8 Reasons Traveling With Your Mom Rocks

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Let me get this out right off the bat: My mom is freakin’ fantastic. 

And I’m not just staying that because it’s Mother’s Day. (Oh you forgot? Quick – buy your mom a Groupon!) I’m saying it because my mother is one of the most hilarious and original people I’ve ever met. She’s unwaveringly kind, unconditionally loving and never fails to offer up positivity and grace, no matter what life throws at her. She can drink red wine like a champion and never loses enthusiasm for getting to know new people.

She’s a real dynamo, and I couldn’t be more lucky to be her daughter.

Sipping cocktails in Phuket, Thailand.
Sipping cocktails in Phuket, Thailand.

My mother is the reason I have an obsession with travel. While I was growing up, she would take me and my brother on spontaneous trips around the country using her flight benefits she earned from working at American Airlines. She’s been in the travel industry for nearly 30 years, 20 of those at American and Travelocity, where she built a career helping business travelers get to where they need to go easier and cheaper. So it makes sense that I’ve had a fascination with travel since I was very young – as Will.i.am says, “I Got From My Mama.

We’ve hand many incredible adventures over the years, and I can’t wait for even more in the future. In honor of my mom (and moms everywhere!), I’ve compiled a list of 8 reasons traveling with your mom completely kicks ass. 

On the Great Wall of China.
On the Great Wall of China.

1. You get to see a new side of each other.

You get used to seeing your mom in the same way your entire life. For me, it’s usually at home in Texas, in the den, playing spades, eating delicious beef queso, watching the Cowboys play (hopefully well), laughing at how she can’t sit still for very long until she pops up to rearrange the furniture for the 3rd time that day.

While it’s good to have those familiar traditions, traveling gives you and your mom a chance see each other in a new light. You’re both experiencing new things, admiring new sights together and being introduced to new cultures. It’s a great opportunity to see how your mom behaves in situations you’ve never seen her in.

I loved watching my mom gawk at the colossal cathedrals in Europe in quiet awe – I’d never seen her speechless in spiritual wonder. And seeing her win over Thai friends in the Phuket night market with simply her infectious smile made me appreciate her universal warmth in a whole new way. It’s fun being surprised by someone that you think you know to a T.

Mom trying a hot pot in Beijing.
Mom trying a hot pot in Beijing.

2. You know she has your back.

When traveling with your mom, one thing you definitely feel is safe. If there is anyone in the world that you know has your best interests at heart, it’s your mother. She’ll watch over you as you throw back pints in the pub and make sure you get back to the hotel alright. She’ll keep an eye on you as you wander around new (and occasionally dodgy) neighborhoods in search of adventure. She’ll guard your gelato while you pee in a disgusting port-a-potty.

Most importantly, you can count on her to back you up if something goes wrong. Like the time my mom, stepdad and brother were flying from New York back to Texas and a snow storm hit. Flights were being canceled one after the other and people were desperate to leave NYC before a bigger storm arrived. Somehow, my mom utilized her travel savviness to rebook us on another flight quickly leaving from Newark and hurried us into a cab, getting us into the air minutes before all the area airports were closed.

Thankfully mom was with me the day we decided to drink our way down the Ramblas. We'd never have made it to our cruise ship in time!
Thankfully mom was with me the day we decided to drink our way down the Ramblas. We’d never have made it to our cruise ship in time!

3. You learn more about her. 

Fun fact: My mom speaks a little Turkish.

How do I know this? Because in 2011, my mom and I took a cruise in the Mediterranean together, where we met a friendly guy in one of the small Italian ports we docked in. When he told us he was Turkish, my mom suddenly got very excited and spouted out a phrase that sounded like jibberish. The guys eyes lit up and he said, “You know Turkish?!” My jaw dropped.

Turns out my mom worked in a Turkish restaurant for a short time in her 20s. Apparently, she knows how to say “Hi, how are you,” “I love you,” and “Fuck your mother” in Turkish. Who knew?

Mom with her $10 fake Beats headphones from the night market. Just jamming.
Mom with her $10 fake Beats headphones from the night market. Just jamming.

4. You laugh harder than you’ve ever laughed.

Parents do the darndest things. This is true all the time, but especially while traveling in parts of the world very different to what neither of you are used to.

Watching my mom attempt to learn phrases in any language (except Turkish I guess) is hysterical. I think after a week in Phuket, she’d managed to get Cop-koon-kah down (that’s thank you, in Thai), but she would say it very slowly, while glancing sideways at me to indicate I should stop her if it’s wrong, and always as if she was asking a question. “Cop……koon……..(side glance at me, I give her a nod)………….kah?”

While also in Phuket, my mom and I laughed for hours at the annoying tourist couples doing sexy photoshoots on the beach. We watched as the speedo-clad guys took photos of their skanky girlfriends posing in a variety of unnatural way in the sand, on top of tree brances, against rocks, and other unfortunate props. Then for a laugh, my mom decided she’d give it a go. And then she got stuck in a tree.

Mom's attempt at making fun of tourists doing sexy photoshoots on the beach.
Mom’s attempt at making fun of tourists doing sexy photoshoots on the beach.

5. You’re forced to work through any issues immediately.

When you spend an extended period of time with your mom, you’re bound to get into a few disagreements. This is especially true when dealing with the inevitable hiccups that happen when you travel abroad. I’m guilty of letting the jet lag shorten my temper and I’ve snapped at my mom for silly annoyances, like the 15th time she’s changed her mind about what she wants to do for dinner (I’m a planner, she’s a fly-the-seat-of-your-pants-er.)

The good thing about arguments had while traveling is you are usually forced to make amends quickly. At home, you may be able to storm back to your room and lock yourself away to seethe for several hours. But when faced with spending a 5 hour bus ride or a night in a tiny hotel room next to her, you tend to suck it up and realize it’s not worth it. Life is too short. You say your apologies and go to the bar for a drink.

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It may not have been a booze cruise but we decided it was.

 

6. You meet more people.

I don’t know about yours, but my mother makes friends faster than anyone I’ve ever known. If I leave her alone for 5 minutes in public, when I come back she’ll know everyone in the room’s name, and has likely already bought them a drink.

One time, I was working in New Orleans and my mom flew in to visit. After I’d been working all day, she met me at my hotel and told me about a fantastic oyster place called Drago’s that she’d had for lunch, and she wanted to take me for dinner. When we arrived, she knew the name of every guy behind the oyster bar, where they were from, how long they’ve been shucking oysters and their dreams and aspirations beyond oyster shucking.

She’d been in the city for 5 hours.

Now I’m a very friendly and social person, but I usually gravitate towards people more like myself while traveling. Not my mom. She is interested in everyone and everything. No matter how different from her, she always looks for something that she has in common with all the people she meets. She fearlessly connects with anyone and everyone she can. This used to be embarrassing to me, but now it’s one of my favorite things about her.

My mom even wants to be friends with hermit crabs.
My mom even wants to be friends with hermit crabs.

7. You open new doors for each other.

When my mom suggested we go on a Mediterranean cruise, I was a bit hesitant. I’m usually not a cruise person and I’d already traveled around Europe quite a bit. I was anxious to see other parts of the world, but I (of course) agreed to join her because I knew we’d have an amazing time on our first trip just the two of us.

I ended up discovering one of my favorite corners of the planet on that trip – Portofino, Italy. Likewise, I don’t think China was on the top of my mom’s list, but she joined me in Beijing and we had an incredible day exploring the Forbidden City and Great Wall. Because of each other, we were both pleasantly surprised by destinations we’d probably never have visited on our own.

Portofino, Italy!
Portofino, Italy

8. You grow closer to the most important person in your life!

This is the most obvious reason that traveling with your mom is a fantastic thing to do. Your mother is the person that brought you into this amazing world, and there really is no one better to explore it with. You learn from and about each other, you overcome obstacles, you laugh until your side hurts, you grow closer, and you appreciate each other’s company in new ways.

And sometimes you come home with some amazing photos, like this one my mom took of me in Thailand that she accidentally had her finger in. No Mom, you haven’t lived this one down yet.

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Me and Mom’s finger.

Mom, thank you for being the best travel buddy a girl could ask for.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Last time Mom and I were together in LA about a month ago.
Last time Mom and I were together in LA about a month ago.

Nepal’s Devastating Earthquake & How You Can Help

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I’m writing this post today with a heavy heart. As you probably have read in the news, there was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal on Saturday that has left the small Himalayan country devastated. Thousands have died, hundreds of thousands have been left homeless, millions of dollars in damage has been done to the country’s buildings and infrastructure, and centuries-old monuments have been reduced to rubble

I was lucky enough to travel to Nepal last year and spend several weeks exploring both the capital city of Kathmandu and several Sherpa villages in the Himalayas. I found it to be an incredibly beautiful country, full of warm and welcoming people, most of which live with far far less than we do in the West, yet they were some of the most joyful and gracious folks I’ve come across. 

When I first heard about the earthquake, I immediately thought of my first day in Kathmandu. I’d noticed how flimsy, high and narrow so many of the buildings were and how tangled and chaotic the power lines were in the city. I told our local guide Narayan that I wouldn’t want to be here in an earthquake, and he told us about the big one they had 80 years ago that had leveled the city. I remember him saying that they hadn’t had a big one there in years. 

Now, the temples in Patan Durbar Square in the picture I took below only a year ago are now crumbled ruins.

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These kinds of horrific natural disasters are always followed by an outpouring of help from around the world, which is an awesome thing and says a lot about the goodness of humanity. However, so many people clamoring to help can sometimes get confusing and can lead to an unorganized relief effort (Read this Guardian piece for explanation). 

If you’d like to help to help the people of Nepal immediately with the search and rescue operations and the impending long and difficult recovery period, there are plenty of international aid organizations you can donate to that will get the aid there the quickest. This article will help you choose the best one to give your money to and here is a good list of organizations to start with

I split my donations between World Vision, which is one of the biggies that allows you to donate $10 by simply texting the word NEPAL to 777-444, and the Planeterra Foundation run by G Adventures (a travel company I love) which has several short term and long term projects in Nepal. But if you want to help, do it on your own terms and choose the organization you feel the best about.

Whatever you do, remember this: a small chunk of change from you could mean the difference between life or death for someone affected by this earthquake. It’s worth it. 

Fins Ahoy: Whale Watching in the Channel Islands

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How many of you saw this video of a pod killer whales saying hello to a paddleboarder in Laguna Beach?

Pretty amazing right?

For those of you not from LA, spotting killer whales this far south is pretty freaking rare. And because orcas have been my favorite animal on this planet since I was 8 years old, I was immediately obsessed with seeing them for myself, as soon as I could. Continue reading

A Day At The Races – Yelling at Horses at Santa Anita Park

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“MAJESTIC KITTEN! GET IT IN GEAR! GO GO GO!”

If you are a newbie to horse racing, like I was last week, then someone screaming that at the top of their lungs right behind you might be a bit unnerving. But now, as a horse racing expert as of last Saturday, I know that such madness is par for the course when it comes to betting on horses.

You see, for my adventure this week, I spent my Saturday celebrating my friend Lyndee’s birthday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, the first racetrack built in California in 1934 and home to the Breeder’s Cup. Which, I learned, is apparently a really big deal in horse racing. Continue reading

10 Things I Want More and Less of in 2015 (PLUS a big announcement!)

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First of all, I hope I haven’t entirely missed the boat on this. Please don’t judge me. It’s now over two weeks into 2015, long after all the other bloggers have posted their year-end summaries and goals for 2015.

But most bloggers don’t procrastinate as much as I do.

I could tell you that it took me these two weeks to really hone in on my resolutions, create spreadsheets and layout my goals on a giant bulletin board in my bedroom. With color-coded vision boards and tracking graphs, and all that.

I refuse to get into my Cowboys obsession on this blog. It's too personal.
After the Cowboys lost.

But that would be a lie. I’ve been busy watching the NFL playoffs, getting drunk and subsequently hungover, avoiding the suitcase that still needs unpacking from my Christmas in Texas, and trying to get back into office mode without binging on too many M&Ms at my desk to avoid actually working.

But, I have managed to string together a short list of 5 things to do more of in 2015 and 5 things to (hopefully) do a lot less of. I think it might give you a little bit of an idea of where I’m headed this year. Where WE’RE headed. Because you’re on this journey with me if you like it or not. (Hopefully you like it! We’ll have a lot of fun this year, that’s a guarantee.)

And if you stick through my list, at the end of this post, I have a big EXCITING announcement! Continue reading

VIDEO: Take Off from the World’s Most Dangerous Airport

Yay, more videos from my Asia trip! This is a short video showing our POV as we were taking off from Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, widely regarded as the world’s most dangerous airport.

It was the day after finishing a 9 day trek in the Himalayas, we were exhausted, and my friend Kayla and I were more than a little scared for this flight. The end of the runway is a sharp drop-off, and if you don’t get enough speed to take off by the end, well….we were desperately trying not to think about that! But luckily we got off the ground and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the mountains surrounding us, including Everest.

VIDEO: Colorful Kathmandu

Remember my post about colorful Kathmandu in March? Well, I shot 10+ hours of video on that 2 month trip to Asia and I’m just now getting around to editing it. I know, you should definitely be jealous of my high level of productivity.

Here is the first of several videos I’ll be posting in the coming months from that trip. I started with Kathmandu because it was the easiest to edit (I didn’t have that much footage to work with!) and obviously offers a lot visually. That city remains the place most unlike any other place I’ve ever been – loud, colorful, exotic and full of energy.

Have a look for yourself!