Mums, with generally a continuous love/hate relationship most daughters can’t imagine spending a couple of days travelling with their mum let alone a full few weeks. Me and my mum had done some travelling before, we went to New York after graduation and often took summer holidays together.
My mum came to visit me after six months living in Beijing, she had never been to China before so was naturally rather curious or perhaps she was more curious as to how I’ve been living, whether I’ve been eating properly or the conditions of my flat. I’m 23, still waiting for her to stop worrying. Anyway, she booked to come for two weeks, the first of which we spent my days off seeing Beijing and the following week I had off so decided to do some travelling. It was only going to be five days but we planned to tick off three places.
Our first stop was Xi’an to see the terracotta warriors, then Guilin to see the mountains and finally Yangshuo for the beautiful Dragon river. I planned it all from Beijing online weeks before she landed. I thought the safest bet was to fly, as I couldn’t imagine 6/7 hours cooped up on a train together. I used a website called ctrips.com, which I love, it is very easy to use and is in English. I recently heard that there is an English app now as well, but I’m yet to explore that. Accommodation I booked through booking.com where you can cancel anything in case your plans change. I chose a nice hostel, a beautiful mountain view hotel and the Ibis in the centre of Xi’an. It was truly an eye opening experience. Those who are planning to travel with their mums read this first!
1. Definitely the first thing I learned, is Mums like control. If yours is like mine, just let leave them to it, its not worth arguing about, which almost happened before we had even left Beijing. They won’t believe that you have everything organised and you know what you’re doing. My mum liked to know what we were doing, where we were eating, etc. She didn’t want to do the research but just expected me to know so I asked around at work for recommendations for everything, the best places to stay what to do. In the end, I wrote out an itinerary so she knew the plan every step of the way. If this sounds like your mum too, I would recommend doing a lot of work beforehand, making sure you have a general plan for each day. I made the mistake of not printing out any of our information, like flights or hotel info. I just had photos of the addresses and confirmation of our booking. I think had I printed everything and had it on me when we were travelling it would have solved a lot of unnecessary stress on both of our parts. If I were travelling alone it would have been fine.
2. Mums know best! Every child goes through the rebellious stage, when they think they know everything and their parents were born on a different planet. After making several unnecessary mistakes through my teen years I quickly realised mum’s really do know a lot more than we give them credit for. Listen! While travelling, especially somewhere as culturally different as China, it is important to keep your wits about you and anticipate eventualities. Mum asking me “you packing wet wipes for the plane?” and me replying saying “nah what do we need those for”. She always seems to think of everything. It was a case of being able to get by without a lot of this stuff, yet having it made our lives so much easier.
3. Mums have insecurities too! My mum in particular comes across very confident and self assured sometimes to an annoying extent. But in China, she revealed some insecurities. The first day I left her to explore Beijing alone she was worried. I had given her a map, and the few days before showed her how the subway works, given her plenty of currency, a phrasebook etc. She was all set for her own great adventures. I still needed to sit and talk it all through with her several times before she was comfortable going out. She was worried about getting lost, which in a country where there is a surprising lack of English is completely understandable. But from the woman who raised you and taught you how to ride a bike or cross the road. It was very revealing, where instead of kids relying on their parents for guidance and support it was the other way around. It is very important to be patient while away. I was used to not being able to read or talk to people so I came up with other ways to get around like using my compass on my phone to know which direction to head in or carry around a little map, which I would pick up from a hotel.
4. Have fun! There are things you can do while travelling with your parents, which you might not be able to do with your friends or while alone, so go with it. While we were in Guilin, after a long day out seeing the sights we passed a massage place. My mum suggested going to get a foot massage, I was hesitant at first because it was a little unneeded, went with it. The two girls who ended up massaging us were lovely, communicating is our funny Chinglish. They thought it was sweet that we were on holiday together and looked so alike, which I don’t strictly agree with but hey ho. It became one of the most memorable events from our holiday.
5. Make the most of your time together. I don’t want to bring a downer but if you’re like me and living very far from home a trip like this does make you think more about the distance. Saying goodbye to her at the airport and then going home to my empty flat suddenly seemed so quiet. In the two week I had got used to her being around and hearing her pottering about. Being so far away and only having a limit amount of time to see friends and relative does make you want to make the most of it more. I’m glad I planned so much and always knew what we could do, even if it didn’t always happen the way I thought. I made sure she tried all the food and went to all the major tourist sites but also the parts of Beijing, which I think are special. I think we did make the most of the two weeks but I do wish we didn’t have so much petty squabbling. I would always suggest trying to rise above it, mother and daughters always disagree and wind each other up but when you only have a set amount of time it’s important to try and get over the little things.
Have you been travelling with your mum? Did you learn anything else? Is there anything you would have changed from your experience? Leave a comment below ♥