It all started with a solo trip to Bermuda.
Two winters ago, I visited the island of pink sand to enjoy a week in complete solitude. I stayed at a yoga studio and it was pure Zen magic with sunshine.
My parents were horrified that I traveled around a “strange island” by myself. When I safely returned, my Mom was so traumatized that she insisted on accompanying me on my next adventure.
Before I asked my Mom to join me on a trip to visit my college study abroad host family in Spain, I was hesitant. Do I really want to travel with my Mom? It sounds almost borderline nightmare. My mom lives in a suburban bubble. She needs help just navigating our small hometown. She is not well-traveled and never left the country until her mid-50s. She is one of those few people that will only cross the street in New York City when the flashing walking man is giving her the go ahead. When I finally asked her to come with me, she said yes immediately.
The months prior to our trip were filled with buzzing anticipation. We talked endlessly on the phone about our upcoming trip, even discussing at length the appropriate flirty, colorful wardrobe to pack. I was pleasantly surprised by how giddy my Mom was about visiting Spain. It was hard to remember the last time I heard so much excitement from her on our daily phone calls. It delighted me to hear her catching the travel bug, a condition I had been blessed with for years.
The day we landed in Madrid was unreal. After months of planning we had finally arrived. This was our first trip together. It’s funny how her fear of me traveling solo had brought us to this positive place. Just my Mom and me.
The opportunity to travel solo with your Mom is an experience many of us want to enjoy. Haven’t you seen Snatched or The Guilt Trip? In fact, according to luxury travel network Virtuoso, traveling with family was the top travel trend for 2018. I even noticed the movement on Instagram, seeing influencers post selfies with their Moms in Rome, South Africa and Australia.
Just the idea of traveling with your Mom is special. I live a 7-hour car ride from her, and although phone calls, Facetime and texts help to stay in touch, I am jealous that my nearby siblings get to see her way more than I do. And then there’s that horrible reality that one day my Mom may not want to travel anymore.
After Madrid, our Spanish holiday included stops at León, Barcelona and a small mountain village, Maraña. My Mom was a great travel partner because she could keep up with my ridiculous New York pace, take any staged photo for Insta and always knew if I was in the mood to be chatty or chill. We shared moments that I will hold in my heart forever.
But, it wasn’t always a perfect Gilmore Girls episode. As the more experienced traveler, I was responsible for getting us around Spain the whole time. When we arrived in Barcelona during a taxi strike, it was quite the challenge to figure out the metro system. Over an hour later of bickering, train transfers and dragging our luggage all over the city, we arrived at the hotel’s rooftop pool to celebrate our accomplishment. We were feeling ourselves after slaying that public transit obstacle!
My other responsibilities included setting my Mom’s phone up to Wi-Fi, checking her into flights and trains, carrying her luggage (while carrying my own) and translating her most random English questions (example: “Does anyone drive pickup trucks around here?”) for my study abroad host family to understand. Of course, we got on each other’s nerves, but we also laughed a lot. We truly basked in each other’s company in beautiful, sunny Spain.
The next time you’re thinking of an adventure, instead of asking your romantic partner or friend, think about your Mom. Maybe it will bring you closer together. Maybe you will learn from each other. Maybe you will see another side of your Mom. It’s easy to forget that before you, she had another life. There was a moment in Barcelona at The Sagrada Família, when my Mom couldn’t believe that a woman like her, with such humble beginnings, was in this breathtaking basílica. I rememebred that my Mom isn’t just my Mom; she’s a woman with an interesting history, a wonderful present and an exciting future.
My Mom and I returned to New York with a better understanding of each other. We learned that we aren’t only Mom and daughter, but we’re travel partners too. We’re thinking our next adventure will be to the Grand Canyon. Where will you and your Mom go?