Tag Archives: Travelling alone

Travelling Alone As A Single Woman

I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, ever since I read Leon Uris’ book Exodus back in the late 60s. I even dreamed of going to work on a kibbutz when I was in my late-teens, but wars and life got in the way.

And then, this year, I finally got my chance.

But I was scared. Although I’ve travelled with friends and family since my husband left me, this would be the first time travelling completely on my own – albeit as part of a tour group.

So I sat down and went through my fears.

1) What if I died on the trip?  Well… really… if that happened, I’d be out of the picture so it wouldn’t matter, would it?!

2) What if I got sick on the trip? This one did give me serious pause, because the opportunity to book the trip came AFTER Trump had made his pronouncement about moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Given the violence that followed, the Canadian Government put out an official warning advising Canadians not to visit.  Because of that warning, my health insurance would now only cover if I got sick or injured myself  ‘naturally’. (Eg.  Fall and break my leg.  Heart attack.) Should I be injured and need care following a terrorist incident, I would be on my own financially.

That was a huge stumbling block.  The money I have now, barring government pensions, has to last for the rest of my life, so although I am relatively comfortable, I can’t take too many risks.

My daughter is my executor, so we had a long talk.  What if I did get injured in an attack?  What if the cost of care and returning me to Canada wiped out most of my money?

She’s done a lot of travelling, knew how important this trip was to me, and urged me to go.  I had lived in London through the IRA bombing campaign when it was at its height, and since 9/11 I have travelled to France, the UK, Germany, the US and Spain – all places where there’s been terrorist activity.  What were the chances?  Slim indeed, but still a chance.  But then again, there’s a good chance I will be in a car accident every time I drive on the roads in this city!

This was a very personal decision.  I know many of my friends would not have made it. If you find yourself faced with a similar situation, you need to think very carefully about how your future might be impacted.  

3) What if I missed connections?  I was travelling in the wintertime – what would happen if fights etc were cancelled due to weather?  That can happen any time – but I had travel insurance and a credit card.  As long as I didn’t panic, I would be okay.

4) Believe it or not, what scared me the most was the idea that I would be on my ‘own’ for a week when I was with the tour group.  Part of the joy of a holiday – for me at least – is sharing the experiences with someone, whether it’s eating meals together or discussing our likes or dislikes on a visit to a museum or stately home etc.

What if everyone else were in couples? I’d feel so isolated and obviously single, wouldn’t I?  What if – what if – no-one spoke to me for a whole week?  What if I had to eat alone at the hotels? It was almost a visceral fear like being back in High School.

But when I realized that was my worst fear – over and above being caught in a terrorist attack – I gave myself a good talking to.  Was I really going to give up on visiting a country I have dreamed about for decades because no-one might talk to me?

Really?

I mean… really?

You know what?  I had one of the best trips of my whole life.  Yes, most of the people were in couples or families – Canadians, Brits, Americans and Australians. (There was one other single woman there – a totally inspiring Australian lady – who has had the most amazing adventures alone. )

Of course people talked to me and I talked to them.  Apart from that first evening and first breakfast, I never ate alone and had plenty of people to chat during the day.  When you’re on your own, people seem to make an effort to ensure you don’t feel left out.  It’s not High School any more.

So, if you have a dream country you’ve always wanted to visit, but no-one will come with you – itemize your fears.  Are they realistic?  What is the worst thing that could happen to you?  And if it’s something you can live with, go for it!

 

Signs and Baby Steps

Sun field

I’ve always loved travelling; from my first sight of the sea when I was a wee girl, to that first train trip down to London, to my first sight of Venice when backpacking around Europe as a teenager, to that first transatlantic flight.

I know my way around airports and train stations, and am pretty comfortable hiring cars and booking hotels. But – apart from a few flights – I’ve never actually travelled on my own. It’s always been with people, or on my way to see friends and family.

Now that the divorce process is over, I have this fancy that one day I’ll spend time in countries I’ve always wanted to visit – which means I may have to do it on my own. So… I took some baby steps towards that recently. Forget about two weeks or one month travelling on my own. Could I do it for one day?

To be honest, I was really nervous when I picked up my car rental. I had decided to spend one day and one night on my own visiting a historical attraction I’ve always wanted to see, then stay overnight in a private hotel in a small village, rather than the airport hotels I’m more used to. How would it go?

Well… it didn’t start well. The weather was appalling – bucketing rain and gale force winds. To top if off, I dropped a bottle of cordial on my way to pick up the car, which meant that everything I was carrying – and wearing – got splattered in sticky. Sigh! Was it a ‘sign’ I wondered, that I shouldn’t be doing this? (I’m a great one for signs.)

But the rental went smoothly, as did the drive. I got lost only once – despite my sat nav. The historical attraction was great, I joined a tour, and when it was over, a woman kindly offered to drive me back up the very steep hill to where I’d parked my car.

All that was left was the drive to the hotel – across 10 miles of deserted countryside. I only passed two cars en route and my imagination ran riot. What if I broke down out here? What if I ran off the road and no-one found me for a day… or a week… or… ever???? What if…?! What if…?!!

And then I saw the view in front of me. On one side of the road was an ugly clear-cut, with only a few remaining dead trees scarring the hill. On the other? A serene landscape highlighted by a tiny burst of sunshine on a very grey day. I stopped the car and took a picture, imagining the clear-cut represented the death of my marriage and ugliness of the divorce process. The other side of the road? Hopefully the promise of a golden-ish future.

And you know what? When I arrived the hotel, the owner and his wife were wonderful. They helped me with my bags, and provided me with books on the area when they heard I had old family connections in the neighbourhood. I sat in front of a wood fire in the cosy lounge writing e-mails for an hour, and then had the most delicious dinner.

Next morning, after a fabulous breakfast and leisurely walk around the village, I headed home. I’d managed one day travelling completely on my own.

Baby steps!

Baby steps.

We’ll get there.