Guess Who's Coming To Dinner: How To Survive Your Parents' Visit Abroad
So, your folks are coming to visit! It's an exciting time! Depending on the relationship that you have with your parents, this news can cause several different reactions ranging from "Yay!" to "Oh! Crap! For real?" You may also ask yourself: What are we going to do? Maybe you've planned trips for yourself, or friends; however, planning a trip for a parent is a completely different thing! It all comes down to giving them the trip that they want, not what you think they should have (or what you would have for them). Take yourself out of the equation, and ask straight away: Mom (or Dad), what do you want to do? Then, combine their answer with what is feasible all the while taking into consideration time, work schedules and the like. Take some time to ask these questions and have these conversations before they arrive, and ideally, you'll save yourself a few headaches and misunderstandings along the way, because expectations will be clear on both sides. Having parents in town can be tricky, so here's how to make the most of their visit.
Good luck and Godspeed!
Sort Out Accommodation In Advance
If you know your Dad has lower-back issues, don't suggest he sleep on your couch during his 10 day visit unless you're prepared to endure a few days of complaining OR to give up your bed. If you know your roommate has certain "recreational habits" that would make your Mom clutch her pearls, maybe you should kindly suggest a hotel near-by. Also, if your parents aren't really down with GPS or Google Maps, find a place close enough to where you live, if not, you'll spend most of their visit in transit-- picking them up, and dropping them off. We want to have our parents close-by, but there's a huge difference between sleeping on a couch, in a hostel, a hotel and an AirBNB.
Boundaries: it may in fact be the first time your parents are seeing you as an adult. They'll be in shock. Adulting has that effect on people, especially parents. Make your plans based on the type of traveler they are: walking tours, bus tours, day trips, food tours, pub crawls. What works best for them? Not everyone wants to stare at Van Gogh for 3 hours, some parents like to turn-up with the best of them!
Call For Back-Up
Have some support. Do they know any of your friends? Could they pick them up, show them around and open the door for them? Have an extra set of keys ready. Ask your spouse/partner/roommate about their schedules too. You can't do it all alone. They won't adapt perfectly to your work schedule, especially if you work long hours. Plan for jet lag, different eating times and comparisons to home. It's new for them.
Discuss expectations beforehand: remember it's their holiday. Give them what they want, not what you want them to have. I can't stress this enough! It's okay to ask: what do you want to do today? My mom scoffed at fresh macaroons (as I shed one, lonely, thug tear), but lit up over grilled prawns and 3 euro cake from the supermarket. Be flexible. And remember: it's not about you! You may swoon over modern art and craft beer, but Pops is happy with a pint of Mahou and a football game on the big screen.
It's true: my mom still asks me if I have enough clean socks, (completely fair question if you've met me) but, she also rocked up with a suitcase of everything I miss from home. It's a small price I paid for the chance to show my mom that not only do I have clean socks, I've got clean underwear too! #winning
It's not like we're being dropped off at our Freshmen dorms all over again: we do grown up things like fill our mugs with tea, not some strange concoction of vodka and blue Gatorade (Oh, college, the best of times, and the worst of times) Keep these tips in mind and you'll only go through 2-3 bottles of wine during your parents' visit, for sure!
Have your parents paid you a visit yet? How did it all play out? Let us know!
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.