Her last-minute visit set the tone for the many mother-daughter trips we would take in the future. While I traveled abroad for work as a journalist, my mom would meet me at my locations for week-long adventures. Our travel styles don’t match up perfectly, but there is enough overlap in the Venn diagram for us to have a great time, and, more importantly, enjoy each other’s company.
I’m not the only one thinking about traveling with my mom once the ravages of the pandemic are behind us. According to data from Priceline, flight searches for Mother’s Day weekend on the site are 60 percent higher than they were in 2019.
“I’ve actually had several mother-daughter [trip requests], and ones who are going with friends in mother-daughter groups,” says Kim Gorres, president of Travel Leaders Travel Now.
We talked to travelers to hear their favorite memories and lessons learned from such jaunts. Whether you’re going somewhere with your mom or mother figure for the first time or are continuing the tradition, here’s some advice to help you plan.
Discuss your travel styles before the trip
Before you book tickets to Machu Picchu, have a conversation about what you would both like to get out of the trip. Does your mom love walking tours? Is she more of an all-inclusive beach resort person? Gorres says a way to make your trip less stressful is to discuss exactly what you like to do and what’s important, then plan accordingly.
After his mom, Ellie Baer, moved to Tatworth-Chard, England, in 2010, Wilder Shaw traveled from Los Angeles to visit her every year until the pandemic struck. Since taking those trips, they have learned their travel styles align perfectly.
“We both base traveling around food,” Shaw said. “And gin.”
In April 2017, they decided to take the train from London to Paris, “a top-tier weird place to go with your mom,” Shaw said of the romance capital of the world. Over the course of their three-day stay, they enjoyed eating and wandering (even though Baer had sprained her ankle just days before the trip). They took a dinner cruise down the Seine and saw the Eiffel Tower. The highlight of their trip was dining at Le Relais de L’Entrecôte. “They give you refills of steak and fries,” Shaw said. “What a blessing.”
Keep things flexible
For most of his life, Josh Mankiewicz, a reporter for Dateline, had heard his mom, Holly Jolley Reynolds, talk about how much she loved visiting Seattle as a young woman. For her 83rd birthday, Mankiewicz surprised Reynolds with a trip there together, flying her first-class from South Florida.
According to Mankiewicz, the key to traveling well with his mom was not to over-schedule. He knew they wouldn’t have a good time being rushed from one activity to the next, so they kept things relaxed.
They sat in coffee shops reading the paper, talking, walking through Pike Place Market and eating at 13 Coins. Everywhere they went, people were nice to Reynolds, “particularly when they knew it was her son taking her to Seattle for her birthday,” Mankiewicz said. “Now that she’s gone, I’m so glad that I did. It was one of the great moments of my life.”
In July 2019, McKenna Nelson and her mom, Melissa, traveled to Austria for a Sound of Music bike tour through the hills of Salzburg — a travel fantasy McKenna had since childhood.
“I took Liesl’s bike and she took Maria’s, and we sang ‘the hills are alive’ all across town like the obnoxious tourists we were,” McKenna said. “I am so thankful she was so determined to make my dream come true, even though I am way too old to dream of being a Von Trapp.”
Having flexibility in their trip schedule meant having the chance to change their itinerary to spend more time in the Alps. They took a cable car and climbed to the highest peak in the area, and they ate a cheese and champagne picnic at the top. It ended up being one of the most amazing afternoons McKenna had ever had.
Share your passions and discover news interests along the way
A shared love of tennis tournaments inspired a lifetime of travel together for Lenore Adkins and her mother, Leslie. They have planned trips to Rome for the Italian Open, Melbourne for the Australian Open and Monaco for the Monte-Carlo Masters. The pandemic canceled their trip to Wimbledon 2020.
“Both of us play and are obsessed with the sport so much that we even have our favorite chair umpires,” Lenore said. “My mother got me into tennis when I was a teenager by signing me up for lessons at a neighborhood park in Chicago. I am so grateful the sport has helped us deepen our bond and see the world.”
But you don’t necessarily have to plan a trip around a shared passion. One person’s interests may be enough to inspire a memorable travel experience.
In college, Michele Theodore planned to camp at a summer music festival in Delaware with her best friend. At the last minute, her friend couldn’t get time off from work to attend, and Michele began to panic. “And that’s where my mom stepped in,” Michele said.
“We camped and cooked together at the festival, and she let me pick whatever bands I wanted to see at the various stages,” Michelle said. “She would even go up front with me if I wanted to be close and didn’t complain once about the noise or the crowds.”
Michelle says the trip bonded them immensely.
“I feel closer to my mom now because of her selfless offer,” she said. “She still listens to some of the bands we saw that weekend and loves the music.”
Take on travel obstacles together
Like any kind of travel, taking a trip with your mom will not always go according to plan. But sometimes the not-so-perfect moments become your favorite memories.
For Kat Thompson and her mom, Surasvadee “Mem” Thompson, their trips to Thailand together were a way to connect in her mother’s homeland. Their trips were also challenging, and seeing how well they worked together as a team has been one of Kat’s favorite parts of traveling with her mom.
“Like if we missed our first flight or if we want to go to a certain place and get lost, how do we approach that obstacle together?” she said. “It’s a unifying experience that strengthens our bond.”
That being said, their trips haven’t been without frustrations that can momentarily test those bonds. Like the time they stayed in a rustic beach bungalow infested with termites, or the time they crashed their motorbike moments after revving the engine (no one was hurt, by the way).
After the pandemic, Kat says she would love to travel with Mem anywhere, but returning to Thailand feels the most special.
“Getting to explore her own country and places that she never dreamed of going, like Southern Thailand or islands or far-flung places in her own homeland, it’s really special for both of us to get to do that,” she said.