How To Survive Your First Mother-Daughter Vacation

October 6, 2017  |  

Smiling mother and daughter looking at pictures on smartphone during party in backyard of home

Credit: Getty

I recently had the struggly pleasure of taking my mom on a trip with me to Disney World which was a successful daughter’s dream come true. My mom has only been out of the country once and rarely travels outside the vicinity of the Midwest and I’ve always said when I get older I want to take her on a vacation.

That time came sooner than I expected in more ways than one when I was invited to experience Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival at the end of September. Though I was excited to bring my mom along, I quickly learned I wasn’t quite as mentally prepared to spend four days with her in the happiest place on earth as I thought. So, in an effort to spare you from some of my wrongdoings, here are seven things I learned about how to survive a mother-daughter vacation.

  1. Provide as much detail as possible pre-travel: While the idea of “surprising” your mother with a vacation sounds cute; the endless questions you’ll endure if you don’t properly prepare her for the adventure won’t be. Make sure your mom knows where you’re going, who else will be there, where you’re staying, what you’ll be doing, what she needs to pack, what she doesn’t need to pack, who’s paying for what, etc. And even then you should be prepared for about 20 additional questions to still follow, despite believing you’ve covered absolutely everything.
  2. Remember the roles are reversed now: You’re in charge and she’s the little kid whose excitement is almost certainly going to threaten your sanity. Try not to scold her overzealous, inquisitive spirit and appreciate the joy she’s experiencing because you’re treating her to a nice getaway.
  3. Be realistic about what she can handle — and what she hates: Just because your mom is on vacation doesn’t mean she’s going to transform into a totally different person. If she hates cold weather back home, she’s not going to appreciate frigid temperatures simply because you splurged on a luxury Aspen vacation for the two of you. And on that note, if your mother’s up there in age or has health issues, don’t try to convince — or force –her she can handle a two-hour walking tour because you want to explore a foreign city. That’s not going to be fun for anyone, which brings me to my next point.
  4. Schedule separate activities: Just because you’re on vacation together doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t. Schedule a spa visit for your mom while you go on that scuba excursion, get her tickets to a seminar or show only she would enjoy and go do your own thing for a few hours. It’s your vacation too and you have a right to enjoy activities of your liking in peace.
  5. Book separate rooms: This may not be the most economical suggestion, but in the same vein of scheduling separate activities, if you’re going on an extended vacation, you’re going to want your own space and so is she. At this stage in life, you each have your own morning routines and when those get interrupted, well, it tends not to be pretty. Paying more for separate shelter goes a long way toward keeping the peace.
  6. Be prepared to talk to a lot of strangers: Because she’s going to strike up conversations with them and probably tell all of your business to them too. Try to smile through it and remind yourself you’ll never have to see these people again — except on your mom’s Facebook page after she befriends them.
  7. Be patient: Your mom’s probably going to want to take pictures of every single thing you see while you’re away — and not the staged, image-building Instagram kind, the “Let me take your picture with this random, meaningless landscape behind you” type of pics you had to take against your will as a kid. She also probably won’t get that you don’t have to have print outs of every travel document known to man or understand how so-and-so works, but you’ll probably be in her shoes one day, getting on your own child’s nerves so it’s best to earn some karma points now and be patient with your mom’s learning curve.

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