Dear Carolyn: My parents are divorced, and both live in small towns in prairie states. I like visiting them because I like them, but as vacation destinations go, their towns are the pits. My in-laws, on the other hand, live in a lake house in a touristy part of the country. And, with limited money and time, I can't help it, visiting them, and tooling around on a pontoon boat or walking to an adorable ice cream shop, feels more restful and rejuvenating than driving with my mom to the failing Food Lion.

Truly, this is not about love: I phone both of my parents multiple times a week and love spending time with them. It's just about location.

Is it bad if we see one set of parents more than the other, or do we owe them equality, location be darned? If any of us had more disposable income, we'd offer to fly my parents to more picturesque settings for reunions, but unfortunately none of us are in that position.

— Vacation vs. VACATION

Vacation vs. VACATION: Sigh. Are you in a position to be more creative about where you see your parents? Nothing picturesque within a few hours’ drive of them? Are the only choices flying them somewhere or pits-town?

I find this question so depressing.

I think you owe it to your parents not to let the imbalance get huge. And to yourself, since time with them is the point, and you run a high risk of feeling very bad later on when time with them is no longer an option.

Ten, 20 years from now, what will sit right with you — having seen your parents more, or having spent more time on the pontoon?

Readers weighed in, too:

●Oh, friend. I feel you. My parents retired to a total hellhole, not so much as a nearby playground, that requires a four-hour flight. My mother-in-law lives an hour’s drive away and is within walking distance of two parks, dozens of charming restaurants and world-class museums. And I don’t get paid leave through my job, so every minute I spent unable to sleep in on a crappy air mattress was a minute that was literally costing me money.

I told my parents they, as the retired people with infinite time, needed to start coming to me and we could split the airfare. See if you can pull the same trick?

●You can also invite your parents to you — and offer to pay. They might like to get out of their “failing” towns as well.

●You and your husband have to travel to them, right? And that costs money. Can you look at what else you could do together with that money? Is there something that ends up with the same cost? What about a home swap with one of your homes to cut down on hotel costs?

●One of my friends stopped referring to all family trips as “vacations” — even when visiting San Francisco, for example — and instead referred to them as “meaningful family interactions.” Perhaps a little reframing might help, if the other suggestions aren’t feasible.

(So smart, thanks. Plus unintentionally hilarious. CH)