This wonderful holiday season brought about the additional surprise of a four day ski trip with my family. It was a great gift and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Part of the reason for my enjoyment is the hilarity of my family as we attempt to organize ourselves. When my sister and I were younger, family trips consisted of mom and dad deciding where to go and making all of the necessary decisions for us. Mom would feed us, pack our bags, make sure that we were happy etc. Yet now that I’m older I realize that things have changed. Where once a handbook on “traveling with children” might have been necessary, there is now a need for a “traveling with parents” guidebook. So here it is, a traveling with the rents handbook of expectations.
1) Expect to discuss and re-discuss all plans. As my sister and I have grown older my parents have begun to a do a very crazy thing…they ask our opinion. GASP. Yet this now means that we have twice as many opinions coming to the surface and naturally, anytime you double the opinions of the room, you greatly increase the chance that two opinions will conflict. In a family of strong-willed people who are capable of presenting a good argument, this creates a standoff of sorts. Thus a lot of time is spent discussing very minor things, such as what time we will wake up. Expect this. The only resolution is for one of the parties to just get so sick of talking about this minor thing so much that they in essence give up. Boom, time to wake up has been picked.
2) Food. Food becomes incredibly critical to parents. In a world where there is a restaurant on every corner, somehow the topic of food comes up constantly. I don’t mean deciding where we will eat. For that see expectation 1. No, instead, I mean, a constant distraction/fear that we will not have enough food with us. Therefore, you will find yourself sitting in a car, overcrowded with groceries as you drive to the resort. You need to accept it from the get go, and here is why. At some point in the trip you will find yourself on a stretch of highway that apparently assumes no one ever has to pee, thus having no convenient pit stops on the way. You will suddenly feel a grumble in your stomach. You will look over to your mother and become extremely aware of how incredibly hypocritical you sound as you ask for some food since you mocked the fact that she took food with us on such a “short drive” that “no human could possibly die of hunger on.” You will not only devour the awesome sandwich she made, but also your words.
3) Eventually you will walk into the hotel/condo/resort that you have booked and as you are dragging your oversized bag that contains all of the extra sweaters your mother suggested you bring “just in case” you will either participate in, or overhear an initial inspection/judgment of the rooms in which you are staying. What will surprise some of you is that the judgment of the area will include a direct comparison to your place back home. That’s right. Parents love to go on vacations where they stay in places that resemble their homes. Does it have a fully stocked kitchen? Perfect, bonus points, because so does our house at home.
4) Finally, expect to see a side of your parents that you have never seen before. When you were young, they were busy feeding your childlike sense of wonder and excitement. Now that you are older, suddenly, they don’t care so much about your wonder at the world, but rather become engrossed in fulfilling their passions. This leads to some hilarious, childlike joys as your mother snaps pictures of the beauty around her, spinning around like a little girl, and your father has a huge kid-like grin as he slides down the mountain. This, my dears, is the reason to agree to go on the trip in the first place.
So there it is my dears, your handbook on traveling with parents. The best advice I can give you is to go with the flow and find enjoyment in whatever you are doing. Enjoy the people around you for who they are. Finally, always have a camera ready because you never know when you will be gifted with some potential blackmail material that can be very useful when negotiating who gets that last piece of dessert.