First time travel with parents. Always a bit touch and go, right? I’ve just embarked on my first trip as an adult travelling with my parents.
I can’t remember the last time I went anywhere overnight with my family – and I’ve certainly never been overseas with any family members before. But, here we are, in the year both my parents turned 60, hopping on a plane to visit Hong Kong.
My Dad has always said that he wanted to visit the bustling harbour city in this Special Administrative Region of China and eventually we managed to convince my mother to come along for a four-day, post-Christmas jaunt.
Just me and my parents. For FOUR days straight.
Now, in the last few years, my parents have actually done a fair bit of travelling – mostly around North America. This year they hit up New York, Baltimore, Ottowa, Montreal and Quebec – so they’re not inexperienced travellers.
Hitting up Asia is a little different to the kind of travels they’ve done before, but Hong Kong is a good way to ease them into this part of the world. It’s highly accessible, full of expats and English is spoken in most places, so it’s not too overwhelming. Still, I’m a little nervous about travelling with my parents and I’m hoping they have a great time.
We score ourselves an upgrade to Premium Economy on the way over, which is just the best. I don’t want to sound spoilt, but I’ve had my fair share of premium cabins in my 31 years.
On the other hand, my parents, at 60 years of age, have never experienced anything except Economy – so this is a real treat, for them and for me. It’s wonderful being able to witness their excitement about sitting down in a roomy seat, being greeted with a welcome champagne and eating their meals off real crockery.
My Dad, in particular, is amazed. He’s the kind of guy who wants to understand how everything works, so before we’ve even taken off, he’s tested every button on the seat, checked out the assortment of films on the inflight entertainment and made friends with the cabin crew. This is something truly special, and it’s so rewarding to be able to see them enjoying themselves like this – an experience I’d never have without travelling with my parents.
We’re set to arrive into Hong Kong in the evening, so after our comfortable 8-hour flight, we’re ready to hop off and head into Kowloon to find our accommodation. At this point, I’m feeling the pressure. I’ve organised everything, so I’m keeping fingers, toes and everything else crossed that the hotel I’ve picked is up to scratch. I breathe a sigh of relief when we arrive at the Regal Kowloon and walk into the lobby. This place is lovely, and from the smiles on Mum and Dad’s faces, I’ve done well. Phew.
In order to avoid paying for two rooms, we have managed to get a room with two double beds, so not only are we spending four days together, we are spending every second together. Being used to solo travel, this is a bit of a test for me, but the more time we spend exploring, the more I realise how special it is to be able to share my love of travelling with my parents and experience this with them.
The next day I realise that I will be playing the role of tour guide as well as travel organiser for my parents. I’ve been to Hong Kong once before, but given my fairly constant travelling, Mum and Dad are relying on me to plan our days. Of course, we factor in the non-negotiable tourist sites like the Peak Tram and the Tian Tan Buddha, but I also manage to convince them to head to street markets in Kowloon and eat fresh from the stalls, take a public bus ride down a crazy hill on Lantau Island to Tai O Fishing Village and hopped from rooftop bar to rooftop bar.
Not only do they tolerate my slightly off the beaten path wanderings, but they love it. On the bumpy bus ride, Dad laughs out loud in amazement as we teeter close to the cliff edges. At the markets, Mum is haggling with street vendors before I even make it to the stalls. Before the end of our four days, they are already asking where we will go on our next trip. (Japan seemed to be the consensus, by the way)
So, are there moments where we drive each other crazy? Not many, except for my Mum’s constant paranoia that her travel card will get skimmed and they’d be robbed. Given that it did happen to her once before, I totally understand the nervousness about it – but when she’s pouring over her internet banking at 1am, handwriting transactions and working out the exchange rate to see if she’d been defrauded, I get a little snippy. Just a little.
After a rather boozy harbour-side lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s pub, complete with a couple of Aperol Spritz, I am so excited to tell them that on our way home they would be going in style – not Premium Economy this time, but in Business Class. They’re both thrilled but react in different ways.
Dad is immediately hyperactive, chatting about the amazing service he will receive and all the extra legroom. Mum is excited, but a little stressed. There is a lot more to navigate in Business Class. She asks me whether the crew will make you go and put your pyjamas on, how will she know how to work the seat and what else does she need to know so that she doesn’t look like a first timer.
And the looks on their faces when they sat down in their roomy seats that lay down completely flat? Utterly priceless.
Happy Birthday Mum & Dad!
Your parents are way too cute. Lovely traveling with the family!
I haven’t travelled with my parents for yearsss! I don’t know if I could so I respect you for doing that! Your parents look very happy indeed!
I have travelled with my mom quite a bit the last couple years! It is so nice that you will have those memories with your family! Looks like you covered a fair amount of ground in HK and had a great time 🙂
I think everyone should experience traveling somewhere new w/ their parents, at least once in their lifetime 🙂 Glad you had a great time together