I’ve been in Australia for almost two weeks now and overall it’s been amazing. I landed in Queensland to see the sights (and my grandparents) and fell in love with Brisbane. Then I went to Murwillumbah, with its beautiful misty mountains, and am heading down to Byron bay pretty soon. It’s been a lot of fun and made me seriously want to buy tie dye haram pants and backpack in youth hostels for at least a year asap, but there is one catch.
I’m travelling with my parents.
That is to say, I am travelling with my parents some of the time. We have a lot of family here and we are going from Brisbane to Sydney to see them all, and stopping in a few YHAs along the way. My grandad was kind enough to pay for the fair, so we have jetted across the world to connect with relatives and see the amazingly diverse country of Australia. I’m very lucky, and very grateful for this amazing start to my travels. I’m going on to Melbourne and New Zealand on my own and staying in separate accommodation most of the time. It has been fine, but of course there are some down sides to travelling with your parents in your twenties.
Picture this; you are staying in a YHA full of people your age who are travelling the world on their own, and your parents are staying in the same YHA and expect you to go to places with them. It’s not the worst thing, don’t get me wrong, and being in Brisbane or Byron Bay on holiday beats working in an office any day. My parents are normally pretty cool as well and I do like spending time with them, but travelling to backpacker areas with them can feel awkward and weird at times.
It feels like being a teenager. Just some of the time, but it’s enough. Your parents become convinced you’ll get lost walking in a tiny village when you have lived in a big city all your life. Or they start constantly reminding you to remember your passport every five seconds. This was bad enough as a teenager, but when you’re 23 and have spent three years of your adult life living in (technically) a different country than your parents, it can make you want to shriek “MUUM I’m A GROWN UP LEAVE ME ALONE!” For some reason your normally chilled parents (who know you sometimes get home at 4am and don’t mind) suddenly get all paranoid about you going out on your own.
I think travelling with your parents, like living with your parents, can make you feel like and regress to an over grown 15 year old. Except you’re not 15. You’re twenty-friggin-three.
Other people will know or find out you are travelling with your parents. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of the time I am really grateful for the parents that I have, and I’m not ashamed of them, but it can make it harder to meet people your own age. Not to mention, it can make you feel either significantly older than you actually are.
It can also make you feel younger, and actually make you question whether you could do all this stuff on your own, especially if your parents have literally no faith in you and your survival/sensibility/direction skills. Everyone is so friendly and open here and it’s been a lot of fun, but sometimes I do feel like I’m missing out on the full travelling experience.
I think the important thing to remember is, if you do go on holiday with your parents in your twenties, you’re not a teenager anymore. You can appreciate your parents and what they have done for you all your life, but you also need to remind them that you are an adult now and you can (mostly) function on your own; and quite a lot of the time you need to.
When you are in your twenties it can be hard to know what balance to strike with your parents. You are old enough to see them as human beings rather than all knowing but restricting oligarchs. Yet young enough for them to still see you as a dumb kid who needs their advice (which, realistically, you probably are).
I think it is quite common, especially now, to live with your parents into your twenties and thirties, to lapse into the everlasting adolesence that seems to be expected of us, but we need to accept that we are not teenagers and that one of the best parts of this time of our lives is that we are young and sometimes stupid. We need to be free to make our own mistakes. It’s good to make mistakes sometimes. Though your parents won’t admit it, even they probably felt the exact same way. Travelling with your parents is fine as long as you remember you can and should also do it alone.