“Traveling alone is NOT for me.” I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve said that to myself and others.
I can’t even sit in a café or restaurant alone, so how on earth would I consider traveling alone? Furthermore, how would I handle the separation from my kids?
There are many brave people in this world who have no fear of traveling alone. No fear of flying alone, and no fear of exploring the destination alone. I used to be one of those people. Then, I had my kids and I changed. I became so scared of everything, and so terrified that I would miss some precious moment with my babies or that something terrible could happen to me (or them!) during my trip. I couldn’t risk being away from my children, and as I grew used to parenting, my fears continued to grow.
Fear is a funny thing. That fear I felt slowly turned me into someone I wasn’t. I stopped going places, stopped getting together with friends, stopped wanting to do anything but be with my husband and kids. From fear, I realized I had lost who I was.
I remember during the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary, my mom told my husband and me to take a trip without the kids. I thought she was crazy for even suggesting that. How could I just leave them to go on vacation? How could I ask someone to watch them for a few days without it disrupting their schedules? And, how could I relax and enjoy myself without my children?
I found every excuse in the book not to go away with my husband. The one I heard most in my head was, “But what will people think of me.”
You see, I was so worried that I would be judged as a mom for going on vacation without my kids. I was so hung up on what others would think, that I wasn’t making the decision based on our family needs, but rather on the judgments of others.
After much debate, my husband and I decided to just go for it (a little easier for him than it was for me). And my goodness, we went for it! We didn’t go for a short weekend trip just outside of Vermont. Nope. We took that vacation and flew from Vermont to Vegas!
I like to think of Vegas as my introduction to traveling alone.
Now, I’m clearly aware that I wasn’t actually traveling alone (hello… I was with my husband), but it was a baby step to my future traveling journeys.
I remember being excited to sleep in. Ha! I was wrong. The time change alone caused us to be up before 6 am every day, but the beauty of it was we were able to do that much more!
Our kids were constantly on our minds though. And while I know we had an incredible time together and we really had the chance to reconnect as more than just a mom and dad, we couldn’t help talking about the kids 90% of the time we were there. Shopping for the kids. Remarking on what they would have thought of the Tournament of Kings show.
We went to one show, went to the aquarium, shopped, had so much coffee, walked more than we could have ever imagined, and took our first brewery tour at a local craft brewery. Wouldn’t you know it, we ran into a friend from home who was there for a trade show and spent our last night having dinner with her (we joked that we had to fly to Vegas to have one of our first adult-only nights with friends).
This trip sparked a bit of a travel bug in me.
DISNEY WITH MY MOM
My next trip was to Disney World. I am an avid Disney World lover and have absolutely no shame in it. I even went to Disney World without my kids, and with my mom.
This trip was so thrilling to me. I had planned a trip with just my mom. Traveling as an adult with her to a place we went so often when I was a kid was a dream.
Guilt was absolutely there a chunk of the time (I mean who wouldn’t feel a tiny bit guilty being at Disney World knowing your kids are back at home). And fear lingered as I was traveling without my husband, the person who has become my rock. But the ice cream sure helped a little.
It was an important trip though. Traveling alone with a parent helps you relax with a comfort level like no other. You can be yourself again. Mom and I take trips with the kids, and we do day trips or overnights together now. However, prior to having children, we hadn’t traveled together at all, and now I can’t wait to plan another one with her.
This trip is where that fear of traveling alone was put to the test. I almost backed out at the last minute. But instead, I went for it. Last year, I flew all by myself to Austin, TX for a 5-day trip where I knew one person. It was scary and exhilarating. I found myself talking to people at the airport and on the plane (anyone who knows me knows that’s not something I normally do).
Austin was about more than just traveling by myself, and attending meetings. It was about pushing myself out of my comfort zone which I so terribly needed. I fell in love with the city. And I started to fall in love with traveling alone.
My next trip is still in the planning stages. Like before, my fear of leaving my family took ahold of me. I had a ticket, canceled it and then realized I would regret missing this opportunity, and I am back on track to travel to Phoenix this summer. And my husband deserves an incredible pat on the back for his support for me taking these trips for myself. He is my biggest cheerleader when I get the crazy idea to challenge myself, and the one to keep me straight when I try to back out of it.
I went from someone just 6 years ago who would never fathom the idea of going anywhere without my children, to someone who has traveled without them and even by myself almost 4 times since 2014.
That’s a pretty huge feat if you ask me. I get that not all these trips are actually traveling alone, but it was about overcoming the guilt of traveling kid-free and the build up to being able to travel alone.
Several trips have been with my mom and my daughter, so the guilt of leaving one kid behind with a parent and taking the other, well… that’s a whole other list of worries.
Next on my list is to plan a mother-daughter trip for myself and my daughter. It’s one of those memories that I want her to have. I also want to plan a weekend with just my son and me as well. We do almost everything together as a family, and both my husband and I agree that those special one-on-one moments for the kids are worth planning.
Truth be told, we travel plenty with the kids and we take several vacations a year with them, so we know they aren’t suffering from lack of vacations. We also have very big plans for overseas travel with them but have collectively decided to wait until they are a few years older.