Mother Daughter Lessons Learned on Vietnam Vacation Holiday

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Vietnam Taught Me to Share

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Traveling with My Daughter taught me big lessons. Sometimes travel teaches life’s basic lessons. My trip to Vietnam was the first time I traveled with my adult daughter, KC. Being from Seattle, Vietnam is like walking into a surreal movie set. Vietnam is spectacularly beautiful, poor, and filled with friendly people. Seattle has gorgeous natural beauty, upwardly mobile and techy people, with the the Seattle Freeze.

When I explored Vietnam through my Seattle lens. I consumed as much of Vietnam as I could. But, when I look back on my trip to Vietnam, it is more important to me on a personal level. What I remember most is my time with my daughter. My fondest memory of Vietnam is my daughter taught me to share

Vietnam Taught Me To Share

Take a Chance

We meet a man named Dave in Sa Pa. Dave is a trekker, hiker, and passionate traveler. The Sa Pa rain is pouring down. He is preparing to go by bus to China, alone. Four hours after departure he would be walking crossing the Chinese border in the pouring rain.

Learn from Past Trips

A few minutes earlier that day, my Turkish negotiating skills scored a good price on two ponchos from the little market. Entering the lobby of our hotel, in our new ponchos, we met Dave. We talked about the rain. Everyone agreed he was going to get drenched. Dave and I went back to the same store to buy one more poncho all before breakfast.


We hung out with Dave over breakfast. Solo travelers like to help other solo travelers. We like to share and volunteer our help. I think we can spot other solo travelers. We like to be encouraging because we know what it is to be alone. At breakfast, we listened to his stories over Pho. We wondered if we should have included China, Cambodia or Thailand on this trip. From Dave, we learned his travel tips. The excellent breakfast at 6:00 am taught me it can be fun visiting with new friends before dawn at breakfast as long as I have expresso.

Sa Pa – Vietnam Taught Me to Share

Once upon a time, I traveled with Renon when my kids were little. Renon loved to plan trips, but when she vacationed her husband he made all the plans. Renon wanted to be the leader. I loved traveling with her because she is such a natural director. Her planning skills are amazing. Planning isn’t my favorite thing so leaving it to her was perfect. Because of this, we were perfect travel partners. Since 2007, I have been traveling solo. Traveling made me a better planner and more organized. But, I still don’t like planning. Deferring my travel plans to a partner is still my preference.

Sharing Decisions

Love to Travel

When KC, decided to go with me on this trip, I was over the moon. She loves social media’s trend is organized, and an excellent researcher. By the time, I bought our airplane tickets she had researched the trip. Excited, she planned the logistics. I relaxed and didn’t do much.

The Other View

KC reminded me of my friend Renon. For me, I was back traveling with my favorite travel bud. I didn’t want to step on KC’s toes or be bossy. I hoped that KC would get the itinerary she wanted because it was a trip for her.

Unfortunately, KC took my lack of engagement to mean I didn’t care or I was lazy. My perspective was I didn’t want to be the know it all ‘travel mom.’

Working Together

Someone Has to Lead

I learned from this trip it’s more fun for everyone if we work together, and talk about planning beforehand. Dividing up planning, determining who is doing what is a necessary part of traveling with someone else. If traveling with a friend like my old friend Renon, hand over the reins to her. Renon loved to be the designated planner. Just ask and let them know how involved you want to be. Don’t be upset when some thing you hoped to see doesn’t make the activity list. If you don’t participate, you can’t complain about the results. Feeling overwhelmed comes from the pressure of the responsibility of making the prefect trip. Give up on perfect. There isn’t a perfect trip. Being the decision-maker, the responsible one is a lot of work. My recommendation is share whatever you are thinking. When in doubt take a time out and if that doesn’t work, take some me time. We met people who didn’t do this and separated during their trip.


Feeling overwhelmed comes from the pressure and the responsibility of making the ‘perfect’ trip. Give up on perfect. There isn’t a perfect trip. Being the decision-maker, the responsible one is a lot of work. My recommendation is share whatever you are thinking. When in doubt take a time out and if that doesn’t work, take some me time. We met people who didn’t do this and separated during their trip.

Travel is a Balancing Act

Vietnam Taught Me to Share

I like keeping things balanced. KC always keeps things balanced, me, not so much. I can get out of balance. Note to self: Stay balance.

Whoops – Forgot to Share the Plan Again

Bartering for a Gift

We had a day when in the streets of Sa Pa the little women surrounded us to buy a gift. My idea was to negotiate with the women, and KC wanted to get away from them as fast as possible.

I had a plan. Unfortunately, KC didn’t get the details of my plan. She didn’t understand because the little women swooped in fast. They surrounded us. They talked fast, shoved pouches in our face and kept talking.

KC just wanted to get away from the women. She wanted the whole thing over. I thought it was a game. KC and I weren’t on the same page. I wanted a good deal – KC wanted to get away from them. We were as confused as a bunch of pigeons.


Whenever time is short, you are not going to win at bartering. We started without a plan. That was our first mistake. KC was controlling the time, and she wanted out. I didn’t know she hated bartering. I learned she hated bartering very quickly. Our communication was off.

Once we bought the overpriced gifts, we learned another lesson. Frustrated, feeling ripped off, losing money makes me upset even if it’s not much money. I didn’t blame KC. But, I didn’t like being ‘a tourist’ and ‘being marked’ in this little town.

Maybe, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. After all, the street women were professionals sales people. Bartering was how they earned their living. They know their business, and the women played us to a tee. It wasn’t a lot of money – it was the principle.

Next lesson, whenever I say, ‘it’s the principle, I am over reacting.

What to Share

  • Communicate – no one can read your mind
  • Explain the plan
  • Agree on the plan and the budget
  • Agree on roles
  • Don’t over think the problem, when it’s over, move on.

Don’t Over-think a Situation

Next, I learned about ‘worry talk.” My observation was that women have a need to vent- rehash the details, discuss or analysis the situation. It feels like ‘worry talk.” If nothing was going to change why bother doing this?  The big picture was what mattered. Vacations are supposed to be relaxing and fun.  I have seen a lot of trips get ruined because two women were reliving an experience, over and over again. Move things forward.

As KC said to me that day, “Hey mom. Don’t let this one bad situation define your day and this trip.” Wise words. Be as observant and present as this cat.

Problems Happen When Traveling

We had very few problems on the trip.  With our mantra, “don’t let this bad situation define your day and trip,” we laughed more and had more fun.

Bad things like the noisy, rickety train’s stateroom next to the head, or the fried food on the Ha Long boat tour, none of it matter. Instead, we got ear plugs, eat power bars, and focused on hunting for excellent roof top restaurants.

Learn how to share planning, to accept and receive help. This journey to Vietnam, and because I traveled with my daughter taught me to share.

What I Learned on Our Vacation

Don’t sweat the small stuff

turtles, Vietnam Taught Me to Share

Agree on accommodations

bird house, Vietnam Taught Me to Share

Look for the beauty everywhere

bike rider, My daughter Taught me to Share

Look forward, never rehash the past, let it go

Vietnam Taught Me to Share

See the Big Picture – Take the Road Less Traveled

Remember this too will pass


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Kate started traveling for work. Now with grown children, who are travelers, she travels for pleasure looking for great travel experiences. Currently, her home is in Bellevue, WA, and lives with her cat Angelina Jolie. She has a Bachelor's of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Colorado, an MBA and Master of Arts, Management. Her favorite things are exploring new cultures, traveling the world, creating a painting and sour or spicy foods.

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