Traveling Solo

I’ve travelled to many wonderful cities since I gave in to my wanderlust, and have loved nearly every place that I’ve visited. But, when I recall my solo trip to Germany  and Italy, I will always say that it was my best vacation ever. EVER!

I had never travelled solo for vacation before. I’d travelled many times for work and conferences ( work/school related), but more often than not, I’d always see someone who I knew or strike up a friendship with someone also attending the conference.

But this time, I was all alone.

My itinerary was set for 2 weeks. I  left Atlanta and landed in Munich. From there, I visited with family in Germany for a week. After that week, I kissed them goodbye and boarded the train for Italy. Destination: Venice. Party of one.

No, I didn’t know anyone there.

No, I didn’t ( and still don’t) speak Italian.

 

The train ride through southern Germany and through Austria was picture postcard magic. Just beautiful. Being alone, forced me to look out the window and see the world as it whizzed by. Just before the train arrived in Venice ( Italy), the sea salt air beckoned me to lean out the window and take it all in. I got a taxi to the hotel from the train station and settled into my room overlooking the Grand Canal. Bella!!! Soon, my wander got the best of me and I had to hit the pavement! I love cities that are easy to navigate on foot, and Venice is definitely a walking city ( no cars are allowed). There are seemingly endless mazes of sidewalks and bridges, and it’s nearly impossible to take a boring photo there.  I walked for hours, well past sundown and found the city more alluring by moonlight. After my first few hours of solitude, I began to settle in. Even at night, I felt safer than I have ever felt in the USA. Of course, I used common sense, (and recommend that you do as well); no visiting dark alleys, no rides with strangers, etc. I checked in with home daily and alerted them of my daily itinerary. After a few days in Venice, and learning a few phrases ( Ciao!), I moved on to the next stop, Milan. After Milan, I spent the last days of my solo sojourn in Rome, the Eternal City, and my adopted second home.

So why was this vacation my best EVER?? For the most part of that vacation, I was footloose and fancy free. No rules. No guidelines. No expectations…And I loved every minute of it!! I danced to my own rhythm. I got up when I wanted. I went where I wanted and stayed and as long as I chose. I changed my plans on the fly- and no one objected. I ate when and where I wanted. I lingered  at tables over a bottle of wine and watched the world go by. I did exactly what I wanted to do, precisely when I intended.

I discovered a love of Italy, and consider it my European home. But most importantly, I learned how to enjoy being in my own company. That being alone does not equate to being lonely. I got out of my comfort zone and talked to strangers. I tried new things. And in the end, experienced Italy in a way that probably wouldn’t have been possible in someone else’s presence.

Now that I am a wife and mother, being away from them for 2 weeks would be nearly impossible for many reasons. But I will always hold this trip with special fondness. I recommend that,  if possible, take a solo vacation. You’ll be enriched for many years afterwards!

Some tips for traveling solo….

  1. Give a family member ( or someone else that you trust) a COLOR copy of your passport photo page and driver’s license in case of emergency.
  2. Give a copy of your itinerary, including how you will travel. Flight and/or train numbers, time of arrival/departure. Name, address and phone number of all hotels where you will stay and the dates of arrival/departure. Your hotel room number.
  3. Give a copy of your medical history, including illnesses and medications and name/contact info of your treating physician(s).
  4. Location of the embassy in every country you will visit.
  5. Put a color copy of your passport in every piece of your luggage.
  6. Before you take a tour, research it and make sure it is legit.
  7. Take only authorized transportation. Be wary of random people offering transportation at train stations and airports.
  8. Use common sense- be it day or night.

Enjoy your travels and tell us about your solo treks!

  
~Dr. Peaches & Miss Pickles

Leaning In- Mommy style

Growing up, my solitary ambition was to be a doctor. Not. Anything. Else. Becoming a wife and mother were the theoretical things on the check list of my youth.  College.  Medical school. Marriage. Kids. Check. Check. Check. Check. As time moved on, my ambition became my reality. I was Dr. Hines. It was wonderful! I worked a ton of hours- always finding new things to strive for. I was tired, but satisfied.  And then, I became a mother. As all mothers will tell you, motherhood changes you in ways that are unimaginable and difficult to articulate. There I was with everything-  career, love, and now a beautiful daughter.  And I was exhausted…. And I wanted out. I needed out. My life had become overwhelmingly stressful. I loved being a doctor, but at the end of the day, I dragged an exhausted, frustrated, cranky bitch home to my family.  My daughter deserved better. So a choice had to be made. For many reasons, I could not leave medicine. But something had to change….something had changed.  I no longer wanted to be the career-driven woman that I once had been. So I leaned out of my career, and leaned in to being Mommy. I thought I would miss her- my work self. Funny thing is, I don’t.  Some days,  I hardly recognize myself. Long gone for me are the days of working 18 hour days, leaving home in the dead of night to go to the hospital, calls that interrupt family time, missed opportunities to participate in my child’s life…. Nowadays, I work as little as I need to. I realize that my fear was not in being judged as a bad mother. My very real fear was of becoming an absentee one.  Now I don’t miss anything. I don’t miss school plays, field trips, birthday parties. I am able to participate in my daughter’s school, and get great satisfaction from volunteer work. After many years, and many attempts,  I found a balance that works for me. It came when I realized that I didn’t have to juggle all the balls- some of them I could just set down.