Published on May 16, 2013 | by William Thomas


Holidaying with your parents in your 20s: good vs bad

A family sitting in a vintage car pose for a picture while on holiday in Cuba

Few complaints: the first complete ‘Thomas family’ holiday in five and a half years left few disappointed. [image: Will Thomas]


Every year I try to go on holiday with my friends during the summer, and for the past few years I have done so without fail, even if it was just a small festival. But last year my Dad retired after 30 years in the police force, and to celebrate he decided to take us all on holiday for Christmas. But should you instantly accept an invitation for a holiday with your parents? Here is a list of things to consider before you pack your suitcase:

The good:

The destination will probably be good.

One thing you can (hopefully) rely on by agreeing to go on holiday with your parents, and it should definitely be a deciding factor, is the holiday destination. If they offer you a ten-day trip to Cuba for Christmas, like mine did this year, then you say yes. It’s a no-brainer. But if they can only offer you one week in a rented caravan in the Cotswolds, then seriously think about whether it’s truly worth your precious time.

They pay for everything.

Many rum-based beverages were purchased courtesy of Señor Thomas, as well as an excessive amount of cigars. All of my meals, visas, departure tax (complete joke, but the country’s economy is screwed, so they need to make some money), all of my souvenirs and any water activities at the beach resort were taken care of by my beloved parents.

They organise the entire trip.

From start to finish my dad researched, planned, and booked everything he wanted us to do on the Caribbean island. I just turned up with my suitcase of summer clothes and jumped on the plane. But not before being treated to all-you-can-eat breakfast, wi-fi, comfy sofas, and free newspapers in Virgin Atlantic’s private departure lounge. I didn’t really mind what we did once we got there, as it was always above 25 degrees, and the city and beaches were generally stunning. I couldn’t complain.

If anything goes wrong, they can deal with it for you.

Thankfully no troubles ensued while we were away. This was especially good, as only one of my brothers speaks Spanish. I say this loosely, as it was about seven years ago when he learnt it. But, if for any reason you run out of money, someone is injured or gets sick, or a Cuban gang kidnaps you, you can hopefully trust your parents to get their shit together and sort it out.

Now that you’re in your 20s, your parents let you do ‘grown up stuff’.

Being in Cuba and all, it was only appropriate to smoke a cigar or five. At first I thought it might be weird to smoke in front of my entire family, but with the exception of my Mum we all enjoyed a fine cigar together. Experiences like this might just surprise you, as you realise that your parents finally see you as a proper adult.

The bad:

It’s just you and your parents (and maybe siblings) for ‘x’ amount of time.

It’s not the first time I’ve said it. My family drive me mad. And that’s on a good day when I only have to see them in the morning and evening. But all five of us spending ten unadulterated days together was something else! I haven’t had to share a room with anyone, let alone my brothers, in about 15 years. But suddenly I found myself in a hot climate, fighting for breathing space with my two 23+, 6ft 5in brothers. In our first stop, Havana, we got lucky and had a double bed each, but when we arrived at the beach resort in Varadero, I was taken straight back to my childhood. My oldest brother got the best bed, my middle brother got the equally okay bed, and I – the ‘baby’ got the smallest, crappest bed at the end of the room.

You’ve been used to independent living for far too long.

This is a bit of an expansion of my previous point. You’ve been living away from home for at least a year, if not more, and you’ve come to enjoy no daily nagging, no “just-checking-up-on-you” texts and not having to constantly explain yourself. Well, get ready to experience all of that again for the next week or so.

You can’t get as drunk as you’d like to with your parents around (or maybe you can).

It just doesn’t feel right. You don’t really want to see them even a little step over the one drink mark, let alone absolutely “gazeboed”. I had the joy of experiencing my Mum on one, possibly two Cuba Libres and it was just not fun for anyone. Except for her, the lightweight.

Beach parties, Full Moon parties, New Year’s Eve parties – just all parties…well, their presence can slightly kill the mood.

Cuban people seem to live a pretty chilled-out lifestyle, so nothing seems to get going for a while. The beach party on our last night didn’t seem to materialise until around 11 or 12 o’clock, by which point my mum was already drunk. So, as a helpful pointer for any of you who may find yourself in this sticky predicament in the future, take your parents back to their room and casually return to the party.

So, just to reiterate the five main negotiating points: 

1. You’re only going if they take you somewhere worthy of your personal sacrifice.

2. Make sure it’s understood from the start – they’re paying. For everything.

3. Draw straws for which bed you get. Unless you’re happy on the pokey one.

4. Get drunk in secret, and encourage your parents to get drunk in secret, too.

5. Your parents have got your back, at all times.

[illustration: Amy Gallagher]

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