x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

On trips with parents, the road can be long

Travelling with parents, while fun, comes with its hardships.

Dunnottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle "was cold but beautiful".

I tried not to scream when my father opened the door of our hotel room in Petra. "Hmm - not so bad," he said. It was worse than bad. It was horrible. At least it was bigger than the one in Istanbul over winter break, but that was a glorified hostel, with not even enough room to open our suitcases. There was nothing glorified about this place: the walls were dirty, the bedspreads looked like they hadn't been washed in the last century and there was one broken lamp on a broken desk.

When you travel with your parents, it can be nerve-racking. We've been many places together: Scotland, France, Jordan, Turkey, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, plus lots of trips in the US, Canada and the UAE. The folks love to travel. But as I'm getting older - I'm turning 14 - I sometimes think I'm better off staying at home. Take our trip to Scotland in June. My father had the brilliant idea of travelling by car from London all the way up to Edinburgh, up the north-east coast to Montrose, then to the west coast and all the way back to London. In seven days. If you have never travelled like this, you might think it sounds exciting. It's crazy.

I wasn't happy about the arrangements from the beginning, even though this time I had reviewed all my dad's bed and breakfast choices and booked one place myself in Glasgow. Since we were landing at Heathrow at 6.30am after flying all night from Abu Dhabi, I knew we were all going to be tired. Too tired to drive seven straight hours to Edinburgh. My mother and I had tried to talk Dad into taking the train, then renting a car when we got up to Scotland. But, no. Dad, always wanting to save money, won out.

So there he was, having to drive - and on the other side of the road. Then it started to rain. It never really stopped. It seemed every time we'd start driving, down came the rain. Even though we had prepared Google maps for every day's trip, we still managed to get lost. It hadn't occurred to us that in the UK it's miles, not kilometres. To make matters worse, I caught a bad cough. Of course, it was also fun - even with parents along. Under a bit of pressure, Dad agreed to take me into the Camera Obscura outside Edinburgh Castle; it's a camera on top of a tall building that moves so you can see everything near and far and in great detail. I could see people walking streets away; I could see the bench where I knew my mother was waiting.

When we were on the east coast, they took me to Dunnottar Castle, a medieval ruin on a cliff overlooking the North Sea. It was cold but beautiful. In Oban, on the west coast, we bought the best fish and chips I have ever eaten. It was from a takeaway that we found when we were wandering around wondering what to do in this resort that closed down at 5.30pm. We ate as we walked, and for once it wasn't raining.

We had planned on seeing a musical on our last night in London. Of course, finding our tacky, tiny hotel in the city was the usual adventure with Dad stressing out, me telling myself I was never going to let them talk me into travelling this way again (we'd driven another seven hours straight from Glasgow) and Mum trying to calm us both down. By the time we got to Piccadilly Circus, there was less than half an hour before the shows started. Ever since seeing a flyer for Grease with a photo of a 1950s convertible on it, I'd wanted to see that musical. My parents weren't so enthusiastic. It was an old show, they told me. Let's see something new, like Billy Elliott. But the cheap seats were only for Grease. They shrugged and said OK. Besides, I was running a fever by this time and they decided to be nice to me.

I don't know who enjoyed the show more, me or them. There we were in the second row with these incredible performers and great songs. You'd never know they were acting. At intermission, my fever broke. My parents were so relieved they bought me two cups of very expensive ice cream. When they're in that kind of mood, they're great to travel with. Georgia Beauchemin is a 13-year-old student at Cambridge High School in Musaffah.