Mother/Daughter Vacation: How We Make It Work

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In the 1980's, the tourism marketing folks on Hilton Head Island, S.C., set its sights on encouraging Ohioans, in particular, to visit the island. They literally referred to it as "the Ohio Strategy," & it worked: Generations of Ohioans now call Hilton Head their summer home, flocking to the island every summer to bike, golf, & enjoy the ocean.

My family is one of them. I was a year old when my grandparents first rented a house on the beach... & decided they wanted to come back every year for forever. The next year, they bought a timeshare in Shipyard Plantation, one of the island's many gated communities, in a neighborhood called Port O'Call, just a few blocks from a private beach on the Atlantic. 

I have such fond memories of my family's time together in Hilton Head. Our rental home - the same one every year, for the most part - feels like a second home to me, even though it's filled with other families the rest of the year. It's comfortable & familiar, with memories at every turn - not just in the house but at the beach, in the restaurants & shops we frequent, & even at the airport.

These days, my mom owns the family timeshare, & each September, she spends a week at the house we've been visiting for 30 years. This year, she invited me & her friend Gloria along for the trip.

There was a time when I couldn't have dreamed of going on a one-on-one vacation with my mom, much less enjoying it, but at this point in, I really cherish the time together. Here are three of my hard-and-fast rules for making a mother/daughter trip work.
  1. Spend time apart. Too much togetherness can drive anyone nuts - especially mothers & daughters. To make sure this doesn't happen to you, schedule some of your own plans (or lack of plans) separate from one another - even if you're just reading books in different rooms of the beach house. A related tip...
  2. Don't force your schedule on one another. Everyone likes to vacation a little differently. My mom likes to wake up early to go on long bike rides; I like to sleep in & do some writing at a coffee shop. Every day of vacation, each of us did exactly those things, then met up at the beach for a few hours in the sun together. When we're not resentful about having to adopt one another's schedules & preferences during our own vacations, we get along a lot better.
  3. Make a few solid plans together. Aside from our afternoon beach time, my mom & Gloria & I also made dinner plans for every night of the trip. On my last night there (they were in town longer than I was), Gloria stayed home with leftovers & a mystery novel while my mom & I had tacos together on an outdoor patio. Having some penciled-in plans kept us from spending too much time apart, & after days of doing our own thing, I think we all really looked forward to our evenings together.
I know not everyone is as close with their parents as I am with mine, but I'd love to hear how your family vacations pan out. Have you ever been on vacation with just your mom (or dad)? How did it go?

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