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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mom, thank you for being the best travel buddy a girl could ask for.
Happy Mother’s Day!