Growing up in small town NJ, I had the privilege of having my grandmother close to us almost all of my childhood. We often would travel with my grandmother, doing road trips, going to Puerto Rico to see family, and even once doing a family cruise with five of us in a small stateroom on a large ship. Multi-generational travel was a part of my life from a very young age. As an adult, I look back at those memories fondly, and try to re-create them as much as possible for my children.
My parents also had a healthy respect for traveling in other smaller familial groups as well. Once my dad had a dream that he wanted to take his mom to Puerto Rico. He booked tickets and then told my grandmother, and he and my grandmother went to Puerto Rico to enjoy visiting family and reliving his childhood in a sweet mother/son bonding trip. My dad and sister did a number of road trips up and down the east coast, one time trying to hit up as many civil war monuments as they could. And whenever my husband and I are in India, we always try to do some travel with my in-laws, getting to see India from multiple cultural and multi-generational viewpoints.
The girls in my family have had their fair share of bonding travel experiences as well. After my sister graduated from college, I quit my job and we both went to Spain for a few weeks, staying in hostels and cheap hotels, and being young in Europe. After my mom and dad separated, I suggested mom should travel, and she came with my husband and I to India, when I was 6 months pregnant with my son, jumping in and embracing with relish the cultural overload that can be India. And just last year my sister and I did a road trip with the kids from NJ to Richmond VA, to visit my mom, and get some sister bonding time in.
One trip that I’ve always wanted to do, but somehow had never materialized is a mother/daughter trip. When I was living in Barcelona, I tried to encourage my mom to come at the end of my stay there and travel with me. At that time, my mom didn’t feel comfortable traveling without my dad even though my dad encouraged her to go. She didn’t come to Barcelona. And she often regretted it in later years. It was always her dream to go to Spain and see some of the sights I wrote her about and the postcards I sent (this was in the 90s).
Then when she was in California this summer, she talked about a conference her husband had in Barcelona in September and how she was going to join him. I was telling how jealous I was that she gets to travel to one my favorite cities. My husband came to me and said “Why don’t you join her?”.
Me: “Seriously, do you know how much four tickets to Europe are? It’s unaffordable”.
My husband: “No, you go. I’ll stay here with the kids”
Me: “I can’t do that!”
My husband: “Why not?”
Me: “Because…the kids…”
I realized at that moment I was doing the same thing my mom had done twenty years ago. I was giving in to my pre-conceived ideas that I had to give up my desire for my family. And my husband was sitting there telling me to go, just like my dad did years ago with my mom. I realized I did not want to miss this opportunity. Talks, discussions and finalizing logistics took a while longer, but the decision was made in that moment – I was doing this. I was going on a mother/daughter trip to Barcelona.
So here I am, about a month out, flights booked, Airbnb reserved, and a few plans made. It’s a short trip, but I get to see some of my favorite sites twenty years later with my mom! Most of all, I get to spend some quality time with my mother, and by myself escaping the responsibilities of everyday life. And hopefully coming back fresh and renewed to my family. And I can’t wait to bond with my mom over this family travel!