I Took My 61 Yr Old Mom On Her First Ever Foreign Trip To Europe & It Was Life-Changing

by Natasha Monteiro
I Took My 61 Yr Old Mom On Her First Ever Foreign Trip To Europe & It Was Life-Changing

Every travel experience is special. You make memories for a lifetime, you discover more about yourself and you learn more about your companion. But this isn’t just another travel story. This is a story of a girl who decided to take her 61 year old mom on her first ever international trip. This is the story of 2 ladies who lived together all their lives, but discovered each other in a whole new way while travelling together. This is a story that will make you want to rush and hug your mom, and plan a trip with her as soon as possible. Here is Ketaki Desai’s travel tale with her mom from Mumbai to Europe, and back, as told to Curly Tales. Read on!

Curly Tales: Hi Ketaki, tell me a little about your mom & you
Ketaki Desai: My mom is a retired officer from SBI. I am a marketing and advertising professional. Both of us are true blue Mumbaikars.

Curly Tales: Why did you decide to do a trip – just you and your mom?
Ketaki Desai: My mom has always been interested in travelling. In fact, she was an adventurous child growing up. We have always been travelling together on long trips, just the two of us, at least once every 2-3 years. Both of us love to explore new places – places that don’t look like the last one we visited and places which offer a different experience each time. 

Curly Tales: What did your mum say when you first proposed a Euro trip idea to her? Was it difficult to convince her?
Ketaki Desai:For the longest time, I wanted to travel with my mother outside India. My mom is on Facebook and both of us would share pictures of gorgeous places around the world, clicked by National Geographic photographers. Mom had never travelled ‘abroad’ and I wanted to turn those Facebook shared photos into reality. So I decided to put her first ‘foreign trip’ into motion.

Also read: I Travelled To 10 Countries, 18 Cities In Europe In 26 days In ₹2.5 Lakhs

Also, I had made a pact with myself to travel on my birthdays – even if it was to Mahabaleshwar. So in October 2016, I knew I wanted to celebrate my 30th Birthday outside and in a magical place. And I wanted to celebrate it with the one person in the world who meant the world to me, while exploring the world. Cliche i know. But that’s how Mom and I decided to do a ‘Euro Trip’. It was not at all difficult to convince her – she’s always ready to travel! 

Curly Tales: Before you tell us more about your Euro Trip, tell us a little about your other trips with your mother
Ketaki Desai: My earliest memory of our vacation together is a bit foggy. We in fact travelled with my Grandmother to my native place (imagine 3 women, across 3 generations visiting temples and beaches). We have travelled with family and even with Mom’s school friends. However the most vivid memory of our earlier travels, just Mom and I, is our trip to Kerala and Lakshadweep – our first journey on an airplane (to Kochi, Kerala), and first time travelling long-distance by a boat to Karavatti, Lakshadweep, and first time living on an island! Since then we have Jaipur-Udaipur, Coorg, Assam-Arunachal Pradesh-Meghalaya, Kaas Plateau, Diu-Daman, and other short trips in Maharashtra.

Also read: 13 Best European Honeymoon Destinations For Indians

Curly Tales: Oh so your mom and you are accomplished travellers then! Now getting back to that Euro Trip! What was the grand plan?
Ketaki Desai: The trip was to Austria and Czech Republic for 2 weeks. We travelled first to Prague. From there to Vienna, Schladming-Hallstatt-Schladming (spent my Birthday in Hallstatt) and then back to Vienna.

The entire trip was planned by Mom and me – from Airbnb stays, itinerary plans, entry tickets to museums, intercity travel and all that! Our objective was to travel and see as much as possible and spend as little as possible. Mom did her own research online and even suggested we choose city travel cards and package deals to help reduce costs.

Curly Tales: Wow! Now A euro trip is usually  taken with friends or even probably a romantic partner. how did you decide to do this with your mom?
Ketaki Desai: So this decision worked out in two ways. One, for the longest time, while friends and I discussed travelling to Europe, we knew it would be very difficult to manage schedules and priorities. Secondly, Mom had already retired by then and I knew she will be ready at any time to travel with me. 

Also read: These 7 Childhood Friends Toured Eastern Europe Together

Also, I already knew which cities I wanted to travel and what I wanted to see – none of that involved doing things which required friends, like partying. So I knew that Mom wouldn’t mind coming along with me wherever I took her – be it museums, palaces, zoos, or lonely snow-clad mountains. But I guess that’s the thing about moms. They’re always so adjusting and it’s just so great to spend time with them.

Curly Tales: Are your mom and you travel compatible? What’s the nicest thing about travelling with your mum?
Ketaki Desai: Absolutely! We are both very adjustable and fuss-free when we travel. Only time we argue during a journey is when my mother gets hyper and insists on reaching airports, train stations, bus stations etc 1 hour before the journey. You know, typical mom things!

Otherwise, w.r.t. what we want to eat, what we want to see, where we want to stay, etc all is easy to manage. For example, I enjoy eating pork and mom dislikes red meat. But in Vienna, when I wanted to eat this delicious roast pork or schnitzel, she never stopped me. We both understand that the whole point of travelling is to try new things, and as long as it is not illegal, everything is ok. Also, walking on the ginormous palace grounds or long museums visits would get very tiring. She would walk as much as she could, given her age and when tired she would encourage me to continue my tour while she took a break. Like I said, fuss-free! 

The nicest thing about travelling with my Mom is that she and I share the same level of excitement and we are awed by the same things – we bonded over the smallest things like autumn leaves, potato soups, cheese, and hot chocolate, random things like curious cows on a farm in Schladming which ran to meet us, judging snooty foreigners who judged us, Czech folk music and biggest things like the stunning beauty of Dachstein range and Hallstatt town.

Initially in Prague, mom was very scared of riding on the escalators. Prague’s metro has really steep escalators of a height that must easily be about 15 meters. But Mom is such a good sport, she got over her fear and found her rhythm to go up and down on them! 

Curly Tales: Would you say this is probably one of your most memorable trips? Tell us one fun incident from the trip
Ketaki Desai: Oh absolutely! My mom too really enjoyed it. There’s this place called Schladming where we stayed in an Airbnb. My mom and I are obsessed with this place. The place has its own Facebook page (which we both follow) and we keep sharing pictures of the place with each other. Travelling in the metros across Vienna and walking around for hours, bingeing on Apple strudels, visiting the revolving observatory in Vienna, walking on snow and hot chocolate…I can go on and on and on about this trip. 

As for fun incidents, gosh! theres were so many. In Hallstatt, we visited one of the quaint bakeries looking for cookies. There we met this jovial young woman, clad with piercings and tattoos. She asked my Mom if we were from India. When we said yes, she was super excited to meet us! She spoke of her travels to Rajasthan and Goa and told us how she enjoys Palak Paneer! I must say, we were only met with warmth by the locals wherever we went. It was a lovely experience.

Also read: My Mobile Stopped Working During My Solo Trip To Europe

Another fun incident is the time when we were returning to Vienna from Schladming. We had to travel by their local trains and switch trains in between. As we were approaching the station for the switchover, we got ready, luggage in hand (Mom being mom wanted to stand and wait near the door early and not miss the station). Now the issue is that, announcements are not easy to follow given the accents and names sound similar. We alight the train and start walking only to realise that we are on the wrong station. The moment when we realised our mistake and looked at the train’s doors which were just closing, was so dramatic! I rushed to press the red button to open the door, screamed at my mom to throw our bags in the train, jumped in and pulled her in! Now imagine the possibility of  mother-daughter stuck on a random secluded station, in a foreign country AND missing their train to return to civilization. But, inside the train, we literally stared at each other for two seconds and burst out laughing! Fun times. Well, you could say that my mom and I had our own DDLJ moment!

Also read: Top 10 Things You Can’t Miss In Prague

Curly Tales: Would you do a trip like this again?
Ketaki Desai: Oh absolutely! Mom and I wanted to visit Thailand/Indonesia last year – but there were some change of plans. We did however do a short trip to Ganpatipule in January this year. PS: My mom is also the best & most patient photographer.

Well, there you have it! Now if this doesn’t convince you to go hug your mom and start planning a trip right now – well, then nothing will! Surprise your mom and bond with her just like Ketaki did on her trip. Take your mom to her dream destination and create memories for a lifetime!