Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and what better way to honor my own mother than to share her sage wisdom. Starting from when I was very young, my parents whisked my older sister and me away to destinations throughout the United States at least once a year. In short, they are mostly responsible for my strong desire to travel. They’ve taken us on road trips to national parks, camping throughout the Midwest, and on flights to many beautiful destinations. Most of the time, we knew how lucky we were, but of course there were times when we could have been perceived as ungrateful, like most kids can be.
My mom has always had a knack for making everything fun; from picking up sticks in the yard to a very long car ride to Yellowstone National Park. Whether it was bribing us with a penny per twig or hyping up another game of highway bingo, she always knew the perfect thing to do to make us happy. As we grew older, this became a challenging task (like trying to make two sullen teenagers appreciate a trip San Diego when all they wanted to do was text their boyfriends back home), but Mom kept at it and I am so grateful she did. Travel has wound itself into our family’s happiest moments, and continues to do so now. We actually have a family trip to Gatlinburg coming up, that I am so excited for, but more on that later. Here are the best travel tips and lessons I’ve learned from my Mom:
- Do your research and make some plans: There was never a family vacation that we would just wing it. Our parents always had a general plan of things we would do once we go to whichever destination. Whether it was hiking Mount Rainier or taking a catamaran cruise in the Pacific Ocean, we knew we were always getting the best the destination had to offer because they did the research beforehand.
- Bring a good book: We are all pretty big readers, so a good book was always on the packing list. When we went on road trips, there was always a book on tape (Harry Potter being the favorite), and if we flew, Mom always made sure we had a book to read and our favorite magazines for good measure.
- Always pack an extra pair of underwear: You just never know when you’re going to need it. Better safe than sorry.
- Stop to take in the scenery: As a family, we mostly traveled to places with gorgeous scenery, particularly to National Parks. There were typically a lot of hikes involved, which were always punctuated with stops to admire a particular flower or view. This appreciation of both the little things and the big picture made/make each trip extraordinarily beautiful.
- Pack Layers: Again, you just never know what you’ll need. My mom is an expert packer and always made sure that we were never without an item of clothing or specific accessory that we needed while away.
- Stay off the beaten path, especially with accommodations: It was a rarity that we ever stayed in a chain hotel or one over-run with tourists. Mom was adept at finding excellent hotels that were far from the run-of-the-mill inn or suites. From the hotel almost directly on the beach in Sanibel Island to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon, the hotel choices she makes are consistently unique and memorable.