& other tips for traveling with your parents when you are an adult.
It is our second day in Morocco and I am trying to teach my dad what it entails to be my #instagramdaddy. That is no easy task. While he already knows that the wifi code is key, I still have to explain to him that he mustn’t touch anything nor sit anywhere in the room until I have taken pictures of everything.
He thinks that eating some of the strawberries the La Mamounia Marrakech has put out for us is not part of the no touching rule. I can only just keep him from opening the bottle of red that came with the strawberries.
1. Whether you need an #instagramdaddy or just want some snapshots of yourself sporting your holiday finest, some parents need to have the odd lesson in technology and equipment first.
And just accept that you will be responsible for getting the wifi code and personally responsible if it doesn’t work.
After all, your dad is responsible for opening the wine.
Mind you, I get it. If you arrive at a hotel like the Mamounia Marrakech and get shown into a suite full of beautiful furniture, soaps, and goodies, it is quite hard not to touch anything. Even for me.
We have come from a little lunch at Jemaa el Fna and have now entered a different world. “How strange,” my dad muses “we were just in the square and ate tagine in a clay pot and now we are here. Marble everywhere.”
2. Parents are great to have around to do the things you want to do but are too ‘cool’ to do. Like steal borrow the fancy hotel soap.
He speaks my mind because I love this contrast when traveling and I am delighted that he seems to like it too. Street food and champagne. Crumbling sidewalks and marble carvings. Me, dirty feet as usual, and Churchill’s legacy in the same hotel. I feel a bit embarrassed. After all, both of the two kinds of slippers provided seem to require clean feet and maybe even a pedicure. I have neither.
My dad has no such reservations, picks a pair, and declares that he will take a nap just like Mr. Churchill surely did in our bed. I quickly get the picture taking out of the way before he changes his mind and wants to unpack. We have another thing in common when traveling: we manage to make a mess within five minutes of opening our suitcases. Luckily we have a separate dressing room.
Having parents around means having the perfect excuse for extended nap times and boozy lunches.
My dad and I have a long history of traveling together. Ever since I was a teenager and not so interested in family holidays anymore, he has taken me and my three siblings on trips alone. A long weekend in Rome, in Verona, and even in the ever romantic Paris. Once I moved to South Africa he came for an extended visit and we explored the Winelands, the desert of Namibia, and our beloved La Reunion.
Then our traveling stopped. My dad almost died due to a heart issue and the rehabilitation has left him a lot less mobile than he used to be. He walks with a cane now. I tried to tell him that it made him look like Dr. House but as he has never watched it he cannot appreciate the comparison.
Nevertheless, we started to make new travel plans. La Reunion was still high on both of our lists but the reality was a different one. Flight connections proved too complicated and taxing, the country too far from his doctors and the landscape not suitable for someone who has issues walking.
The older person sets the speed and walking limit for excursions. The younger person is in charge of hauling down taxis and tuk-tuks.
All that has brought us to Morocco, a place that I love dearly and am proud to show my dad who has only seen some of its golf courses years ago.
We are staying at the La Mamounia Marrakech, a hotel that while not really my usual style has managed to wiggle its way into my heart. What can I say? My heart does beat for orange blossom scent, snowcapped mountain views, and history.
The hotel was once palace and party central of Prince Al Mamoun before it came to be a hotel and one of Churchill’s favorites. He declared it one of the most beautiful places on earth and apparently being here made the whole World War II business a lot more bearable. And of course, until this day it is one of Marrakech’s celebrity hang-out spots. If only the walls could talk…
My favorite alleged story is the one of Hitchcock who was said to have been attacked by a flock of birds on his balcony once. While probably not pleasant the incident gave him the idea to “The Birds”.
Choose an accommodation that is comfortable, clean and most importantly central. If your father is anything like mine, places that are too cool, out there and casual will not be appreciated. What will be appreciated is a hotel with history and excellent bar snacks.
We spend the afternoon in the pool, something my dad is more than skeptical about. But as I explain to him, the pool is one of the La Mamounia’s best features and needs to be enjoyed especially when the weather outside only offers mediocre February temperatures.
Once the lovely pool attendant has given him yet another pair of slippers appropriate for the pool he is keen though he is more interested in my GoPro than the marvelous surroundings. Can it really swim, he keeps on asking and eyeing it carefully. Yes it can!
6. Traveling is all about getting out of your comfort zone. That doesn’t only hold true for you – get your father to do something new as well. Even if that just means swimming in the fanciest hotel pool in town.
Dinner is a lavish affair at Le Marocain and I am excited to show my dad a fancier version of my beloved couscous and that even Morocco has some great wine to offer. Mind you, I am most excited about their supersized macaron for dessert.
7. Are you the sole trip organizer? These days I tend to be when I travel with my dad and I don’t mind it. After all, this is what I do and especially in a location I know well I am happy to take the lead. However, it is a discussion worth having before especially if your parents are paying for the trip.
After a stroll through the famed La Mamounia hotel gardens, we are back in our room for a nightcap and discover another thing we have in common: We both hate beds with sheets tucked in tightly. Why hotels why? My dad declares he isn’t a baby that needs swaddling and makes it his before-bed-mission to untuck every last corner. Only then is he enjoying the evening news with a last glass of wine in bed.
I enjoy being (un)tucked in bed by my father for a change and don’t even mind that he is snoring. After all, it is just like Mr. Churchill as he tells me in the morning.
8. If you share a room, take earplugs.
A big thank you, once again, to the wonderful La Mamounia Marrakech for hosting us. A special thank you for giving us not only wine, a choice of slippers and a giant macaron but also orange passport holders. Orange happens to be my dad’s favorite color and the passport holder matched his favorite jersey as he happily declared upon returning home.
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