We are a family of five. My wife and kids love to travel and so do I. We take two long vacations every year to take a break from our busy lives and give time to each other. My mom, too, enjoyed making these vacations lovely for us, and actively planned trips to quaint destinations. But ever since we lost our dad, my mom slowly began to lose the enthusiasm for vacations like these.
Mom didn't get excited about trips anymore
Most of our trips were rather short with too many activities lined up closely. My mother, on the other hand, enjoys slow travel. Also, the choice of destinations on our recent trips were driven by the what our kids wanted.
Our vacations were spent in separate rooms. And after the diurnal tours, the nights were boring and aloof. While my wife and I would spend the time in one room, and the kids in another, my mom was left alone in a distant room where she would have to spend the evenings alone. This feeling of being left out and the idea that she was slowing us down started to haunt her. Soon she started requesting us to be left back at home when we went out for vacations. It was really sad to see her rejecting something she enjoyed so much. This was making me feel very guilty, and I wanted to do something to cheer her up.
Planning the right trip
Mom's birthday was close, and we decided that we should do something special by planning a vacation that made her feel a part of the family. We listed out the things that mom loved, and used to be enthusiastic about. The kids helped get it out of her. Mom loves beaches, experimenting with new dishes, and had always dreamt about travelling to France beyond Paris. Now that we knew what would excite her, it was time for us to plan the ideal vacation.
Keeping her interests in mind, we found out a beautiful property on Airbnb called Arièle's Place in the heart of Arcachon in France. This was a beautiful villa next to the beach with a usable kitchen and a barbecue set-up in its garden. I was really impressed by the property, and booked it immediately. We convinced mom that we were taking this vacation specially for her, and she would love it. Mom, though apprehensive, said that she would respect our efforts and would come with us. We booked our air tickets to Paris, and train tickets from Paris to Arcachon, and were all excited about the vacation.
After a 9 hour long flight from Delhi, we reached Paris. Mom's favourite cousin came to the airport to pick us up, and we drove to her place in Montrogue. On the entire journey, not just the kids but I were also amazed at my mom's ability to talk continuously. After all, she was meeting her best friend from childhood and there was so much to catch up on.
We enjoyed the hospitality at my aunt's place for the next two days. And while the 600 km distance between Paris and Arcachon could have been covered in two hours by plane, I chose to buy train tickets. Mom loves train journeys, and was just as excited as the kids to see the French countryside.
Arièle's Place is just a 5-minute walk from city centre and Pereire beach. We entered the stay through a beautiful garden that was tastefully created. The villa built in a contemporary style while maintaining a colonial charm, has a very homely vibe, with three bedrooms, ideally meant for a family like us. When she took a look at the kitchen, mom was thrilled that she could actually get to cook.
Mom found her place in Airbnb
Later in the afternoon, Mom and I went to Marche, a paradise for gourmet shopping close by, to shop for oysters and wine. Mom can speak French a bit, and she learnt a few local traditional preparations from the shopkeepers. With everything set up, it was time for mom to take charge, and indulge in an activity that she loves the most – preparing new dishes and feeding the family until all of us are more than full.
The dinner was ready in a few hours, and mom was really happy that the dish that she had tried out for the first time had turned out well, and everyone loved it.
The next morning was her birthday. As she wakes up very early, we had to make all the arrangements in advance. She was surprised to find beautiful sunflowers and lavender everywhere in the room at 6.00 am. All of us were awake, and as she got out of her room, we greeted her. The kids offered her a garland made from the shells that they had collected on the beach. Mom has a collection of natural objects, and this new ornament was definitely an extravagant addition. We had prepared a video about mom, and the kids played it on the TV. Mom exclaimed that this was the best surprise she had ever got, and had tears of joy in her eyes. We got a masseur for her, and provided her a spa treatment at the Airbnb itself.
Mom learned from the masseur that there was an Oyster farm close by, and was intrigued by it. She wanted all of us to come to the farm, and that's what we did. We went for a brunch by the beach, and after relaxing for a few hours, took a boat ride to the Ile aux Oiseaux. The island provides magnificent views of the beach, and is famous for its oyster farms. The kids also had fun with their grandmom at the Oyster farm, getting to know about something they had no idea of. There were small shacks near the farms offering quick oyster and seafood snacks with drinks, and we loved it.
Getting closer at an Airbnb
Later in the evening, we got a barbecue arranged at the Airbnb garden, and had a good time chatting around the bonfire. We played Checkers, which is mom's favorite game. She got all competitive with the kids, and it was fun to see her be in the moment, enjoying with the kids, remembering her feats from childhood. I was ecstatic that we were bringing warmth to our relationship on this vacation.
The next day, after elaborate shopping, we commenced our return journey. On our flight back to Paris, mom told me how pleasantly surprised she was at how the trip turned out. The vacation was all customised for her and she never had a dull moment.
The amount of freedom, and the option of customisation that our Airbnb offered us, helped us make the vacation better for mom. It was certainly different from the usual vacations where we used to give in to the blanket services offered by our stay. It is a great idea to find a stay that suits our needs and choices. And so, from that trip onward, we decided to always book Airbnbs for our holidays.
Travelling with family involves a lot of planning. That is why a lot of families Airbnb because it gives everyone a chance to be themselves.
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