Timing is Everything
To get started, resist the urge to start a fresh Google search. Instead, get your child on the phone and brainstorm a little. Where have you both always wanted to go? Mull the list over for a while. Then grab your calendar and make another phone call. Finding a stretch of time that actually works for both of you is perhaps the biggest hurdle of organizing a trip.
“It can take a year to find a date that works,” says Pike. “And that’s OK. It’ll give you time to plan, but also to get excited.”
Choosing the right number of days is key. Generally, you want to find that sweet spot where you feel as if you’ve had enough time together but not too much time together. Erring on the short side isn’t bad, given the overall goal of making the trip so successful you’ll both want to do it again, or even make it an annual tradition.
For Karen Bohn, 71, of Sebastopol, Calif., the timing was the easy part of planning a five-day, four-night summer trip with her son Eric. Eric’s own son was going to be away for a week, which freed up his schedule for the mother-son getaway.
They both loved the idea of a train trip. They’d taken a shorter one together, and thoughts of a longer one had been brewing for a while. And Bohn wanted to see parts of the United States she hadn’t seen before, especially the heartland. There are only a few train lines from California to choose from, so that part was straightforward. They took Amtrak’s California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay Area east through Nevada, Utah and Colorado and then through the Midwest to Illinois. Then they circled back through the Southwest.