Where would you absolutely love to take your mom? If you need a little inspiration to get you on that DREAM mother-daughter trip you’ve been meaning to take, I hope this can be it.
A trip to New York City to see a Broadway play for herself. Red sandstone cliffs and Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. The elephants, jungles and beaches of Thailand. Or, Europe’s grandest royal castles and the Emerald Isle’s dramatic drop-offs into the ocean.
For my sister, that dream mother-daughter trip was Vienna, Austria.
Many years ago, my sister visited the elegant palace gardens of Vienna and vowed to take my mom there. Thankfully, she finally did just that … and I got to tag along. It was one of the most epic trips of my life.
With Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought it was good timing to share this post with you. And hopefully it’ll inspire you to book that trip … wherever that perfect place is for your mother-daughter trip.
But before that, here’s an insightful study about our relationships with our moms ….
In 1983, a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family looked at the relationships between adult daughters and their moms. It rebutted the idea that mother-daughter relationships are only filled with conflict and anxiety; and particularly during these “in between” years – after we get comfortable in our own skin and before our moms need to be cared for themselves.
Even though it wasn’t “fashionable” (a funny term, given the study was in the ’80s!), the adult daughters in the study told many stories that “starred” their moms. Stories that showed how much they enjoyed spending time with their mom and how special their mom was to them.
This study found that this “in between” phase (when we’re adults and before our moms need to be cared for) is when we can have the BEST relationship with our moms. By that time, we’ve learned how to handle conflict with our moms in a healthy way. And, neither you nor your mom have the added stresses of caring for the other.
We can appreciate and enjoy our moms. And interestingly, this is most true before we have kids of our own.
So … this is also the BEST time to take that dream mother-daughter trip!
5 Reasons: Why you need to go on that dream mother-daughter trip … now!
1. Now is the “perfect” time
Life has a way of getting away on us. Babies. Job stress. Trips with our significant other. Financial challenges. Somewhere in there, we just have to say, “I’m going to go now.”
One thing I’ve learned as life just keeps on rolling, is that our parents actually get older. I know it’s a crazy thought, but I think somewhere in my brain I imagined my mom just living forever. And being healthy forever.
But as I watched very close friends lose parents unexpectedly and suddenly have a parent diagnosed with an aggressive illness, it dawned on me that my sister needed to take my mom on that trip NOW. Or it may forever remain a dream.
So, in the middle of my own family’s financial challenges and with toddlers left behind, we booked that trip and left.
2. Traveling is a bonding experience
You’re likely reading this post because you like traveling. Me too! But crazy enough, I actually know quite a few people who are very content not to travel.
But the beautiful thing about traveling, and especially with people we love like our mom, is that it’s an incredibly bonding experience. Sure, sometimes we drive each other crazy; but the more important moments are all the big and small things you’ll talk about later.
Like how stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral was. Or how the earlybird neighbors below just wouldn’t let us sleep in. Not. ONE. Morning. And how awe-struck we were to stumble upon possibly the most breathtaking cathedral we’d ever seen, in a humble basement below the most epic library EVER. (To me, anyway; and my sister and I’ve been to Rome, so you KNOW the cathedral at Stift Melk Abbey is pretty special!)
There’s nothing like traveling together to spend dedicated quality time with someone we love. Experience some crazy moments together, and make some unforgettable memories you’ll talk about years later. With a big smile on your face.
3. It’s fun to discover her favorite memory … and yours
Breathing in the deep vibrant colors of garden flowers at the elegant palaces of Vienna. Sharing amazing desserts under the evening lights of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Eating schnitzel in Salzburg. Strolling the cobblestone streets, legendary castle and iconic bridge of Prague … quite possibly the most stunning city in all the world.
What was my mom’s favorite memory? The car ride from Vienna to Salzburg, and the train from Vienna to Prague. I’m sure a big part was because these day trips were a pause from all that walking! But she also really enjoyed the countryside.
And my favorite memory? Laughing so hard we could barely breathe, as the pouring rain above the restaurant’s canopy turned into rivers around our feet. And watching my mom and sister try to get water from a dancing fountain into their water bottles. Moments that could’ve happened anywhere; but they happened there. Together.
4. Special people deserve special attention
Yup, you know it’s true!
Far too often when we kids grow up, meet our significant other and have babies, we forget to prioritize one-on-one time with our moms. It’s not that we mean not to spend that quality time together; we just don’t really think about it.
While taking her out for dessert and coffee can definitely be lovely, and picking her up for a stroll around the park is nice, why not kick it up a few notches? Even for a weekend getaway someplace nearby you’ve heard is amazing. Take her to a place that inspires epic selfies together.
I’m guessing there’s a place coming to your mind??
5. It’ll mean more to your mom than you know
Initially, my mom seemed a bit indifferent – and even opposed – to the idea of the trip. Leave my dad behind? How would he survive without her? And so far away?
Many in my mom’s circle frowned at her taking such a big trip without my dad. And my mom isn’t a fan of flying, much less on such a long flight. (But she’s not afraid of flying; if that were the case, I wouldn’t suggest taking that kind of trip.) Although she said she was looking forward to it, she didn’t seem exactly excited.
But just recently, my mom told me that she still thinks back very fondly on that trip. From my mom, who’s reserved with sharing strong emotions, this was a pretty significant thing to say. And it tells me that the trip meant more to her than I knew.
11 Practical Trips: How to make that mother-daughter trip perfect
So now that you’re convinced to book that dream mother-daughter trip, let’s get practical. I have some good tips to share with you based on my own experience of traveling with my mom, who was in her *ahem* very early 70s.
1. Pick a destination you know she’ll love
Has your mom ever said how much she’d love to see something specific? Experience something for herself, instead of just in books or movies?
Embrace it! Even if it’s not your dream destination, it’ll become your favorite spot in the world … because she’ll love it. And there’s something absolutely fantastic about watching your mom actually enjoy something for herself. Where it can finally be about HER and not everyone else.
Another thing to consider … My mom rarely went on big trips and likely won’t be on many others. If your mom is similar to mine, pick the best place you can think of to treat her.
2. Take charge of the details
Unless your mom loves planning trips, chances are she’ll much prefer that you plan it all. My mom was also very much about making everyone else happy and I think wanting reassurance that we’d enjoy it, too.
So, narrow down your top three options (destinations, accommodations, day trips or whatever), give her some pros and cons, and get her thoughts. Tease out that opinion. It’s in there, somewhere!
And then make it happen.
3. Pay for your own stuff, and treat her
Everyone will have their own thoughts on this, but here’s mine: our parents have spent more than enough on us as we were growing up, that it’s GOOD for you to treat her to a dream mother-daughter trip.
Now, I’m looking at this as an adult daughter who’s been in the workforce for some time. While your situation might be different, I urge you to at least pay your own way. Because there are other benefits to this that play out in the trip dynamics. Like both having equal say in where you stay, what you do, where you eat.
Who pays for what can be a tricky part of traveling with our parents, so make it clear before you leave. If your mom is adamant about paying her share (or if you honestly are freaked out about paying for both), cover the accommodations and split the rest.
4. Book a place without stairs
No matter how agile your mom is, stairs at the end of a day of sight-seeing is tiring for the youngest and healthiest of us.
5. Book a place near great evening spots … and transit
It was SO great being able to make a few dinners at our place and then walk to St. Stephen’s Cathedral for a glass of wine. You just can’t do this if you book a place far away from the action.
And if you’re going to a city, being close to a transit stop makes it so easy to get around to the sights you’ll want to see. This also cuts down on some of your walking, saving your energy for the places you’re seeing. (Unless, of course, you just take a cab or Uber everywhere.)
6. Plan at least a few relaxed meals in
As much as my mom liked being able to order schnitzel at every meal, I could see her relief when my sister suggested picking up a few groceries at the local farmer’s market so she could make us dinner. And my mom loved relaxed, simple breakfasts in our own place. Maybe it was a sense of normalcy for someone who liked home-cooked meals and didn’t travel much.
7. Pencil in one thing per day
Most places I’ve visited are best seen by walking. Really, the only trips where I didn’t do a lot of walking was on long roadtrips, where much of our time was spent in the car.
For the most part, we planned just one main thing a day. One day exploring the nearby historic city-center. One palace. One destination per day trip.
Even if you only plan one thing per day, it’s very hard not to walk a lot in Europe. Pay attention to how much walking you’re doing every day and plan a lot of sitting breaks. For coffee. Dessert. Wine. More dessert.
8. Be flexible and ready to slow things down
Even if you only plan one activity per day, keep these activities flexible if possible. The older we get, the greater chance of something coming up that’ll slow you down.
About six weeks before we left on our mother-daughter trip, my mom injured her back. An avid walker and never wanting to hold us back, she made very light of her injury on our trip. To the point that it was hard to know how much pain she was actually in. Our clue to slow things down was her prescription medication; my mom rarely took medication.
So, watch for the signs to slow things down, and respond accordingly.
Another very practical reason to be a flexible traveler no matter who you travel with, is that you just can’t predict when someone will feel sick. And it really won’t be that fun walking through the gardens on a rainy day.
9. Build in lots of relaxation
One of my favorite restful things to do on a trip to a city is hop-on hop-off bus tours. Everyone gets to sit and relax, breathe in (hopefully) fresh air, and enjoy the sights together. This is a great activity for a day in between busier days, like day trips, and can usually be booked the moment you want to do it.
I also highly recommend keeping your first and last days low-key; I try to do this on every trip I make. This gives you a chance to get oriented and pick up groceries when you arrive, and then buy last-minute gifts before you leave.
10. Keep the overall experience you’re after front and center
My travel style is go go go. And it was my first time to Austria … there was SO MUCH to see!
But what was the overall experience my sister and I were after? Fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime memories made with our MOM. SHE’S the center of the show here; not the destination.
The best part of being in Austria was truly seeing whatever we saw … with my mom (and sister!).
11. Take LOTS of pictures and videos
Goofy selfies. Lovely portraits. Your favorite coffee spot and all that schnitzel you ate. Quirky things that made you both go “hmmm.” Be relentless … capture it ALL.
The only thing that compares to the actual trip is looking at the photos and watching the videos together afterwards. Then for Christmas after your dream mother-daughter trip, use your favorite photos to make a special gift for your mom.
I made a photo journal. Filled with our itineraries, tickets, pictures and favorite memories.
Summary and Resources
Where are you dreaming of right now? How long have you been thinking, “I’d love to take Mom there”? As you think about the things holding you back, what would actually happen if you just booked that trip?
Now that you’re (hopefully) inspired, here are some helpful resources to get you started!
When planning your DREAM mother-daughter trip, keep the experience you want front and center. Here is my 3-step trip planning process, which does exactly that. It walks you through:
- Step 1: Defining YOUR perfect experience, including how your travel companions impact it;
- Step 2: Building your itinerary and booking, in a way that keeps your experience as your inspiration; and,
- Step 3: Counting down to your trip using the ULTIMATE checklist, from three months to the morning you leave.
Still looking for more inspiration? Here are some amazing destinations that’d be dreamy mother-daughter trips:
So … where are YOU going? Share below!
Dreaming. Planning. Exploring. Finding that “wow” moment. Cora loves the journey nearly as much as the destination. She wants to experience the wonders and the stories of this amazing world for herself. Cora has toured with friends, family and now three little ones (eek!).
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