For some, the idea is a natural, while others may have to give it a little thought. As their parents age but stay relatively healthy, growing numbers of adult children are taking them on special vacations. The most successful, those travelers say, are geared to fulfilling the parents' desires, whether it's a trip they've always wanted to make or an experience they've never even imagined. Those journeys work best when all participants tailor expectations to such realities as how much a parent can comfortably do and the kind of relationship parent and child have with each other. New York City psychologist Karen Zager suggests preparing coping strategies in advance of the trip to avoid old conflicts that can resurface with 24/7 togetherness and plan for some time apart as a break. She also advises having "backup plans in case you need to come home early." Still, for those willing to take the chance, the rewards can range from learning something new about someone they love to sharing a bonding experience that can be treasured forever. Here are five trips of a lifetime that almost any mom or dad would enjoy.
?JUST HANG OUT TOGETHER
After her dad died, public relations consultant Stacey Udell, 39, of Dix Hills, N.Y., wanted to show her mom Ellie Meyrowitz, 64, a good time away from grandkids and in-laws. Since they both like nightlife and glamour, Udell arranged a stay at El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa in Las Croabas, Puerto Rico. Every day, after lounging on the beach, they dolled themselves up for a night on the town, drank vodka on the rocks and lingered over lavish meals. One night, they went to an art- museum restaurant and found limos outside. Inside, local women in glittery dresses glided by accompanied by elegant men at a private party. "Let's crash," Stacey proposed, and Ellie was instantly up for it. They drank exotic cocktails with hors d'oeuvres and clung together in the crowd, giggling all the time and finding pleasure just in being in each other's company. The next year they went to the Dominican Republic.
Stacey: I was looking for a boyfriend for her, which didn't happen. But maybe on our next trip.
Ellie: We were like two friends, partners in crime. Also, being alone with my daughter, I could see how mature and successful she is. The way she carries herself--it was a joy to see.
?INDULGE IN LUXURY
Taking the American Orient Express's Great Transcontinental Rail Journey was the perfect trip for Allan Geddes, 76. Geddes and his late wife Shirley had always done things "top of the line," according to their son John, 49, a glass designer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. What's more, railroading had always been Allan's passion, from putting together the tabletop track and cars John played with as a boy to accumulating a wealth of big-engine lore. On a 10-day rail tour from Los Angeles to Savannah, Ga., which included stops at the Grand Canyon and New Orleans, father and son occupied separate mahogany-and- velvet-trimmed sleeper cars that dated from the 1940s, drank cocktails while listening to live piano music in the sumptuous club car, and dined on five-star meals. The passing sights prompted the elder Geddes to unfold new stories about his past: his days shoveling coal into steam engines, his first trip with John's mother. Over the miles, the train ride became special for both of them.