One thing I am always astounded by wherever I go is how important the role of being a mother is to so many societies. I remember going to Morocco with Gutsy Women Travel (another group of intrepid women) and my guide Nouri talking about how it was his mother who encouraged him to leave his tiny village in the Atlas Mountains and pursue an education for a better life.
My guide with Contiki in Peru, Gabi, took us to meet her mother. Again, it was her mother who had encouraged her to dream big even though she had grown up in a home in the middle of nowhere in the Andes.
If all these stories seem to follow a similar theme, then you’re right. My own story isn’t too different. While my dad was always the explorer when I was growing up and was the one who took us on hiking trips, my mom was always the one who insisted I think outside the box. She was the one who always told me I was going to do great things and to be brave in a world where it’s not easy being a woman.
I went from a tiny town in Montana in the mountains to Italy, New York, and then around the world. I’ve seen and done things that never would have been possible—and much of this has to do with the way I was raised. My siblings and I were taught to think big and to see the world as our playgrounds. When I had completed a novel, my mother was the first to book flights to California where I could meet agents and editors—all at the tender age of seventeen. She didn’t think twice when I was accepted at Sarah Lawrence College in New York—I would be going.
I’ve heard so many stories while traveling about how mothers have made such a difference in so many lives. From chatting with my peers at hostels to meeting locals and even being invited into their homes to meet their mothers, there is something special about how mothers see the world. I know my mother has made an incredibly deep impression on mine. From this encouragement as a young child, she has now become one of my dearest and closest friends.
This Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking about how we can help mothers as travelers. After some thought, I encourage small donations to organizations such as The Heifer Project, Every Mother Counts, Women for Women, or whichever organization means the most to you. I bought a gift for my mother that encourages the sharing of recipes from around the world and the proceeds go to helping women around the globe.
My mother is flying half-way across the world to see me next month and the two of us are going to embark on the 115km leg of the Camino de Santiago. I’m looking forward to spending time growing with the person who encouraged me to grow the most. This is an opportunity that I know I will look back on and cherish the rest of my life.
In what ways has your mother influenced you as a traveler?