Traveling with The Originals
In the recent years when Jaysen and I traveled, I always wished that I can spend some time traveling with my parents. It has been a long time since we traveled as a family. Last month, I had the opportunity to work in Singapore for a couple of weeks. I took this opportunity to spend some quality time with my parents. Jaysen and my parents joined me for the weekend. I must say this trip, while short is among the most memorable. For me, it wasn't about the places we got to visit but just being there. It made me realize that I should be very grateful that we still got to enjoy a short and simple trip. Both my parents turned 60 within a year of each other. In short, we were traveling with senior citizens. :) We had to consider this as we worked on our plan and itinerary. We have been so used to traveling by ourselves, that it took some constant reminder to account for our companions' capabilities. While my parents are still very able, they are no spring chicken. :) As I reflect on that short trip, let me share some things I have learned to make a trip with the parents enjoyable.
Whenever we travel, I always advocate online booking. This saves us time from queueing. But this time, I did not purchase any tickets online. I found that it was one of our best decisions in the trip. Contrary to our usual trips where we would like to maximize everyday with as many activities possible, this is a "take it easy" trip. There was no timing to our activities. We just go on our own pace and do what we can. There is a general idea of the activities for the day, but nothing that can't be changed. We stayed longer in several places and enjoyed longer breaks. Had we booked tickets in advanced, we would be stressed to make sure we get there on schedule. Traveling with seniors would sometimes mean getting to your destination late or not at all.
Remember, it's about them not you. While I wanted them to experience everything there is in Singapore, we follow their pace. If they want to get another cup of coffee, then we go have coffee. Again. :) When they'd rather go to Marina Bay (again!) rather than the National Museum, MBS it is. I fondly remember one morning when we came to pick them up, I asked them if they're full. We bought bread for breakfast the night before, so they said they already ate. Few minutes later, while en route to the Botanic Gardens, my dad asked where we will eat breakfast. I was perplexed, as they already said they have eaten. I later realized that my parents didn't consider that breakfast but more of a snack to tide them over to the proper breakfast. Unless there is rice, it's a snack. :) Because toast is good, but rice is life. So yeah, we had breakfast (again, for us) before we ventured into the Botanic Gardens. Because how can they take their meds without a proper meal? :)
Pills, pills, pills.
Yeah, we've got bills to pay but they've got pills to take. :) It is important that supplements and medications are taken on time. We are always prepared with a bottle of water. My parents are very diligent in taking their pills. I noticed we had to add at least 10 minutes every after meal for them to take out their pill boxes and do the drill. It's quite amusing, really. I can imagine Jaysen and I many years from now doing the same thing. Hahaha. :)
Spot the nearest rest room.
We do this whenever we are in a new place. This is especially important now. I cannot imagine having to go to the loo every hour or so. That happens with age. So I have to be on the look out for the nearest rest room everywhere we go. If we ever come across one, we do a mandatory stop over.
Buffer your budget.
We planned to have an authentic SG experience. This means hitting the hawker stalls and using the train to get around. In reality, practicality wins. We ate where hunger struck us, which is most probably in a nearby restaurant. It would be such an inconvenience, if we'll have to hop on a train to get to a hawker stall five stops away. This meant we only get to try one hawker stall near Chinatown and they loved it! We also intended to go around by train around the city. However, we have to consider that they are not used to walking long distances, heat, and fatigue. As the day wears on, we often find ourselves in a cab. For comfort and flexibility, and peace of mind, it's always a good idea to have a little extra.
In the end, I was happy we did it. Since I live away from them, it was one of the few times I get to spend quality time with them. As my parents get older, I resolved to exert more effort to make memories with them.