Vacationing alone
January 8, 2007 5:40 PM   Subscribe

This is a question for wives/moms--have you ever taken a vacation alone? I mean without the family and/or spouse? If so, where did you go and how was it? Did you feel guilty about it? I'd like to take a vacation alone--but friends and family think I'm crazy to do so.
posted by sandra194 to Travel & Transportation (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have to travel for business once or twice a year, usually around 7-9 days at a time. It's not the same as taking a pure-pleasure vacation since I'm usually in classes or something most of the day, but there are probably some parallels. I always feel guilty at first--especially in the week or so leading up to my departure--but in the end I'm so glad to see my family that the following months are several times better than they would otherwise have been, both in terms of my pleasure in being around my husband and son, and in terms of how invested we all are in our time together, to everyone's benefit. Absence and the heart, you know?

If you aren't in a a money/time situation that positions you to take vacations routinely as a family unit, I might say the idea is a little underripe (though, even then, not out of the range of possibilities) . . . but otherwise? Go. Have fun. Not to get all Oprah, but you really do sometimes find that you lost who you were pre-familial love and need to recapture it, as much as you love your spouse and children and wouldn't change the present for anything.
posted by littlegreenlights at 5:50 PM on January 8, 2007

I've vacated on a few occassions. I am a mom of three wee ones. My vacation consisted of going back to the place where I grew up - staying with my parents (my mom made every meal for me - it was so nice being the kid again and not the mommy), visiting friends. It was wonderful. I did miss my children, but I needed to get away and just be me for a while. I was only gone 7 days. While I was gone, hubby took the kids with him to visit his family so my kids were thoroughly enthralled with grandma and grandpa and I don't think they really noticed I wasn't around.

I think you'd be crazy not to take the opportunity to treat yourself.
posted by Sassyfras at 5:56 PM on January 8, 2007

I'm male, but I'd note that I've vacationed alone, as has Senorita Tacos. We go together more often, and for longer, but a bit of time apart can be nice.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 6:06 PM on January 8, 2007

(Oh, and I have been actively lobbying for my missus to go on a 4-week vacation in May, with plans for me to join her for only two of the weeks.)
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 6:07 PM on January 8, 2007

Both my mother and my boyfriend's mother did this occasionally as we were growing up (um, seperately, we didn't know each other back then). Neither of us were scarred by it in any way, or thought anything much of it really. Just to give a different perspective on it.
posted by shelleycat at 6:17 PM on January 8, 2007

Heck, I was told I was weird for vacationing alone when I was single, let alone now that I'm not. I like to go to neat cities for a long weekend, stay at a small inn or guesthouse, and walk, take pictures, eat at the bar in nice restaurants, chat with strangers, read books, sip coffee, write postcards, and in general just be myself.

The only solo-vacation that will minimize the hassling would be if you took a spa trip, which seems to be an "acceptable" way to leave your family for a few days. (Not snarking on the spa thing, of course. A lot of people just think it's odd to want to be alone, unless there's a trip that makes a certain kind of sense.)
posted by desuetude at 6:23 PM on January 8, 2007

My mother used to go on vacations with her friends or sisters leaving us in the care of possibly the most irresponsible (and funnest) person on earth, my Dad. She also used to send us away for weeks out of every summer to various relatives with farms and places by the beach Those times are some of my fondest memories and, thiking about it, probably hers too!

Leaving the house in the care of her teenage sons for three weeks wasn't the smartest thing she ever did though.
posted by fshgrl at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2007

I like travelling with friends. It gives us a "girls night out" sort of weekend, and I get to feel like a grownup, but without the strange loneliness I get after too long of a business trip.

But I'm not the type to enjoy eating in a nice restaurant by myself or spending more than a day looking at new things without socializing it into my head with someone. My mom frequently goes to Italy and Paris with her girlfriends, spends the day out doing her own thing and then hangs out with her friends for the evening, or a one-day on, one-day off schedule. That seems to work well for them.

If it's something that really appeals to you enough to talk about it with your friends and family (and post to AskMe), you're probably daydreaming about it. Try a short trip and find out if it's everything you ever hoped for, etc, etc. If it doesn't work, you'll know. It's better than blaming the kids & husband for that time you didn't get to visit Tokyo or whatever for the rest of your life, right?
posted by Gucky at 6:38 PM on January 8, 2007

One way I've minimized flak for solo vacations (married, no kids) is by going away "to write" or by going to cities where I have friends to visit (though I don't necessarily stay with them, I just spend some of my time visiting them). I've also gone away for a while on my own (European cities, not visiting friends) and then joined up with my mate somewhere, which somehow seems to others to be less... hedonistic, or something. I've never felt guilty (and my mate goes away without me too), but I have felt like friends and acquaintances assume that I must be up to no good to be off on my own somewhere fabulous.
posted by xo at 6:41 PM on January 8, 2007

Yes and no. Last summer, while my wife was big with our second child, I took a extended weekend trip to NYC to see the city and meet some MeFites. When I told my friend, who lives in another city, about my trip, he decided to meet me there.

We had a great time: shopping, Broadway shows, know: GUY stuff. My family thought it was outright bizarre that I'd take a vacation without the wife. But the thing is, she had no desire to go and was completely supportive of me going without her.

So yes. You should.
posted by ColdChef at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2007

Two years ago I went to see a friend in Germany for a week, then went off around Europe on my own for two weeks. It was glorious. My dad stayed at my house to babysit. I sent postcards to my kids every day, and talked to them on the phone a couple times. I wished they could see what I was seeing, but I was glad to rediscover myself as an adventurer -- which I could not have done if they were with me.

The question, of course, is why you care what other people think of what you want to do. Even if everyone here thought you were a sociopathic freak, only you know your child(ren) and your partner, and only you know whether they could handle it. I am inclined to think your kids definitely could -- anything a loving mother does to revitalize herself can only benefit her kids. You need to be young and fun sometimes. If being-a-mom is all you got, you are probably stressing out your kids, too.

On the other hand, if your partner is not on board with this, you have got a problem.
posted by Methylviolet at 6:51 PM on January 8, 2007

I took a trip last summer without my SO. She would have come if she could have, but it was really nice being away without her for a bit. I had the chance to miss her, and was really excited to talk to her on the phone, and to return home. And I had new stories, ones that she had never heard (OMG!) a precious commodity after seven years.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:55 PM on January 8, 2007

Yes to all - wife, mom, vacationed alone, felt guilty. Christ, I feel guilty if I slip off by myself for the afternoon to a museum. But if you crave some alone time, vacationing solo really is worth it. When I want to be by myself for a while, I go to New York. It's a fabulous place for one person to disappear/immerse/recharge. I can go for fairly cheap (I drive to Trenton and take the NJ transit trains from there), it's not TOO too far away, and it's another world.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:59 PM on January 8, 2007

My wife went on a vacation alone with my blessing. I took the kids to my parents house for a week and she went to southern Utah to hike and a spa. Worked out well for everyone excpet my mother who wanted to know why her daughter in-law thought it more important to go hiking in some mountains than see her mother in law. She answered her own question by asking it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:00 PM on January 8, 2007

I think that a vacation alone is good for your health for many reasons. One is appreciation of what you have a real chance to reflect on it. Time alone opens the mind and enables you to see new possibilities where before there were only responsibilities. No matter if it is a long period or short, you will be more aware of your self, how you feel and what makes you happy. I encourage my wife to cherish her alone time and take it when the chance arises. You should go and leave the guilt behind.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:25 PM on January 8, 2007

I haven't ever vacationed "alone" but I've gone on a couple of Girls' Weekends with friends (without our children or spouses)... We basically went shopping, ate at a nice restaurant, and stayed overnight in a hotel (kind of like being a kid at a slumber party again)... It was nothing extravagant, just something fun to do to get out of our normal routines... I usually felt a twinge of guilt as we were leaving, but once we were on the road, the guilt gave way to a refreshing feeling of freedom... If you have an opportunity to "get away" for awhile, I highly recommend it.
posted by amyms at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2007

I've never vacationed alone (yet. I love the idea, tho), but last summer and the summer before, I traveled overseas with my mother and son. Left the hubby behind because he couldn't take the time off and also because he wasn't interested in coming with us to our destinations. He was happy to be left alone for a week, and we had a great time traveling, and all of us were happy to see each other again after the time was up. I love traveling overseas but he would rather do something else with his free time when he has it, so although during the first few years of our marriage I felt kind of guilty about wanting to go (and our son was still small), my feeling now is that you don't have to feel obligated to do *everything* together with your spouse (and family for that matter) and some time off from each other can be a good thing. So if you're considering it, I say go for it.
posted by misozaki at 7:41 PM on January 8, 2007

I have gone away on business several times for 10 days or so to Mexico, to Cuba, and next week to Houston (less glamourous, but still far less snowy). I leave my 3 kids with the SO. We have 3 boys: 8yrs, and 6 yrs twins both with autism. Sometimes I have taken my older son, or sent him off to stay with either of my parents. I've done this for several years now (usually not more than 1 trip/ yr), but you can imagine that I leave a significant work load behind (especially when the twins were far younger).

Most of it is business, and I squeeze in some fun too. I work really hard to have everything as prepped beforehand as possible. This week I am stocking the freezer (I leave next Monday). Guilt, sometimes, but not much and it's well worth it. Moms typically don't give themselves enough time.

Go for it! Oh, and I don't ever call home while I'm gone. You'll see me when I'm back, and I don't like the tyranny of scheduling/anticipating phone calls. The world lives without me while I'm gone. I bring a present back for each kid, and postcards, and they give me the pictures they drew for me while I was gone.
posted by kch at 7:46 PM on January 8, 2007

I took my two teenagers with me to visit relatives a few years back. The drive, mostly through the countryside and tiny towns, only takes a day (about 500 miles away) but it was our first visit. There looked to be so many interesting places along the way, but every time I asked if they wanted to stop and sightsee, the answer was the same - no!

I went by myself last year. I like being by myself and don't have a problem eating alone etc. I thought I would visit each and every interesting spot and take my time seeing absolutely everything. I was surprised when I didn't want to stop anywhere. In retrospect, I wanted to share the discovery with someone else and also show my kids some things they might enjoy. Being by myself in this instance wasn't all I expected.
posted by nelvana at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2007

Not me, but my best friend did. She was married and mother to 2 young children at the time. I don't want to out myself in case she reads this, so I won't say exactly where she went, but it was a hiking vacation. She did it to help retain her sanity.

Do it. I would never have discouraged her, but I didn't really understand why she did it at the time. Now I have a child, and I understand.
posted by peep at 8:45 PM on January 8, 2007

Lets see... I've gone on several trips while my kids were growing up.It was good for my mental health as well as theirs. My husband was very supportive,which is very important and probably why we will soon be celebrating our 30th anniversary. I visited a friend who had moved to Vancouver, another who lived in Boulder. I've stayed with a my friend in New York City and went to a class reunion there.Two great trips I took where didn't know anyone were to a yoga retreat in Ixtapa, Mexico and to a language school in Cuenavaca to learn spanish. I never had a desire to go somewhere and be all alone unless it was in a structured setting. I always met great people and had alot of fun, but found that I also loved coming home.
posted by ellke at 9:57 PM on January 8, 2007

My parents, who've been married for forty-odd years, have always taken trips on their own from time to time. Come to think of it, so did both sets of my grandparents. Seems normal enough to me.

(As an aside, though, many of my local friends -- who've only ever seen my mom and dad separately -- are surprised to learn that they're still very much a couple.)
posted by tangerine at 10:11 PM on January 8, 2007

When I was a kid my mom used to go to Canyon Ranch every summer for a week or so by herself. I never thought it was weird or selfish. I recally thinking that my dad packed crappy lunches, but other than that I didn't mind Mom being away and understood that she needed time to recharge.
posted by radioamy at 10:13 PM on January 8, 2007

The hubby and I have definitely done vacations without each other. As a photographer, I often find that my vacations turn into working vacations, which isn't always relaxing if you're not the one working. Likewise, he's been off to Vegas for some trade shows and probably had more fun without having to worry about me getting into any mischeif at the slot machines. :-)

When either of us is away, I find that we're both more in contact because we are eager to share little tidbits of what happens to us throughout the day. While I sometimes have a bit of "wish you were here" nostalgia, I most often am grateful that the experience is mine alone.

I am actually taking my first extended trip away (another working vacation) to London in April. I felt a little guilty at first, but hubby was behind me 100%. My mum thought I was nuts, but he knows that I'd be unhappy if I passed it up. To him, 3 weeks of missing me is preferable to a wife who's about to lose her sanity.

Go for it and don't worry about what anyone else has to say. It's your life and your mental health. No one but you can assure you keep it in top shape. :-)
posted by arishaun at 1:52 AM on January 9, 2007

My favorite "vacations" are when my husband takes the children somewhere for a few days and I get blissful silence in my own house. It's heaven and highly recommended.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:32 AM on January 9, 2007

My two sisters live very far away, and once per year, we'd arrange to meet somewhere sans kids and husbands. It was usually fun and very refreshing. On two occasions my husband did me a big favor. He persuaded my recalcitrant oldest daughter to give up the pull ups and use the potty for no.2, and then a few years later managed to finally get my youngest off of her pacifier (she was almost three).

I think that it can be good for everyone in the family to mix things up a bit. It made my husband feel more empowered as a parent, made my kids see him in different roles than "normal", and allowed them to do some really fun stuff like eat sundaes at midnight under the stars in the backyard. You know, stuff that Mom wouldn't do or wouldn't think of.
posted by Flakypastry at 4:58 AM on January 9, 2007

I am not a mother, but my mother would sometimes take weekend trips by herself while I was a kid - usually to see a concert in Reno, NV or something. In return, my father would get to spend an odd Saturday on the ski slopes without the kids tagging along.
posted by muddgirl at 5:13 AM on January 9, 2007

My Mum did this a lot (once I was old enough to babysit my sisters).

She was much happier and relaxed afterwards, and my sisters and I felt closer for it just being us making sure the house didn't burn down in the week she was gone.
posted by She Kisses Wyverns at 5:36 AM on January 9, 2007

I've taken a solo vacation every year since having children; it's vital to my sanity. Yes, there's been some guilt (just about everything involving 'self versus mother' involves some guilt), but not much since I know my kids are in good hands with my husband, and more importantly I understand very well how taking care of myself enables me to be a better parent.

I sometimes visit family or old friends, but more often go alone - either shopping or on research trips (genealogy). I also traveled a lot, with friends or solo, before motherhood so it's nothing new for me.

My husband will also often (2-4 x year) take the kids on a weekend trip. I get to be alone at home!
posted by LadyBonita at 8:43 AM on January 9, 2007

I went for a long-weekend trip by myself (a friend's wedding) when my son was three. It was glorious. I didn't feel any guilt. My son got a 103-degree fever while I was gone, but my husband -- a wise man -- didn't tell me until after I got home.

My husband went on a five-day solo hike this past summer, leaving me with both kids. A few friends were surprised I let him get out the door, but he had a good time and we're both glad he did it.

Vacations are good. Moms need breaks to keep their sanity. I'm going to go on another trip as soon as my baby is old enough.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:27 AM on January 9, 2007

I vacationed solo when I was single and it was amazing. Even hiked across Europe by myself. A lot of folks couldn't understand it and others were envious or inspired by it.

I have a copy of Gift from the Sea that I've read over and over and over again. Specifically, it is the memoirs of a mother of five who takes one vacation alone each year to the ocean. Very good book if you are considering this.

Before I married my husband, I told him that I would be taking a vacation alone (even just a weekend) at least once a year. Forever. Not because I didn't like him or enjoy his company. I know myself pretty well and I need to recharge my batteries through indulging in uninterrupted solitude. To journal, to draw, to read, to walk, to take photos, to whatever. At first, he didn't understand it but now he knows what a positive effect those events have on me and our relationship. As a poster mentioned above, I get to miss him, I get new stories, I have more energy, I feel relaxed.

It will be a little more emotional now that I have a one year old in the picture, but I'm still planning on going. He's a warm, wonderful and competent dad. They will have fun without me for 48 hours. And I will be a better mom for it.
posted by jeanmari at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2007

FWIW, both my parents go on an annual trip away without the other. For dad, this generally involves attending the first of the Cricket Test matches in Brisbane with the guys he used to play Cricket with. He's been doing it every year for at least 5 years. Mum goes away to a beach somewhere with her girlfriends where they lie on the beach and get suitably sloshed.

They go away for different reasons. Dad, because he works his arse off the rest of the year, and generally does a lot of work related travel where he is lucky to see the outside of the factories he visits in daylight. Mum goes away just to have a weekend away. She used to feel really guilty about it when my sister and brothers and I were younger, but now she doesn't really have a problem with it. It's probably worth noting that they also take at least one weekend away together a year.
posted by cholly at 2:05 PM on January 9, 2007

I'm not a mom or wife, but I understand your concern about guilt. Here's my $0.98:

I went to Sweden two summers ago for educational purposes. Since my University paid for my airfare to/from America and didn't care when I returned, I took a personal trip to the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway before I returned home.

The quandary I originally faced was that I would be in Europe for a month without my girlfriend. Thus, I didn't want to do/visit anything that she and I might aspire to do together. For instance: I didn't want to fly to Paris and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because I imagined the experience would have been less significant without her. Moreover, if she and I ever were to visit Paris, I didn't want the experience to lack sentimentality because I had been there previously without her.

The way I solved it was by exploring options that she and I, even if money and time were no option, would probably never do together anyway. (The world is a big place!) Of all the many places she and I would like to visit, for instance, northern Norway is pretty low on the list. By selecting that option, I was able to create a situation that worked for me and didn't feel like a personal slight to her.

And for what it's worth, the Lofoten Islands were a perfect place to cater to my solitary needs. I met a lot of solo travelers while I was there, many of whom were women. I can't comprehend what kind of crime they have, especially in the smaller municipalities. The people are friendly. And the scenery is astounding. I stayed in Reine -- here are some of my Lofoten photos.
posted by Hankins at 3:27 PM on January 9, 2007

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