Have you ever tried single mom solo travel? If you haven’t, it may be hard to imagine how refreshing it can be. A couple of years ago, I discovered travel blogs and it opened a whole new world for me. I was inspired by Barbara, a travel blogger who talks about her solo trips at Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel. I thought, “If she can travel alone in countries where she doesn’t know the language, surely I can travel alone in the United States.” My first solo trip was a long weekend, which you can read about in One Person Can Change the World.
Recently, I took my longest solo trip ever, ten days. For the first half, I went hiking and sightseeing alone. During the second half, I went to a small conference where I had met only one person before but left with many new friends. If your kids are with their day or you can arrange for them to both go to camp or the grandparents at the same time, take advantage of the opportunity. Ten days is probably more than you can manage, when your kids are still at home , but even a long week-end can be wonderful.
1. Single Mom Solo Travel, Take a Break from Caretaking
You may be shocked at how much mental space you have when you have only yourself to think about. As a single mom, one of the hardest things is that everything–making the money, mowing the lawn, getting groceries, cooking, cleaning, dealing with home repairs, and all the other tasks of running a household–are your responsibility. There is not another adult who will take over some of these tasks. If you have no family in town, you will probably have minimal backup. When you travel solo, you are responsible only for you, and it is an unbelievable change of pace.
2. Get to Know Yourself
Solo travel is an opportunity to go where you want when you want. If you want to go to a museum, go. If you want to hike, go. You can decide what you want to eat and when you want to eat. Sometimes, we are so busy worrying about what other people want, we neglect to ask ourselves what we want. Solo travel forces you to decide what you want to do and when.
3. Single Mom Solo Travel is an Opportunity to Learn
When I am driving alone I like to listen to audio books or podcasts. I found a new author that way and I have read several of her books. It started with this book. On my recent trip I listened to this book that has become my new favorite. Alone, I have much more time to reflect on what I am learning.
4. Single Mom Solo Travel Provides Mental Space
Traveling solo provides opportunities to reflect on a problem and be creative. Often in the business of day-to-day parenting, keeping up a home, and running a business or holding down a job, we are so busy doing what needs to be done that there is little time to think. I have found if I have a complex situation I need to solve, it helps to have time and space to reflect on it. Traveling solo gives you that mental space to think creatively and come up with new solutions.
5. Solo Travel Provides Opportunities to Connect with New People
When I travel alone for work or pleasure, I am more likely to connect with new people than when I go with someone I know. I am more likely to be approached to share a meal or invite someone to share a meal with me when I am alone.
I have had some great experiences getting to know strangers over a shared meal. For example, at Disney Springs a family who lived in Florida gave me some great tips that made my visit to Epcot Center the next day much more enjoyable. Other times it has been an hour or longer getting to know a new person I probably would not have met had I already had a dinner companion.
6. Solo Travel is an Opportunity to Reflect on Other Points of View
Single mom solo travel is like being a cultural anthropologist. I am a part of the community in a new place and yet separate from the other people. When I travel solo, it is easier for me to get into the worldview of a different person, a different time in history, or a different place. In One Person Can Change the World, I get into the world of Frank Lloyd Wright and the miners and stone cutters of an earlier time. In Mount Rushmore Lessons I share lessons from Gutson Borglund. One of the first things I noticed about traveling solo is that I am much more reflective and the life lessons of a different way of life or a different person are more obvious than when I have traveling companions. I think it is because of the time to reflect and enter more fully into another time or place.
7. Single Mom Solo Travel Provides Opportunities to Test Your Mettle
When traveling solo I have pushed myself to do things I probably would have avoided with a traveling companion. Since I live in a smallish town, I am uncomfortable driving in cities, especially when I am unfamiliar with the roads and where I am going. When I have a traveling companion, I prefer to be the navigator and have the other person drive because it is just not enjoyable for me. When I am alone, I either drive or I won’t get to go anywhere. Pushing myself just beyond my comfort zone increases confidence and provides a sense of satisfaction.
Recently by mistake, I ended up on a very narrow one-lane road switch-backing up a mountain. It was very scary. We could talk about lack of planning or consulting a map, but it was an adventure. The car and I both survived. I certainly would not have been the driver on the way down the mountain if I had any other option. (Believe me, I tried to think of another option. The only one I came up with was asking one of the men driving a dirt bike on the road to put his bike in the back of my car and drive me down the mountain.) I quickly decided that was less appealing and scarier than driving myself down the mountain. So, with only moderate panic, I did drive down the mountain. If you are wondering why I did not turn around it is because the only place wide enough was at the top of the mountain.
Don’t Knock it Until You Try it
Single mom solo travel is a delightful opportunity to stop taking care of everyone and everything else. You can focus on taking care of yourself. It is also an opportunity to creatively reflect on problems you may have on your job, in your business, with your kids, or in other relationships. I also enjoy the opportunity to learn about the life lessons other people, places, or times in history. Taking a break from my day-to-day life gives me an opportunity to return to my life and the people I love rested and refreshed.
If you think you can’t afford to travel check out, How to Afford Travel as a Single Mom.
What have you learned by traveling solo? Do you have a favorite solo travel trip or tip?