One of my favorite travel buddies in the world is my mom. Whether it’s on a plane or getting into a car for a long road trip for summer camp, a Greyhound bus, she is always up for an adventure. We’ve stayed at palaces in Portugal, traversed dodgy areas of Paris, explored Fidel’s relics in Cuba and have taken an unfathomable amount of photos in doorways around the world — we’ve even been to a reception at the White House together. When I can, I love to give her a trip for her birthday. Sure, I’m an advocate for traveling solo but there really is nothing like seeing many of these incredible places with a loved one and who’s more of a day one than your mom? I’ve rounded up some great destinations for a mother-daughter trip. Some, are places Heather and I have been, others are on our bucket list.
Today is Mother’s Day in the US, Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and several countries in Europe including Italy, where I am. Hope this inspires you to call your mom and hit the road (or air).
I’m from New York City and absolutely love where I’m from. There is no place like it in the world and while I appreciate other cities, no place holds a candle to my hometown. My mom has been in NYC since her early teens and taught me that deep love of New York. When I see Washington Square Park’s arch in a movie for example, I think of countless hours I spent there as a kid with my mom just watching the fountain, going to the Bronx Zoo, restaurants, museums, you name it. New York City is a kid’s playground and what has contributed to my curiosity. Since there’s something for everyone, easy public transportation, world-renowned entertainment, no matter what your mom’s interests, NYC has something to offer. My beautiful friend Nola, visited NYC with her mom this past holiday season from Paris / Martinique and I was happy to host them. Even in the bitter cold, they had a GREAT time.
One of my mom and my special places is the island of Puerto Rico, particularly the city of San Juan. Honestly, I probably learned travel independence in San Juan as often, I’d wake up in my hotel room only to find my mom gone, already on her hunt for the perfect cup of coffee in the Condado district. In 2017 hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico and the island is bouncing back tremendously. Of course, the tourism industry was majorly impacted so yours and your mom’s travel dollars could go a long way here!
If your mom is a lit head like mine, head to Cartagena. My love of the writers Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende etc came from Heather. My mom practically danced through the streets of Cartagena imagining the prose of her favorite authors as she sipped limonada de cocos. Magical realism at it’s finest.
My mom and I went to Havana together in 2016. It was an absolute bucket-list destination after tensions and embargoes with the island nation eased during the Obama administration. We volunteered at Muraleando Arts center and explored the city on a long weekend. If you’ve ever traveled to Cuba as an American, you know that cash, and not having access to your credit cards and ATM is a big thing. Moms always know best: it’s no wonder that when I ran out of cash thinking I took out more than enough for the week Heather had an ample amount with her, beyond “in case of emergency.”
There are few better places for a mother-daughter trip that the motherland of humankind, Africa. Remember it’s a continent, not a country so here are two places for you to get started.
Traveling to South Africa was such an incredible experience and I can not wait to go back with my mom. From safari to the international city of Capetown and then seeing the new vibey South Africa of Johannesburg. It’s a trip that’s filled with incredible experiences and people. For my mom and I as black women, understanding South Africa’s past and the struggle of Nelson Mandela and the people of color in the country is moving. It’s also the kind of place where a two-week trip will just scratch the surface. I can’t wait to take my mom there and discover new things! My friend @RachelTravels will be hosting mother-daughter tours in South Africa soon so definitely hit her up if you want some recs. She’s an American currently based in Johannesburg.
My mother casually let me know that she loves travelling with me and oh, Vanessa Williams met her husband while on a mother-daughter trip to Egypt on a Nile cruise excursion. Think about all they’ve done for us. The least we can do is pay them back by playing wing-woman. Experience the wonders of the pyramids with your mother. I know you’re wondering, “I want to see the Sphinx, Giza, Valley of the Kings in Luxor, but, is it safe for my mom?” Tourism to the country definitely took a nosedive after 2011’s Revolution but guess when Vanessa Williams and her daughter went? In 2013! Unfortunately, terrorism is still something to consider when traveling, but can really happen anywhere as we’ve seen by attacks in European countries. Maybe get a guide *as Vanessa Williams and her daughter did, and avoid large public gatherings. Crime, in general, is low in Egypt but sexual harassment is very high with over 90% of Egyptian women in a UN report stating that they have been harassed. Egypt is still on my bucket list with my mom because, well, sometimes I think the world can be going to sh!t — I regret never seeing Damascus before, the original library of Alexandria, and hey, you never know. Maybe avoid big holidays, public squares like Tahrir Square in Cairo. So in the same way you rushed to Cuba before it changed completely, take a mother-daughter trip to Egypt!
Another trip that was incredibly moving was Israel. It’s a destination I absolutely wanted to share with my mom. The rich history in Jerusalem, the modernity of Tel Aviv, the food culture of both, wine in the mountains of Judea is something I’m looking forward to showing her. My mom is also a big street art fan so I know she’ll love Tel Aviv’s street art scene.
You know what they say, “Paris is always a good idea” and you should see Paris for the first time with someone who will always love you. Who better than your mom!
If you’ve already seen Paris with your mom. My next favorite city in France is Bordeaux (my mom’s favorite is probably Marseilles). You and your mom can have a proper girls trip as I wrote about for the Duchess of Sussex’s (née Meghan Markle) former blog, The Tig and All the Pretty Birds. A wine cruise is a beautiful way to visit the region and its vineyards and you won’t have to be mom’s DD.
Know your audience. I sure do and my mom is more of a sangria drinker. On a trip to Southern Spain we spent afternoons sipping sangrias, gnoshing on jamon iberico and wandering through Spain’s food halls. As we were in Valencia, we had to try all of the paellas. My mom’s a foodie so exploring Spain’s rich food culture with her was a must.
In the last year or two, few dynamic mother-daughter duos have garnered the world’s attention as Duchess Meghan of Sussex and her mother Doria Ragland. The world has fawned over the latter’s regality, pose and dignity after being thrust into the spotlight and every photo of them together effuses their genuine affection and deep love for one another. Why not plan a trip to London with your mom visiting some of their favorite haunts in West London or a proper afternoon tea. My mom absolutely loves London, finding time for a layover there on every trip to Europe.
Call your mom up and plan a trip now!