It can be tricky to find someone you can travel with harmoniously, but one mother and daughter from the San Francisco Bay Area feel lucky to call each other their perfect travel companion. They have been traveling together for over 20 years now, and while they are currently grounded thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, they would love to inspire other parents and children to do the same in the future.

Maxine and Laura DeCook in Zambia
Maxine and Laura in Zambia © Maxine and Laura DeCook

Maxine DeCook (74) is a retired middle school teacher, and is currently a private tutor, specializing in writing support. Her daughter Laura (42) works for a travel technology company as the mental health lead, and she usually comes up with the ideas for places to visit. "We're both single women who travel the world together," says Laura. “I loved traveling with my mother from the very first trip we took together, when she came to visit me in Australia during my semester abroad in college."

Maxine and Laura DeCook enjoying a pint in Ireland
Enjoying a pint in Ireland © Maxine and Laura DeCook

"Mom has always been a wonderful combination of being motherly and adventurous," she adds. "I have taken trips with girlfriends and a few with boyfriends and there was always so much drama. Mom and I occasionally bicker, mostly when we're exhausted, but we just shrug it off and go merrily on our way after a good night’s sleep or a strong cup of coffee."

Laura is great at finding travel deals, and she and Maxine like to visit the less-obvious destinations. They fell in love with The Cook Islands and have been already been there twice, and recently went to Finland and Estonia. While they try to go on one big trip together each year, Maxine accompanied Laura on work trips to London and Mexico City in 2019. When Laura was finished with work, they explored The Cotswolds and more of Mexico City. They also traveled to England, Iceland and Australia with Maxine's son/Laura's older brother, Michael.

Maxine and Laura DeCook on a boat in Vietnam
On a boat in Vietnam © Maxine and Laura DeCook

"I'm lucky enough to have found the perfect traveling companion - my daughter," says Maxine. "Traveling together has made each amazing trip even better. As a young child, Laura would put up posters of Australia and even had a penpal in Japan. I guess it could be said that her passion for travel rubbed off on me. My daughter sees every continent, country, state and city as an adventure waiting to happen. The world is like one big surprise package ready to be unwrapped, explored and embraced."

Maxine and Laura DeCook traveling in a tuk tuk in Thailand
Traveling around Thailand © Maxine and Laura DeCook

Maxine and Laura have had many funny experiences, including being chased by monkeys in Ubud Monkey Forest in Bali, convincing a tuk tuk driver in Thailand that they had no desire to make a detour to his uncle’s rug shop, and laying in a palapa in Bali in agony after forgetting to be careful about the water and ice in a mango smoothie. "We laugh at ourselves and love re-telling stories about our adventures, and also our misadventures, around the world," says Laura. "We always try to find humor in everyday life, and traveling is when we seem to laugh the most."

Australia_1.jpg
Maxine and Laura in Australia © Maxine and Laura DeCook

It is easy to assume that each generation would want to do different things on vacation, but Maxine and Laura enjoy the same things most of the time, including exploring and visiting markets. "Laura gets really "hangry" when she hasn’t eaten in a few hours," says Maxine. "I often forget to eat, so that’s a big difference we have to deal with, which usually includes finding her snacks pronto!"

Maxine and Laura DeCook in Japan
Maxine and Laura in Japan © Maxine and Laura DeCook

Laura is a bit more of a risk-taker, and while Maxine wouldn’t want to take a surfing lesson or take a speedboat through the jungles of Fiji with her daughter, she loves small planes and Laura does not like them. Laura recalls that when her parents split up when she was a child, her mother always joked about dating a pilot. "I'll never forget the joy on her face when we took a small plane through the Australian Outback," she says.

"Mom was sitting next to the pilot who was diving so low so we could see Aboriginal villages up close. She was delighted and I was terrified. Age is not stopping her and is only making her more adventurous. She has zip-lined her way through the jungles of Costa Rica, jumped into the frozen Baltic sea in Finland, and overcome her fear of drowning by strapping a snorkel mask on and jumping into the Great Barrier Reef."

Maxine and Laura DeCook in Bali
Mom and daughter in Bali © Maxine and Laura DeCook

Maxine believes that she and Laura are such good travel buddies because they're both pretty easygoing and flexible and they love to laugh and have fun together. The mum and daughter have had many special experiences, including watching hundreds of elephants come over a hill to bathe and drink in front of their boat in Botswana. There was aso the memorable time that the staff of their small Cambodian hotel jumped out of the bathroom with a birthday cake for Laura when they arrived.

Maxine and Laura DeCook in Botswana
Hanging out in Botswana © Maxine and Laura DeCook

"We found joy in eating new foods on the streets of Thailand, talking to the monks in Cambodia, and dressing in the proper attire loaned to us at the mosques in Turkey," says Maxine. "We also found joy in running from the steaming hot sauna in Finland and then plunging into the icy cold waters of the Baltic Sea, and in posing for pictures with the kids in Kyoto, and stopping for hot mulled wine while exploring the night markets in Paris in winter. We value life experiences so much more than material possessions, so we are always daydreaming of our next travel adventure."

Maxine and Laura DeCook in Turkey
Visiting mosques in Turkey © Maxine and Laura DeCook

It's clear that this adventurous mom and daughter have a very special relationship, which has been enhanced by their love for travel. For Laura, traveling the world with her mother has been a great opportunity to get to know Maxine better. "It has proven to me what an amazingly brave woman she is," she says. "She has shown me over and over again how she embraces life to its fullest and doesn’t take any opportunity for granted. I am so lucky to not only have my mother as my globe-trotting sidekick, but also as a pretty amazing friend."

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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How a pair of travelers weathered the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam

How quarantine gave me a new appreciation for home

'Traveling the world with my mother has brought us even closer'

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