Mother’s Day Road Trip Memories

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It wasn’t that long ago that I sat impatiently on the couch as my mother opened her Mother’s Day present.

“It feels like a book,” she said feigning enthusiasm.

“Just open it, already!” I shouted.

As she pulled off the flowered wrapping paper, she held up a travel guide for NYC. She looked at it with a confused smile then back at my sister and me, “I don’t understand…”

“Mom, we’re going to New York!”

Our gift was met with screams of delight. Immediately, my mother began searching through the book and highlighting everything that she wanted to see. My mother had never traveled much in her life, and after my father passed away, she had become hesitant to do much outside of the house. However, my sister and I encouraged her to do more on her own and tried to stress the importance of living life.

My sister and I had decided on the trip because it would be a chance for the three of us to embrace our sense of adventure. Our family had been through a lot in the recent years, and my mother’s zest for life had been dampened. My sister and I were just on the threshold of adulthood and eager to take on the world. We wanted to reintroduce my mother to the wonder of life, but more than anything, we wanted to make memories. It is during those crazy journeys that you find your sense of humor, your determination, and the desire to conquer new horizons. To us, a road trip to New York was the perfect way to reconnect and heal.    

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NYC CollageThere is something very nostalgic about a road-trip. It returns you to that time as a child when anything seemed possible, when the world feels open and you can’t wait to live each moment. We jumped in the car before sunrise, each of us still in pajamas, carrying our pillows and buzzing excitedly about the journey ahead. The three of us, packed in the car like sardines, made the day’s drive from Michigan to New York. We listened to our favorite songs, singing at the top of our lungs. At every rest stop we got out and bought snacks at the vending machine and looked at the big map in the lobby watching as we inched our way towards our destination. We flipped through the glossy pages of magazines shouting out celebrity gossip and discussing how cool it would be if we got to see a celebrity.

When we finally made it to the Lincoln tunnel, it was rush hour on a Friday. As a fearless, new driver at 16, I had offered to drive in the city. However, the horrendous traffic was enough to make me break out into a cold sweat. We were stuck in traffic for hours just trying to go a few blocks to our hotel. I was close to tears when we finally made it to the front door and considering cutting up my license. My anxiety grew as the valet stood their rolling their eyes at us as we climbed out of the car clumsily dropping garbage from the back seat and awkwardly trying to stomp on it to grab it before it blew away. As we ran around the car, dragging way too many bags for a weekend stay, flicking skittles and chip crumbs from the folds of our clothes, and apologizing for the eternity it was taking to get out of the car, my mom started laughing. Once she started, my sister and I couldn’t help it, and we all began laughing hysterically. We laughed so hard it was hard to walk straight, and we waddled towards the lobby lugging half our house and looking like true “out-of-towners.”

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After our humbling introduction to the city, we abandoned all notions of “blending in”, and we just explored. We let go of all fear, anxiety, and all things that hold people back from living in the moment, and we soaked it all in. All day we walked the streets checking out the high end stores, eating hot dogs from street vendors, taking silly tourists photos, and just experiencing life. We saw RENT and marveled at the talent of the actors in the first musical we had seen live. Through the streets we gazed upon historic buildings and stood at Ground Zero remembering all those lost on 9/11. It made us look at the world differently. The city, so different from our own small town, inspired a broader view of life.  

NYC collage 3

When I think back to that trip, it marks the time in my life that I was slowly moving towards my own independence, and it was one of the last family trips that we took together. I look back on that trip fondly, and I see those pictures and remember feeling so free and happy. It also gave my mother the encouragement to start exploring her own independence. Those are memories that I will always carry with me.

Life is about the shared experiences we have with those we love. It’s not really about where you are going, it is about who you are going with.

Mother’s Day is May 10th this year, and it is coming up quickly. Give your Mom a gift she will always love and remember and consider taking her for a good ol’ fashion road trip. Make memories that will last forever with one of the most important people in your life. If you do hit the open road, be sure to make sure your vehicle is up for the challenge.

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Do you have a favorite road trip memory to share?

Thank you Discount Tire for sponsoring this conversation. All opinions and thoughts remain my own.

40 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Road Trip Memories”

  1. What a great memory! We didn’t go on roadtrips much when I was a kid but we loved heading to my grandma’s in Nebraska and going fishing along the way

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  2. What fond memories! The only road trips I remember as a child are the trips we would take into the mountains of WV every year for camping.

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  3. I have so many great memories! I used to go for 3 weeks at a time with my family when I was a child. Best trips ever.

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  4. I used to take road trips all the time either with friends or solo with my faithful dog who LOVED to travel around. I also remember taking road trips with my Mom and Dad when I was younger. Unfortunately my eyes are not good enough anymore to take the strain or I would be tempted to pack up my cat and just drive to parts unknown!

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  5. Ah! I, sad to hear about your father’s passing, but glad that you and your sister could do something so amazing and memorable for your mother. She will cherish this trip forever!

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  6. I live in NYC and love that there are some many things to do. Sounds like you have great memories and pictures to go along with them.

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  7. Great story! We didn’t take too many trips when I was a child, but I hope to squeeze in a bunch for my little guys!

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  8. What a fabulous Mother’s Day gift! I would love to go to New York with my Mom. My sisters and I have talked about doing a girls trip with my Mom, we need to make it happen!

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  9. Oh my gosh! How exciting. I would love to go on a trip like with with my mom and sister. You just put the travel bug in my ear :)

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  10. My grandmother lived a few hours away. We would drive out to see her in a rented RV. It was always such a blast!

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  11. It has been a long time since I traveled (been busy with little ones) but it is my true calling. What an amazing story I love it. Thank you for sharing a little piece of something really special.

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  12. I love this! I have always been an avid road tripper wanderer type. Now with two daughters I have begun to include them in Mom and Daughter trips. I recently celebrated my milestone 40th birthday with them as we went to England to see where i lived in College… sort of retrace steps kind of trip, filled with road tripping and wandering. Love your NY photos!

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  13. My family never traveled, except for one time when I was very small. All I remember about the trip is going to my uncle’s office in Chicago and seeing his telephone with all the lighted buttons on it. I had never seen a phone like that before.

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  14. What a beautiful memory – and it was wonderfully written. I would never have DARED to drive in NYC at 16 – or even now at 30!! LOL!! You were SO brave. I could feel your anxiety and exhaustion as you finally reached the hotel. You have such a good mom, you are so blessed :)

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  15. This looks like such a great trip, so much fun. Driving is a cost effective way to travel, I think you see so much more on a road trip.

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  16. It’s funny how things mark our walk towards total independence, isn’t it? I have my moments I remember clearly too. :)

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  17. New York is one of those cities where you want to blend in with the locals a bit. You almost can’t help but turn into a tourist at some point. That city is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. We took a lot of road trip growing up. With such a large family, it was probably the most cost effective. I loved the hours spent in the car with my family.

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  19. This looks like such a great trip and everyone had so much fun. I remember a road trip to Montauk, when I was a child with my parents, sister and grandparents. We had a wonderful time.

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  20. I always had fond memories of road trips with my mom too. It’s those special moments that create lasting memories.

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  21. One of my most favorite trips was with my mom. The two of us hit the road from NJ to go to Maine to visit her cousin. I had just gotten my first car and it was my first vacay from my job. We had a lot of fun and laughs on that trip.

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  22. I love road trips and have done several cross country ones. I loved reading about your memories of them.

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  23. When I was a kid, all our trips were road trips, and I loved them all :) Myrtle Beach and Disney World were particularly fun.

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  24. Life is definitely about the shared experiences with family and loved ones. I love creating memories with my kids

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  25. What a beautiful post and such a sweet surprise for your mom. My sister, mom and I are all extremely close and we are already planning a surprise trip for her sixtieth birthday even though it is still a few years away!

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  26. Thanks for sharing this touching story. It sounds like it was an amazing trip and I’m glad you look back on it so fondly.

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  27. Picturing you guys arriving to the hotel is so funny! My daughter and I are the only people in the family that like road trips.

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  28. A few years before my mom passed away we went on a road trip to Niagara Falls. It was our first ever family vacation and our car broke down half way there. Had to ride in the tow truck. Stay in the hotel bc the car cost so much… It was terrible but I remember the whole 6 days. I tell my kids the story all the time.

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  29. What an amazing time you must have had. New York is my favorite place. We have started to make some memories with the kids. Last year we went to Chicago and they all were able to go up in the ferris wheel. My older two still talk about it.

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  30. My husband tells me I couldn’t make it in NY traffic. I can’t believe you did it at 16! My dad and I would drive 5hrs to Salt Lake City every week for me to do physical therapy. We still laugh about the crazy things that would happen along the way, like the one time our heater was stuck on high in the summer and we had to peel ourselves off the leather seats, haha. I love road trips.

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  31. We once took a road trip down to Florida. We played I spy with license plates. It was a blast!

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  32. My family used to road trip to NYC and DC all the time when I was a kid. I have lots of great memories.

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