My Dad’s Bucket List Trip to Scotland & France – Background & Why You Shouldn’t Wait!

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My dad and Ellie on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. He decided to wear his kilt and tourists were asking to take their picture with him!

Dad’s Bucket List Trip – Background & Why People Shouldn’t Wait to Travel

If you follow me on Instagram then you might know that I recently completed a “bucket list” trip with my dad to England, Scotland and France and I am EXHAUSTED! 😉 Most of this trip was made possible with miles & points so I thought I would document the trip via a series of posts to review some of what we did and talk about the wins, losses and everything in between.

Connecting with His Scottish Heritage & The Trip That Never Was

About a decade ago my dad really connected with his Scottish heritage. So much so that a few years ago he was enjoying small town life in Paradise, California including his weekly meeting with a bunch of other “old men with Scottish heritage” (My description not his! 🙂 ). While I won’t pretend to understand what they did, I know they would have community events, drink a lot of Scotch and of course wear kilts. Not a bad way to live out your retirement years.

My dad was a trooper spending the whole day with us at Disneyland Paris!

My dad and his wife Gloria had loosely planned to go to Scotland and England (where her family was from), but never got the chance. In November, 2018 their world was shaken to the core when their house, all of their belongings and the place they chose to live their twilight years burned down in flames. In a matter of hours the town of Paradise, CA was largely gone and their lives would never be the same.

After the fire my dad and Gloria came to Las Vegas to live with my brother for a short time before ultimately deciding to settle in Southern Idaho to rebuild their lives. Unfortunately the trauma from the fire took its toll on Gloria and brought on dementia. She was gone by the Summer of 2019. My dad moved back to Las Vegas later that year and we planned to finally take his big trip to Scotland in 2020. Then Covid came.

Our first dinner in England was at a traditional pub not far from the Andaz Liverpool Station.

Planning Our Trip to Scotland & Covid

When Covid initially hit we had planned to do Scotland that Summer or Fall, but didn’t have a date set. I remember thinking at the time that we would still probably be able to do it, because surely things would normalize by then. Of course they didn’t so we pushed it to 2021 and then eventually to 2022. My dad isn’t getting any younger so urgency began to set in. The time was now.

Dad’s Bucket List Trip Itinerary

While I will talk about each leg of the journey in subsequent posts, here was our basic itinerary.

  • London (A couple of days touring the city while eating fish and chips and mushy peas.)
  • Scotland (Flying into Edinburgh, then a train to Glasgow and a road trip through the Highlands to Inverness. I had to call an audible when my dad got sick so things were quite interesting.)
  • Paris (He wanted to eat a baguette, cruise on the Seine and stare at the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to go to Disneyland Paris!)

His first moments in Scotland were years in the making!

My dad had some miles and points, but was willing to spend money where necessary. My main goal of the trip was to ensure he flew in comfort both ways and that the hotels were decent with some splurges along the way. We set the date in early 2022, but I had no idea that demand and prices would skyrocket which made planning quite difficult. In the end we pulled it off, although I spent way too much time planning.

He was able to fly business class on AA to London and back on British Airways on saver awards using AA and Alaska miles. It was almost impossible to find any sort of awards to/from Las Vegas and I wanted to avoid separate tickets and any added complications. In the end I was able to get him awards at a decent price, but some sacrifices were made along the way. I’ll talk about flights in my next post before going into some hotel reviews, then some of the highlights from the trip.

The Seine and Eiffel Tower. Check!

Don’t Put Off That Dream Trip If At All Possible

While I will talk about this in future posts and have discussed it several times while talking about the trip on the Miles to Memories podcast, this experience has reminded me of why you should never wait to take the “dream trip” you have always wanted to do. My dad’s age added some complications to the experience and at times I wondered how much more he potentially could have enjoyed it if he did the trip a decade ago with Gloria. That said, it was a great trip and one where me, Jasmine and the kids were able to make long lasting memories with my dad and for that I am grateful.

Dad’s Bucket List Trip – Background & Why People Shouldn’t Wait to Travel – Bottom Line

In this series of posts I’ll walk you through the nuts and bolts of my dad’s bucket list trip to the U.K. and France plus will fill you in on some of the ups and downs of the experience. I’ll review the hotels we stayed in and show you how I used miles & points to make it happen. It was one of the most challenging travel experiences of my life, but one I will remember forever. In the end we most definitely turned miles to memories.

Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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14 COMMENTS

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Shawn, this is why we collect miles/points!! These special times will be what you all remember for the rest of your lives. What a wonderful blessing you are to your Dad! I am looking forward to the next article.

  2. I’m glad that you and your dad did this trip, Shawn. I’m now 73, and for several years I have wanted to do a bicycle tour of western Ukraine. In 2017 the tour compay cancelled at the last minute, in 2018 and 2019 I had to get jobs to make me eligible for Social Security. And you know what happened in 2020 and 2021.

    I booked the Ukraine tour again in early January this year, only for the world to see the invasion of Ukraine in February, forcing me to cancel. Instead I’ll be doing a bike tour of Slovakia this year, with Czechia being a fallback.

    Although I have been an avid cyclist for many years, the day will come that I won’t be able to do a long distance trip. I can still dream of a Ukraine bike tour …

  3. Awesome. I grew up in Paradise as well and was living there at the time of the Camp Fire. All of my mothers family grew up there and I had many uncles, aunts and cousins that used to live there before the fire. It took a huge toll on parents as well and I know of many people who died after it simply due to the shock and depression of having their entire retirement years destroyed. It’s nice to see you taking such a wonderful trip as the fire really put into focus the fragile nature of life and to do what you want to do in life. Best wishes.

    • Thanks! It has been so sad to see the toll that fire had on the lives of so many. As you point out it was devastating for many and my dad still has a sadness about not living out his final years in the house he planned his retirement in with the friends and town he planned to spend the rest of his life in.

  4. Looking forward to reading the future posts. Got teary eyed just thinking about your Dad finally getting to go and makes me want to bring my Dad to Ukraine when all this settles down.

  5. So very true, Mark! In 2018, I spent way too much money taking my parents on a Disney Cruise from Dover to Barcelona. While my husband and father went to Stonehenge, Mom and I went to the Tower of London and admired sparkly things. Mom and my husband went to Paris while Dad checked the beaches at Normandy off his bucket list. We all enjoyed Lisbon, Cadiz and Barcelona but the highlight for Dad was definitely Normandy. This was not a trip I really wanted to take but both of my parents so enjoyed it- that made it all worth it. He died this February after a brutal 18 month battle with cancer and I feel so fortunate to have been able to provide that experience for him.

    Travel with healthy parents is definitely a blessing. I’m so happy your Dad got to finally visit Scotland!

    • I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like you had a great trip and as you point out that means so much. I’m very grateful for our trip even if it was incredibly challenging. We will have those memories forever.

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