Last Updated on August 19, 2019 by Maggie McKneely
This is a little more “bloggy” than the posts I normally write, but in honor of Mother’s Day I wanted to address a question that I get a lot: “How do you do it?” “How do you not drive each other absolutely insane?” “How do you go on these long trips with your mom and actually have fun?!”
Honestly, the answer is pretty simple: we’re just really great traveling companions! That sounds like a cop-out answer, but it’s the truth. There’s not some kind of magic potion or large amount of wine intake that makes it so that we always have a good time. It’s not that neither of us have friends who also like to travel; it’s just that it’s not as much of a hassle for us to travel together than with other people, and I’ll give many of the reasons for that below.
But I know that traveling with your mom can be a scary notion for some people. I had originally planned on writing a “what to expect from traveling with your mom,” or “why you should travel with your mom” or something along those lines. But as I was writing it, I realized I couldn’t do it. I don’t know your mom! I only know mine and only know what it’s like to travel with her. So I can’t exactly generalize for the entire population of moms based off of one 5 foot tall, spiky-haired lady named Barbara.
What I can do is share my experience in the hopes that maybe it will encourage you to take a mother-daughter trip sometime, or at least dispel the myth that going on a long trip with your mom would be a terrible experience.
Let’s get the “Cons” out of the way first
We don’t always agree
Duh, right? As I’m sure you can relate to, my mom and I are definitely not the same people. We are very similar in a lot of ways, but not everything. And that means that we don’t always agree on what to do. For example, my mom would be cool with having gelato for dinner every night in Italy, or cheese and wine, whereas I’d like to have some kind of vegetables at some point during our Italian adventure.
Which means we don’t always want to do the same thing
If you remember my bucket list post from a few weeks ago, you’ll know that I like to do more adventurous things. My mom’s reaction to that list: “what is WRONG with you?!” I like camping and hiking giant mountains and don’t mind getting a little sweaty and dirty. My mom’s idea of camping, however, is staying at the Ritz Carlton. So my Everest Base Camp trek will probably not be a trip I take my mom on….
Strangers get to know me
My mom makes friends wherever we go, and I talk about that more below. But as a result, there are a lot of people around the world who know a little too much about me. Not because they asked, but just because my mom likes to talk about me. I usually just shake my head and go “mom, this person, who isn’t even completely fluent in English, probably doesn’t need to know about 3-year old Maggie and that one pink doughnut incident. It’s really not necessary.”
A risk of traveling with your mom is that she knows everything about you, and you just never know what she’s going to say to other people. But at least for me, that’s a risk every day of my life and I’m used to it by now; it’s not going to prevent me from traveling with her!
Now the “Pros”
Learn to compromise
Because we like to do different things, I’ve gotten used to making itineraries that make everyone in my family happy, not just me. My mom wants to go to the beach? Great! We’ll drive through some mountains to get to that beach, that way we both get what we want. We’re going to Montana this summer, so I’ve got both kayaking days for my mom and lots of hikes for me and my dad so that everyone gets to do what they like. When I create itineraries for people besides my family, I’m able to figure out what it is they’d enjoy most, and that’s because I’m used to accommodating other people who travel differently than I do. It’s a good life skill, folks.
She keeps up with my itineraries
If you’ve read any of my itineraries that I’ve published on the blog, you know that they’re jam-packed (I mean, Venice in 10 hours?!). My family makes the most of every second we are in whatever location we’ve traveled to. Not everyone likes to, or can, travel at the kind of pace we do. This is one of the biggest reasons I love travelling with my mom. She, like me, doesn’t mind walking what feels like 42 miles a day if that’s what it takes to see everything we want to see. She also doesn’t mind spending minutes, rather than hours, in an art gallery or history museum – there are just too many other things to see besides reading a bunch of microscopic text on plaques in a sterilized building.
She’s up for anything
My mom is fearless and is definitely up to trying anything. I don’t know many people who’d be willing to drive a stick-shift 15-passenger van through the mountains of Greece without having driven a stick-shift in decades, much less a 15-passenger van.
She and my dad also rode bikes down the 10,000+ ft. Haleakala volcano in Hawaii. Yeah, 2-wheeled uncovered bicycles at who knows how many miles per hour down a VOLCANO.
And then there was the time she drove over a 12,000 ft mountain pass in Colorado during a blizzard because my parents were picking me up from a semester program I had done out there. I think she thought she was going to have a heart attack, but she didn’t, which is probably more than most East Coasters trying to drive in Colorado in blizzard conditions can say.
So when I said we should climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence, she, of course, said “sure!” 25-year old in-shape me bounded up the 400+ stairs without blinking an eye, but the huffing and puffing and “oh dear LORD, does it ever end?!?” coming from behind told me that, had my mom known what she was signing up for, she might not have been so enthusiastic. But that view was worth it! I promise mom, all the hikes we’re doing in Montana this summer are downhill (mostly 😉 ).
She makes sure we meet new people
Without fail, everywhere we go, she makes friends. Whether it’s the Australian-turned-Italian woman running a leather store in Florence, the Library of Congress janitor who smuggled us out of the employees-only exit, the handicapped Shakespearean actor in Stratford who gave us our own private performance of a Winter’s Tale, the 6-foot, portly Greek hotel manager that gave my mom what she still swears is the best hug she’s ever gotten, we have friends everywhere we’ve gone. It’s like my mom has this giant flashing neon sign over her blonde head that says “I’m friendly, come talk to me.”
On the other end of the spectrum, I won’t even make eye contact with the annoying vendors in the middle of the mall trying to spray perfume in my face. My mom has a bigger heart for people than I do, and while sometimes I’m glad at least one of us is mildly skeptical of strangers, it has meant we’ve gotten to have experiences I probably would not have on my own. Also, shout-out to all of those strangers who signed up for this blog because my mom told you to. I’m glad that you’re here! 🙂
Can split meals
This is a huge money-saver, FYI. Since we like the same foods, for the most part, we can just share meals rather than each ordering something that we can’t possibly finish (I’m looking at you, Bistecca alla Fiorentina!) Or, you can order more desserts this way! 😉
It’s also useful when you want to order wine; in Italy and Greece, a liter of wine is much cheaper than a bottle of water and more economical than just a glass of wine. So having a drinking buddy is very helpful! And since my mom and I are both vino-lovers, this works out well.
I am always entertained
My mom is one of the most entertaining people I know; it’s actually impossible to be bored with her. Whether it’s her ability to make friends with everyone, her constant story-telling, her very ADD tendencies, or her hilariously literal take on everything, I am always entertained.
So yes, my mom and I do have a good time everywhere we go. If you and your own mom get along, I highly suggest taking a mother-daughter trip! Mother’s Day gift idea, perhaps? 😉
Do you travel with your mom? Or daughter, as the case may be? Tell me about it in the comments!
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Could there be a better mother’s dsy gift than this!! I JUST LOVE IT!! Especially that there are more pros than cons!
I am the luckiest mom in the world to get to do these trips and have a daughter who is ready for the next adventure!
Thank you Sweetie for this WONDERFUL blog!
HEY! Anyone need to hear the pink donut story? There has to be someone who hasn’t heard it!!! It’s outstanding!!
Love it. I was lucky enough to take my mom on her bucket list dream trip…a cruise to Alaska. I agree it can be a wee bit tricky if you dont agree on how to travel but I was lucky cause she is relatively easy. I think the hardest part was remembering that she is older and sometimes needs to stop and rest while I tend to be a very active traveler.
But the memories we share I will forever cherish. I hope you will too as it looks like you had a great time with your mom.
Awww!! All so truuueeee lol. They do drive us mad but we love ’em all the same. Mama looks like she’d be a hoot to travel with. Lol.
Barbara, I absolutely love reading Maggie’s Pink Caddy writings. She is so talented. Knowing you as I do, I can just imagine you and Maggie doing all these wonderful trips and your sheer positive ness and determination makes it possible. I’ve been lucky enough to do a couple of driving trips down the east coast with Nicole and we also have survived! Have a wonderful Mother’s Day ❤️
This is so fantastic, I love this as a mother’s day gift! Traveling together is such a fantastic way to build your replationship!
What a fantastic way to honor your Mom this year! This recount of your experiences brings back many fond memories of rooming with your Mom for 30 years of Mary Kay Seminar Conventions! No, it wasn’t boring at all…in fact, she attracted lots of fellow consultants into our room at night for jokes, laughter and yes lots of Vino and cheese! Since I always drove to Dallas and she had to fly….I was the one who loaded the car down with wine, cheese, crackers, lots of water and of course the coffee pot (in the days of bad hotel room coffee) and coffee so wse didn’t have to use those awful packets. Your travels sound so fun and educational too! Happy Mother’s Day Barbara!!!
You’re a brave soul, I love my mom but our travel styles are sooo different. I don’t think we’d be compatible for very long :p
Haha everyone is different!! I feel very fortunate that we get along so well
I think travelling with your parents is really fun. I only recently took my folks on a trip outside of our country and I loved it. Yes, you nees to adjust your travel style based on their ability to keep up and always translate for them, but it’s good spending time with them too, and they are priceless memories.
Omg this is so beautiful. I think it’s AMAZING that you travel with your mum! My mum and I are completely different people so would make terrible travel companions. She would want to drink cocktails by the beach all day and I’d be trying to make her get up and do something at no avail! I love this though, what a lovely thing to write for your mum. Much love x
Haha, I can relate to the bit about complete strangers knowing way more about me than they strictly need to part. I think mums are just really proud of their kids so it’s a reflex. But it’s great that she’s such a complimentary travel partner and is up for a challenge!
I don’t think I ever traveled with just my mom. I love traveling with my parents and my dad is a great buffer between me and my mom. He is the voice of reason when I and my mom go a little bit crazy. But reading your post it might be time to finally do that trip with just my mom! It is definitely an experience I want to have. Thanks for the inspiration.
First of all, you two are adorable and Barbara seems like a blast! Her personality seems quite similar to l my Mom-lets make all the friends lol. The sharing meals bit is huge for me. Most of my friends share but I’ve been on dinners with people who don’t like to share, you know the picky eaters and its a drag. I like to sample as much as I can! Haha. I’ve been wanting to travel with my Mom for a while now, I know we’d be good travel buds just haven’t made the leap yet. This was a great post to read. 🙂
Thank you!! She definitely has a lot of personality haha. Yes, the picky eaters!! Why?! It’s so much more fun getting to eat a little of everything 😀 I hope you and your mom get to take a trip together soon! It’s definitely worth it 🙂
I love Travel with my mom too! We’ve been on quite a few adventures together over the years; Nashville, England, Eastern Europe, etc. She doesn’t drink so she’s always passing me her shot of complimentary brandy or glass of wine. Lol
My dad is pretty great to travel with as well. I consider myself blessed to have such a great relationship with my parents and often find they are easier to travel with because we already know each other’s quirks.
I love this post and love that there the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to traveling with your mom! I have so much fun traveling with my mom as well!
This is a wonderful post! Traveling with your parents is a great experience and the pros certainly out weight the cons!
I actually would love to travel with my mom! We used to travel a lot as a family back when me and my sister were younger but it’s been a while since we’ve had a nice trip together. I am more worried that she couldn’t keep up because I tend to do a lot of things when I’m on the road, but to be honest, I’d gladly slow down for her 🙂
I just went on my first trip with just my mom a few months ago, and it was a lot of fun! Another one of the pros from it was that she paid for a lot of the meals haha!
So good that there are more pros than cons! I really like travelling with my mom as well for a lot of these same reasons 🙂 I do most of the planning, but she likes all the ideas I come up with and we always share meals!
This is so sweet! My mom is not a huge traveller but I would love to take her on a trip somewhere just the two of us. I love that you guys have such a great relationship and look so happy together!
Awe! I wish I could travel with my mother. She is so busy and lives halfway around the world, so it makes it pretty hard to make it happen. Maybe one day it will and then I can split meals with her 🙂
Loving every shot with your mom 🙂 I wish my mom could travel with me as well. You’re lucky at the same time though need to compromise sometimes 🙂
hahaha, I loved this!
I wish I could do this wih my mum, and we have tried. But we do kinda drive each other crazy! But I think it was an experience that meant a lot to her.
It’s so lovely that you can travel with your mum. I have been away with my mum and it is such a lovely way to connect. We very quickly found out that we can split up and agree to meet later for tea/wine/dinner, and it works. Your mum looks like a real bad-ass (I mean they both do, biking on a volcano whaaaaa!?)
This is SUCH a sweet post! I love that you and your mum are such brilliant travel partners!
My mum is terrified of flying (and she used to be in a wheelchair so couldn’t go far…) so I got used to taking a zillion photos to share my travel stories with her. I would really love to be able to spend time with her like this! You are lucky ladies. <3
Aww, you remind me a lot of my mom and I. So happy you gals have such a close relationship!
Its interesting. I have travelled on my own mostly for the last 6 years and have loved it. But in the last 6 months I have decided that I want to travel with someone. Almost to the point that I don’t really want to travel unless I am with someone. Looking back, maybe I should have done more variety in my trips. Its great that you are able to travel with your mom and you don’t drive each other crazy!
It’s awesome that your mom is up to try anything. Such a huge part of traveling successfully is having the same ideas about what you want to do or at least being willing to make concessions for the other person.
And those photos are great.
I would love to travel more with my Mum but I know it would be a bit of a nightmare, I think I would like to go back to places that I have been and show her there is a different way to travel outside of her comfort zone but also so I know the place and have been on my own terms too, so I probably wouldn’t get as frustrated!
I have never traveled with my mum but reading your post made me realize that I definitely should, Maggie. A friend of mine travels often with her mum and her experiences and unique! I guess it all depends on the relationship a person has with the parent!
Organize a girls whirl tour!
I’d travel with your mom too, she such fun!
Your mum seem like an amazing person and the best part of travelling with them is be able to share these precious memories together.
So, what was that one pink doughnut story? 😉
All jokes aside, I can totally relate! I love traveling with my mom – even though we might bicker sometimes, we always enjoy each other’s company 🙂
Barbara sounds awesome, such a cute adventure you’re on 🙂
Oh nice. In the time of nuclear families, it is great to see relatives together. Wish you more unforgettable trips.
Wow, this blog reminds me of my favourite trips with mom.I always loved travelling with her, Now i travel with my hubby.When we get back to our home we ( mom and me)still do travel together and enjoy our travels even today like besties. I am really happy reading this blog.Wish you both many more such unforgetable and memorable trips in the years to come.Great Post!Love your selfies as well.
It was so interesting to read as I honestly don’t think I could travel with my mum only. Strong personalities can clash so easily!
Even with the “cons”, you’re lucky. When I first got out of college I traveled a few times with my mom and dad. I really enjoyed traveling more with my mom, and I’d describe her the same way you described your mom. I think the biggest tip we found to keep us sane was time apart from one another. When we stopped being joined at the hip 24 hours a day, it relieved some of the tension of the “cons”.
I wish my mom likes travelling the way your mom does! Good way to list both pros and cons.
What a great post! I love the honesty – traveling with your parent will give you a memory that you will cherish greatly one day! Thanks for sharing with all of us! My mom makes sure I’m meeting new people too – maybe they think its their responsibility?
How can it be we work together Barbara and yet I have never heard the pink doughnut story! I am crushed!
I travel alot with my mom aswell, we always end up arguing atleast once, but I love traveling with her 😀
This article could have been written about my dad and I. I love to hang out with my mom at our houses, but she is too anxious to travel with. My dad and I have been all over the world and it has been some of the happiest times of my life. We were supposed to be headed to Spain and Morocco next week, but that will obviously be put off for a while. To me that is the worst part of this and what I want to do first when this is over.