How Should My Dad Document Our Round The World Trip?

Filed Under: Travel

My dad will be turning a “round” age next month, and to celebrate I’m taking him on a surprise round the world trip.


For those of you not up to date on the planning process thus far, check out these posts:

To clarify, the trip itself isn’t a surprise. My dad knows that we’re going somewhere for a couple of weeks. He just has absolutely no clue where we’re going, and has no interest in knowing. He wants it to be a total surprise, so that he doesn’t know where we’re traveling to until we board a plane to the immediate destination.

And he also doesn’t know which airlines we’re flying. He’s still talking about the Lufthansa A380 we flew from Houston to Frankfurt last year (or as he calls it, “za ay zhree aity”), so little does he know we’ll be flying A380s around the world on our trip!

He basically refused to sleep on our A380 flight from Houston to Frankfurt last year, as he was too busy enjoying the “ambiance” to sleep or watch TV — or as he’d say, “I don’t vant to watch za TV, I just vant to sit here and enjoy za ambiance.”

Anyway, I’ve done my fair share of premium cabin flying over the years and have been to all the destinations we’re traveling to, so what I’m most excited about isn’t the trip as such, but rather:

  • Seeing my dad’s reaction to everything
  • Sharing the experience with you guys, especially through my dad’s eyes
  • My dad’s excitement over him sharing the experience with you guys

With that in mind, I want to make sure I’m well positioned to have him “cover” the trip in as interesting of a way as possible.

As usual, my plan is to write a detailed trip report after the trip, though how would you most like to see my dad cover the trip? The way I see it, there are a few options:

1. Have dad write daily trip reports during the trip. This is perhaps the most straightforward option. As a reminder, my dad doesn’t actually know how to use a computer, so this is what his daily updates would look like:


And then I’d be the one transcribing them onto the internet. 😉

2. Have dad do a daily video recap. I don’t usually incorporate video reviews into the blog, but my dad is quite the character. Would that be interesting? If so, what’s the best idea for a video format? Him just recapping our day? Me asking him questions? His amazement when he sees the Emirates A380 shower? Something else?

3. Have dad write a trip report after the trip. Similar to the first idea above, this would involve him doing a lot of handwriting. And perhaps the other downside is that he’d have to fax me the report, assuming we’re not in the same city anymore. But it would also give him the most time to collect his thoughts.

4. Some other option? Is there another idea I overlooked? You guys tell me!

I can’t even say how excited I am about this trip. Thanks to everyone that has provided feedback with the planning process — it has been invaluable!

Please let me know in the comments section below how you’d like to see my dad cover the trip!

  1. I’m really excited to hear about this trip, absolutely amazing.

    When it comes to how to cover it, maybe mix things up a bit? If not daily, but maybe bi-daily or something, he (you) could write a little bit about the “first impressions” and then at the end of the trip, he can have a “full” trip report? I wouldn’t mind the “first impressions” to include some video footage. Some things are just impossible to capture using text and still pictures.

  2. It’s actually quite inspiring to read. In fact, my father turns 65 next June and we already plan to visit him for a surprise party in Poland. I was hoping to visit Milan and Venice thereafter but considering your ‘story’ I might start working on a bit more thorough planning to visit with him other corners of the world 🙂

  3. i vote for whatever he’s most comfortable with! if he likes hand writing out his experiences, so be it. one of those cool dad quirks that are so unique!

  4. Definitely the video!! and preferably with you asking him the questions. He can always follow up later with a written trip report or summary, which will be all the better when we can picture him saying what we read.

  5. What a great idea Lucky! The video is a great idea! I would love to hear your dad say “za ambiance” and it would be nice to “meet” your dad. If it’s more comfortable for your dad, why don’t you have your dad tape record himself and then you can use one of those programs online to transcribe it for you. You’re a great son =) I can’t wait to hear all about this trip! When are you guys going?

  6. I think a combination is best. For video, I think you asking him questions can be fun. It would also be nice to see his own videos.

    Having “first impressions” posts (and/or your dad’s daily reports) would be nice as well with your TR at the end.

    Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  7. I like the video idea as well because it would be nice to see his expression but some folks don’t act the same when filmed.
    I am trying to talk my husband into doing this next summer for my 50th but can’t seem to get him onboard. I am going to point this post out to him and maybe that will change his mind! If not, I will live vicariously through you and your father!

  8. Video! Of course, it would have been better if you had flown through South America just so he could enjoy faxing his live TR someplace. 🙂

  9. (A podcast means you can do it in your jammies. In fact, you could do segments IN THE AIR. In your jammies.)

  10. I know lots of people out there are so envy of you, not because of all the places you been and life style you live but rather you have such great relationship with your parents. not all of us are so lucky.

  11. I’m all for a “Real Housewives” style video interview as well a catching his expressions on video. Ultimately you might want to leave it up to him as to how he wants to document it.

  12. No matter what, you definitely should film his reaction as he opens the door to the EK shower suite!

  13. My vote is both #2 and #3. The daily videos will be easy to do, and sound entertaining. And then at the end of the trip he’ll have time to sit down and write up a more in-depth report of the whole trip, which you can type in for us.

  14. Please don’t make the Kardashians out of this! Ask your dad how does he want to do his reports. Don’t make a reality show out of birthday trip for somebody elses enjoyment, instead – enjoy the trip yourself!

  15. If he is comfortable with hand writing you could post an image of his notes. That would be really reading from him. Also, although I am curious and excited to read about his trip I would ask you to spend most of the time with him enjoying this special moment rather than having him waist time to post everyday. Get the most of this trip with him. Those are the priceless memories you will keep forever.

  16. Any combination is fine — but definitely at least some video. Maybe you should set him up with a Twitter account, and we could all follow him. (Yes, I know, you would probably need to “transcribe” — but its just 140 characters.)

    BTW, I will be having a “round birthday” in about a year. Just saying…

  17. I think that a quick first impressions by you or short recap video would be best as if would be the least time consuming. As much as we appreciate your efforts, I wouldn’t want you or your dad stressing about keeping us in the loop and taking your time away from enjoying yourselves.

  18. I’d love a video recapping each of your longhaul flights in an interview format. Nothing will capture your father’s amazement like a video.

  19. I would love to see a short video just to hear the accent but would overall prefer daily or end of trip written reports.

  20. As a daily reader of your blog and having followed this plan of yours since the beginning, I personally would love to see the best of your dad’s reactions in a video. Apart from that, I think a very frequent report would be best so that he doesnt forget any detail he’d like to mention. A single report at the end might miss a few things I feel personally.

    Really excited to see these updates.

  21. Very cool trip, Ben. My dad is in his late 60s and I’m in my mid 30s – a few years ago it just felt like the right time to start taking trips together again. I don’t have the kind of miles to take someone with me and we don’t live near each other, but we both were able to meet up in Australia using our own miles and I was able to cover all the hotels with points, including opera house views at the Park Hyatt Sydney.

    This year I was able to get both of us in on the low fares ‘around the world’ and we are flying to Europe to visit Munich/Prague/tokyo/honolulu together, again using all my hotel points everywhere.

    It feels great to help and give back when he would otherwise be looking for the cheap options.

    Anyway – look forward to the reports.

  22. This is AWESOME! Kudos to you for planning this for your dad. I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing trip.

    I think the videos are a great idea, especially since you say your dad is a character. I think it’ll be a great way to share your experiences. I suggest not making them too long though, so maybe having a focused question to answer in the videos. Example: Favorite place you visited that day. Long videos = not watched.

    You could supplement the videos with journal entries. You can even talk to your dad about the trip and do a Q&A approach for your blog each night/few nights.

    Podcasts are another option, although I’ve never dabbled in them so have no advice.

    And, of course, share on social. It doesn’t have to be the sharing of new posts, but even using the Swarm app to share where you and your dad are so your followers can “follow” you around the world.

    Best of luck!!

  23. Both. I think you should video things like him seeing the shower for the first time, but I also think him hand writing his thoughts as he goes is a great keepsake for himself later down the road. You could easily make a shutterfly/snapfish/whatever photo book with all the pictures you take (and the personal ones you don’t put on here) and include his hand notes as a Christmas/Father’s Day/holiday present.

  24. It’s his birthday gift, don’t make him work for it.

    You’re very good at capturing your parents’ emotions and excitement on trips. I think your report will be plenty, without forcing your dad to be thinking about writing a report when all he should be doing is enjoying time with his son.

  25. Why not start a blog for your father .That way you can tell the story of the trip and incorporate all the photos,videos, travel tips, airline hours on it. While on the air u can start teaching him to use the laptop. WHo knows it might start his blogging career!

  26. Video or podcast, whatever suits you best. But “live media” is always better than text. Have fun and Chapeau for planning this.

  27. Uhhh. Speech to text. He can just make verbal notes converted to text. You can copy and paste. Saves time for everyone prevents duplicatiom

  28. Love your dad’s handwriting – if he’s comfortable with writing out his thoughts, let it be. You’re a good son Ben, I wish I could treat my dad a trip around the world.

  29. Why don’t your father follow how you do your reports? A first quick recap after the flight and then a more complete review. I don’t like videos very much, but I think that just one would be nice just to listen your dad speaking (and verify if you aren’t exaggerating his accent). But if you aren’t, subtitles, please. 🙂
    I’ll also go to Australia next month and fly SQ and EK first for the first time, in great part thanks to you, so I wish a really wonderful trip for you both.

  30. I’d love video. It would be even better if you were in it together. Sort of like a daily recap.

    I guess the primary issue would be the level of editing involved…..

    But, no matter what, we need to see if his German accent is as thick as you claim.

  31. Abdulrahim above mentioned a podcast. I think that would be fantastic. It would eliminate the need for elaborate video editing.

  32. Whatever your dad is comfortable with, but if you can do video, I’d suggest that. You should both be in a few of the videos. In 10-50 years, you’ll look back at the video and love being able to see your dad’s face and expressions, hear his voice…. The power of video is amazing. A relative of mine who passed away 40 years ago was on a TV show in the 50s, and I found that clip on YouTube. I showed it to my aunt, and she just sat there wide-mouthed being able to see and listen to her close friend who was gone. If you can do the video, you’ll have it, him, and your trip forever.

  33. Ben, You should give your Dad a phone that takes pictures and open him an instagram account and have him shoot things he likes and upload. He will get the hang of it fast. Let us all know, I’m sure he’ll love having tons of followers! Seems like a good way to do it where he can interact and won’t loose a lot of time on the pen.

  34. Video! That would be fun, but only if your dad is comfortable with it. If not, you can do an interview-style situation where you record him and transcribe it.

  35. I think he should keep a travel diary. Someone older is not going to want to video and he might forget if he does it at the end.

    Can I be your sister and travel at least to a couple places with you?

    Enjoy your trip!

  36. Lucky,

    I’m sure your dad will have a great memory with the accompany of his ‘little Benny’. Both videos and handscripts sound good. That said, I hope you two could enjoy your trip together. Just don’t bother yourselves too much with the reporting stuff.

    Have fun!

  37. Whatever’s easiest. Spend time having fun (whatever that may mean for both of you, even if it’s just sitting in a hotel or aircraft), not worrying about the blog. That being said, if you do a video, could you do German and English versions? Much appreciated!

  38. I agree with all of the “some of all, please” requests. One thing I really hope you will tell your dad: While his son is a world traveler and blogger who has gotten kind of used to all this first class stuff, most of those of us who read your blog are living vicariously, dreaming, and hoping to one day have a similar trip. So, we’re much more like your dad, and would love to see it all through “virgin eyes.” ; )

  39. Definitely film his reaction upon seeing some of these awesome cabins. I’ve flown in many premium cabins thanks to this hobby and it’s amazing how fast you can become jaded about it. Seeing a video of someone experiencing it for the first time would be great!

  40. Well, I assume your dad isn’t a travel professional, so it would probably much easier if you created a template for him so that he could have an easier time remembering the flight and documenting it. Otherwise he might get overwhelmed and not know exactly what to write or leave things out. I also think video would make a great addition.

  41. I just wanted to let you know that I was inspired by you and took both my parents to Toronto a couple of weeks ago. My wife doesn’t fly and our three kids are too young. Earlier this year I had a great experience while showing my father Hong Kong. It was just amazing. So, thank you, Ben for all the inspiration. I could not afford business class or higher, but both trips still were something that I won’t forget the rest of my life. The next trip has already been planned. London with my father in January with the Garuda 777 from Amsterdam 🙂

  42. Don’t turn quality time with your dad into work. Ask HIM what he would prefer to do. Maybe you can have him write one line about his best memory of each day and YOU can do the work.

  43. I wouldn’t recommend doing video during the trip. I know that this is your blog, and you will certainly write up and document the trip (we would be very disappointed if you didn’t!), but you want to have time to just enjoy the trip as well. If you’re doing the usual amount of photos and then video on top of it I feel like too much time would be taken up documenting the trip and interfering with enjoying “za ambiance”

  44. I really like the daily video recap idea. Your dad’s excitement intrigues me. You’re a bit more desensitized to it given your vast exposure and daily immersion in our love of commercial flight luxury. Plus you’re right, your dad is an interesting character based on the few bits we’ve gotten so far. But I would also like to hear his thoughts after the whole thing, after he’s had time to reflect. Maybe do both 2 and 3? I’m really excited about this trip report!

  45. Ben –

    Great gift & both of you should have quite the lux adventure! I agree with “James”; take along a GOPRO for video blogging/report enhancement. Would be an easy way for your dad to record & share his trip. You might also want to give your dad a personalized “MY TRIP” book – sorta along the lines of an autograph book but with each leg of the trip identified & then have the crew & hotel staff sign it. Whatever you do, I’m certain this will be a fantastic journey for both of you.

  46. Let him write on the iPad with, 53 paper app. Graphic industry’s favourite drawing and writing app you can. Save it in many formats ready for publication. At least buy him a nice Moleskin notebook. Try and check out the new QF longest in Singapore, LA and the new one in HK certainly gives Cathay a run for the money. You can embed videos or other files into your notes, you can even get fountain pen stylus’s for the above app.

  47. First of all, that is Awesome that you’re doing this, I love it. How about little videos? Have you ever seen the show Departures? Something like that, only lower tech.

  48. Is anyone else having problems with checking “notify me when follow up comments are posted”, confirming with the follow-up email, and then getting nothing, even though there are additional comments? I am, and it’s been a problem for a while. And, before anyone says “check spam folder/filter” –done. I just don’t seem to get the follow up comments anymore. : (

  49. hey Ben –

    My advice? Let him enjoy his ambience. Keep his anonymity. He clearly loves you more than anything, and would never refuse your request for his participation on the blog, but I would love to see you just go offline for those weeks, and enjoy your time together. Forget blogging about your time with him – I know you need to keep creating content, so blog about the products.

    Just my two cents. Have fun!!


  50. Definitely a video. You can use a GoPro with an iPole to take first point of view video of your dad as he enters the planes and goes places and supplement that footage with one on one Q&A about things that are applicable for people his age etc. Will definitely allow us readers to assess things for our own parents on planning trips etc.
    The video can be supplemented by any thoughts/ideas he may have that he wants to write down and you can implement this in your own trip reports about where you are going and what you are doing.
    Great idea about taking him on a trip of a lifetime. I too am planning the same for my parents next year and am interested in how things work out.
    Have fun!

  51. Ben I think that what you’re doing for your dad is awesome and it’s something that you both would cherish for years to come! I really enjoyed your mom’s TR, but since you said your father is a ‘character’, I’d love to see his expressions & reactions of wonderment as he ‘discovers’ every surprise that you have planned for him!

    So a possible video would be nice, but whatever is more comfortable for him should be the deciding factor. I’m certainly looking forward to this adventure!

  52. Absolutely use video updates. It’ll be very “in the moment”, do even more to make others share the experience, and will just be plain awesome.

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