Traveling with family. Better than you expect.

There really are few people other than your parents who will love and support you no matter what terrible decision you make. I am incredibly fortunate to have a mom and dad that will stand by and say “great job, honey!” in reaction to starting a dog grooming business or just picking up my dog’s business. They encourage me, they love me, and they mean the world to me. Because of this, I wanted to share with them my passion for travel that has at times worn all of our wallets thin. My father, not one to go outside state lines, kindly passed. But with just a little persuasion, my mother said yes and off we were to Italy.

Traveling with loved ones can be difficult at times, though our case was an extreme one. I had just finished teaching English abroad and then backpacked through Southeast Asia. I felt like a true traveler, a real adventurer. I could go through security lines with ease, blend in in a crowd, and giggle at the other fanny-pack wielding tourists. I expected all of my travel mates to follow suit.

Well, this wasn’t the case. I can’t explain the overwhelming feeling of excitement and pure joy at seeing my mother come through the gates in Rome; seeing her for the first time in over 15 months. We hugged and we cried and we laughed. And then we were off. Because travelers don’t wait until the next bus. We board now.

In retrospect, I think it’s hilarious that my mother went though a 10-hour plane ride with melted milk-duds covering her backside. I think it’s goofy that she fell down three times in a matter of 7 days, once in the Vatican City (but was not seriously injured). I find it amusing that she did a lot of the things I could easily pinpoint as being “touristy.” But at the time, I couldn’t find the simple joy in it, because I was slightly annoyed we had to wait 4 minutes to board the next subway train since she couldn’t figure out how to work the ticket.

But no matter what, no matter how uncomfortable she might have been in a situation or how foreign she might have felt, she smiled. She laughed. She ordered another cappuccino and she genuinely appreciated being in that place at that moment.

I envy her nonchalant attitude, and in many ways, that makes her more of a traveler than I will ever be. She didn’t need schedules or itineraries. All she needed was a cup of coffee and a good place to people watch.

Now, in all of my travels and in everyday life, I make an effort to share her incredible attitude. To laugh at myself and to not take everything so seriously. I learned that there’s always going to be another bus, another subway. Milk duds wash easily out of jeans. And caution signs are there for a reason, even in the Vatican.

So thank you, mom, for teaching me to appreciate everything, no matter how big or small.

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