As the weather warms and thoughts of summer begin to beckon me somewhere...with an "anywhere but here" kind of mentality, I start my annual battle of the mind about traveling alone. It's not insecurity, mind you. I have traveled a lot on business, but that's always a planned destination with purpose. Not much time to wander beyond the absolutes. A couple of my usual travel companions are tied into family jaunts in the next few months so I thought this might be the season I break out, and hopefully break free of "couple mania"... constant reminders of how great it was to travel with THE one I miss! What's worked for some of you? Have you traveled alone to somewhere exciting by yourself? Any suggestions, ideas?
I so enjoyed reading these posts. Thank you. My husband and I traveled a lot- driving in our 4Runner with the dogs, mostly in California but also cross-country trips. I've planned a trip to the Eastern Sierras/Mono Lake/Lee Vining- one of his favorite places- to celebrate his birthday on 2/20 by scattering his ashes and I'm very anxious about it. It will be the first time traveling without him and the first time not sleeping in our bed. I thought it would be a good way to celebrate his birthday but I don't know anyone who wants to spend two days getting to the mountains, driving with two big dogs, so I'm by myself and would appreciate any advice.
Number 1 - make sure you have hotel reservations set-up either ahead of time or earlier in the day. Determine the number of miles or hours that you are willing to drive alone that day. Take into account that you may be stopping more often for breaks because you are driving alone. Cry if you need to cry. Visiting spots that you frequented with your spouse will bring back lots of memories... If its a spot that the two of you had frequented alot - visit a new place along the way or once you are there to give you something new to experience. My husband and I loved Sedona and spent our anniversaries there. The first year I visited the restaurant we always went to. I cried the whole time I was there. The next time I visited I went to another restaurant that had an outdoor seating area. It allowed me to people watch and the fresh air felt good. I didn't visit the same stores we had gone to but had visited some that I knew my husband had not been interested in but I was. It was a good visit. We had always talked about going out to see the night stars and I want that to be part of my next visit. Instead of a hotel I will staying at a home I can rent.
So far since DH died in late 2016, I've been on a cruise in Central America, two road trips to the Carolinas, Iceland (with a side trip to Greenland) and our favorite B&B in Missouri. India and Nepal (as part of a small group tour) are next month.
It's working out well. Of course I miss Ron- we always noticed different things and knew different things. He knew a ton more European history that I did but I could figure out most of the European languages. I'd traveled on my own, especially for business, many times and I'm a natural introvert so maybe it wasn't as big a step as it would be for others. I find that I appreciate groups more- not the mega-ship cruises or the "Fully Escorted Deluxe Motorcoach Tour", but the small-ship (under 100 passengers) cruise with UnCruise and the small group tours that you find once you get to a location. They give you a ready-made group of people with whom you can explore, ask questions, etc. I also stay active on FaceBook and stay in contact with family via periodic e-mails. I love posting not only the scenic pictures and the "I'm in Greenland and you're not" ones, but also the interesting little details such as the grocery store rack of Berenstain Bears books- translated into Icelandic. None of this is a substitute for traveling with your best friend, but it keeps me from feeling isolated. A friend who's been divorced many years and travels all over the world on business told me he always strikes up conversations with locals and other tourists (at lest, the ones who speak English).
Finally, allow yourself to enjoy some of the positive aspects of solo travel. I'd gladly give it up to be exploring interesting places with the healthy version of my husband, but in the last years he was weakening and had a bit of a balance problem. I had to be careful that just getting from our hotel to wherever we wanted to be didn't wear him out. There were some things he just couldn't do, although he was great about occasionally relaxing in the room while I went off to do something strenuous and listening to my stories afterwards. I could linger in museums and try to parse out Icelandic words with the English on the information plaques adjacent to them. I could put my map away and wander. At the Missouri B&B I bicycled 70 miles over 4 days. I hope I have many more years of good travel left!
I so appreciate this web site. Reading everyone's posts is comforting, informative, enlightening. I am fortunate to have incredibly supportive family and friends- but none of them have lost a spouse. I appreciate connecting with other widows/widowers who 'get it'. Thank you.
Hi, I lost my husband in May of 2018. My husband and I loved to travel and had talked about visiting South Dakota. Last summer I decided to go by myself. I flew there from Texas where I live and stayed in a hotel in Rapid City. I rented a car and drove all over the area. I visited the Badlands National Park one day where I just drove through it and stopped at look out points here and there and took pictures. One day I drove to Mr. Rushmore and toured it. I walked along the paths below it and then returned in the evening to watch the light show. I also visited the Sitting Bull Monument park and took a little bus tour there to get a closer view of it. I drove all through Custer State Park one day, and did much of the same type of thing as I did in the Badlands. In addition, I visited several of the little towns around this area. I was never scared there and no one bothered me. One lady at Mt. Rushmore did comment that there had been several women alone recently, which surprised me because I did not notice anyone else alone. All in all, I traveled over 1000 miles that week. It was a test for myself to see if I could do it alone, and I passed. I did miss my husband so much on the trip and was very lonely at times, but it was worth it. I learned I could do things like this alone and make it. I have looked into travel groups such as Road Scholars, so I have others to travel with in the future, but many of the tours, etc. I have looked at have high "single supplements". They do have some trips where the single supplement is waved. This might be an option you want to check out.
I should proofread. My husband died in May of 2016 (21 months ago). Check out the Road Scholars program. https://www.roadscholar.org/
Look under Special Offers because they sometimes wave the single supplement.
I can't personally recommend the organization, but it gets good reviews. It is a travel and learn travel organization for those over 55 with programs for different interests. They have pre-planned travel tours. Maybe it would be a good place to start.
I discovered I have to avoid places were we both liked to go and felt at ease and happy. Last Sunday friends invited me for a day out. We had a nice meal and than made a walk in the woodland nearby.
We came to a pond with frogs and ducks and a some fallen trees were you could sit and watch this peaceful scene.
I almost collapsed there . I remembered so vividly last year , my husband and I had sit there for hours, only the two of us. How happy we were then, so complete together. And I missed him as never before.
I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible and return to my house immediately.
My friends understood.
What when this happens when you are really traveling? There are lots of places I want to revisit , where my husband and I had a good time. But I know now this is a very bad idea.
Two thoughts: first of all, new places. Ron didn't tolerate hot climates very well (part of his chronic health problems), so now I'm traveling to warm places- have been to Central America, India and Nepal, none of which would have interested him. I still missed him- he knew so much about history, and when two people travel together, each of you notices things the other didn't and that enriches the experience. I so wished I could talk to him at the end of each day.
The other: at some point you may feel the happy memories in places you visited together. To me, it's like living in the house we shared or sitting in the pew in church where we sat together every Sunday. Ron was known in the church for the cookies he baked for coffee hour; one woman in the church said she can feel his spirit in the kitchen. I have visited places we saw together and I mostly had happy memories of where we walked and what we saw. I hope you get to that point too.
My biggest test was the B&B in a town in MO we always visited. I booked the tiny house on the farm property that used to be the smokehouse- Ron and I had found it a little too claustrophobic for two people but it was fine for just me. I also did WAY more bicycling than when we were there together- 71 miles over 4 days. (He didn't bicycle- would cheerfully stay at the B&B and read). So, you can also visit old places but do different things. I had a really good time although it was different from what we did together- I'm going back in September.
Give yourself some time. It was hard for me to do this early on, but I've gotten stronger as time has gone on.
Two years after she died, I went back to Santa Fe, where Judith and I had vacationed a few times, for the express purpose of scattering some of her ashes there. I've done that task at several of the places we visited (or planned to visit). She's now in several places in the US, as well as in Canada, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Well, I booked another one. My former professional society (I'm retired) is meeting in Honolulu in November, 2019. I just put down a deposit on a cruise with my favorite cruise line (UnCruise) the week after the meeting. It's gonna be a budget-buster, especially since I want to fly Business Class, but I've never been there and it's also a place Ron wouldn't have enjoyed because of the warm climate. This is a good alternative to completely solo travel. I'll see people at the meeting I've known for decades, and meet some new ones. The Central America cruise I took with them 6 months after Ron died was a very good mix of people- small ship, under 100 passengers, all of us curious, active and interested in nature. The couples weren't glued together 24/7 so I never felt like a fifth wheel.
Some of Ron's ashes will go into the Pacific, of course!