A Suitcase and a Smile: Mother-Daughter Time in Portugal

TrekSimple is excited to collaborate with Cris Gawlik, a nomadic travel blogger Maggie met online through a personal finance Facebook group. She has an interesting story to share not only about her nomadic lifestyle, but also about spending intentional family time doing what she loves – traveling! Our thanks to Cris for guest posting, and enjoy!

In 2019, I sold everything I owned and decided to travel the world full time, living in countries for one to three months at a time. My goals are to learn and explore, and save and invest for my future, as full time travel is less expensive for me than living a more traditional life in the U.S. I had already moved a lot as a child and as an adult in my 20s and 30s, living in over a dozen cities across five states, so my parents were not shocked when I explained my next plan: to live abroad as a traveler (nomad). 

My mom and I already loved to travel together, and as I moved around the U.S., she was often the first person to visit me in a new location. The same became true as I lived abroad and she was happy to visit while I lived in Mexico and Belize, as I stayed in those countries longer than I originally planned. Otherwise, we pick a new country or experience and plan an annual get-together around that. This year, it was Portugal! 

We chose November 2022 to meet because that worked with my mom’s schedule. Portugal became the target for discussion as I was trying to brainstorm a country that was somewhat in the middle for both of us to travel. She was coming from Kansas, U.S.A., and I would be traveling from Kotor, Montenegro. Plus, neither of us had been to Portugal. The one downside was the weather. She hates hot tropical climates, which are what I thrive in, and I can’t stand cold, wet climates. Because of the time of year that worked for her, we both compromised; it was cool and rainy many days. Regardless, we were just excited to spend some quality time together, enjoying a new-to-us country.

We kicked off our 2.5-week-trip by meeting in Lisbon and having a few slow-going days walking, taking the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus around the city, and eating our hearts out. Then we joined a land and river cruise tour with Emerald Cruises. The land tour in Lisbon was lovely because there were only two other people on the tour. It turned into a private three-day tour, catered to our interest and activity levels. Besides seeing the amazing sights in Lisbon proper, our driver and guide took us to Sintra and Cascais, and we enjoyed the views of the coastline on our way back to the city. 

Once our Lisbon time ended, we were driven to Porto, where we embarked Emerald Radiance, a river cruise boat that holds just over 100 passengers. This was very exciting for us since we had only been on large cruise ships together in the Caribbean and Mediterranean in the past. This river cruise took us down the Douro River where we sampled plenty of ports and wines, and an abundance of Portuguese foods. Of the 100 guest onboard, there were only four people from the U.S. – myself and my mom, and two friends traveling together. This river cruise was during the U.S. Thanksgiving, and it was lovely that the Chef made us the most delicious turkey to celebrate our holiday together. The whole week on the river cruise was amazing, as we felt very pampered by all of the staff. 

The river cruise ended in Porto and that’s were we made a base for several more days, in a two-bedroom apartment. As much as we love each other, after sharing a hotel room in Lisbon for a week, and then sharing a stateroom on the river cruise for a week, we knew to book accommodations where we can have a little private quiet time away from each other for the remaining five days. At this point, we were both pretty exhausted too, so we would sleep in and each day find one or two things we wanted to see in Porto, and take leisurely time doing so. It worked out perfectly. 

While we wrapped our 2022 annual trip in Portugal, we began our brainstorming sessions for 2023, deciding on Australia and New Zealand! Since it’s such a far trek for my mom, she has committed to a six-week trip together. Our hope is to meet in one of those countries, spend a few weeks on land, take a week or so cruise that repositions us to the other country, and spend the remaining weeks there. We also agreed that we would find two-bedroom apartments again while we are on land, so we both have space to retreat for the night. As for where we will go and what to see, that’s up in the air at this point. We like learning about history and culture, enjoying traditional foods, spending some time in nature, and my mom is a big golf addict. It’s my hope we can play at least one round of golf in each country. 

As for now, I am enjoying my first experience in Asia, as I came to Thailand when I parted ways with my mom at the end of November. My goals are to explore parts of South East Asia until September 2023, and then meet back up with my mom for our epic Australia and New Zealand adventures.

To learn more about my nomad journey and world travels, follow me on Facebook at A Suitcase And A Smile or my blog site: https://christinagawlik.wixsite.com/asuitcaseandasmile

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