Travelling without kids

There are books telling you how to travel with kids. But what about travelling without them when you’ve been doing it for so many years?

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There are many articles about travelling with kids, giving tips on what to expect, how to manage, etc. But what about travelling without kids? I haven’t travelled without one or more kids for 20+ years, at least not outside of England, until this weekend. It felt weird. I know I’m supposed to think it was liberating, and there was a sort of freedom in not having to seek out vegan cafes and being able to go out at 10am rather than midday after teenagers have roused themselves from the pit of slumber.

However, there was also a bit of a sense of having left something behind. All the travel rituals went out of the window. I remember going on Easyjet back in the day – when daughter three was under two and we could afford to travel by plane – and we would always order soup with croutons. It was part of the general excitement and, I told myself, helped to keep the plane in the air. We would also make puppets out of paper bags and rate the safety demonstration. Instead I was just sat there on the plane reading my book.

It didn’t help that I went to a place we have always travelled to as a family. A place seeded with a million memories. I walked past parks and venues and cafes that we have spent many hours in. But there was no-one with me who remembered them. It’s a place that is pulsating, in particular, with memories of daughter one. They are all happy ones, but every happy memory is now tinged with such sadness that it is hard to do more than skim over the top of them.

Being there again without the kids also reminds me that time is passing. New buildings have popped up, despite many staying the same. There are more people everywhere, new restaurants from different parts of the world. Everything is more global.

I tried to contact the kids back home to tell them about the changes. The only person who replied was daughter two who reported that she was busy writing a very boring essay. Fortunately, it is about a very obscure subject relating to religion that I cannot help her with. Daughter three was working round the clock and struggling with tube delays and only son was simply too busy on Minecraft, although he did contact me mid weekend to ask for the Disney channel login. At least it was contact of a kind.

But what is really great about travelling without the kids is coming back to them. Only son even turned up unexpectedly at the airport to greet me. And there appears, as yet, to be no ulterior motive.



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