I posted recently that I am planning my first “Solo-Female-Travel” trip, and I have to say, I am ridiculously excited about it. It’s one of those things that, once I started moving in this direction, I thought, why haven’t I done this already? What took me so long?
So, I started surfing around looking for some insights and tips about getting started on this adventure. What I actually realized is: these people are not living a life like mine. All the “tips” and “first steps” I found were things like Research Your Destinations, Book Early, Safety Tips, and Get Over Your Fear! At first that seemed reasonable. Implementation, however, gets stickier.
I have other things to tackle before Booking Early! and the main fears I have have nothing to do with traveling alone. How about “How to Guilt Friends into Driving Carpool” and “Defending That Calendar Spot with Blood and Verbal Abuse 101.” Where are these postings people?? Do you have no one else in your life you are responsible for?!
(Sidenote: Apparently, according to my research, “Solo-Female-Travel” will also turn me into a hot 24-year-old who takes a lot of bikini selfies. So, y’know. Go me. I still don’t think the bikini selfies are going to happen. But I digress.)
Truth is, mostly, no. Most solo-female-travelers I’ve run across are doing this stuff all on their own, because they are completely independent. I’m not criticizing them at all, I’m just doing this in a reverse order. They decided to hold off on those things and travel. I decided to do those things first, and am ramping up my solo-travel as the kids become more independent.
When I read these ‘Get Started’ articles, it sort of short-circuits my brain. I mean, if I didn’t have two teens and a husband to educate, feed, comfort, clothe, counsel, transport, and guide on a daily basis, all while doing those extra things – volunteering, potlucking, organizing the event, etc… I think I could take over a small third world country with all the saved time and energy. Possibly by lunch.
Researching my Destination? I’ve been researching destinations in free moments for years, hoping to get to put that knowledge to use. Book Early? Um, ok. Done. Get Over My Fear? Yeah, my fear is that someone at home is going to wind up in the ER or something, and I’ll have to get myself back quickly. Not a lot of fear wrapped up in the travel part.
So, let’s have a little reality check on the first steps for any of you Moms out there hoping to do your own Solo-Mom-Travel. I’ve decided to share some of my hard earned, practical advice with those of you who dream of taking a trip like this, but but are struggling with stepping away from the responsibilities of life to do so.
My Real First Steps to Solo
Female Mom Travel
Step 1: Find Your Timeslot
Let’s get real here, the first hurdle I had to clear was when could I ever get away?? How do I do this without totally messing up the multiple schedules running around me. Just as I sit here typing this, one daughter is working with her French Tutor at a table near me. She’s not yet driving, so I take her back and forth. The other daughter is texting me that she is going to ride a new “really huge” (yay?) horse in her lesson in 40 minutes and can I come watch? But I have an audiologist appointment in 2 hours, which is an hour drive away after I make the 20 minute drive to drop French Daughter back at home, and even if I just stop by at the riding lesson, I’ll have to go to the audiologist appointment smelling like horse. OH, and hubby planned a really nice date tonight, so I have to get back after the doctor’s appointment to get ready and how badly do I really need to shower for that date night? I guess it depends on the horse stop… Wait, the children need to eat tonight, too. Crap. You see where I’m going with this?
That’s a just some random afternoon of completely run-of-the-mill pile-up, and I know that many of you relate. So here’s what I recommend:
Pull out calendars for everyone in the family, for the next 6 months. Line them up so you can see the overlap. Go to the bathroom, and have a quiet weep as you see what is coming at you in the near future. It’s ok. I understand. No judgement. Take some chocolate with you. Professor Lupin is right, it really will make you feel better.
Now, splash some cold water on your face, and come on back now that you are over the initial shock. Shake off that defeat, brace yourself, and let’s get down to business. Go through those days and weeks packed with the craziness of your life, and look for a bit of daylight. A break in the chaos usually pops up around transition time. Just after school lets out, or just as school is re-starting. Around holidays. Maybe there’s a week that Grandma would love to see her precious wee ones? Time you can ship them off to camp? See some sunlight glinting through the schedule there somewhere?
Grab that slot! Quick! I know it’s not totally empty, but this is your best starting point to make it work. Block those days off NOW!
Step 2: Defend that Calendar Real Estate!
Ok, now, gird up your loins and prepare for battle. Defend this little piece of calendar real estate with the passion of a knight facing the dragon. Hold your sword high and fight! Things are going to try, desperately, to crowd into your very own Precious Days. Say ‘No!’ I tell you! Say it louder!
A slumber party is going to try to get planned then – you refuse!
The first bi-monthly gathering of the life-joy-sucking-administration will be started and HAVE to happen that Thursday, and you will be named a key player. Practice with me, “I won’t be able to make it, you’ll have to meet without me.” Practice saying this in a calm, matter of fact voice, without bothering to elaborate. Doing so is useless as they won’t take no easily, I warn you. But that calm, matter of fact voice is good practice for the commitment hearings. I believe in being prepared.
The life-joy-sucking-administration will smile sweetly and helpfully and suggested they meet that Wednesday instead, so, of course, you can make in then. And here, I encourage you, if you have not resisted to the point of bloodshed, you are not trying hard enough. Throw yourself bodily over those days, dig your nails in, and DO NOT LET THEM GO!
Make your peace, right now, with the fact that something crucial will pop up for those dates between now and when you leave, and you will just have to stick your fingers in your ears, do your best kid-impression, and Lah-Lah-Lah-I-Can’t-Hear-You your way out the door and on your trip.
Beg Get Help from Those Around You.
Here’s a tiring part of this whole process. Remember how I said in #1 that I know your Precious Days are not totally empty? Yeah. I know. There’s no string of empty days in my life, either.
Time to start farming that crap out.
Hopefully, since you’re even here reading this, you have the buy in from your other half to be home while you are gone so this doesn’t lead to a Child Protection Agency issue. If not… maybe I should have had that be the first step… whatever, you’re on your own there.
Either way, it’s time to have a discussion about which of those items still on the family calendar can be covered by The Other Half. My hubby has to pull his own Defend that Calendar Real Estate at work just to ensure he will be home while I am gone, but he will still be working. He can’t be driving all over creation at the same time.
SO, what can just be canceled and skipped while you are away? Some things can. Really. Suzy and Joey will not lose all their friends, achievements in life, and shot at the Ivy League just because, for that one window of time, they are not Fully, 100%, Totally Engaged. Let some of it drop. If they don’t get into Ivy League because of this one week, blame me. I’m totally good with that. I’ll add it to the list of all the ways I’ve mucked up my kids lives by daring to do things for myself.
What about the rest? Who can pick up and drop off kids for you? I find bribery and flattery work really well here.
Can someone swap snack days with you for hoosenflaggering lessons special party day? Tears can be especially convincing if employed during negotiations.
Oh no! You’re probably going to come up in rotation to lead fleuorener time at shclinenhauer night. Sigh. Ok, here’s where you pull out the big guns and explain to the lead shclinenhauer how important it is to your mental health to get away. Put aside your stoicism and let the desperation show. If you can get that twitch above your left eye going, it’s particularly effective.
(Note to self: Check family ancestry because all my made up words sound very Nordic.)
Step 4: Develop Your Own Serenity Prayer
While you are away, there are going to be things that happen that you will have no control over. The little people in your house may be late to things. Clothing will definitely not match. If your house is like mine, brushing hair will be optional and teeth unlikely, and one pizza order will feed the family for about half a week. Nothing green will cross anyone’s lips, unless it is of the suspiciously-lurking-in-the-back-of-the-fridge variety, at which point they will panic and call you asking if they are going to die.
You will let this go.
You will not only let this go, you will close your eyes, release it, and never – ever – mention it or worry about it. It. Doesn’t. Matter.
Start practicing this Letting Go now, becoming quicker and more efficient in your use this beautiful skill leading up to your Precious Days. Something tells me you will need this ability well-honed to combat flaming incoming texts and phone calls while you are actually away.
God grant me the
Serenity to accept that things will not be done my way while I’m gone
Foresight and Perseverence to prepare for what I can
Wisdom to never mention the screw ups if I ever want to do this again.
Step 5: Commence Implementation of Regular Travel Blog Lists
Now, you can pretend you are a regular travel person, ready to Research Your Destination and Book Early. Apparently, according to them, you should also consider destinations like Namibia. (Yeah, Google it. I had to.)
My warmest thoughts and hope for your future go with you. For now, I’m off to shclinenhauer.
To read more of the Solo-Mom-Travel, <<Go to this page for a listing>>.
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