My Mum and the Turkish Waiter: 7 Fun Travel Lessons from a 77 Year Old

Funny travel stories - mum and Turkish waiter

I love this funny travel photo of my dear old mum and a Turkish waiter because:

a. It’s hilarious. I think my mum secretly loves it too, although she will never admit it.

b. It’s my mum’s 77th birthday this week and I thought writing a story would be a good gift. Even if it is accompanied by a dodgy photo.

Regular readers ( I love you!) will know I’m not averse to a little gentle teasing of my family and don’t hold back from sharing dodgy photos of us either. Although obviously every photo of me is airbrushed to within an inch of its life.

In the past I’ve poked fun at my family in this very public forum of my blog and even called us dorks because we certainly looked delightfully dorkish back in the seventies. Travel back in time to see the funny family photo for yourself if you doubt me or check out the photos of me in misfit confessions.

Some readers think my family will be mad at me for posting embarrassing and unflattering photos but I don’t have much choice as we seem to be a sadly unphotogenic family. Well, I am anyway. Fortunately we like to laugh at ourselves and so my family are all still speaking to me. Well, most of them. And of course we all look wonderful in real life.

So here are some travel lessons learned from my mum including the back story about her close encounter with the Turkish waiter. It’s all quite innocent as you’ll see.

7 Travel Lessons From My 77 Year Old Mum

1. Have fun when you travel

Don’t worry about embarrassing your children, your loved ones or anyone else. Just have fun when you travel, muck in with the locals and don’t take yourself too seriously. That should be your main aim in life as well as on your travels.

The photo above is a case in point. Last year my mum went on holiday to Turkey with three friends. When mum commented that she liked one waiter’s spiked hair another waiter offered to spike her hair too.

So mum agreed.

Soon her hair was standing up stiffly after being doused in Turkish hair products and teased upright. If you look closely at the photo you can see mum has a little quiff on her head.

Then the Turkish waiter, mums’ friends and mum all had a right old laugh. And a big hug.

2. Take any travel opportunities that come your way

Before my dad died eight years ago mum and dad were always jetting off here, there and everywhere. They traveled all over the place, from France, where we spent most of our family holidays when I was a kid, to the USA and Africa after we kids left home.

There was no end to their travels once the nest was empty and they came to visit me and their new grandchildren every year in New Zealand too.

Now my dad has passed away it’s harder for mum to travel. She doesn’t want to travel alone so whenever she gets an offer of travel or an invite to go somewhere she grabs it, whether it’s a trip to Italy with Auntie Prue and the nieces, grand-nieces and nephews, or a school reunion somewhere less exotic.

You never know when you’ll get another opportunity so if you like to travel and you get a chance to go somewhere you love or have always wanted to visit go.

3. Start traveling as soon as you can.

Fresh out of St. Thomas’s nursing college in London (she’s very proud 0f that) my mum hopped on a P&O cruise liner and embarked on a round the world trip while being paid for it.

Admittedly she did have to work as a nurse on the trip and deal with such calamities as passengers who rubbed shampoo all over their bodies then got second degree sunburns.

But she also got to do cool stuff like visit Sydney before the Opera House was built and row round Sydney Harbour in a boat. She talks about that a lot.

4. Support your partner’s travel plans.

Years ago my dad was gagging to fly on Concorde but mum wasn’t interested but she told him to go for it anyway. Dad  happily jetted off to Venice for a long weekend on Concorde not long before it was pulled and the opportunity lost forever.

When you’re in a long-term relationship and you don’t agree on every travel plan and dream your partner has, the best way to keep everyone happy is to let your partner follow their travel dreams.

Let them enjoy their travels knowing that they will miss you and come back refreshed and happier than ever to see you again. My dear Mucho Man is very good at this.

5. Be practical, not a princess.

It wasn’t always travel by Concorde and luxury safaris for my parents.

When we were kids the highlight of the year was a camping holiday in France. We always packed a spade so when it rained heavily one night, as it always did, and water started to pour into the tent mum would get up and start digging a trench that directed the rain water safely away from our tent and onto some other hapless camper’s spot.

There are always problems and unexpected occurrences to overcome when you travel. You just have to be practical and tackle them head on.

6. When flying always have a complete set of spare clothes in your hand luggage just in case

This is mum’s number one rule for travel. Her reasoning is that someone might vomit on you and, if that happens, you won’t have to sit in the stinky vomit-stained clothes for the whole flight because you’ll just be able to change into your spare set of clothes.

I am happy to report that no one has ever vomited on my during a plane ride, not even my own children. People hardly ever seem to vomit on planes at all. In all my 44 years of traveling I can’t once remember someone having to whip out the vomit bags which are handily installed in every plane seat pocket.

But despite this mum drummed this lesson into me so hard that I still always have a spare set of clothes in my hand luggage. Just in case.

7. When the worst things happen deal with it

For example, if someone near you does vomit just grasp their head firmly in both hands and swivel it away from you so they vomit on the person on the other side of them, not on you.

My mum demonstrated this tactic during one long car journey to France many moons ago when my brother was overcome by car sickness.

Mum quickly wrenched my brother’s head my way whereupon he vomited right into my shoes.

Fortunately I’d taken the shoes off but they did have to be abandoned by the roadside.

Mum came out fine except she had to cough up for new shoes.

And listen to me complaining about it for the next couple of decades.

Dear old mum. I hope you have a happy birthday and many more years of happy travels.

funny travel stories mum

My mum and dad on their honeymoon in St Kitts in 1966

Are there any funny travel photos or stories about you or loved ones that make you laugh?

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  1. Linda ~Journey Jottings July 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    Your parents look soooo happy on their honeymoon ~What a gorgeous photo :)
    I so agree with #4 ‘Supporting your partner’s travel plans’
    A good friend has recently returned from Nepal, walking the Himalayas after years of ‘I wishing’ until her husband (who’d been before they met) said GO!!
    They’re BOTH so much happier for it.

    Like your Mucho Man, my partner is very accommodating on the travel front –
    In fact we both support each other’s life’s paths and accept that in order to grab the bull by the horns as it passes, sometimes only one of you can get a good grip to go with it :)

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 8:59 am - Reply

      Hi Linda,

      I love that photo too:) I don’t know if dad would have been so happy if mum had caught a bigger fish than him;)

      Haha, that’s true about grabbing the bull by the horns! Yep, sometimes there’s only room for one:)

  2. Fraussie Grouet July 4, 2012 at 1:04 am - Reply

    I’m surprised you’ve never seen anyone reach for the vomit bag! I started vomitting in planes at age 3 months in my sleep nearly 60 years ago and I only need to smell the plane fuel to reach for the bag. I haven’t ever vomitted on anyone else though. Once I was travelling alone with my 6 month old daughter and 3 year old son and had to hand both over to the other passengers so I could quietly vomit into my bag. I carry one in my handbag because you’d be surprised how often there isn’t one! Cutting costs I guess.

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 9:01 am - Reply

      Hi Fraussie,

      Oh dear, you poor thing! So good you’re prepared though!

      No, I’ve never seen anyone being sick on a plane but rough ferry trips across the English channel. Yuck. Even I’ve succumbed on some of those trips…

  3. Your mother will like this post, why not? And I love that photo with her and that wacky Turk. I just spent some time in Turkey in April and loved the people.

    It’s fun looking back and remembering the traveling times, vomit and all. I was five months pregnant, flying from Europe to Africa and did nothing but filling up bags, especially when the food arrived. Not nice for the guy sitting next to me (and for my poor husband on the other side.) It didn’t stop once out of the plane either, and got us through customs really fast ;)

    Ah, the memories!

    So, your mother is right: Always travel with an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. I do.

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

      Hi Miss F,

      Oh yes, of course mothers are always right – well that’s what I tell my kids anyway….

      That’s a terrible travel story but a funny tip for getting through customs fast!

      Yes, when we reminisce about our travels with the kids it’s always the sordid details like those they remember most:)

  4. Gwyn July 4, 2012 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Love your mum and am cheering her on!

    And I guess you’ve been lucky to avoid my family in your travels. I can remember when they had cardboard containers that the steward did not . . . quite. . . deliver in time. And then there was the business trip where my handsome seatmate had just asked for a date. Or the time when my young daughter got four at one blow. . . Ah yes, I remember them well. ;-)

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 9:04 am - Reply

      Hi Gwyn,

      Gosh, she’s going to be getting quite big headed now!

      Lol, I guess that date never happpened then:) You mean your daughter sprayed four other passengers at once. Respect! But yes, I will be avoiding sitting near you lot if we ever travel together:)

  5. Cate July 4, 2012 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel….Yes, the spare clothes are a must – whatever type of travel you embark upon. Also a lesson remembered from my youth (having been born OS, I think I took my first plane trip when I was about 6 months old and was a seasoned traveller by the time adulthood arrived), although it was my older brother who suffered from travel sickness. It took my other older brother reading a book next to me in the car to make me feel queasy.
    I really like your comment about just having fun – in travel and in life. I think this is one we are all prone to forget.
    I also had some wonderful friends a few years back who always took separate holidays. He loved to visit military history sites, she loved the shopping and art galleries, etc., so they took off in opposite directions every year, then shared the stories when they came back. Why not? I’m planning on giving it a go myself sometime soon – my partner has grown roots!
    Cate :)

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 9:06 am - Reply

      Hi Cate,

      Love your funny travel stories. I hope you get to make those travels and I’m sure you’ll have lots to tell your partner when you get back:)

  6. Suzanne Perazzini July 4, 2012 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Your parents look so alike it’s spooky. Even the one eyebrow higher than the other. Great photos and great tips.

    • Annabel Candy July 4, 2012 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Hi Suzanne,

      Great to see you here again. Lol re the eyebrow, I never noticed;)

  7. Joanna July 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Oh, this post did make me laugh. Loved the gentle humour and the tips too.

    • Annabel Candy July 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Joanna,

      Thanks for reading:) It’s always great to see you here.

  8. Penelope J July 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Love the photos of your mum, now and then. The latter reminds me of my days in the sun. Enjoyed her travel tips and your wry sense of humor. I used to work as PR for an airline – way back when – and I have a lot of funny stories about crazy press trips. Also trans-Atlantic travel when I was young – on the U.S. America, outfitted as a troop ship, after WWII, the Queen Elizabeth I, to a Swedish freighter from London to Veracruz, Mexico.

    • Annabel Candy July 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Penelope,

      It sounds like you have some great travel stories to tell! I’d love to get together and compare press trips back then with how they are now:)

  9. Seana Smith July 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Very lovely post Annabel, and many happy returns to your mum. Such a good idea to have fun and to let your partner go.

    You’ve reminded me of when my wee Rusty Rocket, then aged 4, vomited non-stop from Dubai to Glasgow and then all the drive back to my mum’s house. I nearly took him to hospital to re-hydrate him but couldn’t face casualty after 30 hours on the road. Bloody awful! All spare clothes were gone and he came off the flight wrapped in a blanket and being pushed in a wheelchair.

    Never travel with children or animals is my motto!!

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