My mom’s favorite saying has always been, “Guests are like fish — they start to stink after three days.” So when she told me she was coming to visit me in Vietnam for two and a half weeks, I’ll admit I was a little nervous.
Don’t get me wrong — L. Susan Weiner is my #1 most favorite person on this planet (as well as my best friend, mentor, and personal stylist) but I truthfully didn’t know how we would do with such a long stretch of uninterrupted time together. Generally, the two of us get along (she legit is my BFF), but as any mother/daughter pair can attest to we have our moments of conflict (which have only come to blows once… don’t worry). We are so, so similar, which sometimes can create a bit of tension between the two of us. I also sometimes act like a spoiled brat of a child, which definitely doesn’t usually help the situation. BUT ANYWAY.
Despite my brief, initial concerns, we ended up having the most blissful, peaceful and wonderful two weeks I possibly could have asked for. When she got to Ho Chi Minh City, I was in the midst of a difficult adjustment period to my new life as a travel (read: a complete and total nervous breakdown) and had never been so happy to see someone in my life. I was having a really, really tough time, and frankly just needed my mom.
It took her two days to snap me out of it (seriously — she’s a goddess), and we went on to have the best vacation ever. We laughed, cried, drank wine and talked about literally everything. Yes, it was a loooong trip, but it was the first time we got a chance to bond as a pair of grown-ass women instead of as a parent and child. We got along flawlessly, and didn’t get sick of each other once. It made me appreciate her more than ever before, and I am so, so endlessly grateful that we got to share such a special experience together.
In honor of Mother’s Day, here are seven tips for how to have a successful vacation with your mom… From someone who (somehow) did it.
1. Think Of Each Other As Roommates
The only issue my mom had with me while we were traveling? The fact that I forget to throw away my contact lens cases and leave them lying around the bathroom. Because she’s my mom, I kind of forgot that I needed to treat our shared living space the same way I would with a roommate or a live-in boyfriend (who, by the way, also hates when I leave my contact lenses everywhere). Bottom line: If you’re sharing a room, pick up your shit and don’t hog all of the hangers/closet space/pillows. It’s an easy way to avoid conflict.
2. Find Activities You Both Love
For my mom and I, it was shopping, eating and going to the spas. We did all the mandatory temple visits and touristy stuff, too, but the reason our vacation was such a pleasure is because we focused on doing things we both genuinely enjoyed. No one was being dragged to do anything they hated (except for the one time I forced my mom to eat Banh Mi on the street, but after a lot of complaining she ended up loving it) and it makes for a happier trip for all.
3. Take Breaks When You Need Them
No matter who you’re traveling with, two weeks is a long time. Know that it’s ok to take a few minutes for yourself in order to give each other a break. Whether it be going for a run, burying your nose in a book or getting a massage (though TBH all of my mom and my massages in Vietnam were couples massages).
4. Pick Your Battles
This is mother/daughter 101, but even more important on a vacation. After all… you’re stuck together, even if things go wrong. Fighting isn’t worth it. Trust me.
5. Offer To Foot Some Of The Bill
Your parents helped fund your life for 18 years (or, if you’re like me, 23-ish years) and shouldn’t feel obligated to do so now that you’re a fully functioning, independent adult. Traveling with your mom may seem like an excuse for a freebie vacation, but treating her like an ATM is just not OK. Set some ground rules up front about who’s planning on paying for what, and at the very least offer to pickup a few of the meals or activities during the trip.
6. Be Patient
Traveling with a parent is not the same as traveling with your friends. They may not be able to keep up with the insane pace that you’re used to, and you need to be willing to take breaks and go at a speed that works for both of you. Build an itinerary, but be OK with not getting to every single thing on the list. Enjoy the moments in between.
7. Make Sure There Are Seats
Something I learned from traveling with my own mom, and talking to friends who have traveled with theirs: Always make sure there are seats. Moms hate standing and eating at food stalls. Just trust me on this one.