Where to go and what to do when you visit Vancouver Island with your mom–and why you should!

The Parksville beaches are the perfect spot to enjoy a winter walk in the morning.

If you think about it, there is no better travel companion than your own mom—assuming, of course, you have a good relationship with her. But if you are lucky like me and get along with the woman who filled the maternal role in your life, you should go on a trip with her now, as grown-ups. Who else is going to take care of you, make sure you eat and just be generally pleased to be spending time with you? No one, that’s who. Read on for the things you need to keep in mind if you are going to travel with your mom, then go pack your bags!

The cozy cabin in the woods at the Tigh-Na-Mara; the pond at the entry to the Parkside Hotel (the koi move inside for the winter)

Where to ma’am? So first things first. Where do you want to go? For a variety of all-ages activities, mild climate, and affordability, Vancouver Island is an ideal choice. My mom is definitely the easy-going one of us and assured me she would be happy wherever we went. I couldn’t be gone for an extended trip and needed to be conscious of the budget. My mom doesn’t like the heat but pleasant weather is a must for me. For an early December trip, Vancouver Island fit the bill perfectly.

We stayed at the secluded Tigh-Na-Mara Resort just outside Parksville and the sophisticated Parkside Hotel in downtown Victoria during our getaway. They couldn’t have been more different or more fabulous for our purposes. At the Tigh-Na-Mara, we stayed in a 2-bedroom log cabin set in the trees, complete with wood-burning fireplace and a deep jetted tub. At the Parkside, our suite had two bathrooms and two patios and room to spread out. We bunked in together on the massive king-sized bed —another good thing about travelling with your mom is that no one has to sleep on the sofabed.

Tip: Consider how much space you and mom need when it comes to accomodations. Do you each need your own bed or your own BEDROOM?

It’s Christmas in Victoria: in Old Town at the Royal BC Museum and in the dining room at Craigdarroch Castle. Healthy fare from Nourish balances the Christmas treats!

Do what you love…or try something new. My mom and I share more than DNA. You probably have some shared interests with your mom too. Christmas was settling in nicely when we visited Victoria, so we had a great time looking at the displays at the Festival of Trees, the Habitat for Humanity Gingerbread Showcase, and the illuminations at The Butchart Gardens.  We strolled through the Royal British Columbia Museum and toured Craigdarroch Castle. We relished doing things kids and husbands might not have patience for…at least not at the leisurely pace my mom and I went at. And we took time to do things we might not do regularly, like a tasting at the Mt. Arrowsmith craft brewery, or chowing down on unconscionably healthy food at Nourish Kitchen & Café or Agrius in Victoria.

Tip: Spice up your itinerary. Try to choose a mix of things you both like, things you each enjoy separately, and things you might not do under ordinary circumstances.

A reflective walk in the Heritage Forest at Qualicum Beach is part of the prescription for Forest Therapy (aka forest bathing) with Pacific Rainforest Adventures

Schedule downtime Wrangling high energy kids leaves you with a warped sense of how much activity should be crammed into a day. Your mom might be a vigorous senior, but you have to remember that she gets tired faster than your six-year-old. In addition to quiet time for reading (I read two books—which is two more than I have actually finished in about years!) we scheduled in some relaxing activities. We learned about shin-rin-yoku, the Japanese practice of forest bathing on an afternoon walking the lush forest trails with Pacific Rainforest Adventures.  We spent a glorious evening soaking and chatting quietly in the Grotto Spa at the Tigh-Na-Mara.  Both were the quiet rejuvenating experiences I feel like I never have time for, and the perfect way to give mom some a break from my relentless scheduling.

Tip: Remember you may have a different pace from you mom. Make sure you take breaks and leave space for downtime.

Our Taste of Victoria food tour started off with samplings at the City Market; tea for two at The Butchart Gardens, pumpkin pie for breakfast at Agrius, because we can!

Everyone loves food Even if you can’t agree on much else, you can probably still agree that food is great.  Travelling with your mom means you can indulge in hours long meals with multiple glasses of wine…at least that’s what travelling with MY mom means.  As the mom of two often rambunctious boys, leisurely meals are far from the norm for me. Take advantage of the adult company by splurging on a special meal (or several.) On Vancouver Island, I recommend the savoury treats and dainty sweets of the seasonal high tea at The Butchart Gardens, the amazing cross section of food we got to sample on our Taste of Victoria walking tour with a charming guide, and the endless tapas (yes, your read that right) at Treetops at the Tigh Na Mara.

Tip: Travelling and restaurants mean neither of you have to cook or host the meals. Make sure you take advantage of the rare treat.

Unexpected bonuses When I travel with my partner and kids, I am the mom. I do all the “mom” things like making sure we are where we need to be when we need to be there and keeping track of our stuff (except hotel keys, I am hopeless at that.) Travelling with my mom meant sharing the mom responsibilities, and I couldn’t believe how freeing it was. She grabbed my gloves on the way out, moved my glasses so I wouldn’t step on them, and gave me bites of her dessert. This must be what my kids feel like all the time. If only they were old enough to realize just how good they have it.

If only I remember just how good I still have it.

Tip: Take a trip with your mom. And call her!

Many thanks to Visit Parksville Qualicum Beach and Destination Greater Victoria for hosting us. The opinions, as always, are my own.