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    An annual solo trip reminds me of who I am outside being a mom. Sometimes, I feel guilty for spending the time and money, but it’s worth it.

    Tiffany Nieslanik takes an annual solo trip and always comes back to her family refreshed.

    Courtesy Tiffany Nieslanik

    I love traveling and enjoy taking solo trips to reconnect with who I am outside being a mom.Every year, I take a trip by myself and always come back to my family feeling refreshed.Though I sometimes feel guilty for spending the time and money, it’s so worth it.

    I grew up moving often, rarely attending the same school for a full year, and learning to find my way around new places every few months. For better or worse, this shaped how I approached life as an adult, making me more open to new places, people, and experiences throughout my life.

    One result of this openness is a love of travel — I’ve visited 40 of the 50 United States and 25 countries (and counting). Traveling is a core part of who I am, and while I love the ability to travel with my family, it’s also a priority for me to take a trip once a year by myself or with friends to stay connected to the person I was before having kids.

    I started traveling alone early in life

    In my early 20s, I was offered a severance package when my company merged with another and laid off much of the staff, including me. With no strong ties to the city I lived in at the time and no real love for the work, I decided to take the money, buy a one-way ticket to Europe, and see how long I could make it last.

    I stayed in Europe for six months, traveling by train anywhere I wanted to go on a whim. I drank the best whiskey sour of my life in a back-alley bar in Krakow, learned about the drum-and-bass scene in Berlin from a Parisian hostel mate, watched a fútbol match in San Sebastian with locals, and learned to snowboard from an Australian trio of plumbers in Chamonix.

    The trip changed my view of traveling alone. No longer was it scary or unattainable. Instead, it was full of magical surprises and kind people — strangers who became fast friends. It was joyful and enthralling, and I loved it.

    Tiffany Nieslanik enjoys going to different locations all around the world.

    Courtesy Tiffany Nieslanik

    Learning to travel as a parent and partner

    About a decade later, after my love of solo travel was well-established, I met and married my husband, and then I became a parent. One of the things my now-husband quickly learned about me was that I wanted to continue traveling alone occasionally, and he has always supported me in this. So, I still take an annual solo trip these days.

    While it’s hard to leave my family behind, it’s also hard to say no to things that feed my soul. Like many parts of parenting, traveling solo is a push-pull in two directions for me. I want to explore the world, and I also want to soak up every moment I can with my family.

    So, I have some rules about when and how I travel. I never take trips when I know or suspect something big might happen, like an important school event or one of my kids taking their first step soon. I usually plan trips that last three to four days, but never more than seven. (For now, anyway, as the kids get older, that might change.) And I’m always available for Facetime at some point during the day.

    But I also always make time for the trip.

    Tiffany Nieslanik traveled all over Europe when she was younger, and it showed her that solo travel isn’t scary.

    Courtesy Tiffany Nieslanik

    Solo trips refresh me and help me maintain my identity

    At some point, I’ll become an empty nester. When that time comes, I don’t want to have forgotten who I am outside “mom,” and my annual solo trip helps me remember who that is. They offer an opportunity to explore what I’m interested in and what it feels like to think about what I want to do with my “one wild and precious life.”

    From learning to build my first campfire in the Rocky Mountains to learning the history of the Alhambra in Spain, each trip I’ve been privileged to take has taught me something new about myself and the world. While I sometimes feel slightly guilty about taking time for myself and spending money on a solo trip — even if they aren’t necessarily luxury destinations — at the end of each one, I’m grateful for the reminder of who I am as my own person. Not a wife, not a mother, not an employee. Just a person living in this amazing world with limited time to explore it on my own terms.

    As a woman and a mother, I know it isn’t always easy to make or take time for ourselves. But after two decades of traveling alone, I can promise you it’s always worth it.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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