During a recent family trip two years ago, we headed to Tasmania in Australia for The Brother’s graduation. Well, it turned out to be quite fun, much better than I thought it would be. I remember going for long walks around Melbourne with my Dad, and plucking strawberries with my Mom. We even did a photo book on the trip after that.
My good friends have also gone travelling with their moms. Both Friend H and Friend W have brought their Moms to London, and they enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s not just the shopping, but it is also human nature to want to explore a different country and place, once in a while.
Then it got me thinking… that our parents have spent a large part of their lives working hard to put us through school. Now that we’ve started working, there’s no best time to travel with our parents than in our twenties, and here’s why:
In your twenties…
1. There are less responsibilities and more flexibility
I’m not saying everyone is like that, but in a slightly more junior role, you can take annual leave at a time of your choice, and take off with your parents who are usually taking a step back in their careers or have already retired. It’s different when you’re in your thirties and forties where you have crying babies or exam-taking teenagers. It’s not just about financial demands, but also managing expectations from multiple parties. For instance, how do you balance the demands of an adventurous teenager vs your parents.
2. There’s no better gift than a travel trip
Rather than buy Tiffany necklaces for The Mother, I’d rather buy her a plane ticket to London. To see the Buckingham Palace and the Big Ben. These are things she often sees on television and reads in the newspapers. I think it would be nice if she could see these sights in person.
For The Father, a trip to the Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, ‘the birthplace of good beer’ would be appreciated, I hope.
3. There’s no other better person to spread the travel bug to, than your parents
I am not bragging, but I think I have seen a fair amount of beautiful places and things in my two decades of living. The St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, the grand mountain ranges in Nepal, the fresh green rice terraces of Bali, the respectable mountains in China and the lovely canals and river houses of Amsterdam. And I thought it would be great if my parents could see what I see, something beautiful about this world, that had made me go ‘wow’, and put a smile on my face.
4. Travelling makes for good bonding time
Travelling reveals a different side of a person. Be it eating the wrong food or getting a stomach ache together, to picking up great finds at a Harrod’s sale, or selecting Coach and Long Champ bags together. Travelling makes for some great bonding time with your parents.
I never knew The Mother was so brave until I took a Tasmanian river cruise with her. Butterflies were having a party in my stomach and I was grabbing her arm at the peak and trough of the rough waves, while she sat in her seat, upright, in a rather composed and relaxed manner. Respect.
5. Travelling makes your parents happy
I’m not sure if that’s for the majority of parents, but Friend H’s and Friend W’s Moms appeared very happy when they returned home from their trips. Maybe it’s the good food, and the numerous acquisitions of branded goods, but I think it’s also because of a fresh break from the hectic Singapore lifestyle and jobs that they have.
6. It’s about living your life with no regrets
Hey, I’m not saying anything negative will happen. Choy! Touch wood. (Singaporean slang for saying – don’t let these unlucky stuff happen to me.) It’s just that when our parents get older, and tire easily, chances are, they are less inclined to go to places that are further away and take long plane rides. Hence you got to get hold of them right now, when you can, to go on trips together.
* * *
I felt incredibly sad when I read about the latest news of MH17 getting blasted by a missile. It’s one of the saddest things in life to be killed while on the way to be reunited with your family. It’s even more depressing to learn that the plane crash had wiped out an entire family of six.
In an era of incredulous and unfortunate accidents, I would be lying if I told you I didn’t have a single shred of fear in me when I board the next flight out of the country. But somehow, knowing that you have lived your life with almost no regrets helps. Things like letting your parents, sons, daughters and spouses know you love them counts for something. Letting someone know you have forgiven them also means a lot, not just for the other party, but for you as well.