Why I Learned to Love Traveling With My Mom
I still remember being 19 years old, packing up my little white Chevy Cruze to embark on my first real trip as an adult.
At that point in my life, I had never been west of Illinois.
Though my mother took us on trips a few times a year when I was growing up, we were stuck in the travel trap that so many families fall into.
You probably know the one I’m talking about. Every year, the same destinations, same beach house, same road trip to see relatives, and so on.
But I was an adult now, and I was determined to see new places and experience things I had only dreamed of. And I was going to do it all on my own!
When I set off on my journey from my little dorm room in Columbus, Ohio to Denver, Colorado, I felt empowered as I took in the sights and landscapes that were so different from our yearly road trips to Myrtle Beach or flights to my aunt’s home in Florida (though I was not crazy about the monotonous hours spent driving through Kansas!)
As I hiked each trail, scrambled each mountain, and watched each gorgeous sunset, I was surprised to feel a pang of something like homesickness.
I quickly realized it wasn’t a longing for home. I just wished my mom could be there to see it all with me!
Since then, I have made an effort to travel with my mom as much as I can. Our adventures together have created some of the most cherished memories of my life.
Here are all the reasons why I learned to love traveling with my mom!
It creates so many new memories for us to reminisce on.
It’s estimated that by the time we graduate from high school, the time we have spent with our parents adds up to 93% of the total time we will ever spend with them.
That means that most of the special memories we share with them will be from our childhood. But I didn’t want this to be the case for me and my mom!
Traveling together has created memories that range from sentimental to hilarious, and we love reminiscing about them together!
From exploring the remains of her hometown that was sold to a power plant while she recounted her days of riding her bike all around town with her best friend to sipping margaritas while watching the police break up a massive bar brawl at our beach resort, we now have endless stories to look back on when we need a good laugh (or cry).
I feel safer when she’s with me.
Even though I am now well into my 20s, my mom is still willing to take care of me in any circumstance. As I get older, it’s easier for me to realize that what I used to see as “nagging” is really just her trying to keep me safe.
She’s not trying to ruin my fun when she yells, “That’s too high!” from the crash pad at the bottom of the bouldering route, or says, “Maybe it’s time to turn around,” when we are kayaking through salty ocean waves.
She’s just being a mom, and it’s comforting to know that if anything goes wrong on our trips, I don’t have to face it alone (like the time I came down with a stomach virus while halfway to Nashville on a road trip -- thankful for you, Mom!)
We get to learn so much about each other.
I’ve always known that my mom is the person who truly knows me best. After all, she’s been by my side through everything since the day I was born. But until we started traveling together as adults, I didn’t realize just how much I didn’t know about her!
Long hours on a road trip and peaceful days exploring new cities create opportunities to talk and share stories. It was on our trips together that I learned about her childhood, her life before I was born, and even stories about my grandparents that I had never heard before.
On our journeys together, I got to hear for the first time about her train conductor boyfriend who she often rode along with, seeing most of Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia along the way. She shared tales of my grandparents, who were early adopters of #VanLife and traveled all over the southern United States buying and selling antiques in the 70s.
Who knows if these stories would have ever come up if we hadn't had hours and hours spent together on our trips!
It forces us both to do activities we normally wouldn’t on our travels.
Though my mom and I are alike in many ways, we tend to have different interests when it comes to travel. While I’m always looking for a more adventurous activity, my mom is perfectly content to spend an entire day perusing a museum and finishing it off with dinner and wine.
This means that when we travel together, we have to make compromises. There’s always a sense of accomplishment when we put together an itinerary that covers both of our interests. I have learned to appreciate a quiet day spent taking in the art and culture of a new city, and my mom has learned to embrace the thrill of taking on a new outdoor adventure.
It has helped both of us to grow out of our comfort zones, and gain a better understanding of the other's interests.
We’re both only getting older.
One of the most bittersweet parts of growing up is seeing your parents grow older as you embrace your newfound freedom. I was heartbroken when my mom stopped coloring her hair and went with her new naturally-silver look. It was hard to view her as an older woman instead of the dark-haired, youthful woman who raised me.
It was the little things that reminded me that our time with our loved ones is always limited. With that perspective, things like budgets and time off work seemed meaningless.
After my first trip on my own inspired me to travel with my mom more often, we both wanted to go so many places that we didn’t even know where to start. But to put it simply, life is short, so we knew we had to be deliberate about where we traveled. And with so many new adventures on our agenda, we would need to keep track of where we had been together.
We tried a few different methods to keep track of our past and future trips. We kept lists on our phones, downloaded spreadsheets online, and even downloaded a few apps.
But none of these travel tracking techniques proved to be very effective for us. Still, when it came time for us to plan a new trip, we found ourselves asking, “Where was it that you said you wanted to go a few weeks ago?” or, “What’s that one really cool place we saw online?”
That’s where our map came in, and it changed everything.
Now, we finally had a way to track our trips and plan our shared bucket list (with a sweet personalized legend to boot)!
Plus, by having a visual representation on hand, it helped us to easily see which destinations were close enough to group into one trip, so we could check items off our bucket list faster than ever.
But planning travels on our map isn’t even our favorite part. We love looking back on our past trips the most, celebrating our dreams that we turned into a reality and reminiscing on our favorite memories.
As soon as we put our first pins in our map, I knew that it would be one of the most sentimental things I will ever own. I imagined myself one day showing the map to my own children and telling them about all the incredible places I went with their grandmother, and how much fun we had along the way.
At the end of the day, all we have are memories. And I want to collect as many with my mom as I can!
Here are a few tips I have learned along the way for making the most of my travels with my mom:
- I always choose a destination she will LOVE, even if it's not my favorite.
- I plan plenty of relaxation time.
- I make a point to always be patient with her -- after all, she's the one who had the patience to raise me from birth!
- I let her help with planning the itinerary, and never try to spring anything unexpected on her.
- I take as many photos and videos as I can, because I know that I will cherish them forever.