“Many women feel guilty leaving children, husbands and spouses alone to fend for themselves and for this reason decide not to travel. I firmly believe solo travel by wives and mothers is good for family relationships. Too often women become entrapped within the role of mother, spouse, daughter, wife, friend with little time to stand back and relate to ourselves as the individual. Solo travel grants the opportunity to do this. I left my four month old son for ten days, having to free him


from the breast to do so. My two boys are now teenagers and do not appear to have been damaged by their mother (and fathers) absences during their formative years, although they would undoubtedly challenge this claim, citing their inability to congregate french verbs, get beyond level five in swimming lessons and having an inadequate understanding of the minds of teenage girls, a direct result of my absences. I love it when my spouse leaves me alone with the kids and travels away. It is a time the children and I develop a unique rapport and enjoy a special mother/sons bonding by doing things dad would not approve of (evenings spent watching back-to-back Big Bang Theory TV shows, cold pizza for breakfast, singing loudly in the car to Katy Perry with the windows down). Likewise I know the boys in my abode love it when I leave and “the nagging stops”. Women frequently feel indispensable in the house; get over yourself, you are not. Okay upon return a mountain of unwashed, smelly clothes may be unearthed, green unidentifiable rank food could be growing bacteria in the back of the fridge, goldfish/plants/maiden aunts may have died without anyone noticing and homework may not have been found or completed, but they will have survived and probably thrived. And on a positive note, you will have been missed and therefore more appreciated upon return, although I have to caution, in my experience this emotion quickly erodes”.


“Many women have an image of the lone female traveller as a twenty something skinny suntanned backpacker, with open toed sandals, numerous tattoos, minimal underwear and sun bleached hair and can see no relationship between this Aphrodite and their post menopausal being. The few mainstream guide books which consider solo travel and women contribute to this image by addressing issues such as coping with menstruation on the road and unwanted sexual predation, while at the same time failing to discuss the need for frequent bathroom breaks and therapeutic insoles, hence alienating again the older cohort. If you go at your own pace, schedule rest time, wear sensible footwear and adjust any itinerary according to personal health and fitness needs, nothing should stop you”.


“Traveling by yourself ensures answering to no one. No one knows what you are doing: you can choose one day to eat three large gelatos, drink only red wine and consume no healthy vegetables, it is totally your decision. In Vienna during the World Cup of Soccer a few years ago I found the most amazing outside cafe which served huge ice cream sundaes in what looked like glass gold fish bowls and played the soccer games on large plasma screen TVs. For four consecutive afternoons I went to this cafe and ordered a different sundae (travel research right?) and sat watching the soccer. After the second day the waiter saved me a seat and the gelatoes increased in size as did his tip. I could have maybe seen more of Vienna, tried different cafes, seen a few more museums and chateaux, explored more galleries, but I did what I wanted to do and will never forget this time”.



“Before menopause whenever I booked a trip the first thing I calculated would not be the cost, the emotional impact on my children, the clothes I needed, but instead I would assess the probability I would be having my period when away. For this avid female traveller the joy of not packing tampons is akin to gaining an engagement ring from George Clooney. And it was not until the monthly unannounced bleeding stopped did I realize what a pain menstruation is to the travelling woman. Menstruation can be embarrassing not only for those in this state, but for those around. Let me share. During one of my first trips to North America I found myself in the washroom at the back of a Greyhound bus in New Jersey. I was sitting on the toilet and balancing a wrapped tampon on my knee when suddenly the bus jerked and the cylindrical device fell to the floor and rolled under the locked washroom door and into the corridor of the bus, where it continued to roll around for my entire three hour journey, and maybe beyond. The journey was tense. Just when I thought this wad of cellophane wrapped cotton had made its last appearance and thankfully been wedged under a seat, or become stuck in an air vent, it would re-appear, content to entertain the bored passengers as it danced around the moving vehicle. Of course I, and my fellow passengers tried to ignore it but, as luck would have it, a six year old boy whose stupid mother had failed to bring anything to entertain her son on this journey did insist on asking in a loud voice if he could go and pick up the white tube. When denied the opportunity the child then gave an articulate full account of the tampons location, velocity and direction. This three hour journey took a lifetime to complete. Is it any wonder I love my post-menopausal, non-bleeding body?