Expect the Unexpected
Relatively early in our retirement, we took a three and a half week trip to Europe and visited three countries; Spain, France and Belgium. It was wonderful!
About nine months later I was ready to plan our next adventure. Given the fun we'd had on the previous trip, more European destinations seemed logical. When I asked my husband which places he wanted to visit he asked, "You want to go again? Already?" Apparently he wasn't eager to go again. Or at least not so soon.
That shocked me! We'd spent over 30 years working hard and saving so that we could "travel in retirement". His ho-hum attitude about European travel threw me for a loop and had me re-thinking how I was going to spend the second half of my life.
It's worth mentioning that my husband suffers from migraines, and overseas travel and many foods trigger them. Even though he's a really good sport, he made it clear that Europe with a migraine isn't all that magical.
For the next few months I did some serious thinking and took some imaginary trips via YouTube. I stumbled across the concept of "Solo Travel" and listened to advice from a number of female solo travelers. Interestingly, they were all young, but as far as I could tell, age would only make my experience easier.
I also thought about traveling with friends more and do enjoy that, but I found myself wondering what I'd do if I was able to make every decision myself. The thought was suprisingly energizing.
Up to that point, I'd never considered the idea of traveling alone, and initially I wondered if I could do it in a foreign country. It took me a while to realize that I'd done it many times in the past for business, and I figured a leisure trip would only be easier.
The next thing I knew, I'd booked a flight to Paris and it departed in 27 days. Then I rented a tiny apartment. (And by tiny, I mean tiny; Airbnb advertised it as 194 sq ft - not meters.) The. Trip. Was. Heavenly. Having spent over 30 years working full time and raising kids, 11 days to myself was not too long. I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed it, but will simply include one proof point; eight months later I spent 23 days alone in Rome :)
Did I plan to visit Europe alone in retirement? Not in a million years. Do I enjoy spending time with my husband and even traveling with him? Yes! But I've learned that sometimes the unexpected can be even more fun than the expected.
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