Some of us love going on holidays with our families, while others prefer the company of friends or even colleagues.
But have you ever thought about going on a trip with just one parent?
In celebration of Mother’s Day tomorrow, we spoke to three mother-daughter teams who share a love of travel, and enjoy doing it together.
Comfort in familiarity
A pair of flight tickets won in a lucky draw led to a mother-daughter trip for Vyleat June Hamy Beris and Calyn Ong.
But the trip almost didn’t happen for Beris, 58. Her 28-year-old daughter, who won the trip to Phuket, Thailand at a work event, had intended to bring her youngest sister along.
“I hadn’t been to Thailand yet at that point, so I was hoping I could join her. But she did not ask me and I just kept quiet,” the mother of four from Taiping, Perak reveals.
When Ong’s sister couldn’t make the trip, she asked her mum to come along instead.
Beris was overjoyed. Not only does the retired school teacher finally get to visit the Land of Smiles – she also gets to spend time with her eldest daughter.
“It’s hard to spend time with her when she’s working. Sometimes, you can’t even get hold of her on the phone,” Beris says, adding that the trip allowed for some quality time with her daughter who works in Kuala Lumpur.
As for Ong, having Mum on the trip came with some unexpected perks. Being Sinhalese with Chinese and Thai upbringing, Beris is able to converse with the locals.
Ong learned some new things about her mother while travelling together.
“I realised she can be quite obsessive with details,” she says with a laugh, recounting how her mother was particular about packing arrangements and timing.
At this point, Beris interjects and points out that her daughter is the opposite.
“If she can, she will only wake up at 2pm. She also likes to do things at the very last minute,” Beris jokingly chides her daughter.
Both mother and daughter like to tease each other. And despite a generational gap, their easygoing relationship is akin to best friends.
“My brother is her favourite, but I’m her ally,” Ong says of their relationship. (“A mother has no favourite,” Beris quips.)
If anything, both women have different travelling styles. Ong is more laidback while her mother is comfortable with a schedule.
But family ties make it easier to work through differences, says Beris.
“I’ll never travel with friends because all of us have different personalities. But with your own kids, at least you already know their pattern,” she explains.
Beris adds that it was her children that introduced her to the joys of travelling. In fact, her first ever international trip was to Japan with her eldest son in 2011. After that memorable Japan holiday, Beris visited the Land of the Rising Sun again in 2013 with Ong and her other two daughters.
When asked what it takes to holiday with your children, Beris says the keyword is “compromise”.
“You need to understand that things can’t always be 100% perfect. It’s also important to take care of your health before the holiday. The last thing a parent want is to burden their children. Also, don’t complain so much,” she says.
Ong says communication is important. That, and making sure her mother is comfortable.
“I find myself adjusting to her preferences. So when I think of places to go, I have to consider whether she’s tired or not,” she says.
Ong finds that there’s a reversal of roles when she travels with her mother. Suddenly she’s the caretaker, instead of the other way round, but she doesn’t mind it at all.
Both women say they cherish each other’s company during their trip together.
“The thing I like most about travelling with my mother is that it feels very comfortable,” Ong says.
Part of a team
Priscilla Yee has been travelling with her 75-year-old mother Tan Boon Kheng for over 10 years.
“I usually like to include my mum in most of my travels except those adventure type of holidays,” says Yee, 50.
Yee believes that travelling together is a good way to show love and care for mothers.
“Mum and I have a very close relationship. That’s why I include her in most of my travels,” she says.
Tan, who lives in Tapah, Perak, says she seldom gets to see her KL-based daughter, so travelling together is a good opportunity to spend some quality time together.
The pair embarked on their first mother-daughter adventure way back in 2009, when they went to Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand.
Since then, Yee and Tan have gone on trips to Melbourne (Australia) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
Yee says she is thankful her mother is still mobile and can get around easily because it means having more destination choices when planning a holiday together.
Looking fondly at her mother, she shares: “Sometimes, older people tend to complain and grumble a lot so we have to be more patient and tolerant of each other,” Yee says.
Tan shoots her daughter an indignant look.
“Once we had to walk up and down a street in Ho Chi Minh just to look for a shop selling mobile phones because my daughter always gets a local SIM card when we travel. It was some time before we could find one, and the weather was so hot and humid that both of us were sweating profusely,” Tan grumbles.
They both admit that travelling together is not without its difficulties.
“It’s mainly due to our differences like in how we prepare for our travels. When I pack, I like stuff to be properly organised and even have small storage bags in my suitcase so that everything is easily accessible. Mum has a more carefree style and prefers to just dig for stuff in her suitcase daily,” Yee reveals.
Despite that, both agree that there are a lot of positives for mother-daughter travels. For one, it’s a great way to bond.
“Sometimes, we don’t have much opportunity to talk. When I visit her in Tapah, she will be busy cooking and doing housework, or entertaining guests,” Yee says.
“But, when we travel together, it’s just the both of us so we can communicate more,” Tan adds.
Her mother is also a pro at bargaining, says Yee, so they always manage to get good deals when they shop. “She has great style too. She is like my fashion consultant,” Yee proudly says.
Yee plans most of the trips herself and would rather steer clear of tour holidays. They do, however, join local day tours as those schedules are usually more flexible.
“I try not to include too many strenuous outdoor activities on our trips. Mum isn’t the type that enjoys hiking, and she suffered a lot when she came on a trip to Sarawak with my son and I. It was difficult for her.
“I will also try to book nicer hotels when Mum is with me, unlike my other trips where I don’t mind budget accommodation,” Yee says.
The wefie pair
Looi Yee Chin, 61, and her daughter Esther Yee, 35, have been on many trips together and are have no plans to stop.
So far, they have been to Sydney (Australia), Bangkok, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Amsterdam (Netherlands), and several cities in Germany and Switzerland.
Apart from their usual mother-daughter trips, the pair also go on extended family holidays with Yee’s siblings.
Yee reveals that travelling with her mother is fun and she’s happy they are able to do it together.
“I’m glad to be able to bring her to see the world while she is still physically capable of travelling. My siblings and I grew up in a middle class family so we didn’t have many opportunities to travel together when we were young.
“Mummy is a very pleasant person and easy to get along with. I know some parents might be demanding when it comes to choosing destinations, accommodation or even food and activities, but she isn’t. This makes her a good and easy-to-please travel partner,” Yee shares.
Tan notes that while she’s not fussy about food, she can’t have much spicy food or raw food.
Yee admits that sometimes she does get a little frustrated during their trips.
“Mummy doesn’t know how to take good photos! So, most of the time, our travel photos end up being slightly blurry or not focused!”
At this point, they both look at each other, and laugh.
“But that’s all right because we can now take wefies using a selfie stick, and also ask others to take photos for us,” reveals Yee.
While Tan is active and can get around easily, Yee says there are times when they have had to pass on tour activities that are too extreme.
“We had to forgo climbing the Sydney Bridge and parasailing in Interlaken (Switzerland) … though I personally enjoy such activities,” Yee says.
Both Yee and Tan encourage more people to travel with their parents.
“Your parents won’t be with you always, so don’t wait. Start planning and go on an epic and memorable trip with them. You won’t regret it,” Yee shares.