Holidaying With Parents As An Adult: 5 Highs And Lows You're Bound To Experience

'My dad insists on carrying the passports.'

When you no longer live with your parents, deciding to go on holiday together can be a bold move. Chances are, you haven’t spent this much time in one another’s company for a while, and both you - and your expectations of travel - may have changed.

For some, like me and my mum, a joint trip is an opportunity for a much-needed catch up with the bonus of new scenery, while for others, the countdown to heading home begins as soon as they step off the plane.

Considering taking the plunge? Here are five highs and lows you’re bound to experience along the way, plus how to make it work.

1. You’re an adult - but parents can sometimes forget.

Tamsin Ivy, 26, from Surrey, has holidayed with her parents off and on as an adult, alongside her two sisters who are 20 and 22. She says the biggest challenge is “being treated like a child again”. “My dad insists on carrying all the passports and boarding cards as he thinks we can’t be trusted not to lose them and my mum thinks I can’t remember how to pack my own suitcase, even though I’ve gone on plenty of trips without them,” she tells HuffPost UK.

But she describes this as a “tiny burden to pay in the scheme of things” because she has more shared interests with her parents now than she did when she was a child, making travel “easier”.

Tamsin Ivy (furthest right) with her two sisters and parents.
Tamsin Ivy
Tamsin Ivy (furthest right) with her two sisters and parents.

2. It’s easy to slip back into being a big kid.

While Tamsin’s parents have a tendency to revert to an outdated “parent and child” dynamic while on holiday, Rachel Lankester admits she’s just as guilty of doing this with her mum, despite them being 51 and 83 years old respectively. “We’re both strong independent women used to doing things our own way and when we go away together, sometimes there just isn’t enough space for each of us,” Rachel jokes. “I can slip back into a child role if I’m feeling tired or things haven’t gone completely according to plan.”

But it’s not enough to put them off of repeat trips; the pair have holidayed together at least once a year since Rachel’s dad passed away eight years ago, travelling to places including Morocco, Croatia and Bosnia. “It’s a special time for both of us. Last year she walked the city walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia after her friends had told her they didn’t think she’d be able to do it,” Rachel says. “I love being able to facilitate her doing things that she probably wouldn’t do without me and she gets to share her knowledge and experience of the world with me. Our time together increasingly feels very precious.”

Rachel Lankester and her mum.
Rachel Lankester
Rachel Lankester and her mum.

3. It’s a time to learn more about each other.

While Rachel reignited her love of travel with her mum eight years ago, Adam Bradford, 25, from Sheffield, never stopped holidaying with his parents - the three of them go away together at least once a year, with recent trips including Spain and Europe.

“It’s a really important family bonding time and break from all of our hectic lives,” he says. “It’s great to see your parents in a different context and actually, we discover lots of things that are similar about each other - for example a love of local culture, food and relaxation.”

Adam Bradford and his parents.
Adam Bradford
Adam Bradford and his parents.

4. Parents can sometimes help cover travel costs.

For Amy Nickell, 27, from Hertfordshire, holidaying with her parents means she and her son can afford to go on holiday, because his proud grandparents “very generously” pick up the majority of the bill. The four recently went to the Caribbean together and regularly go to Spain and Center Parcs.

“They’ve taken me to some amazing places I certainly wouldn’t have been able to stretch my income to cover,” she tells HuffPost UK. “My parents’ attitude is that money and experiences are there to be shared and that life is too short.”

Amy Nickell and her mum.
Amy Nickell
Amy Nickell and her mum.

5. You might have to compromise on your ideal holiday.

Sabah Khan, 26, from London, decided to take her mum on holiday as a thank you for taking her in temporarily after her recent divorce. She arranged for them to go to Madrid for a long weekend alongside her cousin and his mum.

However, she and her cousin had different ideas about what constitutes as fun, compared to her mum and aunt. “We had to compromise on everything and the older they get, the slower they move too,” Sabah said. “Plus it’s hard because there were lots of attractive Spanish men but I was with my mum, so it’s not like when you’re away with your friends and can do whatever you fancy.”

Sabah Khan and her mum.
Sabah Khan
Sabah Khan and her mum.

To ensure a holiday with your parents is plain sailing, Relate relationships counsellor Rachel Davies gives HuffPost UK these tips:

:: Cover off expectations before you go as this can end problems further down the line - for example if everyone thinks the other adults are doing the driving or the cooking. Don’t mind-read or make assumptions, talk about it.

:: Plan some separate time from each other and then you will have things to talk about when you meet up later.

:: Parents may still think they are ‘in charge’ and many of us can regress to our younger selves around our parents. Remember it’s your holiday too and if you want to do stuff they don’t like then you should do it – you don’t need their permission.

:: Equally it’s their holiday and you want them to have a good time too. A bit of compromise doesn’t hurt and can smooth waters.

:: Make the most of having adults with different interests and enthusiasms - trying something a bit different is good for you.