Why I Ditched Solo Trips & Travel With My Parents Instead

I can’t pinpoint the first time I said to myself, “I want to travel the world,” but I do remember the first time I felt awakened by the possibility of a life beyond my home in Puerto Rico
When I was 12 years old, my parents took my brother and me on a big family trip to Spain and France. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, eating crepes at a Paris corner stand, watching a bull run in Spain (which I despised due to the violent display of masculinity that resulted in the bull’s death), and feeling mesmerized by Antoni Gaudí’s artwork in Barcelona. I felt as if my whole world had expanded right in front of my eyes. Everything was foreign to me, but instead of running against it, I ran toward the newness of it all. 
The story repeated itself two years later, when my family visited New York City. As we were walking around Manhattan, I saw teenagers just a little older than I was listening to some man attentively. Curious as I’ve always been, I approached the group. It ended up being a New York University college admissions tour. I was in middle school then, so college applications weren’t on my mind, but I was intrigued. So I told my parents, “Let’s join the tour!” And they, although confused, agreed. The experience fascinated me, so much so that when the tour ended, I said: “I’m moving to New York City for college.” I noticed everyone around me was from another part of the world, and the city suddenly seemed like a melting pot of cultures, experiences, and realities. I never even applied to NYU — it was outside my parents’ budget — but after high school, I did make it to Manhattan College on a full tuition scholarship. 
Clearly, these two trips were the most life-changing gifts my parents could’ve given me. And as I got older, I began to understand that family vacations were never a luxury for us — they were the result of the sacrifices my parents made in order to show my brother and me a world they had barely seen before, a world that felt expansive and gave me hopes and possibilities. Nearly two decades later, I’m returning the favor.
In the past year alone, I’ve been to Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Cuba, and Perú in a quest to further understand Latine and Latin American identities and cultures beyond what I know from my upbringing in Puerto Rico. But instead of traveling solo, as the endless TikTok trending sounds suggest young women do, I’ve brought my parents along with me. 
They both raised me to the best of their abilities, providing me with the education and values needed to succeed today. Now it’s my turn to give back and reciprocate all they’ve done for me. Inviting them to travel with me — an activity I’m deeply passionate about — is my way of thanking them for the sacrifices they made while also making space for us to enjoy these adventures together. 
And I’m not the only one. Young adults are increasingly choosing to vacation with their parents in a phenomenon called “multi-generational travel." Considered the fastest-growing area for many travel companies, there’s an emerging refocus among millennials to spend quality time with aging parents and value that time together beyond the holiday season. 
In an era of “solo trips” trending on social media, traveling with your parents may not seem as cool to some. But for those who do have a healthy relationship with their parents, I can assure you that it’ll be an experience you’ll treasure for the rest of your life. For me, it has strengthened my relationship with them and I’ve begun seeing them beyond the parental figures they’ve always represented. No more sermons and chit-chat over chores. Now, my parents have become my best friends.
We’ve relived memories while also creating new ones. I've taken them out of their comfort zones — and their daily work routine — to actually pause to enjoy life, even if only for a week. For many young people, this is a priority: We believe it’s crucial to introduce play into our busy schedules for work-life balance. But this isn’t always the case with older generations, who sometimes make taking a vacation feel like a sin. Being able to give that rest to my parents has been extremely fulfilling. 
In my mom’s case, she sacrificed her career to take care of my brother and me as a stay-at-home mom. Now, with both of her children living abroad, our mom-and-daughter trips serve as a reminder that although the nest may be empty, I’ll always come back to her and cherish our relationship in the best way I know how: by giving her experiences. So far, we’ve traveled to Canada, France, Costa Rica, and Cuba on mother-daughter trips. During each vacation, we have one-on-one time to reconnect and learn about each other.             
As for my father, I lured him into taking two weeks of vacation from his 9-to-5 job to join me in Perú for his birthday. The effort and hours I had put into planning the trip of my dreams with him were all worth it when we both dared to do a via ferrata 10,465 feet above sea level off the cliff of a mountain in Cusco’s Sacred Valley. I couldn’t help but cry. I was seeing my 57-year-old dad having the time of his life. When I shared the experience on social media, people commented things like, “I’d give what I don't have for a day like this,” “This is every parent’s dream,” and “If my papi were alive, I’d do the same.”
@victorialeandra Viajar con mi papá ha sido una bendición 🙏🏽✈️ #padreehija #viajesenfamilia #viajandoelmundo #papaehija #peru ♬ Storytelling - Adriel
I know the role my parents have played in shaping key memories for me, so it’s time I begin creating those same cherished experiences for them. If you want to do the same with your parents, here’s my recommendation to make it happen — and no, you don’t need thousands of dollars saved in the bank or lavish vacation packages. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to create an experience of a lifetime as a thank-you gift to your parental figures.
Save and budget for the trip. 
One question I’m always asked when I post photos of my trips with my parents is how I afford it. Honestly, my strategy is a mix of properly using travel credit cards to hack flights and hotel stays and saving my hard-earned money in a designated account. I’m not a big material gifts person. Instead, I would rather get you a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both of us to cherish together.
Start small by opting for a weekend staycation.
Before you commit to spending a whole week halfway across the world, get to know your parents’ travel style. You may wake up at 6 a.m. to start your back-to-back schedule while they’re the type of traveler who wakes up at 11 a.m., has a nice sit-down breakfast, and gets out the door at 1 p.m. Know these habits and tendencies before a longer stay so you can plan accordingly. 
Cater to your parent’s needs.
When traveling with mature folks, it’s important to consider their comfort. You may want to stay in an off-the-beaten path Airbnb that’s uphill with no car access for its beautiful view, but your dad won’t appreciate having to go up and down those stairs after a knee surgery. Investing in comfort is a must, so try to find a place that’s centrally located, easily accessible and has proper beds and, if possible, central heating/air conditioning. Of course, there will also be various fitness levels, personality types (outgoing vs. introverted), and different priorities (sightseeing vs. relaxation), so take all those details into account, too. 
Find some space for “alone time.”
We all need our alone time, especially when away from our routines. If previously discussed, this shouldn’t offend your travel companion as it represents an opportunity for you both to relax or venture out to do exactly what the other person can’t or won’t do. This also applies for when you’re in a group trip and/or sharing a room with someone. It may be as simple as grabbing coffee by yourself or going out for a grocery run. Boundaries and personal space are especially important for parents and their adult children.
Be flexible and find the right pace for both of you.
Yes, some scheduling, planning, and researching should go into every trip, but don’t let the bucket list-ticking take over. Remember: It's quality over quantity. While in Perú with my dad, I scheduled early-morning hiking trips back to back. After finishing the first one and getting back to the hotel, we looked at each other and said: “Let’s skip tomorrow and get some rest.” We went to get brunch, mani-pedis, haircuts, and even tattoos instead. This spontaneity turned a good trip into a memorable one, so don’t feel the pressure to cover everything in one trip, especially when traveling with your parents. 
Make other friends!
One of the most rewarding aspects of traveling is connecting with other people from across the world. My mom and I met a kind Cuban family while riding a mototaxi, and my dad and I met a German and Australian couple at a guided tour in Perú’s Lago Titicaca. One pair invited us for coffee in their home, while the other had dinner and drinks with us. Traveling with parents doesn’t affect your ability to meet fellow adventurers; on the contrary, it enhances it. People usually love hearing your personal travel story, and this is the perfect moment to exchange yours. 
You don’t have to leave the country.
There is so much more to do in our home countries, however big or small, that we don’t have to leave for adventure. Whether you take your parents on a quick staycation in your hometown or travel abroad this year, they’ll appreciate the time you took to make them feel appreciated, loved, and cared for. Based on my experience, they’ll be forever thankful — and they’ll have a lot of beautiful travel memories and pictures to share on the WhatsApp group when they get back home. *wink*

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