Mother's Day Trends

15 March 2012


Credit: Northridge Publishing

As I return from visiting my mother in Spain I believe I’m part of a new phenomenon in Northern Europe. Rather than children fleeing the nest it is now parents approaching retirement who have decided to take up a new life in sunnier climes. This trend started with the purchase of second homes and over time people visiting their holiday homes abroad have seen the opportunity to stay longer, as free healthcare has become accessible for EU residents across the region. 

Source: Wikipedia

The children have become the empty nested, necessitating the regular trips to visit parents which makes up part of the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) market. Whilst UK outbound holiday visits only grew 1%, the VFR outbound market grew by 4% to 11.4 million visits over the last 12 months and inbound VFR visits to UK grew 7% to 9 million visits[1]. The VFR market has been quite resilient and often proves a sensible economic choice when disposable income has been squeezed and often leads to spend on hire cars, accommodation and flights. With the arrival of social networks it has become easier than ever to arrange family reunions on Facebook.


Mother’s Day is a tradition in UK and Ireland that dates back to Laetare Sunday[2] in the 16th century and is now on the fourth Sunday of Lent (March 18th 2012). It officially became the second Sunday in May in the US in 1914.  It is celebrated in the US and Australia and 75 other countries on the second Sunday in May (May 13th 2012) which can lead to confusion for mothers with children spread across the world, as in the case of our family.

Whilst traditional gifts such as flowers and chocolates are still incredibly popular there are a number of travel companies that are seeing opportunities to do something different, such as “spoil yourself short breaks” where mothers can enjoy a spa weekend or other trips.

 Source: Kristin Smith

 Alternatively enterprising travel companies can promote special mother’s day rates for those mothers to pamper themselves. I’m just waiting for the travel application which allows you to donate to your mother’s chosen trip. It could work a bit like a wedding gift list but relate to a bucket list[3] that your parents may have, as popularised by the film “The Bucket List” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It could save a mother from too many chocolates. As Mother’s Day falls during a typically quiet time of year I’m surprised that more travel and hospitality companies are not persuading us to treat our mothers to a trip.

For those of you that like infographics I’ve unearthed a couple relating to key Mother’s Day trends which I’ve pinned up on Pinterest which you can view here. Pinterest is a new social media network which works like a pin board and enables you to pin up and share your favourite images and it’s integrated into Facebook so you can see what your friends have posted in the new timeline. As company pages move to the timeline format on 30th March you will be able to share images on your pages aswell.

I’ve been wondering what a travel company for elderly parents would look like in the year 2020 and how we will be celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day. As I travel around the world I meet an amazing raft of adventurous elderly people. I met a 70 year old guy on a plane who had just done his “mature gap year” in a camper van touring Australia, combining it with a visit to his daughter, following the death of his wife. My own mother has just returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand. I think this is the brave new world of travel where age is less of a barrier to adventurous travel and it is the children who feel most like the empty nesters.

Anyone got adventurous elderly parents and where are they going next?

Where do you think your mother will be celebrating Mother’s Day in 2020?

[1] International Passenger Survey  Trends in VFR Travel 31 Jan 2011 to 31 Jan 2012

[3] Bucket list – list of countries/activities that people want to experience before they die (i.e. “kick the bucket” as we say in English)

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