Once our daughter started school, traveling became more difficult. Daily deliveries and weekend birthday parties kept us home. We needed a compromise to continue our love of travel.
Enter solo travel. To celebrate milestones, we each go it alone. When my wife got a new job, she spent a night in Baltimore. When I started my own business earlier this year, I took a trip to Philadelphia.
Solo travel has taught this extrovert the power of being alone and all the benefits that come with it.
It’s easier to get into the best restaurants. Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia once named the “best restaurant in the country,” has a months-long waiting list. It’s almost impossible to get in at the last minute. Determined to take my shot, I DMed Zahav on Instagram a few days before my trip asking if there was room for one. Shortly after, I was dining on laffa bread with hummus at the chef’s counter.
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Solo trips also allow you to walk around. There’s no schedule, expectations of others, or a toddler who needs a nap. It’s just you and time. On a trip to Seattle, I walked south for miles from Union Station, finding murals on industrial buildings and craft breweries near train tracks. I eventually stumbled upon Georgetown, one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods with antique stores, top-notch restaurants, and an outdoor mall.
Traveling alone gives you space. On our solo trips, my wife and I have a tradition of finding a locally loved cafe to sit down, think, and journal for hours, because we can. There’s no going back to a five-year-old for her downtime (don’t worry, we do a lot with her on vacation, too). It’s just me and my diary. I return to my family refreshed, more caring and present. My wife is the same after his absence.
As parents who split the chores equally, the logistics aren’t too difficult when the other is only gone for a day or two. Our daughter appreciates the quality time – and an extra dinner, which makes solo parenting easier. At the same time, I recognize that this is a privilege not all parents have.
My 25 year old self would be reluctant to travel solo. My 37 year old self depends on it. It gives my hidden introverted side permission to spend time alone. The freedom to strike up a conversation with a stranger satisfies my extroversion. Either way, traveling solo empowers me to be who I want to be.