If you have traveled a lot as a couple as my husband and I did, traveling is one of the significant pleasures of life. I knew when my husband died that I was not willing to give up the traveling that I loved so much.
Sure, when I mentioned vacationing alone, there was a mixed response from family and friends. Fortunately, my family members were very supportive and offered comments like, “You are an experienced traveler and don’t need anyone to go with you. Go have fun.” Other people were more leery and suggested all the dangers and loneliness of traveling by myself.
I admit that my first trip alone was a place where we had visited as a couple. However, I went here not because of having been there with my husband, but because it is a place of comfort and healing. The Hemlock Inn, in Bryson City, North Carolina, is a place we had been visiting for over twenty years. This is a quiet inn on the top of a mountain in the Smokies. The innkeepers feel like family and I felt I could go there (only two months after the death of my husband) and feel comfortable and loved.
This “first” trip proved to be more wonderful than I could have hoped for. I met many new friends, some of whom I continue to hold close. It was not a sad time at all, but a rejoicing in realizing that my travel life was alive and well and that I could do this all on my own. Since that time (five years ago), I have stretched my wings and traveled to places we didn’t go to together.
Each person needs to make the decision that is best for herself. Those first few trips after a significant loss are similar to other facets of grieving. Each person must do it in her own way.
My second trip was overseas. As a couple, we had traveled throughout the continental United States and Canada, but never to Europe. I went to India with my son and his family for nearly two weeks (a trip report for another time) and decided to make the huge step of routing myself home through Paris for my second solo trip. This would actually be the first trip to a place I had never been and knew no one. This was about seven months after the death of my husband and it was one of the best trips I had ever taken.
I was pretty nervous at first about international air travel, language, and an unfamiliar area. However, after awaking the first morning in Paris and walking to the Eiffel Tower, it was all positive and uphill from there. Each new activity was a boost to my confidence. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful and, having prepared ahead with reading travel books and having maps, etc., I could do anything I chose.
That independence of making all my own decisions was exhilarating. I walked tall in Paris (even though I am a fairly short person) with a smile on my face. This was my new life and I was ready to live it.