Traveling with Family in Ecuador

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While in Canada my family decided to visit me on the road. This isn’t common for many backpackers and when it happens the backpacker often enjoys that for a short time they no longer have to endure hostels and budget restaurants and can live as a two-week tourist.

However, my mother and sister decided they wanted to experience the backpacker lifestyle. Now that they’re gone I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned.

1) Get to the first city before your family does

Getting lost or not knowing your way is fine, and sometimes fun, when traveling solo. It is stressful when others are depending on you to know where to go.

I spent a couple days in Quito before my family arrived to check out the sites and a few restaurants. It made things much easier the first few days – except the getting robbed thing.

2) This is not the time to have a loosey goosey schedule

I often don’t keep an itinerary and will move onto a city when I feel like it. Your family does not want this.

They want to know where they are going, how long they will be there and what they are doing while they are there.

We changed the schedule a few times but it’s important to have something concrete so they feel everything is under control.

3) Patience is a virtue

Keep in mind that the dynamic will be different, especially if those visiting are novice travelers and they do not speak the language.

There’s not a lot of English in Ecuador – at least the places we wanted to visit. 

In restaurants in Cuenca and other cities I needed to translate the entire menu to them, if they needed to use the bathroom I had to find it for them.

4) You need downtime/alone time

It’s difficult spending so much time together. There are long stretches of time where you aren’t more than ten feet away from each other.

With Modern Family and Cougar Town on my netbook we’d often end the day by just relaxing and laughing.

Sure, it’s not glamorous to say you watched television while on vacation but we needed time to unwind.

ALSO READ:  Cuy in Ecuador

Fortunately, my family recognizes the value of spending time alone, so when I snapped at my mother for being only two steps behind me in a church, she didn’t take it personally.

It’s also the beauty of traveling as a trio, when one is being bitchy, the other two can laugh about it.

5) Appreciation is key

Sometimes you get so caught up in planning and organizing that you forget what an enormous effort it was that they came to see you.

They braved all their fears because they wanted to spend time with you and share in the experience.

I tried to relate to them by remembering my first days in Mexico when I spoke no Spanish and everything was so overwhelming. 

They dropped themselves into an unfamiliar country and embraced the culture. For that I am so proud.

Join the Conversation

  1. So to be fair, I’m more of a writer than a mathematician, however I’m pretty sure you only have four rules listed! πŸ™‚

    I do agree with three and five. It’s crucial that you’re patient and simply step back and appreciate the situation for what it is – an opportunity to share the love of travel with people you love. You WILL get frustrated, stressed, and tired – but it’s worth is in the end.

  2. Ayngelina Author says:


    Yikes I don’t know where it went but it’s now fixed.

  3. These are awesome tips! I FINALLY got to travel with a family member, my bro, 2 months ago and it was AWESOME!!!

  4. My mom met up with me in Nice at the end of my backpacking trip through Europe last summer, and it was so nice! My mom and I travel really well together, but it was also awesome to finally have someone to chat with all the time–and the nice apartment/restaurants didn’t hurt either!

  5. Jenni Bennett says:

    Sounds like a good time. My dad is just starting to get the travel bug so hopefully I will be putting your rules to good use very soon!

  6. Traveling with family can definitely be a challenge. I think you’ve hit upon some good advice here.

  7. We also thought you knew the answer to everything!

  8. Great Tips! I felt so privileged when my Dad said he wanted to come travel with me in China, often parents don’t even agree with travel let alone want to experience it with you. And out of all my travels those two weeks spent with my Dad were some of the most memorable! I was lucky with my Dad, he pinned me as the China expert and just trusted that his trip would be fantastic no matter what, he wasn’t fussy, he didn’t complain when it turned out the room i booked had a squat toilet! For me he was the perfect travel companion, plus he wanted to pick up the extra costs so that didn’t hurt! And a big plus, he is much better at figuring out a map then me!

  9. Carmie Brogan says:

    We each had a day that we wanted to punch the lights out of the other two but no one acted on it. And we each had a role to play…your role was to know everything that we asked of you, ryan’s role was to survive spending 18 days with us and my role was to ask every question I could think of…and we did! That makes a great family memory!

  10. Adventurous Kate says:

    Really great tips, Ayngelina! You seem to be good friends with your mom and sister. When you get along with family that well, it’s easy to get over the minor annoyances of travel and just get back to the good stuff.

  11. On our RTW trip we had both sets of parents want to meet us in different places. Our tip – have them do the work! They had a trip in mind that was quite different from we were used to (cheap hostels, limited restaurants, lots of hiking), so we let them plan their trip and “tagged along” for the ride. Worked beautifully!

  12. This is some great advice!!! I would love it if my parent visited me but I know it just wont happen they dont even think would I am doing is what I should be doing!

    I am hoping that some of my friends meet me on the road!!!

  13. Ayngelina Author says:

    @Jamie D

    Sorry to hear that, my family learned long ago that I was going to do what I wanted regardless of what they thought so they better get on board πŸ™‚

    I had lots of offers in the beginning from friends and yet somehow they are all falling though (hint hint guys…)

  14. We’ve got some friends who said they are coming to see us, we’ll see if that happens and my parents are joining us in Thailand for a couple of weeks after christmas so these tips will be of great use!

  15. I like your tips Ayngelina. They do help on these funny travel-with-family situations. I have met with my family on a random city before but in my family’s case, even though they want to explore what backpacking is, they still don’t have the will power to do so… so it is an upgrade for me. lol

    It’s easy to snap at them because they feel like you are the expert and pretend you know everything. But that’s fine with me, it lets me know they trust my judgement and that they know we can have an awesome time together.

    “Me” time is essential… at least for me is not that cool to be stuck together 24/7. But if we snap at each-other, moments later we are laughing at it… πŸ™‚

  16. It’s also a good idea to discuss what you want to do BEFORE the trip.

    I once met my sister in Vegas. She’s single and very outgoing, so she wanted to go dancing and meet people. I’m a very shy married mom of 3, so I had absolutely no desire to do that. The trip was quite the fiasco!

  17. Nick Laborde says:

    It’s awesome that your family is willing to dive into the backpackers life for a couple of weeks. I don’t think my family would do that.

    For me, having some alone time would be key, or else I’ll end up being the bitchy one.

  18. Great tips, Ayngelina!

    My mom and I went to visit my brother in Australia a couple of years ago. My mom wanted to do the backpacker then so we stayed in hostels. I think the other kids’ were horrified and said they would never make their mom stay in a hostel. haha.

    We did most of these tips but wish we could have used this article then.

    1) My brother had been in Sydney for a while so we were comfortable with him showing us a lot of his favorite places and going with the flow.

    2) I had planned a schedule of somethings we really wanted to see and to. Not to be missed places. This included celebrating Mother’s day and our mom’s birthday. We bought tickets to the Opera House, Uluru, and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef way in advance.

    3) Patience IS a virtue. Luckily my brother has more of it than me and didn’t take it out on me when I was bitchy. I could use some more of this thing called patience.

    4) Definitely plan to schedule in some downtime/alone time. Being with people 24/7 can be a challenge and I think if we had some more of #4, then I would have had more patience like #3.

    5) We loved that we go to meet all my brother’s friends and that he lead us all over the place. The even made a sign welcoming us. It was fantastic!

  19. So rare to combine savvy with sweet. This is both.

  20. That is some really good advice that I will lock away for future consumption. My past trips have been less than 6-months so none of my friends/family have come to visit me on the road. I assume that on my trip departing in January 2011, since it is indefinite my friends/family will come visit at some point. They better!

  21. Your Message

  22. i totally agree with #4. on our trip, if one of us was having a bad day, then the other two busied themselves with something until the other was ready to resurface! worked like a charm every time.

  23. Devin the Travel Writer says:

    I haven’t traveled with my family since I was 15 and trying to undo residual damage. So hopefully when I finally take my kid to some place different she will not have to deal with the baggage (pardon the pun). Nice tips πŸ™‚

  24. Pedro Cardoso says:

    “It’s also the beauty of traveling as a trio, when one is being bitchy, the other two can laugh about it.”

    That’s what I call being positive! Truth of the matter, is one of the best things about travelling with family or close friends.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I traveled with my mom and sister for a month and would agree, when one was cranky the other two could roll their eyes.

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