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This Might Be the Best Way to Travel With Your Mom

Multigenerational travel is a rising trend, and so are mother-daughter trips.

If you had told me even five years ago that I’d enjoy an international trip with my mother, I would have likely called you insane. Combine that with the close quarters of even the cushiest of cruise cabins, and I’d have gone running for the hills. Instead, after a half-decade of maturation, at age 33, I invited my mom on a work trip to experience Viking’s ocean sailing route, Malta & Adriatic Jewels. We spent an action-packed 11 days exploring multiple ports in three different nations. During and following our trip, I can safely say we had a wonderful time, and I’m already plotting our next grand adventure.

It turns out I’m not alone. According to Leisure Group Travel, 40% of all active leisure travelers have taken at least one multigenerational trip over the last year. I’m here to share why a cruise is the best way to travel as a mother-daughter duo.

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Multiple Destinations, Unpacking Once

One of the significant headaches of travel, at least in this travel writer’s opinion, is having to unpack and move hotels multiple times quickly. While it’s lovely to experience many destinations on a trip abroad, let’s not pretend that schlepping heavy luggage along winding cobblestone paths is remotely romantic. Enter the Viking cruise trip with my mom. We showed up at Valetta’s stunning Grand Harbour, slightly groggy from the transatlantic flight but impressed with our golden stone surrounds nonetheless. Upon check-in at the dock, we immediately surrendered our bags, awaiting us in our surprisingly spacious accommodations. We were assigned to a Penthouse Veranda room, which each features a private balcony. After unpacking and settling, we set out to tour the vast ship, the brand’s newest, The Viking Venus.

With this logistical headache out of the way, Patrish and I could focus on the excitement of our Mediterranean trek. The route took us from Malta’s vibrant capital of Valetta to the stunning Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, to four distinct stops in Croatia, and then back to the Maltese archipelago. Getting to experience multiple countries while only unpacking once is a true gift and makes for such a relaxing getaway.

Read the Ship Review: Viking Venus

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It’ll Make You Happier in the Long Run

According to a Cornell University study, doing makes you happier than owning. So focusing on spending money on experiences, such as travel, can be more satisfying than acquiring material goods. Who am I to argue with an Ivy League school? Plus, I have to agree. My mother and I have exchanged numerous actual gifts in the time since our cruise wrapped; however, we tend to reminisce and talk about the trip, getting continued enjoyment from shared memories together rather than the small mental bump of receiving a new item. It’s even influenced our gift approach; we gravitate towards experience-based gifts more often as we move forward.


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Foodie Fun

Eating well is one of the best parts of travel. With multiple dining options onboard the Viking Venus, sure to satisfy the pickiest of palates, dining on the cruise was another ideal feature. My mom and I tried all the different restaurants throughout the 11-day excursion. We especially loved the Italian favorites at Manfredi’s (epic bread basket) and the Nordic brunch at Mamsen’s (still dreaming of the waffles). The Chef’s Table was another specialty eatery with elegant plating for a five-course tasting menu. Themes change every few days here so that guests can dine multiple times with different foods. All dining is included in your fee, and visitors can purchase alcohol packages based on beverage preferences.

Plus, if you somehow get sick of the ever-rotating menus on the ship, travelers are always free to explore and dine on shore. Just don’t miss the boat!

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Room for Surprises

Since Viking does a nice mix of bustling and quieter ports of call, we went to multiple places we wouldn’t have chosen on our own. As a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, my mom has had Dubrovnik on the brain for years. And while that was a memorable city, especially with fewer tourists than usual due to pandemic restrictions, our favorite stops ended up being surprises. For example, the captain suggested we get up early to see the ship’s journey into Kotor through its famous roughly 17-mile-long bay. That morning, we enjoyed coffee on the balcony during the breathtaking sailing into the quiet waters of “Europe’s southernmost fjord.” Beyond this display of natural beauty, the UNESCO-designated old town of Kotor was a delightfully memorable port (again with fewer tourists than usual).

My favorite stop was Zadar, Croatia. I’d heard of the town before but had no immediate plans to visit. Lo and behold, walking along the promenade, listening to the whimsical, one-of-a-kind sea organ, and watching residents enjoy a dip in the calm Adriatic is my preferred snapshot of the trip. All this is to say, the creative itinerary from the experts at Viking allowed for in-the-moment revelations and discoveries.

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Cultural Immersion

The Viking tour guides were amazing for all manner of culturally enriching activities. The ship offers at least one tour included for free at each port of call. It’s generally a walking city tour to discuss history and highlights. For those who want a deeper dive into specific facets of the local culture, multiple other tours are offered for an additional rate. For example, my mom and I did the free walking tour of Dubrovnik to get the lay of the land, then chose to do a wine and culinary exploration of the Dalmatian countryside. Our guide was knowledgeable and did the perfect dance of sharing enough relevant information and letting us engage with the winemakers, ask questions, and coalesce as a tour group. I enjoyed this particular excursion so much that it was only due to lack of space in my luggage that I didn’t buy the wineries out of Malvazija (Malvasia).

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Bonding Abroad

Once you get to the age where you’re not financially dependent on a parent, it opens up a whole new level of relationship. At least in my case, my relationship with my mother deepened as I got older to the point where we now speak on the phone daily (sometimes more than once a day). Getting to know her as an adult and more of a peer has already been fun, but experiencing new things worldwide has taken our bonding to a new level. Those shared moments will only get more valuable as time passes since we can look back on them with affection. Now I need to take my Dad on an equally epic adventure since he’s still jealous he missed out on this one.


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Slow Down on Sea Days

There were two full days at sea on our 11-day Malta, Montenegro, and Croatia trip. Beforehand, I was a bit worried about being bored with that downtime. The opposite was true, and I ended up loving the slow sea days as much as the jam-packed port ones. It allowed for leisurely and decadent activities, like breakfast in bed, a spa massage, and afternoon tea in the Wintergarden, which all felt like more of a vacation because of this un-scheduled nature. Sea days were also ideal for a bit of separation; while I was catching up on work, my mom could read a book on the balcony or take a dip in the epic infinity-edge pool. This recharging of batteries, with the scenic background of the deep blue sea, meant we kept getting along and could fully embrace the next day’s adventure well-rested.

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Life Is Short

Ultimately, as we’ve all learned these past few challenging years, life is short. There’s never a perfect time to take the trip. And with lots of darkness in the world, it feels like travel as a form of self-care is a more important notion now than ever.

In this vein, I will always reflect on my first mother-daughter cruise on Viking’s Malta & Adriatic Jewels itinerary. We could barely make the dates work, but I’m glad we prioritized this adventure together.


I always tell people that my mom is my best traveling partner. I took her to London and Paris in 2019 and we have been traveling every year to a new destination ever since!