Top Tips and Tricks for a Successful Mother-Daughter Trip

See recent posts by Megan Wood

What's more special and memorable than taking a mother-daughter trip? Taking a mother-daughter trip that goes off without a hitch. Whether you're traveling for a specific purpose (like wedding dress shopping or tracing your ancestral lineage) or you just want to spend some quality time together at the spa or on a safari, the key to getting the most amount of family bonding with the least amount of bickering is planning. Oyster editors have traveled with their moms to Paris, Santorini, and the Bahamas this year alone, and can personally vouch for the efficacy of the following tips. In fact, they'll make traveling with your mom or daughter so much fun that you'll turn a once-in-a-lifetime experience into a yearly event. Sorry, dads. 

1. Know your audience.

8th Arrondissement (Champs-Elysees)/Oyster

8th Arrondissement (Champs-Elysees)/Oyster

The most important tip for mother-daughter travel duo rookies is to be realistic in the kind of trip you plan. If your mom doesn’t really drink wine, maybe she isn’t the ideal Napa companion. A daughter who hates flying likely won’t be in the best mood after an eight-hour red-eye flight to Paris. Make a realistic list of destinations that fit into both of your budgets, schedules, and desires. The destination should feel special for you both. Neither party wants to feel like they were dragged along on someone else’s epic trip. Thinking more locally might be a good way to cross your first vacation together off the list. If all goes well, plan on something bigger and more challenging for next year. 

2. Budget for everything.

It’s no secret that the mother-daughter dynamic can be fraught with unspoken (and maybe unnoticed) power dynamics. It might be enticing to let mom pay for everything, but that dynamic can come with guilt and unexpected attached strings. After all, if mom pays, she may want to choose the hotel, restaurants, and activities — and it’s hard to argue with that logic. Consider a more equitable and grown-up system where you switch off paying for meals, split the hotel room cost, or at least pay for your own flights. We’ve also found success with a kitty system in which mom and daughter each put a few hundred dollars in a communal bank. This collective sum can cover the cost of museum admissions, housekeeping tips, and random trips to the gelato shop. That way, you’re not both constantly scrambling for change and trying to remember who paid for what.  

3. Get into the spirit before you leave.

Макс Радомский / Max Radomskii/Flickr

Макс Радомский / Max Radomskii/Flickr

If the two of you aren’t accustomed to spending a lot of uninterrupted time together, you may find some awkward pauses in the conversation over your 10th meal together. If you like to read, try gifting each other with a book on your travel destination. Or, watch a movie filmed there. Some duos take a language immersion class together before their trip. It’ll be nice to have something to talk about besides your dad or your job, plus it provides a way to learn about your surroundings. 

4. Take breaks from each other.

This one comes down to personality and preferences. Some women relish the idea of an afternoon alone in an art museum while others are uncomfortable having even a cup of coffee alone in a new place. If you know you’re the type who desperately craves privacy, consider booking separate rooms or simply be up front with your needs. Setting expectations ahead of time is important so that no one gets their feeling hurt (paying your own way also curtails expectations.) It’s completely acceptable to ask for some time to take a nap before dinner or venture off for a solo beach walk. Recharging your batteries will make you a better travel companion. 

5. Accept the unavoidable.

You’ll likely push each others buttons, have a rainy day, or be tired after a late flight. Travel is amazing, but something is more than likely going to go wrong. Don’t take out travel stress on each other, and if you know that your mom is going to ask when you’re having kids or moving back to your hometown (again), just take a deep breath and smile. Once you’re home, you’ll likely only remember the sunny days and positive moments, so there’s no point in wasting too much time on the negatives. 

6. Take lots of pictures.

It’s easy to forget to snap pics while on vacation. But we’d suggest taking as many photos of the two of you as your camera card or iPhone can hold (this tip might require a selfie stick or help from strangers). Consider framing the best picture of the two of you and presenting it as a thank you gift, or use an online printing service to have matching photo books made for each of you. We can’t think of a better way to relive those special mother-daughter travel memories. 

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