Take a solo trip, even if you’re coupled up

by Сашка

Having a kid made travel more complicated. Going it alone was the compromise.

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As an extreme extrovert, I avoided solo travel. “The more the merrier” was my travel mantra. Then I had a kid.

As frequent fliers, my wife and I were determined to travel once our daughter was born. The week we left the hospital as a family of three, we booked flights to Havana. Ripping off the “traveling with a kid” Band-Aid set us up to travel with a baby.

Once our daughter started school, traveling became harder. Daily drop-offs and weekend birthday parties kept us home. We needed a compromise to continue our love of traveling.

Enter solo trips. To celebrate major milestones, we each go it alone. When my wife got a new job, she spent a night in Baltimore. When I started my own company earlier this year, I road-tripped to Philadelphia.

Solo travel taught this extrovert the power of being alone and all the advantages that come with it.

It’s easier to get into top-rated restaurants. Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia once named the “best restaurant in the country,” has a months-long waitlist. It’s almost impossible to get in at the last minute. Determined to shoot my shot, I sent Zahav a direct message on Instagram a few days before my trip asking if they had space for one person. Soon after, I was dining on laffa bread with hummus at the chef’s counter.

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Solo travel also lets you wander. There is no schedule, other people’s expectations or a toddler needing nap. It’s just you and time. While on a Seattle trip, I walked south for miles from Union Station, finding murals on industrial buildings and craft breweries by railroad tracks. I eventually stumbled upon Georgetown, one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods with antique shops, top restaurants and an outdoor trailer-park mall.

Traveling by yourself gives you space. On our solo trips, my wife and I have a tradition to find a locally loved coffee shop to sit, reflect and journal for hours because we can. There’s no heading back to a five-year-old for her rest time (don’t worry; we do plenty with her on vacations, too). It’s just me and my journal. I return to my family refreshed, more thoughtful and present. My wife is the same after her time away.

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As parents who split duties equally, logistics are not too difficult when the other is gone for only one or two days. Our daughter enjoys the quality time — and an extra dinner out, which makes solo parenting go smoother. At the same time, I recognize this is a privilege not every parent has.

My 25-year-old self would balk at solo travel. My 37-year-old self depends on it. It gives my hidden introvert side permission to spend time alone. The freedom to strike up a conversation with a stranger satisfies my extraversion. Either way, solo travel gives me the power to be who I want to be.

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness. Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare, including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario, from canceled flights to lost luggage. Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas, including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed. Submit your question here. Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.

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