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Family Travel when the “Kids” are Adults

by Barbara Rogers

Jul 22, 2018

© Stillman Rogers

Age Specific / Adult Children

Traveling with your adult children — or as a “grownup” with your parents — is an entirely different sort of family travel experience. Mom and Dad no longer make all the decisions (or at least they shouldn’t), and there’s a good chance a daughter- or son-in-law is part of the group. Everyone may be a little apprehensive about so much togetherness, especially if you’re touring by car.

We’ve just returned from a two-generation trip to Brittany, where four well-traveled adults spent nearly a week traveling by car. Not only are we all well-traveled, but each of us has our own well-defined interests and obsessions. Fortunately some of these crossed over: We all love good food and have an interest in history. Sometimes we were surprised to find something interesting we’d never have considered visiting ourselves. Be open to those surprises.

France, Brittainy, Kerlouan, restaurant, artist village, big rocks, sea view, cliffs, stone cottage,

Exploring the immense boulders at Meneham, Brittany, France © Stillman Rogers

Choose places that have multiple experiences: The medieval abbey with the magnificent herb gardens was in a charming village with shops to browse and patisseries to nosh in. There wasn’t much else in the town with the excellent maritime museum (one of us is a boat-lover) but everyone enjoyed exploring the floating exhibits, and the one who was driving found a comfortable bench in a darkened museum gallery and took a nap.

Give everyone some space: Just because you’re traveling together doesn’t mean you need to be together all the time. If one couple feels like al fresco dinner at a beach-side shack and the other wants to try the Michelin-starred restaurant, fine. But set those “rules” in advance, so when one couple wants to peel off for a while, nobody’s feelings are hurt. Just make sure it’s somewhere that has alternatives.

Get out of the car: Plan some active or outdoors experiences — in our case it was walking the trails along the clifftops near Portsall and exploring the mammoth stone formations at Ménéham. Not only does this allow some time apart, but it allows everyone to go at their own comfortable pace. Avid walkers may cover more ground, while people like me who want to photograph every flower can dawdle to their heart’s content.

France, Brittany, Quimper, church, market, medieval buildings

Waiting for shoppers © Stillman Rogers

Respect each other’s opinions and expertise: This may seem elementary for any travel companions, but it’s especially important to remember with a parent/child relationship. Just because Mom always did the navigating and Dad always drove when you were kids doesn’t make them boss now. But it also doesn’t make them and their preferences inconsequential. Maybe somebody’s expertise about World War II can enrich another generation’s appreciation of a museum in a former Atlantic Wall bunker.

Share the work: Unless it’s their great pleasure in life, don’t expect one person to do all the planning and act as tour guide. As you’re planning the trip, discuss who will do the research on what to see, who makes the reservations (this might be best left to one person once the itinerary is agreed on) and who will drive. The more you share, the more both couples will feel involved and be happy with the trip.

France, Brittainy, Douarnenez, Port Rhu, fishing village, maritime Museum, old ships, abandoned ships, martimen museum, sardines, sardinery,

An impromptu dance in the rain at the Douarnenez Boat © Stillman Rogers

Enjoy discovering places together: Remember two-generation travel isn’t all about the places you see and the things you do. It’s largely about the experiences you share and the fun you have sharing them as adults. Relish this relationship and be grateful you have parents — or children — who still think you’re fun to spend a vacation with.

#WhereverFamily

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