4 Ways to Stay Sane on a Mother-Daughter Trip

My mom is my best friend. We live 1,200 miles apart. We talk several times a week, visit several times a year; she’s my go-to when I’m happy or upset.  I tell her everything — from the mundane to the juicy; but we are just as comfortable sitting in silence.

Last year was our first inaugural mother-daughter trip; a 5-day trip to Napa Valley, CA. This year’s destination was Maui, HI. I arranged the trip to give my mom a well-deserved break, give us a chance to reconnect, and push her to experience the richness of life outside the bubble of her comfort zone.

We had a wonderful time and I love my mother dearly, but this trip didn’t come without its set of challenges.

Mother-daughter trips are one of the biggest trends in the travel industry, according to a 2017 report from Virtuoso. If you’re considering a mother-daughter trip, don’t make the same mistakes I did. Here are my 4 tips for staying sane while traveling with your mother.

Tip #1: Set expectations in advance

Make sure you’re on the same page about your dynamic. Find out: Are you in this together, 50-50, sharing the responsibilities of planning and arranging activities? Or is one of you leading the way with the other along for the ride? (Whatever you prefer is fine — just make sure you both know it!)

I made this mistake. It was probably halfway through the trip — after getting frustrated over several things and overwhelmed by everything I was trying to remember — that I finally asked my mom to help shoulder the burdens of preparation and navigation. After the conversation, we got into a much more comfortable and equitable groove.

Tip #2: Schedule “me time”

Unless you and your mom are carbon copies of each other, there’s a great likelihood that you have different interests and activity levels. While I may be the spitting image of my mother 40 years ago, that’s where the similarities end!

I wanted to hike a volcano. I wanted to paddleboard in the ocean. I wanted to go out and socialize with people my age. I made sure to bring up my aspirations in advance so it wasn’t a surprise to my mom when I wanted time away.

Out of courtesy, I never allowed my solo activities to cut into our shared time. First thing in the morning or at the end of the night was ideal timing for my escapes. And she was perfectly happy to wind down in the hotel room.

Tip #3: Use others as buffers

No matter who you’re with, if you’re spending 24 hours a day with one person, conversation can flounder. Bringing strangers into the mix and inviting conversation with others takes off the one-on-one pressure — and allows you to be an observer for a change. Whether or not you’re an introvert, everybody needs a break once in a while!

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Molokini Crater, Maui, HI

Look for group activities that welcome interaction with others (like a snorkeling tour! See Mom waving?!). For instance, when dining out one of the evenings, my mom and I sat at the bar instead of a table, and gained an external perspective from chit-chatting with the bartender.

Tip #4: When in doubt, just shut up

For a variety of reasons, traveling can be stressful (maybe even more so if you add a family member into the mix!). I’ll admit, I have a few regrets about the trip — not with the trip itself, but for the moments I could’ve interacted better with my mother. (Sorry, Mom 💗.)

The important thing to remember is that the little things — the misunderstandings, the annoyances, how your mom pushes your buttons or drives you crazy — don’t matter.

All that matters is the two of you: time spent, discoveries shared, memories created. It’s an opportunity that must be cherished. It won’t always be available.

[Dedicated to my mother C. Rose. All my love, your daughter, Julie.]

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