On slowing down

For the past nine days, I was in Turkey, travelling with my parents. If you’ve never travelled anywhere with your own mother and father, give it a try.

I’ve always been used to only looking after myself when I travel but on this trip, my needs became less important.

It’s not that my mother and father have never travelled overseas before, they have, on many occasions. Just four years ago, they took my eldest niece to New Zealand with them, rented a car and drove all over the country. Not very many people can say they’ve done that with their nine-year-old granddaughter.

But four years is a long time in human body terms, and this trip with them was an exercise in patience, humility and more patience. I had to walk much slower than usual, although I often forgot and found myself speeding ahead in front of them. Allowances had to be made for their daily habits- my father absolutely MUST spend at least half an hour in the bathroom every morning, something I find both amusing and infuriating, depending on the circumstances. My mother is far from overweight but isn’t very active, so I asked my brothers for ideas on activities which wouldn’t tire her too much, although I wasn’t always spot on in my choices.

In short, this trip ended up being totally different from my solo trips. Extra time had to be set aside for my parents to get ready; for someone who is accustomed to walking almost everywhere and fairly quickly, I walked less and took more taxis; I ate well; I stayed in pretty comfortable hotels which of course, I’m not complaining about!

We didn’t rush- in fact, we couldn’t. When you have parents who are past 67, rushing isn’t always possible. I slowed down on this trip, and as a result, I had more time to observe what was around me.

This was my second time in Turkey but the first for my parents, so while certain things were already familiar to me, they were seeing the country with new eyes. And because old people notice little things, I did too. I saw how pretty the flowers in the Topkapi Palace grounds were. I noticed the frescoes in the Hagia Sofia more closely this time around. There is so much wisdom in slowing down, in not rushing through things or trying to achieve too much in a day, and I have my parents to thank for that.

The Turks we met were lovely. They were respectful towards my parents and took the time to chat with them, making me realise that if strangers could be patient with my own mother and father, I could too.

So if you’ve never travelled with your mum and dad, do it.  If you’re lucky, you’ll also find out that they love travelling and still see the world with wonder in their eyes.


© 2013 – 2014, Anis. All rights reserved.

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10 Responses

  1. Wow! Your parents are way cooler than I ever thought. Brought your niece to NZ. I wish my parents could bring me to NZ someday. Hahaha.. You’re right. We have to be patient with our own parents even what they did were kinda slow, especially in walking. Just like recent trip to Bangkok, I tends to prefer walking from hotel to the train station but my dad couldn’t. So ended up, we took tuk-tuk like almost everyday.

    I can see that nowadays not many people like to bring their parents along and prefer to travel by themselves or even with friends better. For me, bring family especially parents once in a while. You never ask, you will never know actually they also love to travel just like us.

    • Anis Ibrahim says:

      I know exactly what you mean. Travelling with your parents completes the whole experience. It’s a lot of fun but there are different things to consider, like what you said about having to take the tuk-tuks in Bangkok. That’s never a *real* problem though, it’s just a different way of doing things. Whatever it is, I eat more balanced meals when my parents are around!!

  2. Francyn Tan says:

    How wonderful to have this time to spend with your parents! I agree it is an exercise in patience, but one that would make you a far, far better person.

    I would love to travel with mine too, but unfortunately, the last time I did, she got so disoriented and distressed at not knowing where she was … and we discovered she had the beginnings of dementia.

    So make most of the time you have with your parents and treasure (and capture on video and photos) the experiences now.

    Your account of the travel experience is beautifully written.

    • Anis Ibrahim says:

      Thanks, Francyn. I had a lovely time with my parents and learnt a lot about them in the process. Really glad we went on the trip! All the best.

  3. DJ says:

    Wow I have been thinking about this since I bought the tickets for me & parents to go to Japan early next year! Hehehe I always in rushing during my backpacker trip…Because I always travel in short time, but want to cover as much as possible places… But this time, I need to learn how to reduce the pace… =D

    • Anis Ibrahim says:

      Yes, the thing about us is that we’re so used to rushing around, so unfortunately we sometimes forget that we need to slow down. You’ll need to observe your parents and see whether they can handle the pace. Also, you might not be able to do everything you want to, so try and pick the most essential tours or activities. Enjoy Japan, I’m sure you’ll have a great time with your parents! Feel free to email/send me a Facebook message if you want to ask anything.

  4. Annette Huang says:

    So happy to hear you are home safely and that you had a good time.

    Love to you all.

  5. DebbZie says:

    I love travelling with my parents. In fact lately I travel with my parents most of the time, they are travel junkie. I know I have to slow down my pace, but I don’t mind. I want to spend as much time as possible while they are around. Nice post! 😀