Traveling with Mom used to mean having our bags packed for us, and a juice box provided. Now, a vacation with your mother might mean spa days and museum excursions. It might also mean that some careful navigation of certain areas is required…
The Discussion Rule
First things first: this is the big one. You might have the most amazing, open and symbiotic relationship with your mother, the kind that would have Oprah fans everywhere weeping with envy. But for the rest of us mortals, we have to be reminded of the necessity to keep lines of communication open. Traveling involves a good deal of logistics, and everyone needs to be on the same page. This may be simple enough when it comes to “meet me at the airport at five for check in”, but it might fall apart as soon as you get to the “how did you not know about the liquids-on-the-plane-rule?” a few minutes later. Before you know it, you’re making passive-aggressive snipes while a TSA agent stares blankly at you from the sidelines.
The thing to remember, especially if this is the first trip you and your mother are taking solo, is that your mother used to be the one in charge of you. And now you are in charge of you. You might even ostensibly be in charge of the whole trip. This might need some getting used to, for both parties.
Perhaps you might consider setting a plan-making time. You might want to plan everything in advance, but it can be more fun to plan one or two days at a time once you get there. Perhaps over dessert at dinner every night you can talk through your timings for the next day, or start your planning every morning at breakfast. Unless you have decided that one person is going to be in charge of a part of the decision making, such as which buses or taxis to take, remember to include your mother in every decision making process. And make sure that she knows she needs to include you as well.
The Rest Rule
Once you have managed to get your open communication going, it is important that each of you keeps the other one up to date with what you are capable of physically. This is especially important for your mother, who might not be as fit as you are. Of course, she might be more fit, but let’s go with the odds.
You might have an idea of stopping whenever your mother feels tired, but this will benefit from a little planning. Look at travel blogs and reviews of where you will be. Does the park/gallery/riverside you will be walking along have benches? If not, keep the visit short. Have a list of rest places ready before you get going. Coffee shops are good, as are outdoor benches if the weather is pleasant. You might even find somewhere like a library that has a nice seating area.
The Splitting-Up Rule
This is a good rule no matter whom you are traveling with. You and your mother will no doubt have a list of things you want to see together. If you do not have any interests in common, you would probably not be traveling together in the first place.
However, it is almost always good to have some planned time apart. This can help you get over the living-in-each-others-pockets feeling that can happen when you are traveling with someone, no matter how close you are to them. Perhaps your mother would like to go to a spa for the day, while you attend a festival or go for a hike. She might be the one going for the hike while you stay at the spa. Either way. Make sure that each of you knows where the other one is. You should also know how you are to get in touch for safety purposes.
This goes hand in hand with the discussion rule. It is important that neither of you feels that the other one is “getting sick of you” and so on. But a little time apart might be something you both appreciate. Of course, if you do not feel the need to split up, at least you will be sure that this is the right decision after talking it through.
The Swap and Share Rule
This is an optional rule, but it can be a lovely way to bond with someone on holiday. Adult friendships between parents and their children can be difficult to cultivate, as each will have experienced new things since living in the same house together… we don’t always manage to stay as close as we would like. The swap and share rule means that each of you will pick one activity that you really, really want to do, something that the other person would not have chosen. Then you share it together.
Maybe one of you wants to visit the catacombs under the city you are staying in. The other one, according to the rule, would go along and listen to exactly why it’s the most amazing thing ever, and would not be allowed to complain that she finds it morbid. And if the other person really, really wants to go to the marble-making factory, their companion should pay attention to every detail and make insightful comments like “oh, so that’s how they get the colored bit in the middle”.
Stick To Your Rules
The point of these rules is that you develop your own version of each one. Every mother and daughter will have their own relationship, with its own quirks. Being aware of these idiosyncrasies will allow both of you to have the best possible time on your travels.
Practically, the rules are important as well. Not just for making sure you both get to the airport on time, but during the trip itself. Knowing where your traveling companion is can be a big step toward staying safe in a new place.