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Traveling with Your Mom: How to Plan and Survive

Biking in San Fransisco with my mom.
Biking in San Fransisco with my mom.

Back before my very first backpacking trip ever, my mom was sure that I was going to die or be kidnapped in the woods. She begged me not to go hiking alone. She tried to tell me I needed to bring one of my male friends along. I, however, wanted to go hiking and had no one crazy enough to go with me.

Fast forward five years later, my mom loves backpacking and she’s even planning a solo hike along Spain’s Camino de Santiago. She hiked for a week with me in Pennsylvania and didn’t even mind the gigantic snakes that we saw.

This past summer, we went on a bike trip together down the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon, and California. During our journey, a woman asked us what we were doing and we told her about our trip down the coast. Her reply was, “Goodness, my daughter and I can’t even go to the grocery store together.”

This is what I call progress.

Where to you start when it comes to planning a trip with your mom?

  • Pick a destination. For our bike trip, we chose the Pacific Coast because my mom likes the ocean and I really wanted to see that part of the country. Find a destination that you are both excited to see. If you’re already on a long trip, your mom might want to come join you for a bit. Try to pick a section of trail (or section of your trip in general) that you think your mom will like.
  • Make a realistic plan. I’m not very interested in making highly detailed plans, but I do like to have a general idea of what I’m doing. Come up with expectations that will suit everyone. For my mom’s first backpacking trip, I was hiking in Pennsylvania but I knew not to expect her to hike 15 mile days from the start. And during the first days of our bike trip, my bike seat was very uncomfortable and I had to take lots of breaks. Trying to push each other too hard is no fun for anyone.
  • Plan for alone time everyday. Maybe you need to sleep in different tents at night. Or maybe you can just agree that after dinner is when you’ll spend quiet time journaling or reading. While biking, I zoomed ahead often so I felt like I was getting my “me time” on the road everyday.
  • Share the job duties. There’s no point in traveling with a partner if one person is in charge of everything. Sharing chore duties will keep everyone happy. While biking, I was in charge of navigation and not getting us lost. My mom was in charge of making coffee and oatmeal in the morning. It worked out because I hate waking up early and my mom can’t read a map.
  • Figure out what’s not working. Along with developing a system that works for everyone, is figuring out what is not working for anyone. My mom usually likes drinking wine, but it didn’t work for her while we were biking long distances everyday. I feel kind of sad drinking alone, so I gave up alcohol for most of our trip. While at campsites, my mom always wanted to take a second shower in the morning. She would take a long time and we would get started late, so I talked her into not taking morning showers anymore.
  • Try not to annoy each other. If you don’t think you have habits that annoy your mom, then she’s probably just good at pretending. And we all know our moms have special ways to drive us crazy. While traveling together, it’s important to try to minimize your annoying habits and to also work on not being annoyed with your mom. I get grumpy when I’m hungry, which my mom hates. My mom is really bad at taking photos, which annoyed me to no end because there weren’t many good photos of me until I taught her how to use an iPhone.
  • Get on social media. My mom loves Facebook. We set up a special page just for our bike trip, and we posted photos and updates regularly. It was a good way for us to keep everyone at home updated in one place.

If my mom and I can survive two months of traveling together, then so can you and your mom.

Where would you like to vacation/adventure/hike with your mom (or daughter)?

 

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