Does traveling alone worry you? Are you considering a few days away by yourself, but hesitating because the thought is daunting?
If you're used to traveling with a spouse and concerned about how it would feel to be on the road, in the air, or even in a foreign country on your own, let's talk. It doesn't have to be as scary as it seems, and if you're a single mom who travels for business, you're already familiar with the concept of pack light - and carry worry dolls!
But a vacation on your own? Could you really do it?
My Travel Journals
I’m fortunate in that I began traveling on my own when I was a teenager. I lived with families in France and camped my way through Eastern Europe, in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I also took vacations on my own - and had a great time! (More on that in a moment.)
During my marriage, I traveled with my husband and children about once a year, when we went overseas to visit family.
Before marriage I was accustomed to traveling for my job both domestically and internationally - seeing customers, attending conferences, and giving training in Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland. At one point in my career, there were regular trips to Paris, for meetings.
Packing for overseas travel?
I had that nailed, especially for the City of Lights.
As for parking my weary working self on an exotic and sunny beach now and then, I managed my share of island hopping on my own as well - Bermuda, Aruba, Guadeloupe, Jamaica... These trips were pure pleasure, and all before marriage. Most of the time I was on my own, though when I could, I made plans with a girlfriend.
What 20-something or 30-something doesn’t prefer her BFF for wild adventures on a pink sand with umbrella-decorated cocktails?
Whether solo or not, I had no intention of not seeing the world because I wasn't part of a couple. Nor was I willing to go without a much needed break in a harried and stressful professional life, even if a friend couldn’t schedule time off to join in the fun.
Vacationing Alone Safely
Why have I been able to travel alone without too much trepidation?
For one thing, safety remained in the forefront of my mind. And I knew to follow these basic rules:
- Don’t go off with strangers.
- Use a reputable hotel (with concierge, preferably).
- Leave valuables at home.
- No off-the-beaten-path wandering by myself.
- Listen to my gut – always.
I was able to relax, read, walk, swim and meet wonderful people, both couples and singles. Generally I had a grand time.
Women Traveling Alone After Divorce
I realize how different it may feel to anticipate traveling for pleasure alone when you've spent years taking vacations with a now ex-spouse.
Maybe you never traveled alone - for business or for pleasure. Maybe business trips are one thing - they're structured and you feel in control - but traveling for pleasure seems uncomfortable and potentially lonely.
But a week off for yourself? Or a road trip with your children? Do you really want to be afraid?
Budget has impacted my abiility to travel with my kids on vacations, not to mention getting away on my own, no doubt common for single mothers. Still, there has been the occasional long weekend out of town, my teens under the watchful eye of a friend. And happily, business took me back to Paris a few times, as I once again managed arrangements for my kids.
I’m a relatively seasoned traveler, but I find traveling more challenging as I get older. It takes me longer to pack. There are aches and pains I didn’t have 10 years ago. Long flights are uncomfortable and not having a companion to help with my bags, even more so.
On the other hand, the world is a thrilling place! As we experience some of life's dramas - like divorce - don't we want to see as much as we can and not hold ourselves back?
While there are no guarantees that we won't run into the unexpected obstacles, I keep the following in mind to hedge my bets:
- I plan ahead with reliable airlines and hotels.
- When I’ve been happy with a hotel, I return.
- When I’ve rented a flat overseas, I triple check the references.
- I always stay in safe neighborhoods.
- Again – valuables stay at home!
- I am cautiously open to any encounters with new people.
- I anticipate inconveniences (and bring extra undies, prescriptions, and so on).
Special Travel Scenarios for Women
If you're taking a road trip alone or with your kids and you aren't vehicle savvy (or good at changing tires), make sure you have a GPS, emergency provisions in the car of various sorts, and a dependable roadside assistance plan!
I've had to make a few trips with one of my sons - the sort of thing I would've preferred doing with another licensed driver along. That wasn't in the cards at the time, so I reduced my worry by traveling in a tuned up car and, as mentioned, with contingencies covered.
One other thing?
I don’t put in road trip miles at night or off the beaten path.
Travel Tours to Luxury Destinations
Who hasn’t read or seen Under the Tuscan Sun? The heroine, newly divorced, takes a group excursion to Italy. There, she spontaneously abandons the tour, purchases a run-down villa, and builds herself a new life.
It’s a charming tale, and the bravery of this character (based on a true story) has always stayed with me. Now I may prefer the idea of a little town in Provence, but my point here is the concept of traveling with a group. If you wish to take a vacation – to an exotic or luxury destination, on safari, on a cruise, or skiing in the Alps – then do consider a reputable tour that makes sense for your age and the demographics of the group.
Live Your Best Life
Sadly, marriages end. If we don't pair up with the “next great guy” in the years that follow, but we have the money, the desire, and the childcare options to travel and yet we don't, what are we waiting for?
Be a brave example to your children of living your best life. See the world if we you wish to and can manage it - a vacation to an exotic sea, a trek through Tibet, a climb up Machu Pichu, or a drive to the Grand Canyon with the kids.
In my book, we have one life. We’d best go for it. So aches, pains, and inconveniences aside, I travel when I can. And I do so with the excitement that wonderful adventures await including the possibility of new friends.
And I’ve never regretted traveling alone.