If you had asked me two years ago if I would have considered going on a trip alone for more than one night, the answer probably would have been hell no.
- I was under the impression that my children could not cope without me.
- I am a parent therefore my life and solo enjoyment no longer counted. In my head anyway.
- What would people think?
Most of us know that number 3 is the biggest one to overcome. I have to admit though that even prior to having children I didn’t really consider solo travel as an option and blogging was a whole unknown world to me back then so the idea of a press trip would have seemed absurd. I think the furthest I had ever travelled alone up until the age of maybe 29 was Cardiff..and that is just an hour away from my home. It just didn’t seem right. I travelled with friends, boyfriends ( only one at any time I should point out ) and family of course but going somewhere alone.. why would I do that?
Yet I have just returned from a 3 day solo trip in London. It was my first overnight trip this year and was a combination of work and leisure, because yes it was a conference I attended to educate myself and make new connections but it was also a lot of fun. Last year I took 3 overseas solo trips in total, 1 to Germany and 2 to Denmark as well as some overnight trips to London. The longest solo trip I have taken was for 3 days.
So what has changed in these last few years?
Why is my answer now yes? Well the girls are a little older now which obviously has some impact but the real answer is a lot has changed for me. I have changed and things in my life have changed, some of those changes I don’t discuss on here because they are personal but for the most part these changes are positive. I came to the realisation that yes my children can and often will have to cope without me, don’t get me wrong I know they miss me but they are with me for so much of the time that I’m sure I get a little boring. I work 10 days a month in my office job and the rest of the time I am here for school pick up and drop offs, for playing in the park and baking biscuits, for cuddles, for tears and putting plasters on cuts, for bath time and endless stories. The extra blog work I do allows me to not have to work more hours away from home and I know we have more than enough time together. I educate, I discipline and I show them just how much I love them, I give them a massive amount of me because that is what we as parents must do. They love me and they tell me so, they demonstrate it and they also get annoyed and frustrated with me occasionally as I do with them. It is normal. Life isn’t always rosy, holding hands and laughter all day long but the girls are so happy and loved and they know it. It shines from them.
When I am away they love spending time with either set of grandparents or having more time just with their Dad and it is perfectly fine with them, better than fine it is fun. And when I return even if it’s just from a day trip they smother me with their love and they are happy to see me and I am overjoyed to see them. They cope a lot better than I do without them, because I still miss them like crazy but they seem to only miss me on my return which is as I would want it to be, plus of course they get souvenirs from my trips which they love. The second point I made above about being a parent therefore my enjoyment no longer counting was something I believed for a long time. That my life as just a woman no longer really existed anymore because I was a mother. And that is stupid. It is really stupid. My life as a woman is even more important now that I have children, I want and need time to be me. You can read more about that in this post here. I know that when I balance time for just me with time being just mum it works and I am happier, which in turn works better for the girls. Of course my overriding role as a parent is constant, as it should be but they see me achieving goals, being happy and independent and I hope it drives them to be the same. I want them to be happy and independent and strong and that is what they are becoming and so am I.
I have always loved to travel and right now my work occasionally allows for that. I’m not going to call myself lucky for being invited on these trips because it is not luck, it is hard work and a lot of it. Yet I am grateful for the opportunities that my work results in. Grateful but it isn’t luck. This week I am going on a trip to Spain which will be the longest time I’ve spent away, four days and three nights. I no longer feel guilty about this, I know why I’m going, I know that it will be an interesting experience and I wouldn’t go if I didn’t believe that, yet it is not a relaxing 4 days on a beach. The itinerary is packed from morning to night as they always are on press trips and I will be there with people I have never met before. That can work out marvellously and you can make wonderful friends and I have yet I know that it could also be that I’ll have not a jot in common with any of them, but at the end of the day it is work not a jaunt with my friends. I am going on this trip and hopefully more to come because I believe it will result in future work opportunities and I am working every day to make sure I succeed at what I want to do. I know that the days leading up to it I will be a little anxious, in case one of them is unwell while I’m away or just because I know I will miss them, that feeling won’t ever leave I don’t think. Perhaps not even when they are adults, I know my parents still worry lots about us, it just becomes ingrained I think. They cope just fine without me and they have a great Dad who can do everything I can for them.
At the moment I work on my blog or on freelance work pretty much every day, yet during the week if I am at home I only work for the 2.15 hours in which both girls at school ( Chloe isn’t yet full time ) then I start work again once they have settled to sleep. On the weekends and my days in the office I don’t start working on the blog until the night. The rest of the time I am working on my other hugely important job, being a mother. It is exhausting yet fulfilling and wearing yet energising which is why I refuse to feel guilty about any of it, this work that I am doing to ensure a better future will benefit us all which is why point 3 is equally silly.
Who cares what people think? Well all of us to some degree but to let what people think hamper your life and affect decisions is ridiculous. If anyone judges me for taking a trip which is furthering me in terms of my career or just making me happier or more fulfilled then it is down to them but I am not about to allow that to stop me doing things I want to do. I think most of the people in my life are supportive and understanding of what I do, but it is still an unknown world for a lot of my family and friends – the digital and blogging world. Yet they are learning and understanding it more, that this is what I want to do with my life and it requires a lot of work. There will always be some people who will make snide comments or try to make you feel bad about decisions you make but really the best way to look at it is that they just don’t understand and that is down to them.
I asked some of my Facebook followers what they thought about parents taking solo holidays or work trips, here are some snippets of what they had to say:
I agree with Penny above who blogs at ParentShaped when she say she misses having someone to talk about the trip with and yes for me that is the part which I find hard if I am excited about something I have done but nobody else was there. I worry it’s annoying for my friends and family to hear me go on about a place they haven’t visited, I know I raved enough about my trips to Denmark last year to everyone. But seriously.. you won’t get a cinnamon bun like you get in Denmark anywhere else. That alone is reason to visit. I also like the comment about remembering herself as a solo entity. It is very true.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want to travel with family and friends as that is a truly special experience but I know I can do it alone now, if I want to and if I need to.
These days it is becoming more and more common for people to take solo trips, women especially and I think it is a really good thing. Even if you don’t have children but you are in a serious relationship and feel like you can only travel together, why is that? Maybe you want to go somewhere your partner doesn’t and time apart is healthy for everyone. Perhaps the idea of solo travel scares you and obviously if you do go then take all of the necessary precautions, research the area you are staying and be careful and don’t wander about alone. Most of my trips come with a guide and a firm plan of what will happen but without those types of trips I would still be happy these days to travel just by myself to a place I’d not been as long as I planned it out and knew what to expect. Fifty years ago this just would not have been the acceptable thing to do. What a time to be alive, embrace it.
Just in case you are tempted, here are some pros to solo travel:
You get the window seat – nobody pushing you out of the way or making you feel guilty because you had it on the journey out but also want it on the way home.
If you are a parent and travel alone, you don’t have to take Calpol or wet wipes. Unless you want to of course.
You can visit the places you want to visit. You don’t have to worry about anyone being bored or getting tired.
You get all the suitcase space.
You feel super brave. Ha. I felt so proud of myself after my first flight alone. Seriously it gives you a confidence boost.
You get to sleep in a big squishy hotel bed, alone – you can starfish across the bed to your hearts content.
And cons of course:
You will miss your loved ones
You have nobody to blame if you get the times wrong or if you take a wrong turn or ahem.. miss your flight.
You will annoy all of your friends and family with your post trip ramblings.
Do you ever take trips alone? How do you feel about it?