When my 28-year-old son invited me to go backpacking with him in Eastern Europe for two weeks, I jumped at the chance. After all, travelling with someone you appreciate can be quality time well spent – not to mention fun. However, when it comes to hitting the road with your grownup offspring (let’s refer to them as your GO), any kind of travel experience can fall flat if you’re not equipped with a few basic tips. Here’s what my happy holiday with Brad taught me.
Don’t be proud
There are some things about youth which are important to accept – and one of them is that youth has stamina on its side. Yes, you are certainly capable of carrying your own luggage, be it a bag or a pack. However, whether you’re climbing 5 flights of stairs to reach your hostel, or trekking up a mountain, your GO is going to arrive in better shape than you (something that may not show up until the next day when you feel those pulled muscles or are just so darned tired you want to remain horizontal!). So accept their offer to carry your bag, or to offload some of your gear into their pack. You’ll feel better for it, and so will they. And you won’t be slowing them down.
Give each other space
We all need a break from our travel buddies now and then, something which is doubly important when travelling with your GO. Recognise their need for company their own age, and make space for it to happen. Plead occasional time-out to write up your travel diary, to go shopping, or for an early night in front of Skype or TV. Make it clear you’re happy to be on your own, and you’ll soon find your GO heading out to a nightclub or a café, or content to chill in the lounge of your hostel or hotel bar.
Agree on a budget
Before you plan your trip, agree on a budget. My son’s ideal accommodation would have been a tent every night; I’d have preferred B&Bs. In the end, we compromised with hostelling. When it came to sightseeing, I had more discretionary spending power, and while I was more than happy to pay entrance fees for my son, he had his pride. In the end, I saw some sights he couldn’t afford to, while he agreed to accept the occasional shout from me. Although I could afford to eat out each night, he couldn’t, so most evenings saw us cooking interesting local food at our hostel. However, we both enjoyed midday street food and the occasional treat of a café meal.
Bite your tongue
Remember, for the duration of the vacation, you are you’re GO’s travel companion, not just their parent! So quit any nagging or ‘correcting’ you might be tempted to engage in. After all, you wouldn’t do it to a friend!
Look after yourself
Your GO is not your partner. Don’t burden them with finding your spectacles, problem-solving your iPad or phone woes, or restoring your self-esteem. What an older travel companion may tolerate or find amusing, a younger person may call ‘high maintenance’. And none of us wants to be that sort of travel buddy!