The yurt was chilly so I quickly got into bed, shivering. I snuggled in under the covers, and my mom put her arm around me pulling me close to her and her body heat. That simple action sent my brain spiraling backwards 45 years ago when I would beg my mother to lay with me so that she would hold me while I fell asleep. She would normally succumb to my request, get into my little bed among my stuffed animals, and under the covers she would hold me until we fell asleep.
I basked in that childhood memory and tried to hold onto it as I fell into a deep sleep; I was transported to being a little girl again in the arms of my mother.
On the last night of our mother daughter trip in Ireland we glamped at Rock Farm in Slane. Our cute little yurt was chilly, and it was a good reason to snuggle up close. I felt a sense of relief in my mom’s arms; this was the first time during our trip that the roles went back to how they used to be – my mother watching over me.
As we traveled through Ireland together, I was the one watching over her, making sure she was OK, hydrated, watched her step, took her pills, did her exercises, and was having fun. I held her hand as we crossed the uneven paths/streets and reminded her to always look right first! Our roles reverse when you reach a certain age, but I happily and naturally step into that role when I travel with my parents.
Why Take a Trip With Your Mother?
I travel with my father quite often, but this was just going to be a mother daughter trip. I have found that as I get older, I love traveling with each of them separately. I always end up seeing them differently or learn new things when I travel with them individually. Maybe it’s because my whole life I saw them as a couple, and I really enjoy building individual memories with them too.
I decided to take my mom to Ireland because at 83 years old, this was likely her last big overseas trip she may take. I feel so fortunate that her health has been great for 83 years old, however it seems like each year her arthritis affects her mobility even more. She has wanted to go to Ireland for as long as I can remember, and I knew if I wasn’t going to take her now, I might miss out on my chance to do so.
Earlier this summer, she was struggling quite a bit with her mobility and happiness; at one point she had decided that she wouldn’t go. She had been having a particularly bad summer with arthritis which was affecting her sleep, stress level, and confidence. But thanks to prodding by my dad, siblings, and me – we convinced her she should do it.
I personally know how hard it can be to travel with the pain of arthritis as I have been diagnosed with it in my knees and lower back. Arthritis isn’t just an “elderly disease.” According to the Arthritis Foundation two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65.
My mom was diagnosed with it when she was 55 and me at 48. Thanks to a manic travel schedule this year with lots of long haul flights, I too have had a rough year struggling with a lot of back pain. However, I find if I keep active, and keep stretching, it is normally better. I was hoping that it would be the same for her.
One of the hardest parts about her arthritis is that it’s unpredictable. Sometimes it acts up and she can’t sleep or get around well, and then other times she’s great. It’s frustrating for her, but kudos to her as she worked hard for the 2nd half of the summer doing more physical therapy, and getting out and walking a mile every day so she could be ready for traveling. I’m happy to say I think it all paid off.
If you are affected by arthritis, I ask you to please consider taking a few minutes and complete theLive Yes! INSIGHTS survey here.There are currently 54 million Americans living with arthritis (that’s 1 in 4) and now is the time to rally together and collect important data that will help shape the future for those living with this disease.
Ireland for a Perfect Mother Daughter Trip
I coupled this mother daughter trip with my Ottsworld Ireland Tour. My mother and I spent the first 3 days on our own in Northern Ireland, and then joined up with my tour group in Country Mayo for a week of travel out along the Wild Atlantic Way!
I’ve always said that Ireland has some of the friendliest people in the world, and when you travel with your elderly mother there, they become even more friendly and helpful!
“There’s something about them that tell a story,” my mom remarked when we walked through the Dark Hedges, a popular scenic stop in Northern Ireland. The row of beech trees arched over the road is an incredible sight. Our guide Eimear explained that beech trees normally grow straight up – but these were a twisted mess of branches giving the road an eerie feeling. It is thought that the trees became twisted due to the intense winds in the region.
We also got a taste of the mighty Irish wind at Giant’s Causeway. I told my mother the story of Finn McCool and how Giants Causeway came to be as we slowly walked down to the big hill to see the rock formations.
However, her favorite thing by far (and mine too) was driving along Torr Head Drive between Cushendun and Ballycastle. Mom sat in the back seat and giggled in joy as we drove on this tiny path (hard to even call it a road) along the coast with bright green landscapes dotted with sheep and farms.
“I think everyone once in their life should go on this road,” she remarked.
I couldn’t agree more – the best part of visiting Ireland to me is being able to drive around on little roads with incredible views!
In one day we went through 5 different weather patterns, rain, wind, rain & wind, sun, and rainbows. That’s another thing I love about Ireland – its weather is moody. Plus – the rain and gloom provide a good reason to get in from the cold and warm up by a peat fire at the Bushmills Inn. I splurged for us on a night and dinner at Bushmills Inn as it was one of my favorite stops when I visited the area 5 years prior. It has a charming, rustic character to it and is one of the best restaurants in the region. Plus, they make a delicious Irish coffee to sip by the fire!
Looking for a local guide in Northern Ireland – Contact Eimear
Ireland’s West Coast and County Mayo
We next moved on to my Ottsworld tour in County Mayo, one of the most beautiful and seldom known parts of the Wild Atlantic Way. I was first introduced to it last year with Ireland Walk Hike Bike.
Even though my mom was unable to hike with the rest of the group, our local guide, Rachel, made sure she was able to join us for everything else; lunches/dinners, whiskey tasting, music, distillery tour, castle tours, and Downpatrick head. Rachel always worked out the logistics, dropping my mom off at a café while we hiked, and then we’d meet up with her afterwards again.
Rachel would even encourage my mom take short walks with us keeping her active which is the key to aging if you ask me. I was so thankful that the rest of my group welcomed my mom into the group and everyone seemed to take a shine to her and also watch over her at various times. And what’s not to love…she is darn cute.
3 Things I Learned Traveling with my Mom
I Love the Slower Pace
Naturally my mom moves at a slower pace. Before the trip, I told myself that I would need to slow down and be more patient than I normally am when I travel. I thought it would be a bit of a challenge for me, but I found that I loved the slower pace. We didn’t pack a ton of things in each day, and we made sure that we had ample time to relax and just take in some people watching. I took the time to make it about my mom and the location as opposed to always thinking about work and fitting more into my schedule.
Hire a Local Guide
We had a local guide for both Northern Ireland and County Mayo. That way I could let them do the driving and guiding and I could just enjoy time with my mom. Plus – since they were local experts, they knew where all of the great coffee stops were and could easily make sure that we had plenty of down time planned in our schedule. They knew the stops and trails so well that they could made an educated decision on what things my mom could participate in. It took so much of the pressure off of me, plus we both learned a ton about the history and the regions!
Get the Wheelchair Assistance
Want to know the secret to getting through airports faster and stress free? Find an old woman who needs a wheelchair and befriend her!
Airports are confusing to older people…really confusing. It’s hard for me to grasp because I’m in them all the time and I find them rather easy; I’m used to it. Even though my mom can walk quite well, albeit slowly, I decided that it was finally time to request a wheelchair for her in order to get her around the airport easier and quicker.
What a game changer the wheelchair assistance is! I requested the service when I bought our tickets online and then we had a wheelchair waiting for us at every airport! We swiftly moved through the security lines, immigration lines, and were the first to board on the plane. This made my life easier and my mother was happier too – a win for everyone!
Can Travel Cure Arthritis?
Every morning I’d ask my mom how she slept. She is often in a lot of pain at night and can’t sleep well due to her arthritis. It’s the same for me too – my back pain is often at its worst in the middle of the night. However, in Ireland every morning she’d tell me that she slept great – no issues.
Travel has a lot of benefits, but could it actually cure arthritis? Who really knows, but the whole time we were in Ireland my mom felt great. We were both relieved and happy that she decided to go instead of letting her arthritis stop her. I personally believe that because she was more active than normal, it was actually good for her.
I was recently reading some survey results from the Arthritis Foundation about living with arthritis and came across this data – “more than half of people with arthritis cut back on travel and lifestyle”. However according to our non-scientific study in Ireland maybe they shouldn’t be cutting back on travel! With a few minor changes like slowing down, getting wheelchair assistance at the airport, and hiring a local guide that really knew the area – travel doesn’t have to be something you cut back on.
Arthritis Foundation as a Resource
In reality – there is no cure yet for arthritis, but you can help be part of the solution. During this trip my mom and I both took the Arthritis Foundation’s Live Yes! INSIGHTS Survey.
For those affected by Arthritis, you are asked to take a 10-minute assessment where you share your overall arthritis experience – answering questions relating to your symptoms, pain levels and how arthritis affects your function and mobility. The data will be used to pave the way for change by breaking down barriers to care, accelerating research and creating resources that will make a difference in people’s lives.
Live Yes! INSIGHTS is just one of the many ways the Arthritis Foundation is helping to change the future of arthritis forever and has an entire network to support the arthritis community. The Arthritis Foundation’s Live Yes! Network provides personalized help and support to adults living with all types of arthritis and rheumatic conditions and parents or guardians of children living with arthritis.
Their programs offer opportunities for connection, education and empowerment via Live Yes! Connect Groups, Online Community and conferences. The Live Yes! Arthritis Network makes connections both in person and online to empower people to live their best life. People with arthritis find strength in each other, manage stress and take control of their health care.
Mother Daughter Trip Success!
Our mother daughter trip was a success on many different levels. I cherish the time I can spend with my parents as I know these moments are fleeting. And as much as I like to move forward in life, sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and create memories.
It’s the travel memories, like drinking an Irish Coffee in front of a peat fire, holding her hand as we navigated Dublin together, and snuggling together in the yurt that mean so much to me. I’m so happy that I could give my mother the gift of travel and the joy of experiencing new cultures…as well as the joy of Irish coffees!
This post was sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation. However, all opinions expressed here are mine. All travel was paid for by myself. I wanted to do this post because it is a subject that is important to me – and my family.
Arthritis Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. Their goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life – and making each day another stride towards a cure.