I was in my 40’s when first introduced to traveling alone. It was a quick trip over the weekend to attend a convention. The anticipation of leaving my husband and children behind for a couple of days to enjoy a little freedom from responsibility and extra peace and quiet was exhilarating. Yet, at the same time, I felt guilty for abandoning my family for my own selfish entertainment. My husband travels for “mancations” – as I tease – with his golf buddies and has a fantastic time. And my daughters’ passports were colorfully filling up from their mission trips. So why not me? I deserved it.
Inspired and refreshed after the trip, I realized traveling alone was a new passion. And, quite honestly, a need.
Now, in my near mid-50’s and an empty nester, a trip on my own is penciled into my calendar as if it is a national holiday – my own national holiday. Just as one would plan ahead for anything, I select a date, length of stay, potential destinations and a budget. Naturally there are work, family and pet care situations to consider but, for the most part, everyone has at least one weekend to spare for themselves.
The question I hear the most often and I know you’re thinking now; “Why would I want to travel alone?” – “Isn’t it more fun to spend quality time with family or friends?”
Reasons for Solo Travel:
- Sabbatical: Everyone needs rest – true uninterrupted physical and mental rest for themselves. The best way to rest is to take time off from responsibility and spend time with yourself. Be fully present, aware of where you are and what you’re doing, and not be reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Sleep in or rise early. Do something or do nothing. It’s your time to reconnect with yourself. Others benefit from a rested you.
- Independence: It is a difficult task for some to be alone. Without realizing it, many of us are co-dependent on others and rely on their presence. It is a fact I most recently learned when I became an empty nester. Traveling alone is an opportunity to gain confidence in yourself because you rely on yourself.
- Hobby: Is there a hobby that others you’re close to don’t share or enjoy? Take that bike ride, hike or photo excursion on your own. Visit a retreat or seminar. Take the opportunity to meet and collaborate with others that enjoy common interests and expand your network circle of friends.
- Healing: Tragedies, illness and heartbreaks can take an emotional toll on our soul and well being. Perhaps time away could be helpful to reflect and grieve or even rejoice and rejuvenate in private.
- Bucket List: Save the squabbles about where to go on vacation. You pick the place that’s only on your list. What about a special site, interest or concert? I’m still looking forward to my Leaning Tower of Pisa picture my group thinks is a waste of time.
- Work: If you must go, why not enjoy it? Travel a little earlier or stay a little later and take in a site or two. If the employer is paying for the flights anyway, you pick up the tab for the extra personal day of lodging and meals.
- Spirituality: Taking time each day to feed your spiritual needs is important. Travel can couple with the experience by admiring the beautiful creations of God and following paths of history.
- Research: Follow your genealogy. Discover facts for that project, article or book you want to complete. Seek out off the beaten path destinations and feed your desire for knowledge.
- Contemplation: Is there a big change in your life you want to think about? Spending time alone with your own thoughts could be healthy in making a decision that’s the best for you without the opinion or influence of others.
So, what are you waiting for? Start planning some travel time for you – and only you. Not only do you probably need it – you definitely deserve it!
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The thoughts in this article are my own. I’m not a psychologist.
Have you ever traveled alone? Is traveling alone something you might enjoy? Or, does the thought intimidate you? Where would you like to go on your own? Let me hear from you! Your comments are welcome!