Discovering the world together can provide parents and children with memories to cherish, strengthening the bonds of love and respect—or not. Here, Hemispheres contributors share tales of family trips that didn’t quite follow the script, along with tips to help others avoid familial woes in far-off lands.
Our entire family was marooned off the Isle of Wight. The captain who’d brought us out there had deposited us on a shipwreck—a rusty, pocked vessel—with the understanding that we would have a picnic and he would pick us up later.
The captain lost track of time somehow and the tide went out, meaning the boat we’d sailed out on couldn’t ferry us back. It was getting dark. We were cold and hungry. We’d have to wait hours for the tide to come back in.
The thing you want in a situation like this (other than a more diligent captain) is a new boyfriend, someone eager to demonstrate his worth to an otherwise dubious clan. Luckily, my cousin had just such a person in tow, and he was happy to lower himself into the sludge and slosh his way over to a nearby dinghy that could carry us back to shore.
My cousin no longer dates this fellow, but he retains a place in family lore for his heroics—even if the shore was only 100 yards away. —JAMES BARTLETT
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When my middle-aged parents, my brother and I decided to hike down several hundred stairs from a clifftop Greek village to a fish market, we did it for the view and the fish—not for the exercise, as my mom and my stepdad are hardly midlife-marathoner types, and it was 95 degrees outside. We’d planned to ride donkeys back to the summit but my mom felt sorry for the hardworking creatures, so we decided instead to walk up the “easier” sloping path recommended by the fishmonger. “Easier for him, maybe,” said my mom, as the whole family trudged, red-faced, up what turned out to be a treeless, unmerciful 2-mile hill. We stopped periodically to take solace in the Mediterranean vista; during one of these breaks, my brother cajoled my stepdad into posing for a picture of “his awesome vacation.” In it, he’s making a rude gesture—but the background is unbelievable. —JACQUELINE DETWILER