10 things I wish I hadn’t learnt when traveling with my Mum

10 things I wish I hadn’t learnt when traveling with my Mum

This year my Mum and I traveled to Thailand for 10 days, and then a few months later, to Canada and Alaska for 3 weeks. Yes, I realise I am very spoilt. I’ve written about what I learnt when traveling with my boyfriend, what I learnt when traveling with my Nan, and now it’s my Mum’s turn.

  1. I learnt that when I travel with my mum I tend to revert to the role of a five year old. I become completely reliant on her for pretty much everything – apart from picking the restaurants and shopping ventures – that is my area of expertise. Whilst being sick in Canada I had flashbacks to my childhood, calling for my Mummy to bring my lozenges, hot tea and pain killers. Did I mention I’m 21? Although, it goes both ways, as there were mornings where I had to coax her out of bed with promises of buttered croissants. And a few times I have to remind her the guy she is flirting with seems to be wearing a wedding ring.
Mum and I, when I was 5. Not just acting like it.
Mum and I, when I was 5. Not just acting like it.
  1. Secrets are revealed and boundaries are broken. I learnt my mum once had a much younger lover shortly after her divorce from my Dad, and I told her (too soon) that I had hocked a pair of her earrings when I was 13. Sorry Mum, still feel guilty about that one.
  1. Once these family secrets and stories start, it is hard to know where to stop. Alcohol induced over-sharing definitely became an issue for us in Thailand. We are already pretty involved in each other’s lives – not in a creepy, handholding in the supermarket way, but we may have matching pyjamas. But there is a level of over sharing that only happens when you’re in holiday mode, and have slugged down 12 sugar-less mojitos.
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Veuve = over-sharing

Chances are you are going to find out things you may not have wanted to know. Like the first time your parents slept together (eww) or reasons for their divorce that weren’t appropriate to tell me 7 years ago. One particular night with a bottle of Veuve (have I made us sound like alcoholics yet?) there were several stories of my mum’s bad dates, bad boyfriends and some bad choices that will remain burned in my brain forever. Thanks, Mum.

  1. We are very alike. Sadly, most of my friends would agree.
  1. They have secret talents beyond doing the laundry, or cooking lasagna. My mum might even be a better writer than me. In Thailand I urged her to finally submit some of her work to be published. I submitted my own work too. Hers was published; mine exceeded their word limit. Yep, that hurt. She is also an amazing singer; a talent I unfortunately did not inherit despite my best efforts.
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Somewhere beautiful in Canada.
  1. You will find out who they were before they were just your personal maid, chef, nurse and item-locater. Warning: you may not want to. My Mum was not quite the image of the innocent teenager that she painted to me when I was younger. There were boys, alcohol, and a little bit of pot. She even had a pair of “pot-smoking pants” which she was wearing the night she met my Dad.* I’m not sure how I feel about this.
  1. And you will find out who they are now. I feel like most people don’t really know their parents. I am not one of them. I probably know too much about my Mum, and she probably knows a little bit too much about me. And I’m okay with that, mostly.
On the beach at Khao Lak.
On the beach at Khao Lak.
  1. I learnt that we should not attempt a duet to Grease’s Summer Nights without rehearsing prior. Or a duet in general.
  1. My mum snores, loudly. It’s probably hereditary. Sorry Toby.
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Another day in paradise.
  1. You will develop a new relationship that no longer exists around discipline; rather, friendship, fabulous food and amazing experiences. You reach a new era, where you can really enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other beyond the boundaries of just mother and daughter.

Okay I guess I am glad I learnt that last one.

* Disclaimer: My Mum hasn’t smoked pot in 30 years, and probably would no longer fit into those hippy pants, just in case anyone was planning on calling DOCS.

10 things I learnt when traveling with my Nanna

This year I was lucky enough to be taken on an amazing trip around Canada and Alaska for 3 weeks with my Nanna and my Mum. This is what I learnt.

  1. As I’ve grown older I feel an overwhelming desire and responsibility to protect my Nanna as she protected me when I was a child. My Nan is 84 years old, hits the gym 3 times a week and showed everyone how zip-lining was done through Whistler’s mountains, but I still found myself watching her step and reaching for her hand as she unloaded the coach. Although, no matter what my age a hug from my Nanna will always take me back to the time my hand fit nearly onto her soft palm, and her rosy perfume clung to my blonde curls.
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Nan and I (1996)
  1. I learnt that traveling with me keeps my Nan young. From taking her on ghost tours through the rumoured haunted hotel, to doing the chicken dance with her in an empty ballroom, I have her giggling “like a school girl.” I can safely say she knows who Beyoncé is because of me.
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Nan, 84, zip-lining in Whistler. With grace, of course.
  1. Family secrets and past lives are revealed. I always pictured my Nan as only the angelic, English woman who fed me boiled sweets and taught me tricks on the trampoline, until I read her life story a few months ago. Her stories shocked me, as I was yet to even hear a swear word pass her lipsticked lips.

She was a woman before her time – well educated and ambitious. As I urged her to tell me tales of her life on our trip, she revealed nights of dancing with “fetching” Denmark men, how she fell in love with my Grandpa, and how she fell out of love with him. As we strolled through the trails of Banff, arms linked and breathing in the scent of pine, I questioned her on experiences of the war and an abusive older brother. These are moments I will treasure forever, and stories that your own grandparents are desperate to tell you if you take the time to listen (and throw in a glass of wine, or two).

A few glasses of wine on the Rocky Mountaineer, and all the secrets came flowing out.
A few glasses of wine on the Rocky Mountaineer, and all the secrets came flowing out.
  1. You learn who your grandparents were before they were just your grandparents. They have had amazing lives and careers that most of us are completely unaware of. My Nan grew up in a time that I have only seen featured in films, under threat of bombing, and when love letters were delivered into a letterbox not an inbox. She was clever, cheeky and classy. A dancer, a singer, and a thrill-seeker. She worked with the deaf and the blind, and was a pioneer in her field at a time when women were only just beginning to infiltrate male-dominated work places.
  1. And she is that same young girl. Just with a pension and sun spots. She has been known to still crash Bollywood weddings in Banff.
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Riding the gondola over Whistler.
  1. They get to really know you. For the first time my Nan saw me tipsy (and on cold and flu medication) and kept gasping at how she had never been me so “silly”, as I tried to teach her how to dance to Single Ladies. They see you, flaws and all – the flaws you are usually able to hide at family get togethers.
  1. It is hard to watch someone you love get older. As a kid I struggled to keep up with my active Nan, as she took me bush walking behind her house, on a search for blue tongue lizards. But now, I have to slow my step to walk at her pace. It can be frustrating, and it is scary to consider their mortality. But even though my Nan’s hearing has deteriorated, her heart remains young. And she will out dance you any night of the week.
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Our love for champagne must be hereditary.
  1. I learnt that there is a much larger generational gap between my Mum and my Nan, than my Mum and I, that didn’t allow them to have the same close relationship that my own Mum and I have. Things were different back then, and parents weren’t allowed to be your friend. Today, we are much more honest. I am probably a bit too honest for my Nan’s liking, but at least we can be real.
Three generations take Canada and Alaska.
Three generations take Canada and Alaska.
  1. It may be cliché, but grandparents really do hold an immensity of wisdom that can only be learnt over a lifetime. My Nan knows she has made mistakes; in her marriage, in her parenting, in her single life. Over Baileys and a decadent brownie Nan told me all the problems in her marriage could have been resolved if they had of had maturity. She also said to travel young, always wear layers, and pack a pair of fresh knickers in your backpack.
  1. You will create new memories. Traveling for 22 days through two countries, 6 hotels, and countless cities will always be time I will cherish. I know not many people can say they get that opportunity, and I hope I took every chance to hear her stories, hold her soft hand and try to piece together her life in an era I only learnt about in school.
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Nan’s hugs are the best. No matter what age.

You are never too old to become younger” – Mae West

10 things you’ll learn when you travel with your partner

10 things you’ll learn when you travel with your partner

Travelling opens your eyes to a whole new world, and it can also open your eyes to a whole new aspect of your relationship. In 2014 and 2015 my boyfriend, Toby, and I went to Bali, this is what I learnt..

  1. Airports suck. They are stressful, they are slow, they are pretty shitty all-round (minus duty-free, of course.) I need a prescription just to make it through the airport without having a panic attack. I’ve learnt (or am trying to learn) not to let it put a dampener on the beginning of you trip. Cudos to Toby for dealing with my psychosis in airports. That’s how I knew he was a keeper.

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    Toby and I crying because Jetstar sucks.
  2. You will fight. If someone tells you they didn’t fight with their partner on their holiday, they are lying or I need to meet them immediately. It will probably be about something stupid, like directions – what is it with guys “winging it” in a foreign country? Or the most common argument that follows the weighted question, “Where do you want to go to dinner tonight?” If you are like me, it may be alcohol-induced. I think it is normal for any couple getting their bearings with the unknown; that be in a new country, or a new stage in their relationship. Let’s face it; to be with anyone in confined spaces can be difficult.
“So, where do you want to eat for dinner?”

3. Speaking of confined spaces, you are going to have to go to the toilet. Especially if your holiday is to a tropical, third-world destination like Bali, or Thailand, where the water is laced with delights that leave you clutching your stomach in sweats. There really is no hiding Bali belly. So the illusion we’ve been creating that “girls don’t poo” is quickly disintegrated. Be prepared. And pack Imodium, and maybe ear plugs because you may hear things that you would prefer not to.

4. Point 2 refers to other bodily functions too, like vomiting. Toby had never seen me vomit before our trip to Bali in 2014, because I’m classy like that. Until I decided (in holiday-mode) it would be fine to drink 300 Long Island ice teas. It wasn’t. And it resulted in me projectile vomiting of one of the famous cliff-bars in Bali with poor Toby holding my tangled hair back. Yep, classy.

The night Toby learnt I vomit after excessive alcohol. Yes, we look very sober.

5. It will bring you closer. You create memories that you’ll hold onto forever – the good and the bad. I don’t think either of us will ever forget the robust laugh of our taxi driver in Bali that referred to us as Kuta and Rhonda, and drove us to McDonald’s at 1am. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (hopefully not, but I definitely did) and you’ll ultimately develop a better understanding of your partner.

Fighting? Never. Look how happy we look.
Fighting? Us? Never.

6. Or it may make you realise you are not meant to be together. Better to find out now then your honeymoon.

7. You will learn new things about each other, and also from each other. Some things you may not want to know – refer to point 2. I learnt my boyfriend is cool, calm and collected under pressure and the polar opposite of me, but it works. I’m pretty sure if we missed our flight he would simply shrug his shoulders – I would spontaneously combust. He still is teaching me patience, and to “go with the flow.” I’ve taught him to appreciate fine dining, and never to settle for cold toast.

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At Ku De Ta. 2014

8. You get an insight into what it would be like to live with your partner, but with an expiration date. It’s the perfect time to test how you would survive living together. You discover who is the neat freak (not me), and who is the messy one (probably me, but hey, I’m on holidays!) But remember, at home you won’t have 24/7 room service, a butler, and a room with the view of the ocean.

9. Guys don’t make very good photographers. They don’t know they need to take at least 6 photos, and that candid photos are better for Instagram.

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Me like, “Lets get a cute beach selfie”. Toby like, “Are you seriously taking more photos?”

10. There’s a level of comfort you gain by travelling with your partner. I remember in the early stages of our relationship, setting my alarm early so I could perfect my “just rolled out of bed” hair and make up, before he awoke – think Kristen Wig in Bridesmaids. But whilst travelling sometimes you just have to say screw it. The first day in Bali my hair was lovely and straight, my make up fresh, only to meet the harsh humidity which caused my already unruly hair to frizz and make up to disappear. By the last few days I was waking up hungover from dancing on bars till 3am, sporting sexy Panda eyes and wearing an oversized tee, stained with the remnants of last nights room service. If Toby can see me like that and still want to be with me, that’s true love.

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We scrub up alright.

Ultimately, there are things that will get on your nerves. There are things that will make you fall more in love with them. There are things that will make you want to stab them in the eye with a fork. But travelling with your partner can be one of the best experiences – in your life and in your relationship. The two trips I shared with Toby made me appreciate him more than ever, and made me more secure in our future together. Word of advice, just don’t fly Jetstar.