Travels with Mom

Today is my mom’s 75th birthday. It’s kind of bizarre to think of my mom as 75 years old because she definitely doesn’t seem like she’s 75 to me. Maybe what she always says is true — “my kids keep me young.” You’re welcome, Mom.

I have my mom to thank for my love of travel. I can’t think back to a summer when we didn’t go on a vacation. And that’s pretty incredible. All of my friends didn’t go on annual summer vacations, but we did. What a lucky kid I was.

The earliest summer vacations I remember are when my mom, grandma, sisters Julie and Jennifer and I would pile into our Ford Granada and drive to Aunt Marge’s in Miami. That was the late 70s/early 80s, so of course there was no such thing as a seat-back TV. We had coloring books and “travel” versions of games like Connect Four. I can still remember that horrid hot-but-not-quite-melting crayon smell. I was prone to car sickness, too, and would usually throw up at some point along the way. Those trips are chock-full of memories — my first time stepping on burning hot sand, the taste of salt water, the feeling of waves crashing over my head.

And when I got a little older, we frequented Branson, Missouri. Those trips were usually with my mom and dad and sister, Julie. It was a much shorter drive, as compared to Florida, and I don’t recall ever getting carsick! I vividly remember staying at a place called Twelve Oaks Inn in Branson, which was brand new back then. We’d spend our days at Silver Dollar City (and eat our fair share of funnel cakes) or White Water Park. And Julie and I would swim in the hotel pool until we had prune hands.

My mom was good about making sure we always went somewhere. As I’ve gotten older, I love taking trips and making new memories with my mom. And oh, some trips we’ve had… Interestingly, she’s always the one throwing up now, usually after she’s eaten something seemingly normal that just didn’t agree with her.

In honor of my mom’s birthday, the one who instilled in me my love of travel, here are some of my favorite travel memories with her.

Branson, Missouri, 1983

I went to Branson many, many times as a kid. Those trips were the rare times that my mom would break out her swimsuit and play in the water with us. She never went to the pool with us at home, but she always did on vacation.

Wave pool at White Water
Wave pool at White Water (that’s me in the water wings and Mom in the black swimsuit, in the center)

The Cotswolds, England, 2002

One of my mom’s best friends from high school, Sandy (a.k.a. sandyloveslondon, her email alias), loved London. She went all the time and in 2002, my mom decided to join her group of travelers, and my sister, niece and I tagged along. It was my first trip to London and it was love at first sight. While there, we took a day trip via coach to the Cotswolds. The coach made stops at lots of villages in the Cotswolds and we had our share of traditional English pub fare. This is when my mom’s travel tummy troubles began. Thank goodness someone had a paper bag full of souvenirs — quickly emptied and handed off to Mom!

Cotswold Arms
Cotswold Arms

Bar Harbor, Maine, 2005

Shortly after I moved to New England, my mom and sisters came up and we road-tripped from Providence, Rhode Island, to Bar Harbor, Maine. My mom always wanted to go to Maine, and it was such a great pick. Although our plans were to be leaf peepers, Mother Nature had other ideas in store, as it rained nearly the entire weekend. Still, we didn’t let that stop us from exploring. This picture is my favorite memory from that trip — shopping in downtown Bar Harbor in crazy rain and wind.

Rain day in Bah-Habah
Rainy day in Bah-Habah

Scottsdale & Sedona, Arizona, 2007

I’ve been fortunate to have visited some nice spots thanks to work trips, including Scottsdale, Arizona. My mom came and met me on this particular trip and we spent a sunny afternoon in beautiful Sedona.

Scottsdale AZLondon, England, 2008

London with Mom, take two. I was living in London at Thanksgiving in 2008, and there was no way I was going home (couldn’t afford it, plus I was moving back to the States a month later), so my mom was nice enough to come to me instead. We had a great few days wandering around London together again, like we had done years before. And since it was nearly Christmastime, we saw the magical lights along Regent Street and in Covent Garden. My favorite memory from Mom’s visit was taking her pubbing after work one day.

Mom in London

Seville, Spain, 2008

While Mom was in London for Thanksgiving, we decided to take advantage of where we were and take a weekend trip to Spain. I specifically chose Seville because the weather was typically nice that time of year. Mother Nature got in the way again, though — it just so happened to be an unusually cold weekend. Oh well — good excuse for us to buy new scarves!


My mom still travels on a regular basis, luckily. It doesn’t take much to get her to make a trip to come see us in Chicago (although let’s be honest — Nora is the real draw), and next week our whole family will be together at a beautiful lake house my parents rented for the week. I like to think we’ll get a London v3 trip squeezed in at some point, too!

Happy birthday, Mom!

Wanderlust Wednesday: Nice, France

Nice, France
Nice, France

It’s spring break season, which means flying any place warm and beachy will cost a small fortune at the moment. Still, I can’t help but reminisce of hot, sun-drenched days and my toes in the sand, or rocks, as the case may be. Heck no, I never went to Nice on spring break (more like Negril, Jamaica or South Padre Island, Texas!), but Nice is what comes to mind when I think of my favorite beach experiences.