When you don’t have a romantic partner, travel for pleasure can be problematic. After the end of a marriage, who you vacation with is no longer a given. Have a taste of roasted mushroom and broccoli grain bowl while we explore this issue.
Did you and your now ex spouse have a regular vacation plan– South Carolina in July and Vermont in the fall with an occasional splurge trip to Europe? Or maybe every six months you picked a destination out of a hat and went somewhere new.
Were you that couple who preferred to schedule everything or did a no plans type vacation excite you more? Who was the planner in your travelling duo?
Before I was married, I travelled with my future husband several times a year – to beaches, to visit family, out West, to Europe. We travelled well together – no fights that I remember, though sometimes our interests diverged. I was the planner.
Sometimes travel plans were hatched but not implemented. We never took a much-discussed cross-country trip with our dog – despite buying a special truck just for that purpose.
Our vacations changed once we married and had kids. Finding a putt putt took on critical importance. Without a babysitter accompanying us, there were no late nights at music clubs. As the kids grew older, we sought out beach places with “teen centers.” After the kids were out of the house, we took “couple vacations” again before the marriage was over.
Now as a free woman, I can travel at will with only my needs and schedule to consider. It could be exciting but I’ve been fighting the inevitable solo vacation. As I write this post, I’m trying to figure out the source of my reluctance.
*I will be lonely and miss having a companion to share experiences with
*I won’t meet people, said the somewhat shy ambivert
*I will dine alone at every meal and will feel awkward
*If it’s night and I’m lost in a place where I don’t speak the language, I’ll be in harm’s way.
Fortunately, others who have faced the same fears have come up with ways to overcome them.
I reviewed the alternatives to solo travel. Organized group travel – even when the trips are geared to singles – don’t appeal to me at present. Finding friends to travel with is not always easy, as they often want to travel with their spouse or partners. And single friends may not always like the same kind of trips or have the same budget.
Since my divorce, I have been fortunate to have my daughter as a travel companion. We’ve had some great trips but her life is busy now and she’s not always available to travel with me. This surfaced recently as I discussed taking a much needed spring trip. It appeared she would not be able to come this time.
So I bit the bullet and reframed my sadness over not having a travelling partner as an opportunity to finally experience solo travel. Baby steps I told myself. No need to jump into a solo vacation with a 5-week backpacking trip through Thailand or a several month journey through Mexico. I decided I would be better off starting my solo travel experiences stateside where I could speak the language. And given the long, grey winter; the idea of a beach vacation seemed perfect. I decided to focus on Florida and hoped to find an area I had not been to before.
There was much agonizing over the specific beach town, the type of hotel, the type of city/community, etc. I didn’t want to blow my vacation budget on a luxury resort experience in Florida. With other more exotic trips on my bucket list, I needed to be mindful of my travel dollars. I also wasn’t sure that as a single traveler, I’d be comfortable in a fancy place. I’d have no problem enjoying a luxury hotel with a travel buddy but I was looking for a relaxed, casual vibe this time. I thought a smaller hotel/motel would be less intimidating. Similarly, I wanted a low-key town where I could wander into a café or tiki bar and feel comfortable by myself. Think: the opposite of South Beach. And I wanted to be on or close to the beach. I hoped to find a place with a big pool but sadly only the huge, expensive resorts have dreamy infinity pools.
Finally, I found a small hotel right on the beach in a quaint beach town on the Gulf Coast. Booked everything and felt empowered. I had finally done it! My solo travel life was beginning. I texted my daughter the trip details.
“Yay,” she wrote back. And then a couple of minutes later, “I checked my schedule. I can go with you!”
Until next week, happy trip planning, dating or not dating.
Solo Travel Resources: