Flight attendant Daughter gives her surprise trip and It Totally Changed Their Relationship

We took a long haul flight and came back closer than ever.


My mom is a flight attendant, so you’d probably assume that she jets around the globe, spending evenings sipping Côtes du Rhône in Paris and afternoons noshing on tapas in Madrid. In reality, she works for a regional airline and is mostly commuting across the Midwest portion of the continental U.S. Until last year she’d never been out of North America.

My mom is a caretaker. She spent most of her life as a single mother, working multiple jobs, raising us without a lot of help or a lot of money. After my grandpa died, my mom moved in with my grandma to help care for her and they are currently living happily as “sorority sisters.” For her, there’s never been a lot of “me time” but if you asked my mom, she’d never complain. She’s still working—very hard, in fact—and is the sweetest and happiest woman I know. And like so many moms out there, she did a lot for my brother and me growing up and we gave little thanks. I owe her.

For her 60th birthday, I was hoping to give her what she’s given to so many other people, but unable to do for herself: travel. My husband and I spent the year saving and conspiring to surprise her with a trip.

But first, where to go? I contrived a story that I was interviewing flight attendants on their dream destinations for an article and asked my mom if I could interview her. It was totally plausible as I’ve tapped into her knowledge for multiple stories in the past, and she’s always good for a quote. Her answer was simple: “I want to go to Europe, specifically to Barcelona. Maybe even a cruise.” I put the planning wheels in motion.