As we grow older, our time with our parents becomes more limited. Work, busy schedules, travels, and relationships with friends and significant others get in the way of the time we spend together, which is why I believe that at some point in our adult lives we should take the time to travel with our parents. Since travel is an important aspect of my life and now my career, I am often on the road, but due to different and conflicting schedules, my family and I rarely get to travel together and up until recently that was okay in my mind. I had plenty of travel memories with them from the past, but after a trip to Italy together in May 2014, I found myself wanting to travel more with my family, especially my parents.
I realized that the way I travel now is completely different than the way I traveled with my parents as a child, and I think that I was nervous to mix the two for a while. But, after those trips, I found it was easier to travel with each other than I had previously remembered, partially because we could take care of each other, rather than relying on our parents to take care of us as they did when we were children. At this age, I no longer see them as the authority figures in my life, but instead as my confidants, companions, and biggest supporters. It completely switched up the dynamics and changed the way we traveled together.
Last week, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Provence with my mom on a Viking River Cruise and the experience opened my eyes and made me even more grateful that I was able to share the trip with her. While I was so excited for our time in Europe together, I was also a bit nervous. Even though we have a strong relationship and she’s one of my best friends, we were going to be traveling together for ten days, just the two of us. We hadn’t spent that much time together in a very long time, so although I was looking forward to the trip, I was curious how traveling with her for so long would be.
Before arriving in France for the cruise, we arrived in Amsterdam and immediately met up with my friend Jade, who I hadn’t seen since our time together in Africa. Jade is living in Amsterdam and during our day-long layover, my mom and I were able to meet up with her and her mom, who was in town from Sydney. Getting to introduce my mom to a friend I had met on the road was a special experience, and it was equally nice to be able to meet Jade’s mom.
To see Jade and her mom traveling together, while I was traveling with my mom, made me happy and gain the realization that more of us should be traveling with our parents, especially while we can. These memories that we are able to make together are some of the best we’ve ever had and ones I know will continue to stay with me for the rest of my life. Maybe we spent our younger days yearning for time apart, but from what I’ve come to understand, those of us who do travel with our parents, especially in our thirties, find it rewarding and rejuvenating for our relationship with our parents.
From Amsterdam, we made our way to France and onto the Viking Buri, which would take us from Avignon to Lyon. We had seven days together in close quarters and plenty of activities together that I knew would help deepen our relationship. What I loved most about sharing this travel experience was watching my mom in a different environment and role than the one she normally plays. Traveling opens up opportunities for new learning experiences and watching my mom learn a new skill or craft allowed me to see her in a new light, more as a child and less as a parent.
My mom is always in the kitchen, but baking is out of her comfort zone and it was fun for me to see her learning something new in the kitchen. I also enjoyed baking side by side with her, especially because I was better at things than she expected me to be, which turned it into a bit of fun competition.
Aside from our time together, because we were traveling on a cruise, it also allowed us opportunities to have time apart. Sometimes we would take separate excursions and other times we would split up in the early morning or before dinner to give each other some space, even though we probably didn’t need it. During this time, we were able to make new friends, and I was so impressed with the amount of friends my mom made. I’ve always known her to be a social butterfly, but I was able to see it even more so during this trip. Seeing my mom create new friendships was exciting and really fun to watch, plus I even made a few new friends because of her.
On the boat, there were so many occasions where we could let loose and just be ourselves. There were no roles for us to play and we were just able to enjoy the time we had together, more as friends than mother and daughter. Whether we were exploring the towns in Provence, drinking rosé, or dancing on the boat, I got to see my mom in a new way, and I think that was the best part of traveling with her.
Parting at the end of the trip was the hardest part, as I continued my journey throughout Europe and she was headed home and back to work. We had looked forward to the trip for so long and it was hard to part ways, especially because the trip had gone better than we both had expected. I thought a week together would be too long, but it turned out that it wasn’t long enough for all the time I wanted to spend with her and the memories I wanted to share.
The biggest lesson I learned was that if you travel with your parents, especially as you both get older, it can only help strengthen your relationship and deepen the bond you have. I’ve always been grateful for my mom, but this trip made me see her as a person more than just my mom and appreciate how lucky I am to have someone so wonderful as a major factor in my world. I hope that we’ll have many more travels ahead of us in the future.
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