From hikes through rice paddy fields to spa treatments in the jungle, the mother-and-daughter adventurers didn’t have to do much to convince us that experiences, not things, are the best ways to celebrate their special bond.
World traveler and National Geographic photographer Laura Grier goes everywhere — and often in the company of her mother Isabel Blankmeyer. In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked both mom and daughter to share highlights and traveling tips from their three-week trip to Bali.
IfOnly: How does your mother inspire you?
Laura Grier: My mother taught me to respect who you are meant to be.
IO: How did your mom help you become the woman that you are today?
LG: When I was 13 years old, I was sent to the principal’s office for talking too much in science class. That day my mother gave me one of my first life lessons. She plainly asked me, "What are you good at?" And I said, I am adventurous, fearless, and creative. She then asked, “What are you not good at?” I said waking up early, being in the same place everyday, and studying. Based on my reply, she concluded she didn't see how I could be a scientist. At the time I thought she was shattering my dreams of being a zoologist. My mother then asked “What is it about zoology that you love?” I said that I wanted to travel the world, to experience new people and places, and to be around animals. Then my mother suggested that I be the photographer documenting the scientists. And it was like a light bulb went off. That conversation has shaped my entire career ever since!
IO: How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?
LG: I have decided that I am not buying objects as gifts anymore; instead, I am buying experiences and memories for both of my parents. They don't need any more stuff and spending quality time with them and having adventures is much more meaningful.
IO: What were some of the highlights from your Indonesia trip?
Isabel Blankmeyer: The scuba diving adventure on our trip to Flores Island was one of those things in life that I always dreamt about doing, and Laura was the one who made it possible. What I experienced underwater was more beautiful and surreal than I could have ever imagined.
And having one-on-one time with Laura my youngest daughter, I got to know her better as an adult. We had spa treatments in the jungle, met new friends, and went on adventures and were almost stranded by an erupting volcano. I also really enjoyed watching Laura at work, photographing artisans around the world. It was really fun being her assistant.
IO: What kinds of experiences and moments do you most cherish with your daughter?
IB: Being able to talk and to do things together without any other distraction. It’s very rare for a mother of four to have one on one time with any of her children. To cherish time alone with Laura and to experience daily adventures like motorcycle rides or impromptu hikes through the rice paddy fields of Bali was very special.
IO: What are some lessons that your daughter taught you?
IB: Laura has resilience, an adventurous spirit, and and never gives up when something doesn’t go her way. On our trip she was determined to get me to Flores island, despite the erupting volcano and airports closures. She always finds a way.
IO: What is your favorite photograph that Laura has taken of you?
IB: We took photos of each other when we were sitting on the deck of the phinisi boat on a cot having my coffee with the clear blue water and boats in the background. I was so relaxed and felt on top of the world. I couldn’t believe it was really happening and that we were living on a boat and sailing around to Komodo Island and through the islands of Indonesia.
IO: What are some tips for moms and daughters planning to travel together?
IB: Give each other a little bit more space. I was always wanting to talk to Laura, because we never get to see each other, but I didn't realize it was Laura's vacation as well. Each day allow yourself to have your own time for an hour and just relax or reflect on the day. I would also say to enjoy and savor every moment you have with your daughter. It is a luxury to be able to spend time together — and takes tons of photos.
To retrace Isabel and Laura’s adventures in Indonesia, peruse Laura’s photography workshop, now available to IfOnly members.