There are those really long days, when I’m questioning my sanity and needing to remember pieces of myself. Days that can get dark and twisty my wanderlust starts to take over, hypothetical trips are planned, and that wild and free girl I used to be starts to stir. Riding a bike to the North Sea, free diving off Greek islands, and sitting around fires until the sun comes up. Laughing through getting a passport stolen in Barcelona, missing flights, trains, buses and being completely lost. A few to many not mom blog friendly nights and every single person, place, and moment I encountered along the way. These are the experiences that made me. Motherhood is changing me, challenging me, and has shown me unconditional love but traveling will always be what completes me.
When my husband and I found out that we were having our first baby we were living on St. Thomas in the USVI. Even though we made the huge decision to leave the island, we told ourselves that we would not stop doing the things that we loved. (Naive, pre-kid dreams.) But we’ve actually done a really good job on our intentions to live adventurously and chase our dreams. We might not be trekking the globe but we have done some amazing family friendly traveling in the US, and adding to our international destinations. The adventures are not as spontaneous as I desire, but traveling with kids is a completely different ballgame.
Family adventures have been so freeing and I could plan and write about them for days, but I want to talk about solo travel. This is how I fill my cup. This is my self care. This is how I get back to me. Traveling solo now is just as exhilarating as it was once upon a time. Now with the added benefit of making me a better mother. My biggest desire for my children is to show them the world, from as many perspectives as possible. How can I instill this into them if I am not actively doing so myself? If they are with me, or I get to regroup with a kid free trip, they reap the benefits of travel.
These solo trips do not come easy. I knew that I would have years of pregnancies, breastfeeding, budgeting, and not wanting to leave my family. Now that the first stages of raising babes has passed, we are all gaining our independence. The sleepless nights, long days, and tiny baby moments are fleeting but I’m welcoming this new chapter of big kids with open arms. For them, and for me. Getting back to a place where solo traveling is an option has taken time, but the journey was worth the wait.
Let go of mom guilt and ease the anxiety of being away. The most difficult to do to thoroughly enjoy your travels. Guilt will chase every choice you make, and the worry of not being there can also hinder your plans. Wait until you’re ready. Wait until they’re ready. It will make your travel experience so much better. The guilt fades as I sleep in a bed all to myself, drink hot coffee, ground myself, and soak in every minute of free time. Having a supportive partner and caregivers has enabled me to do this. Experience and lots of planning ahead make it easier to prepare yourself as well.
Use your resources. There are so many easy options that make traveling solo easy, affordable, and safe. I have had the best experiences using Uber, Airbnb, and Couchsurfing. I’ve done them all, with my wits and research, and opened up many new doors of travel options. Navigating a new city is a cake walk with a local driver, and they always know the best places. Staying with someone who can let you in on local spots has enhanced how I’ve seen and experienced foreign places. Finding accommodations in unexpected places, close to attractions, or tucked away in quiet neighborhoods also offers a more secluded and peaceful getaway.
Finding opportunities to be solo might require getting out of your comfort zone. Taking a long drive, camping, or using an unfamiliar travel app. Trying new things, even in familiar destinations, is a realistic way to add some more adventure. There are wonderful excursions, guides, and self led tours to rely on when trying something new. Checking with the visitor’s centers in new places is a great way to start. Attend a conference, follow your favorite artist, or see your team on the road are ways to stay familiar in a new place.
Solo traveling can also be very affordable. If you are open with schedule and destinations you can hop on a $19 flight to a new city. Avoid baggage fees by packing light and travel during off seasons. Price match your accommodations. If it’s in your comfort zone check out couchsurfing and stay for free (plus get to connect with a local). Before you arrive follow local restaurants, museums, and attractions for specials and coupons. Follow city pages to find free events. Check other City Moms Blogs for ideas, too! Join in on a local book club, or painting night.
If physically escaping isn’t an option consider a staycation. Kansas City is always offering some sort of amazing event. Every weekend there are also so many volunteering opportunities or benefit events. Plus the food, art, history, beer… Kansas City is an amazing travel destination. Take advantage of our city and explore it! Hop on the streetcar at Union Station and get off at different stops, end at City Market and eat some amazing food. Window shop the Plaza. Check out all the amazing food, coffee, and charm in the Crossroads. First Fridays in the Westbottoms. There are so many unique shops in the Westport. Drive around and see all the amazing architecture, history, and beauty of the surrounding neighborhoods. A day trip or a night away, playing tourist in KC is a great way to escape.
Solo travel as a mother has its challenges, but it can be such a fulfilling part of your journey. Challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone. Take the time for yourself and never stop exploring.