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Top 7 Survival Tips: Travel with Your Grown Children

Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than time spent away, as a family, whatever age your children are. We all can relive some of our most cherished memories of family bonding and togetherness on vacations, weekends away, hikes, or just day trips. When you have your children all to yourselves, away from friends, electronic devices, and all the other distractions of daily life there are moments to tuck away forever.

Once they’re grown (ours are currently 27, 24 and 18), the moments become few and far between, whether they live at home (two of ours do) or around the world (our middle daughter currently lives in Thailand). So, a long awaited family reunion/vacation for us in Thailand was a simply unforgettable experience. The things we experienced together…from kayaking through sea caves in Phang Nga to private cooking classes in Chiang Mai…were made that much more special because we were together.

You even get to experience the ‘adult’ activities together…like a bit of bar-hopping on the crazy ‘walking streets’ of Thailand. A bit uncomfortable with the ‘girly-boy’ prostitutes hitting on Dad, but hey, we’re here for the full experience, right?

All that said, there will be times on those trips where the generation gap kicks in, and you’re going to want to do different things than your kids. Here’s the beauty…YOU CAN! Remember when you had to get a sitter from the hotel just for a dinner as a couple, without mac and cheese and chicken strips in your lap? It’s time to move on, and though we miss those adorable bundles of joy, there are good times ahead.

About 5 days into our Thailand trip, the ‘kids’ started talking about a motorcycle trip to the ‘grand canyon’ of Thailand to jump off a cliff. Now, I think I’m pretty adventurous, however…on my list of great things to do was a tranquil day at the spa, enjoying a traditional Thai massage and laying around like a jellyfish once my loosened muscles dropped into a poolside lounge chair. So, we each made our arrangements at the front desk of the very accommodating Suansawan Resort and set a time to meet back up in downtown Chiang Mai for dinner and the Night Market.

Carla and I choose the spa at Ban Sabai, just outside of the central city. Tucked away on an unassuming street is an oasis of tranquility. So peaceful, so lush, I could feel the calm wash over me instantly. Beautifully landscaped, perfectly secluding the property from the surrounding neighborhood. A lovely tiled pool, with flower petals floating lazily in the shade. Sound good so far?

I opted for a traditional Thai massage. It was a two hour WORKOUT with the world’s smallest, strongest woman. Yes, it hurt. But when finished I felt new again. Carla opted for a facial. If I have the opportunity, I will take a recommendation and try the steamed herbal massage…sounds a bit less…strenuous.

We stayed poolside for lunch. My spicy glass noodle salad and Sing-ha was perfect. We swam, lounged and enjoyed the pampering. The staff is exceptionally attentive.

Reluctantly, it was time to go…however, right at that moment we could feel the wind pick up and a storm blow in, seemingly in seconds. The tropical plants and palms bent completely over, rain poured down, and the pool was covered with leaves. Then, the power went out. and so did the credit card machine, and of course, we didn’t have enough Bhat to cover our treatments and lunch. So, we wait out the storm while the nicest people we could hope to meet serve us tea, and make us feel totally at home.

When it finally cleared, they called a Tuk-Tuk for a crazy ride into Chaing Mai. Yup, some of the tranquility was lost on that drive.

Now…the kids were on motorcycles…scary enough. Jumping off cliffs, even scarier. But on these roads, with these drivers…in the storm? Now the day’s tranquility had evaporated. When we finally caught up with them (no cel service as only our resident daughter had a working phone) we breathed a sigh of relief and heard all about their day.

They were all terrified to jump in the canyon, but faced their fears and leapt. The motorcycle ride in the rain seemed the scariest to me, but, of course, didn’t phase them (so they said).

It did my heart good to see them together, sharing an unforgettable adventure and having us swap stories. Our family reunited, we set back out for a fantastic dinner and the chaos and sensory delights of the night market (another story, soon to come).

So…enjoy every minute together, traveling with your grown children. And just like the rest of your life, let them go for a day. You may worry a bit, and better if you don’t see them risking life and limb. Trust you’ve given them the the gift of good judgement, and keep making those memories.

To sum it up, here are our top 7 tips…we’d love to hear yours!

  1. Plan your trip together: Usually one or two family members takes the planning lead (that would be Carla and I), and consume every blog, guidebook and review available! Your kids may not be THAT into it, but you can get them into the planning process…
  2. Get their ideas of what they want to do…once you’ve done your research, offer up some ideas and see what gets a reaction.
  3. Send links by text – they don’t seem to like email quite as much, send an article or image you come across, the way they like to communicate
  4. Leave enough downtime: planning an excursion every minute can cause family fatigue, trust me, I’ve done it. They love being lazy, so when your FOMO kicks in when they sleep late, arrange to meet up later. You can still get up early to soak in every minute.
  5. Run the itinerary by them, in advance. No one like a surprise wake up call at an un-Godly hour.
  6. As in our story (you may want the spa, they may want to cliff jump) – give them a day apart from you. You’ll have new stories to share at dinner
  7. Taking pictures…OK, here’s where we just don’t agree. I’m going to take a picture of everyone doing everything…suck it up kids!

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  • Juliane says:

    That is true you will take pictures of everything at every second of every day! But I wouldn’t trade a family vacation for anything else in the world! Nothing is better then spending time with those closest to you in the most incredible places. And I have to say, I do have the best travel guides (Mom and You.)

    Love and miss you!

    • And I am so glad I have those pictures, they are cherished memories! Time passes so fast, looking back at you growing up, and all the places we’ve been is my greatest joy. Thank you for the comment – and supporting the travel blog!! Love you and miss you, too, Dad

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