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  • Parika Sikder

A Guide To Travelling With Your South Asian Family

I’ve been loving the trend on TikTok where people showcase the seemingly over-the-top things that their parents do before, during and after a vacation. But since it’ summertime (and tourism is opening up a bit), it’s time to get back to travelling (safely of course)!

Growing up, my family couldn’t always afford to fly (because Air Canada has the country in a chokehold) so I’ve had the luxury of being able to see my parents in a variety of vacation situations depending on who we wanted to visit over the years (yaaay).

I used to get really annoyed at the chaos and often wondered whether other non-brown families behaved like this too. Turns out we’ve all been there and done that!

And because the idea of our collectively chaotic vacationing experiences is comforting to my soul, I’ve put together a crowdsourced guide to vacationing with South Asian families. Let’s dive in!

1. Expect every vacation to come with a 50/50 chance of turning into a road trip. There are so many modes of transportation other than a nice cushy flight.

2. Or it might turn into a family reunion with people who may or may not actually be family.

3. On said road trip, always pack food and snacks for a party of 50 even though you can only fit 5-7 people in one car.

4. Randomly stop on the road to take pictures with the scenery. The people on Facebook need to know what the wild looks like wherever you’re going. Also, don’t smile in the photos. Road tripping is serious business.

5. Be sure to stop in a small town and realize that you’re the only brown folks around. The weight of representing our cultures is on your shoulders now.

6. If your family decides to actually catch a flight, be sure to show up 3 hours early — yes even for domestic flights. “You never know,” says my Dad even though we actually do know.

7. When boarding a flight, be sure to force your dad to let you hold your own passport (even though this demand will be denied). And then watch him scramble to open each of them to the correct page at the front of the line for boarding.

8. Also, if your parents are halfway around the world but you are flying, keep your phone handy for when they worry about your flight FOR YOU. Just cause they aren’t with you doesn’t mean they aren’t with you on this flight.

9. Pro-flying tip: Always let mom or dad take the aisle seat. Why? Because if taking luggage out of the over carriage as soon as the plane touches down was an Olympic sport, brown parents would take home the gold every time.

10. When travelling to the beach with multiple families, expect the moms/aunties to squeal with excitement when they dip their feet in the water.

11. Pro-travel tip: Bring an extra pair of headphones for when the trauma-induced arguments break out. If something that happened 20 years ago doesn’t come up once, did you even go on vacation with your family?

While this list is just the beginning of typical South Asian family behaviour I have to say vacationing with family is definitely something that I often feel fortunate enough to experience. I enjoy seeing my parents take a break from the routine -- even if there are predictable moments along the way. One thing’s for sure though, I will be the one to overload on snacks for a long road trip with family any day.

If you’ve travelled with your South Asian family and have things to add to the list, leave a comment and hit the follow button on IG @joremagazine. Thanks for reading!

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