What I Learnt While Travelling With My Father


After spending years travelling independently, I was a little bit apprehensive about going travelling with father for six weeks. I was worried that I’d struggle with constantly being around someone, I was worried that I’d miss my independence and I was worried that it might involve more fighting than fun.

However, it turned that my fears were for nought, and travelling with my Dad was truly wonderful. Not only that, but it taught me some valuable lessons about life, relationships and how fricking awesome Papa Burne is.

So, this is what I learnt while travelling with my father.

Patience is key

People say that patience is a virtue, and according to people that know me best, it’s a virtue that I do not possess! I am an inherently impatient person. Seriously, all it takes to send me into a silent rage is getting stuck behind people walking at a glacial pace – but I digress.

I knew that travelling with my Papa was going to test me at times; I knew that it was going to stretch my patience. However, what surprised me was that though it did test me, it didn’t do so in the way that I thought.

As it turned out, it wasn’t me needing to be patient with my dad, it was the both of us needing to be patient with each other.

Being with another person for any extended period of time isn’t easy for a self sustaining introvert (something that my father and I have in common) but with just a little bit of patience, we were able to communicate our feelings, needs and requirements with relative ease, and even though we hit a few speed bumps, we made it work… to be pretty honest, we made it work pretty damn well by the end, and when we go travelling together again in the (hopefully near) future, I think we will just pick up where we left off and make it work even better.


I’m not always right

What a surprise right?

No but seriously, I don’t take myself for some travel guru or expert, but of myself and my father, I am definitely the more experienced traveller. I had kinda expected to always be running the show, and on some level I was. I took care of the navigating, the checking in, the getting from place to place and my Papa was just kinda along for the ride. However, I can admit that I make quite a few mistakes while travelling (it is an inevitability) and there were a few instances on our trip where my Daddyo had more of an idea than I did.

In the end, it was much more of a team effort than I had thought it would be.

I knew my Dad was strong, but I had no idea just how much

I never doubted that my dad was a strong person. He has been through so much in his life, and despite the many ups and downs, he has always worked hard to make sure that I had every opportunity I could have had, and to make sure that I grow into a good person. On his own, he brought me up during my true pain in the ass teenage years, and believe me, that would not have been an easy thing to do!

I have never doubted his strength, but I had possibly underestimated it a little bit.

On one day in El Chalten – which is a part of Argentinian Patagonia – I talked Dad into coming with me on a 9km trek… except that it wasn’t exactly nine kilometres… it was more like 25km!

Papa Burne has had quite a lot of issues with mobility over the years. After having a few knee and shoulder reconstructions as a teenager following sporting injuries, he had been left with terrible arthritis and decades of chronic pain in one of his knees. He had his dodgy knee replaced earlier this year, but at the time of us going on this trek, his original knee was still inside and still causing grief.

However, despite feeling pain with every step of our trek, my Dad did not complain once, and in fact, he helped encourage me to continue after getting some truly enormous blisters from hiking in the wrong shoes. He is an absolute trooper, and on this day, I remember feeling more proud of him than I have ever felt of anyone, myself included.

Laguna del Torres, Argentina

A deeper level of understanding

Papa Burne and I have always been close. From the time I was a little kid, I have been much more like my dad than anybody else. We have similar personalities, similar flaws, similar political ideals and similar opinions. I am basically a mini version of my dad, and honestly, I can’t think of anyone in the world that I’d rather emulate than him.

However, even though we are very similar, we still have our differences, and on this trip I feel like both of us came to have a much better understanding of each other. We know each others fears, hopes and aspirations, and honestly, I don’t think there is anybody on Earth who knows me better than him; and in return, I now feel like I know my Papa better than I ever have before, and that is something truly exceptional.

Seeing someone else truly happy is something really special

This should go without saying, but I really found it ringing true when travelling with my dad.

Sometimes it was the little things, like when I whooped his ass at monopoly or whenever I suggested beer (he always looks at me proudly when I do this, like he knows he raised me right) or when we ended up eating anything particularly good.

Sometimes it was bigger things. I remember the day when we took a boat ride on Iguazu Falls and the thrill of being smashed with the water made me pretty giddy, but what made me even happier was looking over at my unbelievably excited father who was bearing the widest grin I’d ever seen on his face.

Ever. In my whole life! Well, that is a moment that will stay with me forever.


What it feels like to really hate saying goodbye

I have said a lot of goodbyes while travelling, and honestly, they rarely affect me for more than a few hours. I think it is because I know that there are always so many new people in my future, new friends to make, new adventures to have, that kinda thing.

Saying goodbye to my Dad though, well that was a toughie.

We flew from Buenos Aires to Santiago together, where we parted ways. Daddyo was to travel back to Australia, and I was continuing on to Peru.

For the entire morning, I was a horribly teary mess. I struggled to keep it together on our last flight together, and when it came time for us to physically part ways in Santiago airport, the floodgates really opened.

hated this feeling, and I was so not used to it.

The sadness I felt was overwhelming. I had become so used to having my father with me on this trip, and I had loved travelling with him so much that the thought of going on without him felt incredibly unappealing. I knew that it was only goodbye for a short time, but the few weeks that we’d be apart felt like it would be forever, which is crazy! Since moving to Darwin almost three years ago, I have gone periods of up to six months without seeing my Dad! Two measly weeks should have felt like nothing, but they didn’t.

For the first time I experienced how shitty it can feel to say goodbye to someone.

But on the flipside, it makes me appreciate all the time I have with my father, and it makes me so excited to travel with him again.

As a matter of fact, as I write this post I am waiting for him to finish work so that I can call him and tell him that I have booked us a trip to Tonga to swim with humpback whales next year!

I am incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful father and I can’t thank him enough for travelling with me, putting up with me, raising me and loving me unconditionally – even when I am a complete pain in the ass.

Here’s to many more adventures together Papa Burne!


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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

11 thoughts on “What I Learnt While Travelling With My Father

  1. You are indeed fortunate, as is your father. As a parent of adult children I know how difficult it can be to travel with a family member who does really need guidance (that goes both ways). My youngest is the world traveller, also the least easy to do anything with. We did manage (barely) ten days in Thailand one year, then a couple of weeks in Vietnam last year. Two other daughters travelled across Canada, and back, with me – we lived to retell all the great, and less so, memories. Trips to Quebec City with my eldest and her family, then another with just my grandson; all of these experiences taught me two things – patience is indeed a virtue I must continue to home, and I still prefer travelling solo but being with family is also a bonus.

  2. Excellent read, glad you had sooooo much fun. I am now going in the other direction from you, traveling alone after my wife and traveling companion for 25 years has died. We traveled like you and Papa Burne, complimenting one another on how we handled situations. It is I who am trepidatious to go on a long adventure alone. Driving from Southern California to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada and dip my feet in the Arctic Ocean in July, I will succeed. I need to see just what this single travel is all about and get through all the emotions. Thanks for giving me insight into your feelings of independent and shared travel, this old man is learning all the time.

  3. Great to read Ellen, I know how bad those old knees can be so well done to your Dad xxxx

  4. A wonderful post. You observed you had so much in common. Have you ever noticed that the things that sometimes irritate us the most are characteristics we have ourselves? Perhaps that is why it is often hard to travel with someone we are so close to.

  5. Travelling with your parents is always such a rewarding experience. I’ve had the chance to go on multiple mother-daughter trips and I have enjoyed them so much. Like you articulated, going on these trips helps you learn new things and gain new perspectives. I’m glad you enjoyed your time going on adventures with your dad!

  6. I travelled around North Island of New Zealand with my Dad, and I can definitely relate to the patience part, haha. We’re both stubborn as goats!

  7. My parents came to visit me in Italy and I learned the same lesson on patience! It takes a lot, but what great memories. I relate all too well to the sad goodbye, I think I’ve got it all under control until involuntary tears come out of nowhere! Thanks for sharing! ✌️ Christine

  8. I think this might be your best write ever, at least as long as I have followed you. As you know I really love your stories and your writing. I am always right there with you.

    But this post was a little different. You have completely bared your soul and opened up in an incredible way. Now I see this woman whom I have truly admired in a different light – a person who admits her flaws, and yet is strong enough to work through them. And here is a girl who truly loves her Dad and genuinely appreciates what he has tried to teach you.

    Your Dad should be super proud of the incredible woman his little girl has become. Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts and feelings. Yes, thanks so much. ☺️

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