All moms know and appreciate a solo trip to the grocery store, the library or, on really bad days, just sneaking in a solo trip to the bathroom. These types of trips are important, immediate life-savers. But let's face it their benefits are short-lived.
When I traveled to Australia recently it occurred to me, after a few trepidatious days, how much I needed to be there, traveling alone. When is the last time you traveled farther than across town on your own? If you are struggling to think about where, when and why you've traveled alone it's been too long!
I do not have a life that is any harder than any other mom. Yet, for years, I always had a reason to get home as quickly as possible when I had to travel for work. I never took the time to enjoying being alone in fact I often felt guilty for not being at home. For me, Australia was a wake-up call. After such a long flight, so much planning and the sheer exhaustion of jet lag, I was not in my usual panic to get home. No matter what was going on at home, I was not able to get there quickly. It was a terrifying reality and also an odd relief.
Once I'd accepted the extra time in Australia, I decided to get to know "me" again and just enjoy some alone time. I created my own version of the long lunch. I picked up a magazine simply because I liked the cover. I ordered exactly what I wanted and tacked on a glass of wine. That's right! Wine!!!! In the middle of the day! Not quite a Mad Men lunch, but as close as I get! I took my time eating, sipping wine and flipping through the magazine.
At first I felt a little guilty. Lunch normally is something I eat, when I eat, in the car on the way to my next appointment or at my computer. Or when kids are home it's often standing up and going between getting them drinks or styling their sandwiches (Yes, I have done this. If a child will eat a sandwich cut into triangles but not squares and I have a meeting at two, I will cut the sandwich into triangles.) Wine? Ummm nope. Fun magazines? Only if sorting mail counts.
But, in Australia, no one knew me. No one cared what I ate, how long it took me to eat, what I was reading as I ate or that I had wine (in the MIDDLE of the day!). Once I got used to the idea that I could just relax and be me, I started looking forward to my long lunches. Maybe it's just me, but food tastes so much better when someone else makes it for you!
It was lovely just taking time for myself, just being alone and not having to respond to anyone calling my name. Being able to enjoy the decadence of a glass of wine and a trashy magazine. I realized I rarely did anything just for me and if I did I didn't take the time to ENJOY it.
Take a chance. If you travel for work or must take a trip for other reasons, go ahead and go alone. Yes, it can be a hassle to arrange childcare, pre-make dinners and all the rest of the stuff your family thinks just magically happens. Still, it's worth it. Traveling alone lets you remember who you were before you were the key cog in a family. You don't have to go to Australia to achieve this. They have wine in Pittsburgh, Toronto and Phoenix. They also have tea, massages and nice empty hotel rooms if you simply want to skip lunch and nap!
The key to travel alone is taking the time to get to know yourself again. Not a mom, not a part of a couple -- just you. Trust me, you will come home rejuvenated and ready to re-assume your role as mom and partner.
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