Parental Guidance: Spring Break Edition

I don’t remember the moment it became cool to hate your parents. I do remember, however, the moment thirteen-year-old me gave up the too-thick sparkly black eyeliner (on my bottom lash line, re: Hayley Williams) and shredded skinny jeans. It wasn’t the best look for me anyway.

After living on the road with a theatre tour, readjustment to my home life was moving in pace with change in the Catholic church. At twelve years old, I thought sixty-two days of parent-free living qualified me as a bona fide adult. Things slowed down when summer neared and everyone in the house grew sick of fighting. Most of all, though, I missed the familiarity of my parents. I missed our family dynamic and the feeling that I knew exactly how we functioned together.

The moment I gave up what I considered to be ‘artistic expression’ through the famed eyeliner and skinny jeans—which Mom and Dad still hold against me to this very day—I began a new chapter with my parents: friendship. I gave up a piece of my control in exchange for theirs. They quickly lightened up on the more simple rules that I’d learned to live without such as bedtime, censuring what I watched on TV, I could say ‘crap’ and ‘hell’ without: breaking the first seal of the apocalypse, and for some unfortunate reason, they allowed me to go brunette. This also wasn’t the best look for me, and the reason Mom helped me bring the blond back when I came to my senses two months later.

Even with all of this in mind, I never daydreamed about spending my college spring break with… my mom? Like most of us, my fantasies had been infiltrated by low budget ABC family movie specials. I was convinced that spring break was going to be the highlight of my college career, which the same movies promised are the best years of our lives. Reality hit me around high school, but somehow the spring break fantasy stuck around.



When my mom half-asked-half-announced our plans to take on Mexico this March, I realized that the average college human being doesn’t party in a rented beach house with the token group of besties. Most of us vacation with our parents and younger siblings. Even if you’re of age, hitting a bar with your parents is different than with friends. The trip isn’t doomed, it’s just different.

This Christmas, my parents and I invaded the most magical places on earth: Walt Disney World and Harry Potter World. It wasn’t an all-out rager, but it’s impossible to have a bad time when someone has made the effort and brought you to a dream destination. Granted, I nearly lost my Minnie Mouse ears on the first day, but to my not-so-surprise, the trip was fabulous in the true sense of the word. In fact, most of the tear-jerking, smile-so-hard-it-hurts moments were only possible because I was there with my parents. There are just as many benefits to vacationing with your flesh and blood as there are to vacationing with the family you’ve built for yourself.

So, if you’re dreading the week or two with the parents and siblings that are fast approaching, stop. It will not be that bad. Just to prove it, here’s the list of all the things that can only come when good old Mom and Dad tag along.


It’s on your parents dime

Remember the beach house that seemed to magically appear in every spring break movie? Usually someone got a great deal on it because a relative either owned the house, the hotel or better yet ‘they just happened to have an empty room in the busiest week of the year and were offering it for a fraction of the price due to vacancy!’ Yeah… more than likely you won’t be in a beach house. The hotel, the plane ticket, it all gets billed to someone. Unless you’re traveling with the family that someone is you. When we’re paying off student loans, rent and utility bills every month… a plane ticket and a week at a beach house won’t seem worth it. I’ll take a quality hotel with Mom and Dad over the sketchy motel on my dime any day.

      Disney Fast Passes help you cut lines. They are basically the only way to get within an arms length of the Princesses or on a roller coaster in less than an hour. You want these puppies.


Transportation and navigation

Finding your way around an unfamiliar city is no cakewalk. Whether it’s a taxi cab, bus or just reading the city map, navigating can be confusing. Unless you have a sense of direction worthy of a discovery channel survival special, it’s easier to let someone else take the reigns or help you take hold of them. My dad is a classic case who always plans the route. Maybe your Mom and Dad aren’t but most parents start printing out directions ahead of time somewhere within the Kindergarten’s Birthday Party Season. They have a better idea of reading the map or finding directions than the rest of us ninety nine percent of the time.


They do their research

If there’s a local landmark, attraction, activity or museum, your parents will know. What could be worse than being a few miles away from an opportunity and missing it? Don’t worry. The parents and their need to take a picture with any possible Holiday card background won’t let that happen!


           This landmark was hard to miss… but if Mom didn’t have the map I don’t know how we would have found our way to anything in the parks.



For some reason when we think about traveling, we always think about trying new cuisine… but we forget that we have to eat three meals a day. Everyday. Until you’re back in the home kitchen or the servery. Magically, Moms and Dads remember to book hotels with continental breakfasts, insight kitchens, etc to keep you covered.

            They’re also more willing to treat you out to a swanky dinner.


The Beauty and the Beast Official Restaurant, ‘Be Our Guest,’ was a little pricey, but worth it.


Having a meal in the ballroom where Belle and Prince Adam fell in love was too magical to miss out on.


            When you’re in the mood for a snack, they’ll split it with you.


                     I mean, I really didn’t need to share my vegan doughnut… but Dad and Mom needed to share theirs so I could sample all the flavors.


            And they’re more than willing to sample the local cuisine!


                 Fresh sushi, anyone?


Documenting the trip

My mother started scrapbooking my existence during the third trimester, so naturally she can capture the perfect candid photo. When I was too busy crying over Hogwarts, finding my wand, hugging the life out of princesses, there was someone to snap the iPhone camera. If you’re really lucky you might manage a Holiday Card this year you can bear to look at, instead of Mom trying to find last minute photo where you just happen to have the signature eyes too open, teeth clenched too tight smile telling the world you weren’t ready and didn’t want the picture in the first place.



            Photo credits to my mama, of course!



Fostering your bond

Traveling with your parents as a college student is an opportunity to learn more about them, especially if you’re revisiting one of their old haunts or a location that reminds them of their own college days. My own parents met in Texas during spring break, but it turns out Dad was bodysurfing when the magic moment happened. Before our day on St. Pete’s beach this year, I’d never heard about the exact moment my parents met. Traveling can teach you just as much about others as it can teach you about yourself. Take this time to get to know your parents and their histories a little better.


      The perfect place for a heart to heart.


Making memories with the people who matter most

The obvious benefit of a trip with the family will be the special moments you share. For me, it was the picture with my father and Cinderella, my mom hugging me when I cried as I saw Hogwarts in the flesh, and we jumped over waves like little kids who thought we could beat the tides. It’s the moments that can only be shared with the people who have carried you and your baggage through the woods and safely home.


No one would rather see you happy and carefree than your parents

A smile on their child’s face is the parent definition of satisfaction. Knowing you are taken care of is the top priority 24/7. Even when they’re trying to escape the hectic work days and piles of laundry, they want nothing more. We spend the whole year away at Kenyon. A week of your laughs and smiles and experiences is priceless to them and it should be to us.

          My mom snapped this photo on the magic carpet ride and was so proud of it. ‘Carefree and joyful,’ was how she described it. I could tell how important the photo was to her.


            Traveling with parents is cheaper and easier than traveling alone will ever be. It can be as meaningful as any solo trip. Appreciate it while you can, time is going fast.


Image credits: Hannah Hippen ’18,