Travelling with your grown-up child in midlife is an unexpected pleasure. Well, let’s face it – being invited along at all is a pleasant surprise.
This was the case for me recently when I accompanied my 28-year-old daughter on a business trip to California – her business, not mine. She wanted to head down a few days early to do some sight-seeing. Would I like to come along?
I don’t kid myself that I was her first choice of travelling companion. Her boyfriend was unavailable, as was her sister. Who knows about her friends. But, no matter how far down the list I was, it was nice to be on the list at all. Even nicer to get the call to see if I was available. Being semi-retired, I jumped at the opportunity.
Traveling with your adult child is completely different kind of travel
Travelling with your child when they are an adult is a completely different experience from when they were young, especially when they are the inviter. For one thing, you can leave most of the planning to her. I can’t remember the last time I went on vacation without all the stress of planning. What a treat!
Okay, she did ask me to book some hotels and rental cars as she was busy at work, so I wasn’t completely out of the planning. But she gave me a short-list of where we should be based and what our timing would be, so the parameters to work within were nicely defined for me. And she decided our itineraries for each day (with due consultation with the old man).
The biggest surprise of the experience is a role reversal in who is pushing whom to get moving. She packed a lot of goals into our daily itineraries, so there would be little lazing about – dad! It made me realize that somewhere along the way, I’ve started to slow down.
My preference now is for sitting and soaking up the ambience of a place instead of trying to tick off as many places as possible on a ‘got-to-see’ list. Energy level may play a part here; and as she is still full of energy, it was up to me to try to keep up. But you know what? That’s okay. It’s good to have someone pushing you at this stage – at least for a few days anyway. It’s too easy to fall into an older man’s routine of slow puttering days with little to show for them. See my list of 5 tips for success when travelling with your adult child.
It’s adult travel – no Disney World!
Another nice thing about a trip with your adult child is that you do things adults want to do rather than what kids want to do, i.e. no Disney World. Instead we went to museums, architectural wonders, studio tours and nature trails. Bike rides along the strand and drives in gorgeous countryside. And you both end up appreciating things with the experienced tastes of an adult – there is no pressure to try to educate your child as one might do when taking them to a museum as a youngster, carefully measuring the time commitment for how long their attention span might allow.
And finally, your day plans can include evening plans. Nice dinners, unspoiled by crying outbursts – except perhaps my own when the check arrived. Comedy shows or musical events. You know – adult stuff. (Thinking about Europe? See my list of the best European travel guidebooks.)
Make some new memories
Great memories are created. Like driving up Santa Monica boulevard with your kid, listening to Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I wanna do’ (“… is have some fun”), followed by her choice: ‘Drinkin’ in LA’.
But it’s all the better because the enjoyment of these things is still energized by the joie de vivre of someone still filled with youth. Bringing out a few cold beers at the end of a long, hot day of touring sounds like a great idea!
Getting to spend days of quality one-on-one time with your kid at this stage is the best treat of all. Probably for most of us, we haven’t spent this much time together since they were teenagers – and at that difficult stage, you’d probably be hard-pressed to call time with them a treat! But what a joy to have such time with them as adults – to fully experience the wonderful people they’ve blossomed into.
And best of all, as she’s now earning more than me, she can pay her own way! Wow!
Travelling with your adult child – I can’t recommend it enough!
See my list of 5 tips for success when travelling with your adult child.
You might also be interested in my list of the best European travel guidebooks.