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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