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Solo travel: traveling without your family once a year

Every so often, I’d like to embark on a journey that’s mine. To travel solo. It’s not about escaping family, but about personal growth and unwinding. So, once a year, I take off on a solo quest. This post is about the art of balancing: why I travel solo once a year in addition to traveling with my family.

Why I love traveling with kids

It won’t come as a surprise to you that I love traveling with my family. There’s nothing quite like exploring new places with your kids. You see everything through their eyes and experience things you wouldn’t when traveling without them. I also strongly believe that children benefit from traveling and exploring different cultures. It helps them adapt to changing situations, makes them more empathetic and grow more tolerant. Giving your kids the world is the greatest gift you can give them. And yourself!

Why I travel solo

That said, you might wonder why I decided to travel solo once a year. I recently traveled through Central Asia by myself for two weeks and posted about it on Instagram and Twitter (can’t bring myself to call it X yet). I got some dm’s from parents basically calling me a bad mother. I know I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, so I didn’t.

But I do feel it’s necessary to write about it on my blog. As a motivation for other parents with wanderlust. It’s not a bad thing to do things for yourself once in a while. In fact, it might even make you a better parent. That’s why I share the reasons why I travel solo once a year. And hopefully inspire other parents, afraid of backlash from fellow parents, to explore the world on their own if they feel like it.

A family of four is posing for a picture at a restaurant in Reykjavik. In the background fishing boats are docked.

Solo female travel

I’ve started traveling solo from the age of 20 (almost 25 years ago, gasp….). A short citytrip to neighboring country Belgium. I didn’t tell my parents, because I didn’t want them to worry. My then boyfriend, who I lived with at the time, didn’t get it. But I had been thinking about it for a while. I believed it would be something I’d very much enjoy.

I’m an extroverted introvert. I don’t mind being the center of attention once in a while, but I prefer to stay out of the spotlight on a day-to-day basis. I love public speaking, to have all eyes on me. But at the same time I’m the person that would much rather spend time alone, then go out and mingle.

Being around people tends to overstimulate me. It can be draining, no matter how much I love them. I’m not the person who has a large group of friends, but a small circle. I love staying at home, playing and cooking with my kids. I’m a real homebody. Spending an evening alone, when the kids are in their rooms and my man is out, feels like a gift. No noise, no questions and no music or tv, just me recharging my batteries.

A woman smiles as she's floating in the Dead Sea in Jordan, posing for a picture with a magazine in her hands.

As you can imagine, for someone like me, the first time I traveled solo was an eye-opener. I could be by myself when I wanted to and seek company of other travelers when I felt like it. I realized that this is a way of traveling that really fits my personality.

Traveling solo also enables you to do it your way. No negotiating about how much sightseeing to fit in one day (I suffer from FOMO while traveling), no budget problems and most importantly you decide where to go without getting vetoed.

From then on, I went on a mission of promoting solo female travel. The world is not as scary as they say, just keep your wits about it, do your research and have an amazing time. Women can do it all, including traveling solo. I will die on that hill!

Traveling solo as a parent vs. traveling with kids

I thought that this would be my way of traveling forever. But then I met a man and got pregnant at 24. It turned out that I very much loved traveling with my son. And quickly found out that a myth I believed in wasn’t true. You don’t have to stop traveling when you have kids. It’s just different. Good different.

Traveling with kids

It takes more work and flexibility to travel with kids. Packing for a baby or a toddler is a nightmare. So much stuff! And there’s also lots to think about before booking a trip. Is a destination safe for families? What vaccinations do you need and are your kids old enough to get them? Can I travel with the medication my child needs? Lots more to think about and to plan ahead.

But it’s also very rewarding. The family fun starts even before the trip. In my ebook about planning a family road trip I write how fun it is to include your kids in the decision-making process of picking a destination. As parents you make a shortlist of destinations, based on available budget, safety and general interests. And then you share the shortlist with your children and decide on a destination together. It makes kids more excited about an upcoming trip if they had a say.

While on the road you get to spend so much quality time together. Your shared adventures strengthens your bond. These memories will last a lifetime and I can’t imagine a life without family vacations. Heck I can’t even imagine skipping one year!

In addition to trips with the entire family, I also spend one-on-one time with each of my boys since the age of 5. With my eldest I’ve been traveling solo to Egypt, Malta, Italy, Thailand and more. My youngest and I recently took our first mother and son trip to Germany.

An 8 year old boy has a huge smile on his face, sitting behind the wheel of a parked red Tuk Tuk in Bangkok Thailand
A 5 year old blond haired boy is smiling while enjoying the view mid flight. The sky is filled with cotton clouds

Traveling solo as a parent

While I always loved traveling with kids, both solo and with the whole crew, I missed solo travel. Could I make it work? Budget aside, I couldn’t imagine staying away from my firstborn for longer than a weekend. Could I leave my son alone with his dad?

My partner at the time wasn’t a fan of traveling. I always needed to convince him to go. He didn’t get why I wanted to travel alone, but never gave me a hard time about it. As long as I could pay my half of the bills, it wasn’t a problem. We got extra help from our parents and my brother and off I went, traveling solo as a parent for the first time. 8 days to Jordan. A destination I wanted to visit for years, but for some reason no one else was keen about back then. I did revisit Jordan with my eldest years later.

Since then I’ve been traveling solo as a parent about 10 times. Like, some short city trips in Europe and most recently I traveled through Uzbekistan, Kazachstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Never more than 2 weeks. I realized that I can’t stay away from my sons for that long.

For me the combination of family travel and solo travel is ideal. I’m lucky enough to be able to do both. And I’m extremely grateful for that. I get to explore the world with my family. And visit the places I’ve been dying to explore on my own.

It’s basically a win-win situation. The family gets to dive into destinations that we all love, while I get to explore places that tickle only my fancy. It’s the perfect balance! It also works the other way around. My man loves to go on adventurous multi-day hikes, not suitable for kids and not on my bucket list. So we both get some alone time.

A woman, wearing blue sunglasses, is posing in front of the colorful tiles on a wall in the ancient silk road city of Khiva in Uzbekistan
A women, dressed in green, matches the tile work on Kalta Minor Minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan. She's admiring the beauty of this minaret.

Bring a travel journal

Just a little tip when planning on traveling without your family. At the end of the day when you’re in your room after a day of exploring, you might feel lonely or bored. That’s when I FaceTime my family (if timezones allow it), organise and edit my pictures and write and doodle in my travel journals. I never travel without them. I bring a notebook with me, as well as The Adventure Book.

I love The Adventure Book travel journals and wrote a review about their awesome products. Not just great to memorize your own solo travels, they’re also a great present for your kids.

If they’re to young to write or don’t like it, they might like to draw about their travels and past in their keepsakes and polaroids.

A wooden table filled with two travel journals and journaling supplies like tape, paint, brushes and stickers. Picture by The Adventure Book

Read more >> The Adventure Book Review

Much needed me time

As much as you love your kids, it’s ok to say out loud that parenting is all-consuming. It’s the best job in the world and also the hardest. And most of us also have a day job. I spend 40 hours a week working as an urban developer at a Dutch university. Add being a fun and present partner and a social life to the mix and the week is more than filled up.

We all need to take some conscious effort to recharge our batteries, aka me time. The perfect me time for you might not be the perfect me time for me. The point is that everyone needs it. Take that personal space to clear your head, solve a problem you’re dealing with, read that book, learn that new skill or travel solo.

You’re not a bad parent for doing so. In fact, taking time for yourself will make you feel more energized, get new ideas and make you a stronger individual. All things that contribute to being a better parent.

Teach kids that family time is extremely important and invaluable, and at the same time teach them that it’s ok for parents to take time off from the family as well. Parents are unique individuals with their own interests and needs. Basically you set a good example of self-care. When they’re adults they will hopefully follow your lead and also make sure they make time to grow as an individual, while also being a present partner and/or parent.

Climbing the Grand Acropolis at the Calakmul ruins in Mexico

Mommy guilt

Society is hard on women. The term daddy guilt doesn’t exist, while all moms have heard of mommy guilt. The guilt tripping mostly comes from other moms. I mentioned the dm’s in the beginning of the article. I got about a dozen of nasty comments. One from a man, wrongly assuming my partner was paying for my trip and I was a gold digger. The other nine were all from other moms.

How could I abandon my kids like this? Who takes care of them when you’re off partying and neglecting them? And the worst one: if I don’t love my kids, why have them in the first place.

It’s awful that woman can’t support each other. We come from different walks of life. And take a path others might avoid or disagree with. And that’s fine! You don’t have to make other moms feel bad about it. I try to live by the saying: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It serves me well.

Frowning upon other people’s behavior, unfortunately is human. You might frown upon my wish to travel solo, while I might frown upon something you do. We just need to be respectful and keep the criticism to ourselves.

The important thing is that we all do our absolute best to be the most amazing and present parent to our kids. So let’s focus on that, instead of bringing another parent down, because you don’t agree with them.

The Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An - Vietnam

Travel solo once a year – if that’s what makes you happy

Time to wrap up! For me, traveling without my family is a like a bonus round in a game called wanderlust. I get to travel with my family and traveling solo is the cherry on top.

Next time you feel the itch to explore a destination that’s not on your family its bucket list and you’re ready for some alone time, go for it! Your solo adventures will not only fill your backpack with new memories, you get to share them once you get home. It makes those family reunions even sweeter. It won’t make you love your kids less. In my case it makes me love them more. Absence makes the hard grow fonder, right….

My friend Riana from Teaspoon Of Adventures often travels with her partner, but is also a fan of traveling solo. If you need an extra 12 reasons why you should travel solo every now and again, she’s your gal!

If you have any questions about traveling solo without your family, let me know in the comments. I’m always happy to help.

About me Sas Crossing Countries

Hi, I’m Saskia!

I travel the world with my family of 4 and write about our adventures.

Sas Crossing Countries is a family travel blog. It’s created to inspire other parents to travel the world with their kids. Gift your kids the world! It’s the most valuable present you can give them.

With all the experience I have as a traveling parent I’ve got lots of tools and tips for you. So on this site you’ll not only find family travel blog posts, you can also download FREE pocket guides, travel checklists and eBooks from my resources page.

All that I share can be used to plan your own ultimate family road trip!

above a couch you see 4 illustrated poster maps of different countries in the colors brown, blue, green and white. This picture leads to the shop page where you can buy illustrated poster mapsbanner image with the text get access to my free ebook with all the tools and tips you need to plan out and enjoy your ultimate family road trip. The title of the book is also shown and is The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Planning a Family Road Trip. A mock up is shown of a laptop, tablet and phone showing the cover of the ebook and 3 small images giving a sneak peak of 3 pages inside the book.5% discount link Heymondo Travel InsuranceVisit our travel shop!Download my FREE printable packing listsBuy your 3D wooden world map @ Enjoy The Wood with 10% discount code SASCROSSINGCOUNTRIESUPBecome a member of my private family travel Facebook groupLink to shop The Adventure BookRent a car via Discover CarsGet my free downloadable family travel pocket guidesGet an eSim from AiroloDownload my FREE printable bucket lists

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About me Sas Crossing Countries

Hi, I’m Saskia!

I travel the world with my family of 4 and write about our adventures.

Sas Crossing Countries is a family travel blog. It’s created to inspire other parents to travel the world with their kids. Gift your kids the world! It’s the most valuable present you can give them.

With all the experience I have as a traveling parent I’ve got lots of tools and tips for you. So on this site you’ll not only find family travel blog posts, you can also download FREE pocket guides, travel checklists and eBooks from my resources page.

All that I share can be used to plan your own ultimate family road trip!

above a couch you see 4 illustrated poster maps of different countries in the colors brown, blue, green and white. This picture leads to the shop page where you can buy illustrated poster mapsbanner image with the text get access to my free ebook with all the tools and tips you need to plan out and enjoy your ultimate family road trip. The title of the book is also shown and is The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Planning a Family Road Trip. A mock up is shown of a laptop, tablet and phone showing the cover of the ebook and 3 small images giving a sneak peak of 3 pages inside the book.5% discount link Heymondo Travel InsuranceVisit our travel shop!Download my FREE printable packing listsBuy your 3D wooden world map @ Enjoy The Wood with 10% discount code SASCROSSINGCOUNTRIESUPBecome a member of my private family travel Facebook groupLink to shop The Adventure BookRent a car via Discover CarsGet my free downloadable family travel pocket guidesGet an eSim from AiroloDownload my FREE printable bucket lists