This year I decided I needed to travel alone. You see WE travel a great deal, our family has taken on quite an adventure. Our journey from Canada to France has been just that a journey, an adventure and we did it and continue to as a family. Some would say, “You are living the dream” and we are, I don’t take any of it for granted, not for a second. But travelling as a family has its ups and downs, to experience a new place with a child is amazing and so inspiring, but you have to remember that we are together ALL the time, we have sacrificed our comforts of home to live in a smaller space, to travel and see the world. Sometimes Maman needs time alone but that can be difficult to find or the guilt of taking that time supersedes the need for it. If you know yourself well, you know when it’s time to be alone and finding that time can be a challenge.
I’m not saying you have to travel alone to rejuvenate your mind and soul but I highly recommend it! I chose Morocco. This was a difficult decision for me for a number of reasons. I’ve always feared Muslim culture for pure lack of knowledge. The stigma attached to that culture is that women are not treated as equals and that scares me a bit. Doing it alone added another layer of fear but challenge has never stopped me and so I decided to just simply do it. Since we are living in France now, heading to Morocco is really inexpensive and very easy, a quick 4 hour flight. I did my research and learned that Morocco was part of a protectorate from France and Spain from 1912 to 1956 when it regained its independence. I also learned that Morocco hosts largely French tourists. I thought well, if the French are comfortable there then I have nothing to worry about. I’ve been living in France now for 6 months and one thing I know for certain is the tenacity of the French, if they don’t like something or someone, everyone will know about it! I was also relieved that there wouldn’t be any language barrier as most Moroccans speak French. Ok so quick flight, not very expensive, French tourists, and a language I can speak – that checks off a few from my list of criteria for travelling! Now to sell it to hubby without hurting his feelings about the whole “I want to go without you” thing!
I approached this like a sales presentation, I gathered my facts mentioned above, created a case for how this would benefit him and our family for me to go off by myself and made sure that the schedule worked so it didn’t cause any conflicts with our little one’s school etc… I’m pretty lucky, my husband gets up every morning, feeds our daughter then walks her to school. He’s very capable of caring for himself and for her for a week. He’s not a very good cook but can get by in a pinch and knows the pizza shops well! Leaving him alone with our daughter was the least of our concern, I was more worried about him being upset at my intention to go alone. I talked to him about it and he immediately did not like the idea, with reason – he felt a bit of fear that I was headed to a Muslim country alone but since I chose a very reputable hotel in a safe city, I explained to him all of my above mentioned selling points and that I felt the need for some private time and that my decision was made. He didn’t understand. I continued by reminding him that sometimes a woman needs to be alone, to gather her thoughts, to read a book without interruption, to go to dinner when she wants to and to simply reboot herself. I was going and I hoped he would give me his blessing… lucky for me he did.
The day came, and hubby and daughter sent me off. I have to tell this story – As I took the elevator down our building, an older resident was chatting with me and I immediately broke into tears and didn’t hear a word she said! It occurred to me that I was leaving without them and I could see that, moments before, my daughter was holding back her tears before I left and it truly broke my heart. The poor lady was wondering what was wrong with me and I tried my best to explain to her that I was leaving on vacation without my family and that made me sad but she still looked at me like I was a crazy tourist!
I landed in Agadir, Morocco it was evening, I felt an immediate sense of culture shock and sense of regret. It was intimidating, there were more men around then women, the music, and the sounds all gave me a bit of a scare. If I’m honest I can say that it really wasn’t until the next day that my sense of regret went away. I went for breakfast and met some French couples immediately and single ladies travelling alone and that was that I was no longer alone. Phew a week is a long time to feel regretful!
The feeling to always be doing something productive took me a while to get used to. Even lounging at the pool I was still thinking of home, work and family. “Must take pictures, must buy souvenirs, don’t forget to ask about this monument so you can document it, I should exercise, I should check in”. It wasn’t until I met a lady from Manchester England who had recently lost her husband and was vacationing alone that I realized that life is short, VERY short and at any instance it can come to an end. These things can wait, sit still, be quiet, mindful and grateful. It happened an internal sigh of relief that for the next 7 days it was about me and my pace. I finished a book, slept like a baby, ate whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted and met some incredible people from all over the world. I reconnected with myself, I reminded myself of the former self I was before marriage and before baby – a fun, adventurous person not afraid of challenges or crippled by fear. I traveled 12 years prior to Cuba but my daughter wasn’t born nor was I married so the impact was seemingly different and I didn’t appreciate that trip as much as I did this one.
In essence my fear of Morocco was a fear of the unknown. I walked the boardwalk of the beaches of Agadir every single day, yes I was hassled by vendors and beggars but I was left alone when I said “No thank you”. I saw how women live on that side of the world, how we take for granted the freedoms we have and how lucky we are for what we have every day It’s important for me to be a positive role model for my daughter. A strong, independent woman with a life outside of the home. If she’s going to grow up to be a well-rounded individual she needs to see that making yourself a priority is important for the whole family.
My need to travel alone may be different than yours but what I got from this trip was an entire new appreciation for my partner, my life and how grateful I am to have it all. I came back rejuvenated and excited to be a better mom and wife. My daughter saw her father stepping up and she made an effort to help out while I was away and she was proud to share that with me
I left with the urge to share this place with my family and an incredible sense of gratitude and that feeling is amazing.
Take a weekend, take a week but whatever you do take it.
Take it for your family but most importantly for you.