If there is anything that i love more than planning a budget backpacking trip for myself , its planning one for my parents. The challenges in doing so are many , but the satisfaction of seeing them have a successful and happy trip is more than my own. Over the last 1.5 years , i have planned more than 6 budgeted trips for them , 3 of which were solo trips for my dad.
With the many concerns and resistance that comes across with customised trips for them , it isn't a surprise that group tours from popular agents still remain a favourite choice for them. However , if the age old saying that they have been preaching to you since your childhood of " Save More , Spend less" is anything to go by , try using some of the tips mentioned below to plan a successful trip for their next vacation.
Type of Trip: There are many factors to be considered while choosing a vacation spot for them , however go back to the basics of checking on these main things- What they need,what they like & the budget.To make it simple, what they might need after a particularly stressful period is a relaxed holiday in the mountains or they might be yearning to go for an exciting city vacation.Consider this while also weighing in their likes & dislikes , my parents for instance hate beach holidays and enjoy more active trips.Finally the budget , whether you are paying, or its a self sponsored trip for them , although a VIP treatment sounds awesome , a lower budget trip with more money to spend on experiences there would be a much better option.
All inclusive bookings: While making the bookings , try and pay beforehand for as many things as you can initially. Watch out for hidden costs & additional payments , taxes etc.Last minute costs demanded on the trip can be daunting for them and you definitely don't want them to worry about overshooting the funds available while on a trip. Explain the payments which they might have to pay on their trip and the ones which have already been paid for so that they have clarity and don't pay any extras.
Transport: While i wouldn't exactly recommend making them travel in metros & trains , even when on a budget trip , private cabs or tours in most places can be 2-3 times more expensive than group tour options. Look out for tours which offer SIC(Seat in Coach), or if cabs are going to be the only feasible option , then try and look out for online websites which offer bids from various operators. I recently booked from one such platform in Europe for my dad and got a cab at half the cost offered by others.
Accommodation: This is going to be your biggest cost saver for the trip. Traditionally used to fancy hotels offered by group tour operators , try and convince them to stay in an Airbnb this time. The accommodations are at 1/3rd the cost offered even by the lowest cost hotel in that area in most cases & trust me when i say your parents will love them.Look out for superhosts and check for reviews before you book them. I normally try and book in centralised locations , this also makes most locations accessible to them on foot and saves a lot on transportation as well.
Make a spreadsheet: With so many individual tour & hotel bookings, the tour can get confusing for them , make a sheet for them with all the bookings & details. I make something similar to this for my parents when they travel , makes it super easy for them to check on their daily schedule.
Introduce your parents to some things that you enjoy and include something they’ll love: On his first solo trip to Europe , i introduced my dad to the concept of budget stays and free walking tours . Initially hesitant about experimenting with the same , he loved the concept and wanted me to book this for all his consecutive trips. He has also over the last few trips tried out Pub Crawls and Beer Tours all on his own! When you are introducing something new though , include something that they are comfortable or familiar with to let them be relaxed about other things which they may not be so comfortable about.
Finally , remember that the most important thing is to make them feel comfortable & let them enjoy a trip that they have always dreamed off .So next time you are planning a trip for them , try and use these tips to help them enjoy a budgeted trip and watch them surprise you!