Travelling Solo In Middle Age: It’s A No-Brainer

Unfortunately, 2022 is starting to look as unpredictable as the past two years. Just as we thought we were getting a handle on COVID, we face the threat of a global war over Ukraine and the escalating repercussions of climate change such as wild weather patterns and bushfires. There’s little hope of any real hope from either Australian political party at the next election.

COVID has left many of us shell-shocked and a little uncertain about our place in the world

On a personal note, we’ve also recently learned of several health crises amongst friends and family. Nothing major, but enough to remind us that life is short and our need to drag ourselves out of the lockdown lethargy caused by COVID. That’s why I’ve made travel my top priority over the next twelve months.

Sadly, travel doesn’t rate as highly on my life partner’s agenda – a Cancerian with an abject terror of finding himself more than five kilometres from our suburb, which he refers to as “the safety zone”. So, after several abortive missions to get him back on a plane, I decided that the best way to get him back into travel mode was a gentler approach such as a mini-break.

Woman looking out at view
Photo by Djordje Petrovic on Pexels.com

I wasn’t exactly in the mood for anything super-adventurous either, especially with (what was then) the recent arrival of Omicron – which, even though I’m reconciled to catching it at some point, I’m still not foolhardy enough to court.

The idea to my husband of a short trip to a neighbouring suburb was met with the anticipated response – panic – and each time I went into my his study to show him some perfect boutique hotel with irresistible “special offer”, he did just that, he planted his fingers in his ears or made those humming noises I make when he wants to discuss our finances.

Basically, he sucked every ounce of pleasure out of planning something that in my mind should have been fun

When my husband decides he doesn’t want to do something, he reverts back to the single-mindedness of a toddler – like many middle-aged men, it appears – and it became obvious pretty quickly that his strategy was to lay as many roadblocks as possible to change my plans.

Firstly, he start a ridiculously low budget that would only stretch to some tiny home in the middle of Woop Woop if we were lucky – and I don’t mean those pokey dwellings that are now deemed luxury destinations, I mean a 3-star motel on the outskirts of some mining town. Then he insisted that the accommodation was within walking distance to the beach, on the aforementioned minuscule budget.

But the biggest problem was the difference in our priorities for the break

We couldn’t even agree on what we wanted to do once we got there, if we ever got there. My perfect break incorporates fancy dinners and long lunches spent in the more eclectic range of restaurants that larger towns offer and the chance to dress up – because although there are benefits to the relaxed lifestyle on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, sometimes even I want to wear some lippy and heels.

Obviously, his biggest fear was what exactly he was going “to do” for two days with his wife of almost thirty years

Top of his requirements – thanks to a second La Nina year in which all his favourite pastimes have been compromised by rain – were good internet reception, a pub with a wide selection of craft beers, single beds, and a lock on the minibar.

The other problem was that prices of holiday rentals and hotels outside of Sydney have increased drastically since the last time we went away. Many of the Airbnb properties in our price range had stopped offering full refunds for cancellations, which made the risk of spending money (we don’t really have) on a cheeky weekender even more like Russian roulette – especially with Omicron biting at our heels.

The fear of disappointment was palpable

But, finally, after a full risk assessment of bush fires, floods, poisonous snakes and jellyfish and a full scale search of locations within a 2.5 hour drive of Sydney, from the beautiful Kangaroo Valley in the Southern Highlands – prior to the realisation on closer examination of the “dairy conversions” we could afford that their vintage styling reminded me too much of my various uni accommodations – to areas closer to home and the ocean.

Finally, I booked

I found an apartment approximately an hour down the road in an area close enough to home for hubby to run back to if he got too homesick, in a suburb close to where we used to live. That meant, that in spite of the rainy forecast, there were many places we could revisit as well as Barangaroo, a new waterfront precinct in the city to visit for dinner one night. I won’t deny that what sealed the decision was the hotel’s motley selection of sports facilitites which I knew would appease hubby’s need to get an hour away from me do some kind of exercise each day.

The weekend was a success, BUT…

When you really think about it, life is too short to travel with someone who doesn’t enjoy the same thing. Especially, when you spend the rest of the year together. So, surely travelling solo or with like-minded people at this stage of our lives is a no-brainer? The benefits are:

  1. You get to spend time with people who feel as passionately as you about the trip which ensures less friction and a REAL holiday,
  2. Your friends tend to be more respectful and less resentful of your choices, i.e., you don’t get bogged down in the petty-mindedness that can sometimes be symptomatic of a long marriage, and…
  3. Travelling without your partner means you get a break from each other.

A large 2018 study conducted by Booking.com found that 40% of 55 to 64-year old’s had taken a trip alone in the past year and a further 21% were planning to take one in the future. British Airways reports that more British men and women were over 50 on their first solo trip compared to any other country.” (The Flashpacker)

Marriage doesn’t have to be about compromise all the time

Men and women change as they get older, and research suggests that many men prefer to settle down and enjoy a quieter life in retirement – which is fair enough. Equally, many women enter a soul-searching stage, where they are looking for new new activities and challenges to empower them.

Surely, travelling solo or with friends makes sense?

Overall, our weekend was a success and even met our budget – something to do with the hotel’s location slap, bang in the middle of a small business district that is a ghost town on the weekend, perhaps. I got to wear my heels, luxuriate in crisp white sheets and fill my washbag with freebie bathroom products. Hubby got his gym – albeit his workout gear never made it out of his suitcase.

But the organisation to get us there was a painful reminder of why, prior to COVID, I had begun to travel solo, and why my husband was so supportive of that decision.

Anyone else decided that travelling solo is easier in middle age?

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6 thoughts on “Travelling Solo In Middle Age: It’s A No-Brainer

  1. As a 53 yo, I highly encourage the separate vacation! When he’s gone I get the house to myself and when I’m gone I get to hang out with people who like the same things

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  2. Great article! And totally agree as a long term solo traveller. Sometimes, it takes a day to settle in solo, and travelliing with a friend who likes the same things is the ideal. But far rather travel solo than with a partner who doesn’t want to be there! And when he’s away, enjoy all my favourite meals (or lots of snacks instead of meals!). And my TV!! Definitely a no-brainer 🙂

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  3. I took my first solo trip in my mid-40s. Both teachers but in different districts, the husband and I rarely had the same week off for spring break. For something like 15 years I just dawdled around the house on my spring break (except on year 12 when we actually shared the same week) until it occurred to me to go somewhere on my own (my eyes were opened once I joined the travel blogging community). The husband followed suit a year or two later, and now it’s become normal for us to go on separate, solo spring break trips. In fact, next school year I’ll have enough personal days saved up to actually take his week off with him, but we may end up doing our own solo trips anyway! We love to travel together, but sometimes a solo trip is just the thing.

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