Why I love traveling with my mom

Have you ever traveled with a parent as an adult? Some people say they don‘t enjoy themselves when they do, but my experience has been the total opposite.

I. Simply. Love. It!

This is how the chips fall with my folks. My Dad is a stay-close-to- home kind of guy, but once the destination forecast says clear skies and good weather, my Mom will have her bag, passport and swimsuit packed in a heartbeat. I know I may be totally biased here, but I think that ready-to-explore at the drop of a hat trait, especially as a senior, is utterly cool.

Easter Monday Beach Lime in Grand Cayman
Easter Monday Beach Lime in Grand Cayman

So here are all the reasons I love traveling with my Mom. [I invite you to share your stories about vacations with your parents at the end of this post.]

Mom ALWAYS has snacks on her. I don’t know how she does it or even when she stashes them in her handbag, but I am absolutely certain I can count on her to have a few save-me-from starvation treats just when I need them most.

She is very low maintenance. I never have to worry about any troubling mood swings, diva-like silences, or loud outbursts when we’re together.

Taking a brief time out in Bimini The Bahamas
Taking a moment to enjoy the calming sea breeze after a dusty and humid walk downtown in Bimini, The Bahamas

We enjoy the same things so planning day excursions is never a hassle. Cultural immersions? We’re both into them. Scenic drives? Oh, yes! Historic and educational tours? Let’s go.

Reading the fine print of the sign next to the four statues in Nobel Square in Cape Town, South Africa

We can read each other like a book so it’s easy to communicate without words, especially in large groups.

She can make friends with almost anybody, and she asks a ton of questions, so I always end up with more local insights when I travel with her.

Quizzing the tour guide on some finer detail of the oral history lesson. Pedro St James, Cayman Islands

For someone who makes no bones about using all her senior citizen privileges at banks and other places of business, she still has a joie de vivre and sense of adventure that is superior to most people 1/3rd her age! 

Camel ride in Egypt
Camel ride in Egypt

She is a ready-made roomie so I can forego paying additional dollars for the single supplement to have my own room on packaged group tours.

I never have to worry about getting all my souvenirs to fit into my luggage for the trip home. I must admit I’ve learned a trick or two over the years but my mom is still the best packer I know.

She’s not shy about taking goofy pictures. Oh, no. I just share my creative vision for a shot and she’ll gladly pose or go behind the camera to snap me.

Playful pictures with Statues in Key West
Grab their suitcase, Mom! [Playful pictures with Statues in Key West]
And finally, at the end of an exasperating or exhilarating day, her hugs are still FREE and they come with no strings attached.

Sunset shot at Table Mountain, South Africa
Sunset shot on top of Table Mountain, South Africa

Can you tell I just LOVE my momma?  I do!

Planning a trip to Egypt? Here’s my 17-point guide to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and more

When you hear the word Egypt, the pyramids of Giza are the first thing that come to mind. But there is so much more to the country than those triangular-shaped landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to that corner of the world, use one or more of these 17 activity suggestions to help build your vacation itinerary.

1. Stroll the busy streets of Cairo. There are always tons of things going on. Absorb the sights and sounds and take it all in. 

2. Go shopping at Khan al Kalilli, Egypt’s colorful and most talked about souk (market). There are no price tags anywhere. The key to a great purchase is to pretend you really don’t like what you’re hoping to buy. Waste at least 20 minutes asking about something else, check for different colors and sizes where applicable then nonchalantly zero in on your true subject. The scarves and the papyrus paintings are great finds. Market stall at the Khan al Kalilli, Egypt

3. Watch a dizzying performance of the Sufi Dancers, a traditional folk dance involving multiple spins. The term Sufi is derived from the Arabic word that means ‘to dress in wool’. Sufi Dancers, Egypt

4. Visit the famous pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the guardian on the tomb. For a little extra you can go inside the Little Pyramid to see the burial chamber of a pharaoh. Warning: The passage is narrow and slopes down for quite a bit so expect it to be hot and a tad claustrophobic. At night, you can watch their Light and Sound Show. The pyramids of Giza, Ehypt

5. Gorge yourself at a roadside eatery. The food is good! I recommend a chicken or beef shawarma, a typical Middle Eastern fast-food snack.

Image source: Travel Channel.com
Image source: Travel Channel.com

6. Devote a couple hours to the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, a place that houses many artifacts and national treasures. The exhibits were numerous, with the ostentatious possessions from Tutankhamen tomb’s taking center stage. the Egyptian Antiquities Museum

7. Get outside of Cairo and visit other regions like the charming seaside town of Aswan. A winter favorite for many tourists, Aswan boasts snore-conducive sailboats and lively floating restaurants that dot the watery channel. The Nubians are darker in hue than their Cairo counterparts so I felt quite at home. I got called “cousin” wherever I went. Aswan, Egypt

8. Sail in a felucca down the River Nile and somewhere along the way, stop at the Nubian Village and take a swim. Sailing on the River Nile, Egypt

8. Hike up a sand dune. Sand dune in Egypt

10. Ride a camel through the desert at sunset. Camel ride in the Egyptian dessert

11. Plan a day trip to see Abu Simbel, the great temples of Ramesses II. There are two sites, one for Ramesses II and a smaller temple built in honor of Nefertari, his wife. What makes this symbol of ancient Egyptian history even more fascinating is the fact that the site had to be dismantled and relocated in the 1960s to protect the temples from rising waters during the construction of the High Aswan Dam. You just gotta see it to believe it! Abu Simbel, the great temples of Ramesses II, Egypt

12. Walk through the Philae Temple, a gift to the Egyptians from the Greek built for the goddess Isis. Philae Temple, Egypt

13. Learn the art of making cane juice in a local market. Making sugar cane juice in Egypt

14. Head to Luxor to see the Karnak Temple, the largest known temple complex ever built by man. It’s made up of three main sections: Mott, Montu and Amun and it is believed to have been built and enlarged over a 1,300 year period.Karnak Temple, Egypt

15. Stop for photo ops at the Colossi of Memnon, two 75 feet/23 meters high statues of Amenhotep III that guarded a mortuary temple in Thebes. The temple is no longer there, but the giant statues give a glimpse into its majestic past. Colossi of Memnon statues in Egypt

16. Purchase tickets to tour the Valley of the Kings. The rulers from the 18th -20th Dynasty built their tombs in Thebes and instead of using the pyramid shape, they cut directly into limestone rock. There are 64 discovered tombs in the valley, but only some stay open for rotational viewing. Tutankhamen’s is perhaps the most famous as it was the only one found with everything intact. I didn’t go in as that was an extra cost and I had seen all the treasures at the Museum of Antiquities anyway. Valley of the Kings in Egypt

17. Try some Turkish coffee and smoke a shisha pipe with flavored tobacco if that’s your sort of thing.

Image Source: theguardian.com
Image Source: theguardian.com

And that’s a wrap!

Sailing the River Nile on a felucca

One of my most treasured memories of Egypt was the time I spent leisurely sailing the River Nile on a simple wooden boat that the locals call a felucca. My tour group and I boarded the fuss-free vessel in Aswan, an unimposing market town that doubles as Egypt’s southern gateway to Africa.

feluccas on the River NIle
Feluccas on the River NIle

Buoyed by gentle winds and a natural motion that was blissfully free of disruptive motor-fuelled noises, the trip was cathartic because we took our time to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Beautiful sails of the felucca
Beautiful sails of the felucca

We got to stretch out on deck and listen to, not just reflexively hear, the gentle lapping of the water as it rocked against the side of the traditional vessel. Without any pretense, I can honestly say the one-of-kind experience was a soothing balm for my body and soul.

We played cards.

A relaxing game of cards in play along the River Nile
A relaxing game of cards in play along the River Nile

Some people absorbed the changing scenery around us..

Interesting building on the bank of the NIle
Interesting building on the bank of the Nile

Others napped.

Sleep time; one of my favorite activities. LOL.
Sleep time; one of my favorite activities. LOL.
Our napping tour guide, Clearly, he had seen it all before.
Our napping tour guide, Clearly, he had seen it all before!


Wise man from the Nubian village
Wise man from the Nubian village



A few listened keenly to the wise old man from the Nubian village named Hamdi, who shared his knowledge of the area’s unique history and culture in hushed and measured tones. .

And collectively, in awed unison, we watched a magnificent sunset just before we closed our eyes and spent a peaceful night under the stars.

Yes, it got chilly. And no, there was no plumbing, Wi-Fi or convenient power outlets. But the surge of feel-good juice that shot through my system while I rested under the white-sailed canopy that was designed to provide shade and protection from the elements was even more electrifying. Because it felt just right.

Unequivocally, less can be more.

Sunset forming an impressive silhoutte with majestic sails
Sunset forming an impressive silhoutte with majestic sails


Applying for a visa: Aaargh!!!

Brand Jamaica!!
Brand Jamaica!!

I am PROUD to be Jamaican. It’s a non-detachable part of my psyche and my socialization. My national pride is reflected in my distinctive accent, my “we-can-do-all-things-we-set-out-to-do” confidence, and a hearty appreciation of our indigenous delicacies like patties, jerked meats and the national dish – ackee and saltfish. Regardless of where I go, and the pleasure I derive from exploring far-flung destinations, there’s just no substitute for our food, our culture, the landscapes, our people and that irreplaceable island swag.

But sometimes, just sometimes…I wish I carried a second passport.

The evolution of the Jamaican passport
The evolution of the Jamaican passport

The challenges and inconveniences some passport holders like myself face when planning trips can be disheartening and downright annoying. Not only does the need to apply for a visa limit spontaneity in vacation trips, it also can impede our ability to work as well. What’s more, the process is costly and quite invasive. Depending on the country and category of visa needed, application requirements may include all or some of the following:

  • a job letter
  • a bank statement
  • police background checks
  • biometrics (i.e. fingerprinting)
  • proof of itinerary (airline and hotel reservations)
  • an invitation letter, conference attendance documentation etc.

And, let’s not even talk about the fees!

Passpot rank varies by country (PHoto courtesy of grcity.com)

It gets on my nerves occasionally, because sometimes I just can’t be bothered with the hassle. Thankfully, I’ve never been denied a visa but the hoops I have had to jump through to travel to Egypt, London, Brazil, China, Europe, and the Cayman Islands are noteworthy. The easiest process I ever had was with Dubai. It wasn’t even a stamp in my passport; the entry visa was delivered via email.

In former roles, I also missed two opportunities to go on work-related trips to Anguilla because it is a British Overseas Territory, and I needed a UK visa to get in. Yet, I was able to travel to the Turks and Caicos (another UK Overseas Territory) multiple times with my Jamaican passport and US resident card. So, clearly the rules are not consistent.

In a recent study, Jamaica ranked 98 in the Global Passport Power Rank 2016 index, with a visa-free score of 77. That means Jamaican passport holders have visa-free access to 46 countries and can obtain a visa on arrival at an additional 31. Other Caribbean neighbors rank much higher:  Barbados (132), Bahamas (129), Antigua & Barbuda (124), St Kitts and Nevis (124), and Trinidad and Tobago (12). See the link with a full country listing here.

Where does your passport rank, and have you had any challenges getting to where you need to go?