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The Benefits of Mother-Daughter Travel

Can a travel adventure strengthen a mother-daughter bond?

Heading out on an adventure provides us with novel experiences that help us discover a little bit more about who we are and how we respond to unfamiliar territory. Traveling open us up to all kinds of identity development opportunities. When a mom and daughter who are somewhat “stuck” in a relationship pattern jump into a new adventure, they have the opportunity to jump into a new way to relate to one another. If they are on an adventure that takes them into the wilds or backcountry, they may need to rely on each other in ways that they previously have not. If they go on a museum trek, they can learn about the tastes and aesthetics of one another. If they are going to Disney for the first time alone together, they can choose to spend the days on “their” favorite activities rather than taking “the rest of the family” into consideration.

Travel, in and of itself, offers a chance to get outside of our normal, everyday self. When two women who’ve known each other as long or as intimately as a mother and daughter have head out together, they are able to shake off the cobwebs from home as they stir up the dust of adventure down a new path. It might even be "pixie dust," if Disney is the destination.

Pitfalls to be Avoided

There are a couple of different pitfalls that mother-daughter adventure can pose. If one of the pair has a hard time getting into the swing of the trip, that can put a damper on the entire adventure from the outset. If there’s a “Princess and the Pea” syndrome ramping up, it’s important to address this early into the trip. It is even better to develop a set of “Trip Rules” that you can both refer to, as needed, to keep each other honest and more likely to be a pleasant companion.

1. Create "Rules for the Road"

Having some rules about what to do when some of the typical “travel nightmares” happen is a good idea. While you don’t want to “expect disaster,” it doesn’t hurt to do a little “planning for disaster.” Talk about things like when the bags are lost, transfers are missed, taxis cannot be found, reservations are missed, wallets and cellphones are misplaced, the food is bad, the bed is hard, the hotel’s a dud, and so on. Knowing that you’ve at least talked about something going wrong makes it easier to handle, psychologically, if not materially.

2. Plan for "Downtime" or "Alone Time"

Also, remember that not everyone adjusts as well to travel as others do—some of us get tired, crabby, snappish, whiny, pouty, spoiled, and a million other negative emotions. That’s normal, too. Moms and daughters know each other really well, so when you see one another’s “cranky camper” side showing up, remind yourself and remind your mom or your daughter that the “cranky is coming out,” so maybe someone needs a little “time off” from the adventure.

Lasting Results? It's Possible!

Are you wondering if the benefits traveling together have for the relationship extend beyond the actual time spent on the trip? Well, the answer is absolutely! Travel is an amazing experience that changes individuals and relationships at multiple levels. You learn how you respond to the unexpected and you learn how your relationship can be used as a resource in novel situations.

Getting away from the ordinary—especially with someone who sometimes seems a little “too” ordinary—can really make a significant difference in how you see yourself and how you see your travel companion—both on the trip and back at home base!

Although research indicates that the emotional benefits of travel, in and of itself, begins to fade for a person as the return to daily routines picks up, the shared memories and deepening of the travelers' relationship can last a lifetime.