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Feeling Guilty Traveling Without Parents


My mother and I are both retired.  Mom is in her late 90's, and I am in my 60's.  I would like to travel while I can, but I feel guilty leaving my mother behind.  Mom could never handle the kind of adventure I am looking for.  She is still independent, and I am her primary support system.  What is your advice?


It looks like you are blessed with good health, and so is your mother.  How wonderful! By all means, travel while you can.

Sit down with Mom, and explain your travel desires.  If you have siblings, discuss your plans with them, and make sure someone is either nearby or checking on Mom while you are gone.  If your siblings have not made a habit of helping out, now is the time.  Approach them, and arrange some coverage during your time away.

If you have no siblings, search out a neighbor, relative, or even an agency to check on Mom while you are away.  There is nothing wrong with living your early retirement years by pursuing a bit of travel.  You have likely saved for just this opportunity and time of your life. 

If you are planning to join the Peace Corps or to seek missionary work that requires much-extended separation, you will need to do some soul searching. The viability of this trip could depend on your mother’s current health and lifespan.  There is no right or wrong decision; it is more so matching the strength of your desire for adventure against your need to care for your mother. 

I recommend that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I make acceptable arrangements for my mother in my absence?
  • Will I be able to change those plans if the need arises?
  • Am I going to be resentful and unhappy if I hold off my true desires?
  • Will I be at peace with the decision I make?

Answer honestly, make a decision and live out what you decide.  You have plenty of options.  Be thoughtful, inclusive, and communicate with compassion. 

Happy journeys, wherever they may take you.