Photo by Christian Großekathöfer.
I’m sitting on the hotel bed in Panama City, Panama, sipping coffee and killing time before our 10:30 a.m. taxi arrives to take us to the airport. This is the first time in a long time I’ve traveled anywhere without my nearly-constant entourage of my hubby and four kids.
It’s been very different traveling without them.
First of all, the fact that I’m sitting here “killing time” before an international flight is, like, totally foreign to me. Usually there are always things to do in order to get the crew ready – and I’m the one doing most of them.
Here are some other differences I’ve observed during this trip:
- Wow, I’m swimming in time all of sudden. We had a 40-minute layover between flights coming here; normally I would have panicked at the thought of lugging the entire family across the airport to board our connecting flight. Everyone needs to use the bathroom; the kids move slowly; and we have 50-times more stuff to haul around. But this time, I didn’t blink an eye.
- That said, I missed out on the advanced “flying with small children” boarding privilege, and I almost had to check my carry-on because they barely had space to stow it by the time I got to my seat. If only I had a baby to carry just for that one moment!
- During the flight I was unbelievably bored. It hit me how caring for children really fills up your time… and kind of makes it go by faster.
- I sort of – almost – actually slept a little on the flight. Never happens with kids. Never. (This is a totally different matter for my husband who instantly falls asleep – so soundly that he will drool – ten minutes into the flight. Even with a screaming child next to him. And yes, that really did happen once.)
- I engaged more with strangers without the kids around. But it took me a while to realize I could do this. This was nice. Usually I’m focused like a laser beam on my own posse and miss out on connecting with other adults.
- When we landed, it was severely anti-climatic. When you finish a flight with five people in tow, you can’t help but feel a little sense of accomplishment. Like you just completed a 5K or something. When you fly alone, who the heck cares? Everyone can do that.
- Getting around town was 525% easier without kids. We usually have to take two taxis or rent a huge minivan.
- Eating was a simple affair. No need to buy truckloads of string cheese or other snacks to keep around the hotel room. If we wanted to eat plain yogurt with pineapple for dinner, no one was going to complain.
- I saw things 100% of the time through a (somewhat) mature adult’s eyes. No constant barrage of questions and comments relating to the color pink, odd scraps of garbage on the sidewalk, when we’re going to eat next and when we’re going to finally see a monkey.
- Still, I missed seeing the world through younger and more curious eyes. They pick up on things I might otherwise overlook, and their wonder and excitement is contagious.
All in all, wow, do I miss my chipmunks. I can’t wait to see them later tonight!
Your turn: Have you made a trip alone after traveling with only your kids for an extending period of time? What did you like or didn’t like about the experience?