It’s been over a decade since I’ve traveled alone for more than a quick 24 hours. I used to travel alone all of the time. I found solace in the solo road trips and thrived on the independence and challenge of navigating a new route alone. With marriage and motherhood came new routes to navigate and doing anything “alone” became a challenge in itself. As the years have gone by, I’ve been craving adventure, and while my husband and I have been fortunate to take a couple of trips together, and also take our children on trips, it isn’t the same. While immersed in the daily grind, I’ve longed for a taste of what I once so readily had, but felt guilty at the thought of leaving.
So, this year, my mother and stepfather decided to check off a bucket list item of living in the keys for a month and asked if, for my birthday present, they could buy me a flight with their airline points. I was hesitant and overwhelmed with the logistics of bringing this up to my husband and taking care of the long list of details to make work and home continue to move effortlessly. But, I knew I needed this and I got to work. I started asking for big favors from friends and families to cover little bits of time with the kids when Justin was on shift and coordinated rides to sports games that I would miss (not sure I’ve ever missed a sports game for a vacation). It took a few months but, I finally had a plan and the trip was going to happen.
First of all, there are few luxuries like traveling with only a carry-on. Not sure I’ve ever done it. On this trip, I made it a point to avoid any unnecessary delays with baggage claim. I left early on a Thursday and headed to an airport by myself. I read a book on the plane and closed my eyes for a cat nap. Once in Miami, I navigated to get my rental car and began the 3-hour drive solo to Little Torch Key. This was my first trip to the Keys and first drive down Route 1. I listened to music and podcasts and sometimes sat in silence taking it all in.
In the keys, I really only had 2 full days and was determined to make the most of it. I had a beach day with Mom followed by 3 hours of fun in Key West. In a little bar called “Irish Kevin’s,” I danced and sang with my mom and made new friends like I was in my pre-mom years. The next day I fished in the ocean for the first time and then took a trip…alone…to a nearby beach. I only took a small bag with a towel and some water. Every morning I sipped my tea (thanks Mom) and, thanks to my stepdad, never had to wash dishes. There was no laundry, no making meals, and… no one to take care of but me.
This morning before leaving, I met one of the neighbors whom my parents have become friends with the past two weeks of “living there.” I told her about my trip and that I loved staying on Little Torch Key and would come again but next time I need a full day in Key West to listen to music and soak it all in with my husband or a friend. She said, “you only had a pocket of time, and you packed it all in and made the most of it.”
And that, my friends, is exactly what I finally did for myself. I gave myself a larger-than-normal pocket of time, and I made the most of it.
I asked for favors from friends and family (totally not my nature) and trusted my husband to handle the rest. (Shout out to my husband who has always been able to take it on as I’m reminded of my previous post “You Left Your Husband With ALL of the Kids?”). It was overwhelming at first to coordinate it all but well worth it. Now, I can’t wait to scoop up my kids when I get home and thank my husband, dad, sister, and friends who helped by giving my kids pockets of their time so that I could have mine.
With three nights away, I was able to reset in solitude, experience a new place, and make memories with my mom and stepdad. And now, I urge you to find and plan your “pocket” and if I can help or return the favor, let me know.