10 things single parents will learn when they travel solo.
Empty nest syndrome can be challenging, particularly if you are a single parent. Escaping the humdrum of everyday life to go on holiday can seem very appealing; yet it may also present you with a set of obstacles you though you would never have face.
Travelling alone as a single parent in your 40s or 50s, and by that, I mean without the kids, friends or extended family offers an enormous sense of freedom and is an education both culturally and personally. It is never too late to change certain aspects of your life and to try and become comfortable with this new identity of not being a single parent anymore as such but being single, now that the kids have grown up and left home.
Finding out where you fit in, is part of the fun, and while travelling solo can be daunting, it is also an opportunity for some seismic self-discovery. So, here are just 10 things you’ll learn about yourself when you go on holiday on your own:
1. You enjoy solitude and time to reflect
This might be the first time you have spent so much time on your own and while at first you might not like it, and you might be dreaming of the plane home, over the course of your travels you will become more comfortable with your own company. Even if you are travelling in a group, the occasional spot of solitude can be very rewarding and give you much needed time to reflect.
2. You learn to trust yourself
Let’s face it, you always knew your intuition was spot on during family holidays. Now is your time to prove it. Planning your day, your meals and even the holiday itself is your time to take responsibility. You are fully independent now and only have yourself to blame! You might miss a train, lose some money or take a wrong turn, but it’s a learning curve, after all. Solo travel has its highs and lows.
3. You discover who you are
Because you are the one making the decisions. How spontaneous are you? Can you take each day as it comes, or do you need to have something central to focus on and plan around each day? You might need to face some fears, even if that is just having a meal on your own in the hotel bar. With no peers or family to influence what you do, you will be the one to decide whether it is to be scuba diving, bungee jumping and a jungle trek or a spot of shopping, a quiet beer and a good book.
4. You work out what is important
Any holiday can be a time for reflection and contemplation, but travelling on your own is a particularly good time to clear the head, look at your home life and set new goals. You will have ample opportunity for establishing priorities, making key decisions and taking a revitalised approach to get a better grasp on your ambitions.
5. You strip life down to the essentials
Decluttering the mind can be a metaphor for your material possessions too. By its very nature, travelling solo will mean you have to travel light. Do you really need a different jumper every day? Can you manage without the iPad? It’s time to get out and talk to people, immerse yourself in the culture and rely on your five senses and sparkling wit!
6. You grow in confidence
The kids fleeing the nest can be a struggle – you might question your value and your role in life. A solo holiday can build your confidence via key milestone achievements. You travel alone, meet new people, have new experiences and, doubtless, become very resourceful and skilled at overcoming the odd mistake or obstacle.
7. You appreciate new friendships
You will find that people are pretty much the same all over the world and hence you will lose some of your stereotypes. Travelling solo means you are forced to try that little bit harder, need to be more tolerant and open-minded and really should be thankful for the company you find, often when you most need it. You might even meet other single parents or singles in their 40s and 50s who will make great travel companions on future holidays. You might even join a group holiday for solo travellers together and make more new friends in the same or similar situation.
8. You appreciate the little things in life
Someone offering directions, translating for you or simply asking you to join them for dinner: Little things like this may have been brushed off or undervalued in the past, but when you travel by yourself you learn to appreciate the little things, such as gestures and general compassion much more.
9. You become humble
It is OK to ask for help, to feel touched by something you see on your travels or to sit and contemplate that you’re just a very small part of a huge world. A solo holiday offers some detachment, but also some perspective.
10. You evolve as a person
In the past, holidays will have seen you play a certain role; the organiser, the provider, the mediator? Now it’s all about you. Who do you want to be and who do you want people to see? Talking and listening to people when travelling solo is a vital survival tool, and you will learn a lot about other people but will also learn who you are and who you want to be and how you want to be seen when you are back home.
By the time that plane journey home does arrive, you will be ready to do it all again, and in the meantime you have faced many challenges, got answers to some questions and been on a long and rewarding journey within yourself.