Channeling My Mom When I Travel

When someone tells me what to do, in any area of life, my reaction has long been to do the opposite. Perhaps it is my weakness, but I hate unsolicited advice. If I didn’t ask for your opinion, I probably don’t want to hear it. I am a stubborn redhead after all. It’s practical built into my genes. This is the excuse I tell myself.

Parental advice and travel is something that always tends to be advice I resist. It is the 14 year old in me in some regard. (Parents? I don’t have those.) When a pending travel opportunity came on to the scene for me this summer, I told my parents. Naturally the first questions are “How much do they pay?” and “Can you take someone with you?”. They don’t want me to be broke and alone, advice I resist, but understand at the same time. They’re parents. Years of traveling alone or with someone I believe prove I can handle travel. It is more of a comment on trust, but I still know, they are just being parents.

 

With Mother’s Day in the U.S. a few days away, it’s hard not to consider our moms. My Mom has been reminding me it’s Mother’s Day on the 13th for several weeks now. While I don’t think one day is adequate to celebrate mothers, I do know that I tend to travel like my mom, with or without her. And while it might annoy me to no end to hear, “Be careful” and “Wear your sweater” at almost 25 years old, I know she means well. And when I travel, I tend to go how my Mom would. Perhaps it was her plan all along.

The Woman in Question

Take Breaks To Soak In The Scene

Last September, I was able to treat my Mom to a little three-day trip to New York City. We were hosted at some of the best hotels I have ever stayed. We took a movie and television tour of the city. We ate schnitzel sandwiches on bank steps with business people. We were New York City.

While the trip was a grand success, my Mom reminded me that travel should not be go-go-go constantly. You need to take time for breaks. In a city seemingly devoid of benches, we found Grace Plaza and took a break from it all. We stopped to people watch and rest throbbing feet. When I travel today, I am reminded of this saving Grace Plaza, that no matter how much I need to see and do, my Mom would call for a break and so should I. Take time to soak it all in. It sounds simple, but it is a traveler’s saving grace.

Soak in the scene

Get Excited About Packing

The packing love-hate relationship is a common conversation I have with people. They hate packing and I love it. I have long loved to pack for trips and I suspect my Mom has something to do with it. Weeks before she is set to go somewhere, she is already considering what outfits to bring. She thinks about the destination and what would be appropriate.

I have always believed that many travelers forget how important physical appearance can be when you travel. Throw on those cargo shorts and bandana and you are good to go. The places of the world don’t need you to look fashionable. However I strongly disagree. How you present yourself to the world can be a powerful, stereotype-breaking tool. Dressing for the place rather than dressing how you want is the utmost sign of respect to a destination. I believe my mom always gets excited about packing not just for potential outfit pairings, but to show appreciation. Why would you complain about an experience you are blessed to have?

The Much Debated Plane Outfit

Be Chatty

While I have rolled my eyes on more than one occasion when my Mom starts a conversation with a stranger while traveling, I admire her audacity. In New York, she chatted up the Schnitzel and Things food truck owner. She uncovered a story so undeniably New York, one of making it in the big city by feeding schnitzel to the masses.

 

When I was traveling around Ireland by myself, I had to become my Mom out of survival. If I didn’t get chatty with café owners and bed and breakfast employees, I would be completely alone. All of that pent up lack of conversation would have driven me crazy. I would smile and say things I probably never would say if I were traveling with someone else. In the process I learned not being chatty when you travel is a hurdle you must overcome to have the truest of experiences.

Go When the Going Gets Tough

Most mothers will tell you to stick out situations even if they are difficult. However I don’t believe in staying in places that make me miserable, advice I picked up from my Mom. A little confused after graduating from college, I went to go be an au pair in Italy, only to find a hallway as my room and no privacy. I left, much to the advice of my mom. I was completely miserable and unhappy. I packed up my bags and left for my Italian mother, Loriana, who welcomed me with open arms.

 

Those motherly qualities are universal. From my Italian host mom Loriana to my own Mom, they hate to see their kids unhappy. We only get one life and a set amount of time. Why spend it traveling to places that make us horribly unhappy? I go when the going gets too tough to bear and I have no embarrassment doing so thanks to the advice of my Mom.

Do you find yourself traveling like your Mom? What lessons on travel has she taught you?

Comments

  1. Matt says

    I think it is funny how when we are younger we do tend to want to do things opposite of how our parents do them, but as we get older (at least I have noticed), we start doing certain things how they do them. I used to roll my eyes when my mom would make sure we all had jackets as we walked out the door and now I find myself always making sure I have one “just in case.” I guess there’s a reason for the saying “mom knows best.” :) Great mother’s day-appropriate piece Suzy!

  2. Robbie says

    You have a very wise and caring mother Suzy! Lucky You! Taking time to enjoy your surroundings is most important! Sometimes the littlest things create the most memorable moments! Enjoy your summer travels….and don’t forget your sweater!! :o)

  3. says

    The way I am most like my mom is the way I dress when I travel. I always look nice on the plane – the horrors of wearing torn jeans! Although I do dress for comfort, I always look good. I also carefully plan my outfits with matching jewelry, etc. And I probably bought most of what I am taking on a sale rack somewhere, thanks to her training!

  4. says

    Your mum sounds AWESOME Suzy :)
    Although I resist discussing travel plans with my mum because she worries too much, she’s one of my biggest inspirations to travel. Because she always talked about travel but didn’t travel much because my dad hates traveling.

    So I figured that the best time to travel is when your young & single! Funny thing is, I’ve now inspired her to travel more (my dad still hates it but has no choice)!!

  5. says

    Sounds like our moms are VERY similar (not thaaaat surprised). My mom always wants to take coffee/tea/any sort of beverage break and it tends to drive me nuts–but then again, it’s a nice chance to sit down, enjoy the surroundings, stay hydrated! And I did pretty much the exact same thing in a bad au pair situation in France–my mom was the first one to say, if you don’t like it, leave and go to Paris! Love this!

  6. says

    Your mom sounds she’s given you some good advice. My mom is really practical. She’s always reminding me to make sure I don’t go below half a tank a gas when I drive, and to buy good shoes for walking.

  7. says

    After reading the advice you learned from your mom, I realize now that she must have been my mom too! Thanks sis! :)

    Well I can’t say I learned these same lessons from my mom, I have definitely learned these same lessons. Like you, I actually like packing and I pack with the destination in mind. When I go to Europe, I pack one or two pair of shorts, and pants even during the hot days. Why? Because Europeans don’t wear shorts unless they are on vacation. I don’t wear shirts with a lot of writing on them because they isn’t the way they dress. It’s paying attention to these cultural differences that affect how I pack. Plus I like the challenge of packing as light as possible.

    As for talking to people, this doesn’t come naturally to me. However, I come out of my shell a little. I may go back into it when I get home but I found that my best travel experiences and memories are the ones I had connecting with others.

    Finally, I am right there with you. When my parents offer advice, my gut reaction is to do the opposite even when they mean well. So I know how you feel.

    With that said, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. None of us would be where we are without them!

  8. says

    This is such a lovely tribute to your mother, Suzy. :) I don’t know whether I channel my mother when travelling – I’m probably a little more impulsive than her and tend to ‘rough it’ more than she does.

  9. says

    How fun that your mom is a traveler too! I love that your learned from her to speak with locals. It’s not always easy to do, coming from a different place, yet it really does enrich the experience.

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