Thanks to Shannon of The Wanderlust Effect for today’s memorable Q&A post. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What’s your name, where are you from, and share a little about your mom or dad.
Hi! I'm Shannon and I'm originally from Northern California but currently live on Anguilla in the Caribbean. I come from an international family - my mom was born and raised in Malta and my dad is half Maltese and half El Salvadoran with immigrant parents - so much of those cultural elements were naturally infused into my life. My parents did very little traveling when I was growing up, but my husband and I have shared a lot of our travel passion with them and it's beginning to rub off!

My parents have been divorced for about five years but get along extremely well so we've recently been on some incredible bucket list trips together, and it's definitely ignited their love for travel and their excitement to see more of the world. My grandma, now 91, is still fairly active and mobile and joins us as often as she's able. She spent a week traveling around Guatemala with us this year!

How often do you travel together?
We try to do at least one international family trip together each year. I'm the planner in my family (everyone else in my family is very happy to go with the flow and allow me to take the lead on planning) so I usually take the lead on rounding up destinations or experiences that I think would be a good fit. Last year, my dad celebrated a milestone birthday so we surprised him with an incredible 10-day trip to Ireland, which was his #1 bucket list destination.

This year, I wanted to do a family trip to Central America, where my grandmother is originally from, to get her back there and allow her to share some of the culture that's so close to her heart. We spent a week in Guatemala in Antigua and Lake Atitlan and had a brilliant time - her sisters from El Salvador came in for the visit! Each year, I try to think a bit about where we've been, where my parents have talked about wanting to visit, and what makes sense for us logistically. My parents - and my grandmother! - are mobile and active enough so we're trying to enjoy that as much as we can for as long as we can.

Best tip or words of advice for traveling with parents?
Be flexible, and perhaps most importantly be cognizant of interests and desires. I think this applies to group travel broadly, but when I'm planning our trips, I try to think a lot of about what experiences we'll have when we're there and what will appeal to each of us. Everyone in my family has different interests and different personalities so for me it's about piecing together a loose itinerary that touches on elements that will please everyone. I also find that being flexible is key.

My husband and I are half my parents' age and we travel very frequently which means our travel style and approach is a bit different than theirs. We're extremely active travelers - even our friends who travel with us comment on this! - so we have to be conscious about slowing down a bit and doing activities that my parents will enjoy, and also not cramming a trip from morning to night every day. We leave time for the unexpected and also time to just BE. I've found that some of my favorite memories are just though casual conversations and heart-to-hearts that come out of having unplanned time together. With my grandmother involved at 91, I also take into consideration mobility and our ability to get around and enjoy easily.

Any funny stories or light-hearted blunders?
We've had a few, but one thing I still laugh about is the time we hired a vacation photographer, Nerijus from K Photography, for a day during our time in Killarney National Park. He captured our experience horseback riding through the park and then spent hours with us doing a family photo shoot. They're the best family photos we've ever had and I'm not sure anything will ever come close!

The one thing people often comment on is that they don't know my parents are divorced at first because they get along so well. For my sister and I, this is a huge blessing since we don't have to pick between them when planning trips. I forgot to mention to the photographer that they were divorced, so naturally during the family photo shoot he wanted to do some couples photos for us. He got a couple of gorgeous shots of my hubby and I and then redirected his focus to my parents. At first he just had them walking together in the park - totally fine - and then of course says, 'Okay, now give each other a little kiss. Just go ahead and be natural, a little kiss.' My sister, husband and I were behind the scenes dying laughing and my parents couldn't help but start to awkwardly look at each other laugh, too. I finally told the photographer (and assured him he's not the only one that confuses this situation) and he found it equally funny. 'Never mind on the kiss!'

What are your favorite activities on vacation together?
It varies from location to location really! We generally like to mix outdoor activities with time visiting historical and cultural sights. My dad is a huge history buff so being able to get our fix there is important and often times ends up being a highlight. When they visit us in the Caribbean, we'll do boat trips around the island; in Guatemala we charted a boat for the day on Lake Atitlan to hop to different towns; in Ireland we rode horseback through Killarney National Park and rented bikes to explore the area.

What places are on your shared bucket list?
Italy is the first place that comes to mind for me. I've been lucky enough to visit Italy a few times and absolutely love it, but my parents have never been and have always been intrigued. My husband and I often talk about doing a big family trip - us, his family and my family - in a villa in Tuscany for an extra special week or two away!

Planes, trains, or automobiles?
Planes and automobiles always factor into our travel, but I love trains and my mom is dying to experience a traditional train journey (I'd love to plan a European trip for all of us where train travel is involved). Since we come from different locations, there are always planes involved for getting to a common meeting point, and we generally like to rent a car to have the flexibility to explore. Luckily my husband is okay with driving internationally so he usually takes the lead with my dad as the navigator.

Any notable or unique culinary experiences?
A few! We were shocked by the incredible cuisine in Ireland. It gets a bad rap but the food we had was universally exceptionally and we had an amazingly memorable meal in Dublin at the Vintage Kitchen, a BYOB place that servers up some of the greatest food in the city. We stopped at a local wine shop, picked up our favorite wines, and had a drawn-out three hour dinner with awesome food and so much laughter before bar hopping and listening to live music. In Guatemala, we had a chef during our stay who prepped local food, but my grandma took the helm one night and made pupusas for the family, a traditional El Salvadoran favorite. She had us all involved so we could learn the process!

Do you have a favorite travel memory that encapsulates your parent’s spirit?
There are two trips that stood out in a major way for me: firstly, our trip to Ireland which I keep coming back to. It was an absolute highlight for all of us and it was one of the first big international trips we'd done as a family which made it extra special. We had so many unique elements (visiting very historic sites, dinner at Dromoland Castle, horseback riding, road tripping through the country, etc.) and everyone was just utterly ecstatic the entire trip. There was a childlike excitement from everyone involved because everything was so new and so exciting, and we were celebrating such a special occasion for my dad. Family trips can have tense moments with competing personalities and desires - but this trip was honestly perfect. No fights, no issues, just happiness.

The second trip that stands out was actually a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday. We did this immediately before our trip to Ireland and it was INCREDIBLE. My grandmother was thrilled beyond belief to have her friends and family all in one place to celebrate her and we enjoyed every day with different activities, dinners and events in Vegas. For my parents, especially them being divorced, it was really memorable because both of their families were involved with the Vegas trip, coming together to celebrate this one special lady. It was really amazing for us hearing stories of shared experiences from the past 60+ years!

What do you cherish the most about your travels together?
For me, living abroad, it's just really special to have time with my parents. I only get to see them once or twice a year so being able to go on a trip together gives us time to disconnect from work and other stressors and just reconnect with each other. I'll often realize that weeks or months even have passed where I haven't had a real call or conversation with them so having a week or two together allows us to really catch up with each other and stay connected.

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