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Advice Guides Travel Planning

A Guide To Planning A Mother-Daughter Trip

Have you ever taken a mother-daughter trip? I’m not sure of your relationship with your mother… but for me, my mother is my favorite traveling companion. She has always encouraged me to travel and as a single immigrant mother, I am still in awe of how she put me through college and a study abroad program.

When I was in college, it was before we had smartphones, Airbnb and other travel apps. More than ten years ago, she planned my post study abroad trip to Italy from Switzerland. I had used the excuse that I was busy studying, which we all know isn’t entirely true but at the time, my exams seemed urgent and important. She booked the hotels, trains and flights. ​​​​​​​

It was only years later when I planned a mother-daughter trip that I realized exactly how much she had undertaken without the conveniences and ease of today’s technology. Since that first big trip to Europe we have traveled to Japan, Canada, Mexico, France, the UK, U.A.E. and Sri Lanka. 

I’m currently planning a trip with her again this fall to attend a friend’s wedding.​​​​​​​ Here are some of my biggest suggestions for planning an amazing mother-daughter trip!

Find what you have in common

It may not be what you think you have in common. Get to know her as a person. What does she enjoy? What are her pet peeves? Use this as a way to figure out where to stay and what to do while you’re in said location.

While you may be fine sleeping in a private hostel room, your mom probably desires much more comfort and cleanliness. I have always booked an Airbnb for us. I’m in my 30’s now so I’m not up for hostel hopping and my mom has probably never stayed in one, which is why booking an Airbnb is a wonderful option. You can brew your own coffee, make breakfast and have your privacy.

Book Transportation & Accommodations As Soon As Possible  

This will remove a great deal of stress on your part. With your friends you might be okay having booked the first night of your stay, but you want to make your mother-daughter trip as stress-free and fun as possible. Part of this is to get the two largest expenses and possibly challenging aspects of the trip out of the way. 

3. Do your homework

Will you need to know a foreign language? I have found that in my travels, English isn’t always as common as you think. Non-verbal communication makes up a large portion of overall communication. Being clear in your actions even if you don’t know the language will be helpful. Additionally, speaking louder doesn’t mean that you’ll be understood unless they are hard of hearing.

I am fortunate to be skilled at learning new languages and while my mother is bilingual, her languages she heavily relies on me to communicate our needs. My favorite language app (it’s free!) is Drops. I find it far superior to Duolingo as it starts you from the very basics and uses topics that make sense in day-to-day conversation. On the contrary, maybe your mother is the linguist in the family and she has the time to dedicate learning some phrases for your trip.

Will you need a visa beforehand or is there a visa on arrival that you can buy? How is the political climate? While I personally don’t check the U.S. travel alerts, it is likely that you’ll have a friend or family member that will be concerned about your travel destination. The destination I personally get the most questions about is Mexico. “Is is safe?”

Again, do your homework so you can avoid certain areas or situations. Use your gut instincts. As women, this instinct is quite intense, but it is always useful to hone that strength. For example, you might not want to walk around after a certain time at night. Whatever rules you follow at home, you should follow while you’re on vacation. 

What is the appropriate attire? Are there customs that you have to follow to remain respectful? Taking off your shoes, covering your shoulders or head, dressing conservatively as to not attract extra attention, asking to take someone’s picture etc… Religious sites tend to be where you will have to be most aware. You do not want to put you or your mother in an awkward or uncomfortable situation. 

Research Places To Eat, Things To Do, etc… 

My mother’s favorite part about traveling is to eat food that she doesn’t get to eat when she’s home. She also has a dietary preference. This is where knowing the local language will be essential. Does your mom have allergies, special requirements or preferences? You and/or her will need to be able to communicate this effectively. In my experience, some countries in Asia do not think that chicken is meat. If you’re vegetarian for example, this would limit what you can have, but if you can’t communicate this preference then you will have to adjust your mother-daughter trip itinerary accordingly.

Choose one or two places per day for the length of your stay. Don’t be too stringent with these choices as your local Airbnb host or someone you meet during your trip may recommend something that outweighs whatever you found on a blog/Yelp/Instagram post. Airbnbs not only offer privacy, but save you from having to go out and buy breakfast if you pick up a few things and make your tea/coffee in your room or apartment. In Sri Lanka, our hosts provided breakfast, but we had to make sure they knew my mother’s food preferences. 

As far as places to go and what to do. This is a trip for the both of you so while I don’t necessarily recommend separating from your mother, it might depend on where you’re going. Personally, I need some alone time no matter who I travel with. But that’s something you can do during the day like waking up before your mom or going to sleep later.. as long as you’re safe.  

You and your mom may like different activities. Maybe you love to lay on the beach and relax because your work week was stressful while she doesn’t like much sun. Find some middle-ground so that you can both enjoy your mother-daughter trip and each other.

Ask for recommendations from locals because it’s likely you’ll discover a hidden gem that might be something only locals know of. Then plug these activities into your itinerary while allowing for some flexibility. If you and your mom both love a detailed itinerary, then go ahead and do that, but it’ll reduce stress if you don’t have to worry about being at a certain museum at a certain time when your taxi driver doesn’t understand where you’re going for example or you’re caught in traffic.

Make A Packing List 

Not to draw too much of a blanket statement, but women really like to shop. Keeping this in mind, pack less. If you don’t live in the same city as your mom, talk about what you’re planning to bring based on the climate, season and local attire. If you happen to have the same shoe size or can wear the same tops then bring even less. That way you can alternate or share even if your fashion style isn’t the same. Unless the trip involves a fancy gala, you won’t need formal attire. Plan a list based on comfort and what you’re doing. Nothing ruins a mother-daughter trip quite like too much luggage!

You might not want to risk the time wasted or stress over lost luggage so you may only want a carry on. What is the drinking water like? I’ve loved having a filtering water bottle from REI to fill up at the Airbnb so I can save time, money and reduce waste. However, if you’re somewhere where the tap water might be unsafe then plan accordingly.

You and your mom will probably buy trinkets, gifts or hand-made items during your trip. Maybe she’s a collector of wooden bowls and wants to buy one. You’ll have to account for this before your trip. If you have a rendezvous before you fly somewhere together then pack together, combine, edit your things so that each of you is carrying an even amount. And for carry-ons, if you’re young, a backpack might work for you especially if you’ll be somewhere will a lot of cobble- stone streets, but that might not be practical for her. Carry things for her even if she’s a super fit, it’s just the right thing to do.

Leave Your Worries Behind

Depending on how long you two are traveling, things may come up in that time and you might have a disagreement or argument, but don’t go into the trip with emotional baggage and leave anything that happens on your trip behind you once you’re headed home. The trip may create a deeper bond and you don’t want to risk that by bringing up unpleasant things that happened on the trip or blame one another for anything. Unless an awkward situation could be funny, it isn’t worth bringing up displeasing things once you’re around other family members. Be advocates for one another, uplift each other as women and find that friend who also happens to be your mother.

Africa Asia Australia Australia / New Zealand Europe Middle East North America Travel Planning

The New UNESCO World Heritage’s Sites We’re Dying To Experience

Every year at its annual meeting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee unveils new additions to its epic list of significant cultural and natural sites. This year, the committee added 29 sites to its powerful list… which has got us totally inspired to revisit our bucket list. Pretty awesome, right? Here are some of the new UNESCO World Heritage Sites we’re chomping at the bit to see for ourselves!

India: Jaipur City, Rajasthan

India’s northern fortified city was designed years ago to be a commercial capital, and its grid-like city planning is proof. Jaipur’s organization creates uniformity throughout its public squares, residences, temples, markets and stalls. But its grid plan with different districts actually pre-dates the Western idea of city layout!

Australia: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Located in the country of the Gunditjmara Aboriginal people, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is one of the planet’s most expansive aquaculture systems. Through oral tradition, historians have been able to understand that the creation of this complex system goes back centuries. The system allowed the Gunditjmara people to call this location home for over six thousand years… but it’s believed to have been thirty two thousand years old/

Myanmar: Bagan

The sacred site of thousands of temples, stupas, monasteries, frescoes, sculptures, and archeological gems – Bagan is a wonder. It’s incredible architecture and collection of ancient Buddhist art illustrate the power of the Bagan empire.

Iraq: Babylon

Babylon is home to the Hanging Gardens (one of the seven wonders of the world). But, the surround villages and the ancient city also once housed the world’s most influential ancient empires. Rulers like Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar sat within the city walls as emperors, forever changing the world’s history.

Italy: Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano a Valdobbiadene

Prosecco anyone? The “ciglioni” checker board designed rows of vines dates all the way back to the 17th century. You’ll find lots of small plots of land with the design atop the area’s rugged terrain. (P.S. if you love a good glass of vino – check out this round up of destinations for wine-lovers).

United States: The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright

You know a Frank Lloyd Wright design when you see it. Frank’s iconic Fallingwater in Pennsylvania or the modernist Guggenheim Museum in the heart of NYC spotlight his “organic architecture” style. Each of his eight buildings scattered across the USA blurs the boundaries of indoors and outdoors, making a strong impact on the many architectural designers that followed his legacy.

Iran: Hyrcanian Forests

Iran’s Hyrcanian Forests date back to 50 million years ago. Yep, you read that correctly! This ancient forest area covered most of the Northern Temperate region of the planet many moons ago. The biodiversity within the forests now is staggering. 180 species of birds and 58 mammal species have been recorded within its dense woods.

Iceland: Vatnajökull National Park

This volcanic region of Iceland covers 14% of the island! Within the national park, visitors can find ten volcanoes (eight of which are subglacial and two of which are the most active on the island). The amazing volcanic action creates incredible landscapes, including river systems, growing canyons, massive waterfalls and more.

Japan: Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan

The burial mounds of all shapes and sizes found above the Osaka Plain are tombs for the elite. Archeologists have found weapons, armor, ornaments, clay figures in the shape of homes, humans and more within the funerary system.

What do you think? Find some new destinations to add to your bucket list? Every traveler should get familiar with UNESCO’s listed destinations and sites. It’s beyond inspiring to learn about their mission. (P.S. you can check out the whole list of the new UNESCO World Heritage Sites, if you’re interested in learning more!)

Have you visited any of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites? What was your favorite?

Advice Instagrammer's Guides Travel Planning

This Instagram Hack Will Make Planning Your Next Trip Totally Easy

Instagram has released a small yet mighty update to its platform that is perfect for travelers looking for the best hidden gems around the world. As we’ve written before, Instagram is our favorite itinerary planning tool. Today, I’m sharing the Instagram hack that will make planning your next trip totally easy. Let’s go!

Saved Locations

When a tagged location is shared on Instagram, clicking the link will take you to a page filled with other shared photos from that same place. I love skimming through image after image, finding inspiration in every snap! Should I happen to find a unique twist or vantage point, I’ll save that photo into my “saved” section (which looks like a little flag or book mark on the right side). Previously, this was as good as it got! But not anymore.

Now you can directly click the linked location. Why is this such a win? Well, these links will directly take you to your favorite mapping application. (I happen to love Google Maps to save locations and sights when I’m adventuring.) This is probably the greatest Instagram hack because it makes planning an absolute breeze. Simply click a location link, open your map, save the location. Boom. There you go!

This Instagram Hack Will Make Planning Your Next Trip Totally Easy
This Instagram Hack Will Make Planning Your Next Trip Totally Easy
This Instagram Hack Will Make Planning Your Next Trip Totally Easy
This Instagram Hack Will Make Planning Your Next Trip Totally Easy

Now, I can directly save that cool cafe or unique perspective of a famous sight onto my maps… making my experience ten times more personalized and picturesque! I love seeing the saved locations pop up as I’m meandering through a new city. There’s nothing better than having your must-see sights, restaurants and more at your fingertips!

Instagram has completely changed the way we plan and experience our travels! Whats your go-to Instagram hack other travelers will love?

Advice Insider Tips Travel Planning

9 Foolproof Ways To Save Money While Exploring Europe

As a budget-conscious traveler, I’m always hunting for ways to save money while exploring. While Europe is a constant adventurer’s delight, there’s no denying that expenses really pile up while soaking it all in. That being said, there are some easy tricks to help alleviate costs without missing out on the best of Europe’s delights! Here are 9 foolproof ways to save money while exploring Europe.

Cook In Now & Then

Living slow is one of the most delicious things about the European lifestyle. Kick back, breathe, soak in the good stuff – because the best things in life are moments of pure simplicity. A great way to save some pennies while in Europe is deciding to cook in now and then. Certainly don’t miss out on the restaurants and cafes (I would NEVER dare to stop you from delicious eateries)… but that being said, it’s a nice change of pace to collect ingredients and make a meal of your own. You’ll save on expenses and feed the soul (and stomach)! 

“Invest” In Public Transport

Research public transportation options wherever you’re departing to. You’ll save major cash if you buy prepaid metro cards in major cities instead of opting for ride sharing options. Many times, cities offer a “max” amount you can spend on in 24 hours… meaning you’re expenses are capped at a certain point – saving you money for longer trips! 

Indulge Mindfully

Of course, saving money doesn’t always come down to saying no! When shopping, indulge mindfully. Always practice the art of asking yourself “do I love this, will I love this in 20 years?” Meaning, being hyper aware of your love, passion and interests results in spending on things that really, really matter to you. Should you find a unique gift you know you’ll treasure for life – go for it! If you don’t have a resounding desire to have it, say no to whatever it is. 

Research Lunch Deals

Do a quick Google search for best lunch deals for your destination. You’ll find a lot of amazing restaurants offer a discounted midday meal, giving you a sample of their best dishes at a cheaper rate.

Find Alternative Housing Options

Always look into the various housing options available for travelers! We assume that hostels are the cheapest housing, but that may not always be the case (especially if you’re traveling with a friend). 

Choose Destinations With Free Admissions & Activities

Love art and culture? Research destinations with free admission to museums and galleries. Music lover? Look into destinations with music festivals throughout the year. When planning your trip, take some extra time to find free or cheap activities that align with your passions! You’ll be saving a ton of money if you decide to explore regions that offer discounted rates, and you’ll be feeding your soul at the same time.

Use The Local Grocer For Wine, Beer & Spirits

Wine for 2 Euros? Yeah, count me in. Using the local grocer to stock up on pre-gaming/aperitivo is a great way to cut costs. Alcohol really adds up on a bill, so only needing to order one (or none!) during a meal is a great alternative for save money while exploring Europe

What are some ways you’ve pinched pennies while exploring destinations – specifically in Europe?