The mother daughter trips that I take with Hannah are absolutely treasured time for both of us. Even though we spend so much time together at home, there is something about being on the road, experiencing new things, and discovering new places together that creates special travel bonds. We take quite a few short mother daughter getaways throughout the year, but for the last few years we have also done a mother-daughter road trip in the summer. As she gets older, I keep waiting for her to say that she doesn’t want to go, that she would rather be home with her friends. Yet my heart soars when we are coming to the end of a trip and she asks where we are going next year.
With a number of mother-daughter trips under our belts, I can reflect back and think about what has made them a success. When I cast about for the moments that stand out from each, there are some common threads that tie them together. So I wanted to share these thoughts to help you plan a mother daughter trip. Check here if you are looking for more mother daughter trip ideas.
5 Steps to the Best Mother Daughter Trips
1- Involve her in the process. I’m a big proponent of involving your kids in the travel planning but when it is a one-on-one, mother-daughter trip, it is even more important. The first thing is that you can’t force it. If your teen is telling you daily how horrible you are, a trip isn’t going to work miracles. It is going to take an awful big bribe to get her onboard with a mother-daughter trip (but maybe it is worth it?) However, if you make in an annual affair, it can be something that you both look forward to every year.
Whether she is mommy’s little girl or doesn’t usually want to be caught dead with you, getting her involved in picking a destination and planning the activities is going to set the stage that this is a trip for both of you. It gives her some control and also gives her ownership. (It can’t suck if she is the one that picked it, right?)
2 – Pick a meaningful destination. If you want a special trip, pick a special destination. Bonus points if you can find a destination that is on both of your bucket lists. Does she dream of going to Paris? Does she love wildlife? There are plenty of ways to incorporate animals from planning a safari or a once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica to see penguins, to national parks, zoos, or wildlife refuges. I know someday we would both love to volunteer at a panda refuge in China (and since she is studying Mandarin I’ve promised a trip to China for graduation.)
What about books? Do you both love to read? If Harry Potter is your thing, there are options from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando to the many Harry Potter sites in London. Jane Austen fan? What about a trip to the English countryside? To Kill a Mockingbird? Plan a trip to Alabama.
Maybe she loves the Broadway show Hamilton. Even if you can’t afford tickets in New York, did you realize that there are plenty of tickets available for much less than NYC in Chicago? (I’m actually debating getting tickets to see it for the second time when we are in Chicago this summer.) If you do manage to score tickets in NYC, you can also visit Alexander Hamilton’s home and take a legacy tour in New York. Or maybe you can visit Yorktown, Virginia to learn about the decisive battle that he was involved in there.
If television or movies are more your speed, find out where her favorite was filmed and have her research filming locations that you can visit. Love the Walking Dead? Plan a trip to Atlanta. More of a Hunger Games fan? Plan a trip to Asheville and the forests of North Carolina.
3 – Pick a theme. Little kids may love themes and quests, but don’t think your teen is above it either. It can be a nice way to tie a trip together. If you have a history buff, you can do a themed trip like our Civil Rights road trip.
Even if you are just visiting one city you can have a quest to find the best cupcakes in the city. Or maybe she loves watching the Food Network and would want to try a few celebrity chef restaurants. Diners, Drive Ins and Dives can be a great way to tie together a road trip. If you have a theater buff, pick a city (it doesn’t have to be New York) and plan to see a few shows while you are in town. A fun way to start planning is to brainstorm a theme and let that dictate the destination.
For us this year, our theme is all about helping me hit my 50 states by 50 years old goal. So we are knocking out a lot of midwest and central states that we may not otherwise visit on a stand alone trip.
4 – Plan an activity that you can do together that you do side by side. If you take no other piece of advice from this article, let it be this. Doing something side-by-side, especially something that challenges you both and gets you out of your comfort zone, as it will elevate your bonds in a such a lasting way. When you talk about quality time, this is it.
Some ideas could be a cooking class, art class or drawing tour, or dance lesson. You could also do something more challenging like rock climbing, white water rafting, off-roading, or surfing lessons. Even if it is something you both already enjoy, like skiing, there is something special about doing an activity side-by-side without other distractions.
5 – Incorporate some down time. Listen, if you are doing all the driving, navigating, organizing and parenting, it is ok to take a break. Just because you are on a mother-daughter trip doesn’t mean that you have to be experiencing these amazing, special moments every second of your trip. Everyone needs a little downtime and separation, even if you are sharing the same space. Personally, after experiencing a whole day together, I have no problem with us both decompressing a bit with our devices.
I will also say that the longer the trip, the more downtime we both need. I try to build in a little time for relaxing at the pool or room. I also don’t mind splurging on room service when we would both rather be in our PJs than dressing up for yet another dinner out. Of course, one of our favorite experiences has been our mother-daughter massages. I can’t wait until she is 16 and we can plan some more spa trips together but many spas will at least offer mother-daughter manis and pedis.
Have you taken a mother daughter trip? If so, I would love to hear about where you went and what you liked best. If you have tips to add, please let them in the comments below.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
Tamara Gruber is the Founder and Publisher of We3Travel. A former marketing executive and travel advisor, Tamara is an award-winning travel writer and recognized expert in family travel. She is also the publisher of YourTimetoFly and the co-host of the Vacation Mavens travel podcast.