I’ve often seen that when your parents first decide to vist you in the USA – a lot of time and energy goes into preparing for the visa, but once that is done, you don’t prepare as much for what they are going to do when they reach the country.
As a result, parents get terribly bored during their stay, and what should be a great holiday is reduced to weeks of boredom. There are several things that you can do to prepare for your parents who are visiting the US from India, and this is definitely a situation where a little planning can go a long way.
The first thing of course is the long flight. Non stop flights can be 15 hours, and other flights can make your journey extend up to a day or more. That alone is enough to discourage most people from flying. This is a long flight, and it’s not going to be comfortable for most people, but in reality it isn’t as much an ordeal as most people think it is either.
I’ve found that drinking a lot of water, having your own entertainment like loading a movie or two on your laptop, wearing comfortable slip on footwear and having ear muffs make the journey less arduous. It will never be a cakewalk, but these are simple things that you can do to make it a little easy to travel.
Â Jet Lag
Jet lag can easily ruin the first week of your vacation, and you should try to beat the lag to whatever extent possible. The thing I’ve seen work for me best is to go to sleep only during the night no matter how tired you are when you reach your destination.
You can go out during the day and get some sunlight, meet people and do things that don’t strain you physically, and also keep you going throughout the day. Keep reminding yourself that you are trading a few tough sleepless hours for several jetlag free happy days. Here are some tips to beat jet lag.
These days you haveÂ great options to get Indian TV channels in the US, and if your parents are visiting, then you should definitely have the TV set up so they can see the same shows they were seeing in India. Find out the channels that they are used to watching, and then get a package that has all these channels. You may not get everything, but you can cover a lot of channels by researching thoroughly.
Even if you think your parents won’t move about much without you, it is better to get them a cellphone or if they have a cellphone then you can get a prepaid SIM card so they can keep the phone with them when they go out without you. You don’t want them in a situation where they are outside and don’t have an easy way to contact you. Prepaid cards are really cheap and all major carriers offer them.
You also need an easy and cheap way for them to call India so they can spend time on the phone without worrying about the bill. Things like Vonage, Google Hangouts, Skype etc. work great for these, and Â you can choose an option that is most convenient for them.
Buying health insurance is quite necessary for parents because if they fall sick then the doctor bills in the US can be really substantial and you don’t want to go through that.
You can buy a plan very easily in the US and I feel that’s better than buying health insurance from India. It’s not that the health insurance bought in India doesn’t work or there is a lot more deductible but from the few examples I know, you will have to pay money up front, and then claim the insurance money later on. While an American insurance from something like Seven Corners gets cashless facility, which is preferable.
The lack of public transport in most places in the US can become a big problem as parents can’t move about on their own, taxis are often too expensive to be used as a regular option, and that leaves very limited choices.
Some cities have van-pools or para-transits that can become a viable option, I think of these as a slightly better version of shared ricks.
How these work is they have a set area that they service, and you can call them up to come and pick you up from your house and then drop you at a certain location say the gym or the mall, and then call them back up and ask them to drop you back home. They are really cheap, and usually safe as well. You can read about one such service called the Pace Bus Paratransit service here to get a better idea of what I’m talking about.Â
It will most likely not be possible to spend a lot of time with your parents during the week when you have to go to work, but you can plan the weekends so you see something new every weekend. Most big cities have several places you can visit on a 3 hour drive, and that means a day trip or just staying a night, and returning next day. You don’t need a leave for such trips, and if you can find a handful of these then you will have the weekends to look up to.
If your parents did something regularly in India then try to find the equivalent in the US. The gym is an easy one, swimming is another one. If they were engaged in something that can also be done in the US then you should definitely explore it and see how practical it is to get them to do that in the US.
The other side of this is to try out new things which they never did in India, but are easily accessible in the US. You can look up golf lessons as one example, it isn’t very physically demanding, and not very expensive either. If you find three or four of these type of activities, that might be enough to fill up the day for the most part.
Visiting Friends and Relatives
I think social interaction is what parents miss the most when they are in the US, and if you have friends or relatives near your place that you can arrange lunch and dinners with that’s another good option to spend time pleasantly.
I always feel that you can make any situation better by being prepared and this is certainly one of them. Prepare well in advance, talk to your parents, talk to your friends, get ideas and don’t let a potentially great idea get ruined by boredom! You’re only there because of them, do all that you can to make them feel that way!
Finally some great ideas from IndusLadies on this topic.