Guilt often controls us. Limits our world. And frequently it is unnecessary.
I receive many emails from readers about specific solo travel issues. This one, from Jim, is about overcoming guilt and making himself a priority so that he can travel solo. Because I suspect that it applies to many readers, I’ve chosen to respond on the blog.
Here’s an edited version of his letter…
I just finished the third reading of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook and found it fascinating to say the least. I know you probably get many emails and probably don’t have time to answer them, but taking a chance that you do….. well, here goes. I am 68, married and in good health, and have planned three two-week trips taking my wife and her mother (now 89) to Europe. I decided on the second day in Rome, our first trip, that I was coming back alone because there were already things I wanted to see and do that I was overruled on.
That was six years ago and for a variety of reasons, mostly feeling guilty, I never made it back, and instead planned two other trips with them to the UK and France. … My wife gave me your book as a retirement gift several months ago and has encouraged me to go, but try as I might I don’t know how to plan a trip for ME. I have read about a number of subjects on your blog site, but not this one, and nothing about a man wanting to travel without his wife. In our case, I am six years older and her has chosen to work three more years. Sounding selfish, I know, but I want to travel and enjoy life while I have my health and can afford it. Any advice you or someone on your staff would care to offer will be appreciated. Thank you.
No guilt solo travel.
So, how do you shed the guilt, make yourself a priority and plan the solo trip you want? That requires the right mindset. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider…
- Travel solo and free others from guilt. Jim’s wife has chosen to continue working. Many spouses aren’t interested in travel. By taking off solo, you are freeing your partner or friends of the guilt of holding you back.
- Travel solo for more happiness. Being happy yourself leads to making others happy as well. We all know how contagious a smile can be. Travel solo, come back happy and spread the smiles.
- Travel solo to rejuvenate. If you have responsibilities to care for others – parents, children, friends – taking some time to travel solo, to make yourself a priority for a while, will make you better able to care for those important people in your life.
- Travel solo and avoid frustrating others. It’s only fair. When traveling with others there has to be some give and take. However, if you’re still not getting enough of what you want from a trip, go solo. Don’t drag people where they don’t want to go.
- Travel solo as a gift to others. Sometimes, doing something selfish is actually giving a gift to someone. I believe this to the case with Jim. He has been generous with his time and planning talents. He has gifted them to his wife and mother-in-law. Now his wife would like to gift to him the time to follow his own travel dreams.
- Travel solo because the guilt is unnecessary. In my experience, those people who carry guilt often have the least reasons to feel guilty. Natural caregivers and those who are thrust into care giving roles may find it difficult to shed the responsibilities and travel solo. It may be hard work to do so but you should take care of yourself once in a while knowing that there is no reason to feel guilty doing so.
Know that solo is not selfish.
Go for it Jim.