it might be more expensive than free and easy travel. The biggest con might be that the tour might suck so be sure to research well before making a booking.
HAN-dy tip: With all the social media platforms available, remember to check out reviews of the tour agencies on their FB pages before making a booking.
2. Travel with elders by planning your own trip
If group tours are really not your thing, here are a few things you can consider when planning to travel with elders.
Ask and discuss with your elders which places are they interested in going but probably they are just gonna tell you that they will follow your lead.
Therefore, make sure you have a solid plan. Your elders are gonna need clear directions regarding where they are gonna go to next. Try to plan your day such that it starts early (not too early) and ends early too. Don’t be too ambitious to cover too many places in a day but make sure you always have a next destination to go to.
Usually, things won’t go according to the ideal plan you have in mind. Always have a plan B, C, D, E and so on. ALWAYS!
- time spent is much lesser than expected
- not interesting enough to get your parents/ aunties’/ uncles’/ grandparents’ attention
- getting lost
- getting tired faster than expected
So always have many backup plans and they should always involve sitting down and taking a kopi break. Ideally, your plan must include – breakfast, tea/ kopi break, brunch, lunch, high tea, dinner, and supper, with a toilet break after each meal. When unsure of what to do, take a break.
Generally, the idea is not to spend too much time at one place (or outdoors) because like how we were as kids, their attention spans are much shorter than ours.
HAN-dy tip: Know that your elders are actually more into spending time together than going to as many places as possible during the trip. So mingle!
Walking long distances and climbing stairs is not desirable for most elders and it might be more cost-effective to drive around if the group is big. Just make sure your driving skills are adequate and the traffic conditions are safe and easy enough for driving.
HAN-dy tip: Try getting another person to rotate the driving responsibility with you so that you don’t tire yourself out.
Be strong and dependable
Personally, I think this is the most important quality when you travel with elders. Always be very well prepared prior to each trip. When in doubt, be very ready to ask around. You are the only person the whole group can depend on. Otherwise, it would be a better to ask your sibling(s) or cousin(s) along to help share the responsibilities.
HAN-dy tip: Always get a local SIM card – with internet services, we can resolve most of the problems.
Most elders really love their rice, especially when traveling to places without Asian cuisine and they are gonna miss (read: NEED) their rice a few days into the trip. So remember to try to find out the locally available Asian restaurants or get accommodation with cooking facilities and pack some rice along!
HAN-dy tip: Invest in a portable travel cooker and kettle if you are going on long trips. Hot food and drinks are a must for most parents/ aunties/ uncles/ grandparents!
When traveling, conflicts are going to happen – be it with your BFFs or spouse or your .elders There are typically two kinds of elders – those who need a lot of attention and those who try to avoid attention.
Those who need a lot of attention: Give them the attention they need.
Those who try to avoid attention: Give them the attention they need.
Some of them might also nag a bit or do things you disapprove of during the trip and the best solution is to accommodate. Remember you were a little embarrassing (shrieking) and an exhausting bundle of joy many years ago and they accommodated you for so many years. It’s only fair that you return the favor, as long as it doesn’t cost any problem to others. Besides, they are not gonna change their character during the trip just because you’ve argued with them.
HAN-dy tip: Frequently ask if your elders are hungry/ tired/ if they need to go to the toilet. Some might not do so as they worry about inconveniencing others. Make sure they pack their medications (if any) along.
See, it is not that difficult to travel with elders! Now all that is left is to book that long overdue trip! Keep calm and enjoy your holiday!
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