I Took My Mom to Paris for the First Time, and This Is the Travel Gear We Kept Reaching for the Whole Trip

From comfy clothing and footwear to smart tech and great travel adapters, these items made our journey "parfait."

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Traveling with older parents roundup

Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

Just after Labor Day last year, I took my mom to France on a long overdue trip that would serve as her first time in Paris. While she had traveled internationally before, this trip would be different for several reasons: It would be her first trip to Europe, her first time traveling since the pandemic, and the first time in a long time she’d be touring without her regular travel companion. As it turns out, my dad — who rivals Eugene Levy when it comes to travel reluctance — decided not to come. 

Our two-week trip through France took us from the wide-open, vineyard-lined fields of Occitania and Bordeaux to the forest-lined dunes of Cap-Ferret. But ultimately, I knew the main attraction and bucket list moment for mom would be Paris. And so, as a travel writer who’s been to the City of Lights quite a few times and — as a bonus — happens to be married to a French guy, I felt an immediate pressure to show her the very best highlight reel I could. 

There would, of course, be a tour of the Louvre, a walk past Notre Dame, and a sunset visit to the Eiffel Tower, but I’d also carefully planned to include all the little things I’d discovered and return to do each time I visit Paris: lunch at the iconic Café de la Paix restaurant, a rooftop aperitivo at Sequoia, a gawk at the Opera Garnier, meandering the fourth arrondissement and perusing every shoppable inch of the BHV, and soaking in the café culture of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

We moved around the country quite a bit before landing in Paris on trains and long car rides and my husband and our small, 7-pound dog also tagged along for the ride. Packing for a pet is a whole thing in and of itself, but helping your parents pack for such a trip is another feat. Whereas I have my packing list for Paris down to a science, tucked away in some distant corner of my brain for instant recall, for my mom, I knew there would be questions — many of them. 

After traveling the country together, I’ve learned just the travel gear to pack to keep both our generations happy. These are the items that proved themselves to be our must-haves, and my recommendations to keep both you and your parents comfortable on a similar trip to Paris or wherever your travels may take you.

Travel with Parents

Dan Koday

Long Flight Essentials

Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow


Long haul, international flights can be especially tough on parents or our older loved ones, and let’s face it — even frequent travelers like me. We sat in the United’s slightly roomier Premium Economy for the flight, and I made sure my mom and I had one of my favorite comfy plane pillows from Cabeau to rest our heads on. I picked it up on a whim at JFK once when I forgot my regular neck pillow and haven’t switched back yet since it has excellent head, neck, and chin support and a microfiber washable cover. My mom and I also appreciated that it’s made of really high-quality memory foam, and it does not run hot when you’ve been sleeping on it for hours on end, a gripe I have with many other travel pillows. We used the blankets provided by United to get cozier, but we also packed a soft travel blanket from PGI Traders that folds and packs up nicely into a compact bag to have an extra layer in case the plane got cold, as they often do. 

Comfortable mules are also a personal go-to for any flight. This washable version by Oofos made with a vegan shearling material was ideal for the train ride we took into Paris from Bordeaux, as a slipper on the plane, or just walking around our picturesque duplex Vrbo in the Marais. 

One thing we both forgot but wish we had brought with us for flying was a pair of compression socks, which improve circulation during flights. A favorite no-show cotton pair I own is from Comrad, and they also make these adorable cotton blend compression knee-high socks with colorful specks in them for women, which I’ll gift my mom for a future trip. 

Comfy Apparel and Shoes

Brooks Glycerin GTS 20


For walking on tiny cobblestoned streets and sidewalks, having a pair of quality walking shoes was a must, and I informed my mom of that ahead of the trip. She packed a pair of gray Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 sneakers, ideal for walking and smooth transitions between all the curbs and bollards Paris is known for. Ironically, we both packed a pair of Ecco shoes — for me, my favorite comfy pair I never travel without, and for her, the fashionable low-top leather Soft 7 Sneaker that kept us both light on the feet during 10-plus hour walking days. I also packed along another comfortable pair, a versatile white Hoka Clifton 8 walking shoe that went with all the different outfits I packed for Paris — and there were many.   

Since we arrived in Paris during one of those unpredictable transitional weeks in mid-September when the temperature dramatically dropped, I forewarned that proper layering was vital. Mom’s Columbia windbreaker was water-resistant and had great pockets plus an adjustable hood, so it kept her comfortable during the changing seasons and for some wildly fluctuating temperatures, especially on a relatively cool and somewhat drizzly morning when we walked around Notre Dame to snap some photos. On sunnier and warmer days, one of Talbot’s best-selling, light cotton cardigans was helpful and stylishly wrapped around my mom’s neck when it wasn’t needed. (Pro tip: If you’re looking for a sophisticated budget pick so that you can save money for your trip and shopping at your destination, Amazon has so many options and lookalikes for less than $30.) 

Travel with parents

Dan Koday

Organization and Luggage

Samsonite Omni 2 Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels


I can get by in a foreign city like Paris with my phone and attached magsafe Casetify wallet. Still, mom needed to carry a few more items, whether it was tissues or vitamins and pills. For this, she brought along what I’d consider a mom staple — an adjustable soft leather crossbody Coach bag and a black leather crossbody The Sak bag. Both medium-sized bags had a back zip pocket and front slit pocket she preferred for the trip that allowed her easy access and room for all the basics. 

Since Paris is synonymous with shopping and I knew there would be souvenirs and talismans to take home from department stores, including Le Bon Marché and the splendid new Samaritaine, we all figured we’d quickly fill up the suitcase with our purchases. And then one of the suitcases broke. Instead of stressing and trying to cram it all into a bunch of overstuffed bags, we opted to upgrade to a large but lightweight, sturdy roller Samsonite bag with excellent wheels we’ve since taken on many subsequent trips with us.  

Having a Leatherology passport case also helped keep us organized with our most important travel documents and was a great place to stash away museum ticket stubs for later scrapbooking. This was also helpful for storing receipts because it allowed us to keep a tally of who paid for what and quickly add it to the Splitwise app later on, which I always use for settling group travel balances with friends and family. 

Entertainment and Tech

Apple 2021 10.2-inch iPad (Wi-Fi, 256GB) - Space Gray


For the plane ride we took from New York and the train ride to get from Bordeaux to Paris, a tiny Bluetooth AirFly audio adapter really wowed us because it transmitted sound from the outdated airplane or train headset jacks directly into our AirPods or, in my case, the noise-canceling Bose Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700. Even more impressive was its 20-plus hour battery life, which lasted the entire trip. 

During downtime after dinner, an iPad and Apple Watch allowed my mom to watch her favorite shows and keep up with my inquisitive family members at home who wanted to know how the trip was going. It also gave us all a piece of mind that we could be connected, without feeling too connected, when we needed to look up a restaurant or directions on the metro quickly.  

No matter how much I travel, I always travel with (and advised my mom on this trip to bring) this specific APzek international universal adapter and converter. It’s available at Amazon and has a built-in USB-C connection, which is helpful for charging newer Apple devices, and three more standard USB-A ports. In addition, it has a standard plug, so we could charge five divergent devices at once and we often all shared versus pulling out multiple adapters. Since it has the option to convert for European, UK, and Australian type plugs and it’s never failed me on voltage conversion, it never leaves my carry-on bag.  

Safety and Skincare

L'Occitane Lavender Hand Cream |Nourish and smooth hands| With Lavender Essential Oil and Organic Shea Butter| 2.6 Oz


Big cities like Paris are filled with icky surfaces, not to mention high-contact doors. On a crowded metro ride, I asked my mom if she had any hand sanitizer, even though I already knew the answer. Yes, she had it, and yes, it was the signature Bath & Body Works PocketBac Hand Sanitizers she’d offered me countless times before. Each of the five hand sanitizers with individual spring garden scents was compact and easy to pack in smaller bags or a jean pocket and contained essential oils, shea extract, vitamin E, and aloe, which was helpful for keeping our hands moisturized. 

Since this was mom’s first big trip on a plane since the pandemic and news of a recent variant surge were on the radar in late summer, we were all worried about someone catching “it” and spoiling our trip. So we all masked up with the Shop Vida face masks, the most comfortable ones I’ve found. Made of a high-quality and breathable Polypropylene fabric, they have elastic straps that feel comfortable and never tug at the back of your ears. 

Of course, sun protection is always top of mind when I’m traveling, so I made sure to pack my go-to Kiehl’s Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30. Regarding more luxurious masks you put on for optimal skin hydration, I like to travel with a few hydrating options. Little skincare luxuries go a long way when you’re traveling, and we opted for affordable Glam Up sheet masks that came in a variety of types at Amazon — from avocado to shea butter to tea tree and peppermint. La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream acted as a luxurious splurge for moments when we wanted our skin to be lifted, firmed and look more vibrant overall. We both also like to moisturize our hands, and my mom brought L’Occitane lavender hand cream for us while I brought along a hand mask from Elixir Premium Lab that helps heal dry, cracked, and tired skin — a true hero after our long plane rides and lugging our suitcases (blissfully) around Paris.

Travel with parents

Dan Koday

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