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Six surprising benefits of travelling with your mother

written by James Shackell May 6, 2015

Let me preface this article with the following: I am 28 years old. I don’t live at home. I do my own laundry and have even learned to iron a shirt (sort of – the sleeves still give me grief). I ask my parents for financial help, but only rarely, only when it’s been a particularly boozy month or if there’s an emergency, like I want something. I’m pretty normal.

Recently this normality was put to the test when I agreed to travel for two weeks on a group trip with my mother.

‘Aren’t you taking your girlfriend?’ my mates/co-workers/concerned strangers asked.

‘Nup, just me and ma.’

‘Oh…’

There was so much judgement in that ‘oh’, so many questions unasked. Okay, mostly just one question: ‘Why?’

For a lot of people, travelling with their mother isn’t seen as a particularly cool thing to do. But there are a hundred and one benefits if you know where to look; from the practical (shouting you the odd meal) to the poignant (seeing the world’s most amazing sights with the world’s most amazing person).

So for all those about to embark on a trip with their moms here are a few things you can look forward to.

1. Massive kudos

This was a lesson I learned on the first day of our trip. I introduced myself to the group, and then announced, ‘And this is my mom.’ A chorus of ‘nawwwwwws’ ran around the room. It was like the most adorable thing I could have declared that didn’t involve rescuing orphaned puppies. It turns out travelling with your mom generates massive kudos from fellow travellers. For the rest of the trip we were ‘James and mom’, the endearing super team. Any embarrassing mom jokes were worn with honour.

Why I travel with my mother >
The magic and madness of visiting Vietnam with my mother >

2. Memories that actually matter

Posing with your mom next to a monument or a temple doesn’t feel particularly cool at the time, but you learn to appreciate it later. I often don’t feature in my own travel photos (I’m pretty vain and my forehead always looks weird), but this trip mom insisted on lots of shots together. Mother and son in front of the Golden Pavilion. Mother and son eating miso soup in matching jumpers. It was nice, when we got back, to browse through those awkward photos. You realise how few of them you actually have, and how precious they’ll be one day.

3. A ready-made team

On our trip there were a few activities (like cooking classes) where people had to divide off into pairs. In these situations, always go with mom. For starters, her cooking game is probably strong after looking after you for so long. But more importantly, the activities become a lot more memorable if you’re doing them with mom, rather than a stranger. In years to come you can look back and say things like ‘Remember when we made those funny-shaped soba noodles? Yeah, good times…’

4. A few…practical benefits

Okay, I’ll admit it: I don’t really know how to use washing machines. Mom helped me navigate the shady world of coin laundries, taught me to pack a suitcase properly and was an expert in the fine art of not losing train tickets. When it comes to organisation, moms really do know best. And organisation on a trip can mean the difference between a breezy stroll through customs and a frantic (and very public) rummage for your passport.

5. Giving something back

One thing I learned is that often trips like this will feel more significant to mom than they do to you. And that’s okay. My mom is more sentimental than me by nature, and the idea of travelling with her firstborn probably brought back memories of family trips to Gippsland and Tasmania in the 90s; memories that are hazy to me at best. It was nice to be able to give something back, to do something that (although small to me) was a big deal for mom.

6. Time to really catch up

Travelling with your mom is a chance to actually talk. Even though I drop in for dinners when I can back home, they’re always rushed, brief, work-focused. It was nice, for once, to have the time to just sit and chat. In the humdrum bustle of everyday life, those moments are few and far between; but when you’re stuck on a three-hour train journey, or waiting in an airport lounge, there isn’t a lot else to do. I reckon I learned more about my mom in two weeks of travel than I had in the last two years.

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17 comments

Suelen January 7, 2017 - 2:12 pm

Hi, James! My names is Suelen and I’m from Brazil. I’ve had the pleasure to visit the most beautiful places with my mom, and I wouldnt have it any other way. There are place that u really want to go with friends/mate, somewhere u can have fun and go to parties, and others that really suit for a family trip. You just have to enjoy it and forget what people will say about it. Ar the end of the day its the memories that count, like getting lost at the MET or at the subway in Paris. I will never forger those moments.
I hope you have a great year.

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Rebecca July 9, 2016 - 8:37 am

Hi James,

I recently returned from a 9 day trip to Costa Rica with my oldest son Dave. When he first invited me to join him I refused and told him go with a friend. Well I’m glad that he didn’t listen to me. We zip lined at the volcano in La Fortuna (I’m petrified of heights and decided now was the time to get over my fear. I ‘m still terrified of heights but very glad that I did it). We hiked the Monteverde cloud forest and swan in the Pacific Ocean at the Manuel Antonio National Park. We met the nicest people. One older couple, the wife, and two girls my sons age asked me how’s it going traveling with your son? Honestly we had the best time, laughed and created great memories. One night we ate Oreo cookies for dinner after having one too many Margarita’s at the pool bar. I have two more sons and hope to someday travel with them.

My son passed me your article and I love it!

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Anonymous June 14, 2016 - 5:28 am

I am a mom. Each time my adult daughter agrees to travel with me, I pay the bills. We both all love this idea.

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Claire Hart June 13, 2016 - 4:47 pm

I’ve traveled with my mum several time and it has been a bit of a joke too. There has been several laughable intrepid trips too.

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Lucy June 13, 2016 - 4:37 pm

I did an Intrepid tour with my Mum in 2014 for a month, it was the best time! We both loved it and I’d definitely travel with her again

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Anonymous June 13, 2016 - 10:37 am

When I was 23 and living in London (I’m Australian) I was planning my big backpacking, drinking and, well, lets just leave it at drinking, trip around Europe. Mum decided to take ling service leave and come with me, on a coach tour. Far from impressed I acquiesced and to my surprise, had an amazing holiday. Possibly even better than my planned one.
Funniest thing I learnt… When she had one too many over a lunch in Italy I realised that I am just like her when we’ve had a few!
Fast forward 21 years and Mum joined me when I was living in India for work on a 4 week trip through Rajashtan, Delhi, Agra, Hyderabad and my remote work area in Karnataka.
My advice… If you ever get the chance, do it, and if you don’t, make the chance, for all the reasons James mentioned plus one more… She’s your Mum!

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Pam Andersin June 13, 2016 - 9:49 am

Great arrival, I’m the Mum who travels with my son (first born also), there are many more awesome things to add from my perspective. My son ‘shouts’ me the odd 5 star meal (Jules Verne on the Eifle tower), or a 5 star hotel during our travels (Parador after our Camino in Spain). David speaks Italian, Mum speaks Cantonese quite handy , or not, depending on locations. We have a generation reversal when it comes to technology, I’m the 1st with the code and to log in as we walk up the stairs to our room.
We are heading to Africa with Intrepid in September, my 9th trip (yup, Legend status) and his 7th. Bring on many more exiting and diverse travels.

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Anonymous June 13, 2016 - 7:25 am

Just lovely

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Carmen June 13, 2016 - 5:09 am

As a mom who has loved traveling with my teenagers, I’m looking forward to future trips and more adventures with my adult boys. You forgot to add that Moms often treat you to stuff that you might not buy for yourself. Like meals and the good beer 🙂

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Rachel June 13, 2016 - 12:29 am

I might never had travelled if my mother hadn’t requested that I go with her to England & Ireland in 2001. I was reluctant, I was leaving my husband and 4 of my 5 children behind. Bonus was an interesting 3 generation meet up in London, and later Ireland with my eldest son. Over the next few years we visited Canada (self-drive of one month) Kenya & Zambia, and Peru. A great way to get to know your parent, and Mum ignited a love for travel in me which since she passed away, I continue with my husband.

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Raymond S June 12, 2016 - 10:40 pm

Wow that is so me this year! Taking the Delhi to Kathmandu trip this year with intrepid and taking my mum! Your points I’m sure are spot on and make sense.

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Robyn June 12, 2016 - 9:45 pm

Hi James

Thank you for writing this. My daughter and I are going away together for 6 days and I’m staying with her (she now lives overseas), for about 3 weeks over Christmas/New Year. Yes, it means the world to me to have this time with her!

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Anonymous June 12, 2016 - 8:11 pm

Dear James,
One of the first trips my mum and I took together was one of Intrepid’s tours through Vietnam and Cambodia when I was 19. Since then we have done several city breaks and a trip to Central America. We are now saving up to do one of your tours through Central Asia. When I first said I was going travelling with my mum, people were surprised and commented on the fact she was 33 years older than me – now it’s just the norm, especially as my mum is even more adventurous than me so its me trying to be the sensible one. I have travelled with several friends and there really is no difference apart from sometimes mum will offer to pay for an extra meal here and there! A great article James, makes me want to save quicker!!

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Rhona May 4, 2016 - 12:05 am

When I was 22, my mother and I went backpacking around Australia and New Zealand for 3 months together. I announced that I was going to Australia and New Zealand and I have to admit I was a little taken aback when my mother retired to come with me. We had so much fun together and it is great to be able to laugh and reminisce about all the silly things that happened. This article really hit close to home and made me smile, thank you!

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Susan Boulter May 11, 2015 - 11:03 pm

Dear James
My brother and I took our 87 year kind mother to Paris last October as she had never been there. Pushing a wheelchair through cobbled streets and up hills is a workout, but you are so right about major league kudos. Here are so more advantages – airlines priorize you and u skip long customs lines. the Louvre staff takes you up close and personal with the Mona Lisa, beyond the roped off area. Memories of mom eating oysters in Paris -unforgettable !

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Intrepid Admin May 12, 2015 - 8:59 am

Hi Susan,

Brilliant story! I hope your mother enjoyed Paris. Good to hear the trip yielded a bunch of other advantages too! Paris really is always a good idea.

Thanks for commenting,
James

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Diane Harris May 9, 2015 - 2:11 pm

This article by James Shackell made me SMILE!

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