My Spanish Getaway: Traveling Abroad Alone

I did something out of the norm a few weeks ago. (Well, at least out of the norm for me.) I took a trip alone to another country–Spain. This was not a trip that I had planned on my own, but was an opportunity that presented itself to me. It was an opportunity through my work to prepare for student travel and embark on professional learning as an art and art history educator. This was a trip, nonetheless, where I would be traveling alone, submerging myself in a culture that was completely foreign to me, and meeting and traveling with strangers that would soon become friends.

my spanish getaway: traveling abroad all alone
An overlook in Toledo, Spain.

It was something that I had needed for a long time, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I have been exhausted from full-time work. Our schedules have been overwhelming, with my husband coaching until late at night and the girls with school and other activities. I was going nonstop from 5:30 in the morning until about 8:00 at night.  

I needed something and it needed to be just for me. I’ve done the typical spa days or afternoons shopping, but it never enriched my soul.

When I was offered this opportunity I felt excited, but I also felt guilt. I felt guilty about leaving my girls. I felt guilty for leaving my husband and saddened to not be able to experience this with him. Additionally, I was nervous about traveling alone and experiencing all of my flying anxieties without any support. But I knew that I had to do it. If I passed up this opportunity, I knew that someday, at sometime, I would end up regretting it.

I was a ball of emotions on the day that I left: nervous, excited, and curious. For so long I have traveled the world with my husband and have witnessed new cultures with him by my side. Any weekend getaways have been spent with my closest girlfriends or my family. For as long as I can remember, I have not taken a trip with just myself. It was a new opportunity and one that I am so thankful that I did.

Prior to Mother’s Day of this year, a friend of mine and fellow ICMB contributor posted an article about the women our mothers used to be. It was a well-written and beautiful article about the women that were once carefree, adventurous, and wild before the days when they became known as “mom.” It got me thinking about the woman that I once was.

Although I am very satisfied with where life has lead me, I often wonder from time to time, “What ever happened to that girl I used to be?”

Throughout the years I have found myself settling more. I think of myself as a homebody now, a little less adventurous. And that’s ok, but at times I miss the other girl…

The girl with the pink hair, the trendy outfits, and spontaneity.

The city girl from Chicago who frequently visited music venues to indulge in the newest Indie band.

The night owl that would hang out with friends at the nearest social event till late in the evening to early morning.

The Cubs fan that used to skip college classes on Tuesdays to attend a ball game.

The creative soul that would spend her days painting and getting lost in her creativity.

From time to time, that girl comes out to play and I get a sense of her. Taking a solo getaway definitely brought that girl back to the forefront.

my spanish getaway: traveling abroad all alone
My husband and I when we were in our mid twenties. Wild, young, and carefree.

I received a sense of empowerment through my travel. When my plane landed, I remember smiling and thinking to myself, I did it. I traveled across the ocean and I was about to embark on an adventure completely out of my comfort zone. There was no turning back, and I’d have to embrace everything that came my way. It’s an experience that I will never forget. I will look back now knowing that I was adventurous, even if it was for a short period of time. And for that I’m proud of myself. 

If there’s one thing that I got from this trip, it’s that it’s alright to get out and indulge yourself in something that makes you happy. You can explore new things and be able to do that alone without feeling any guilt.

By traveling to Spain alone I was able to let loose again. I got to make my own decisions and be independent. No, this was not an “Eat, Pray, Love” kind of adventure. I was not (nor am I now) in a midlife crisis or in need of a change. I definitely missed my husband and my girls, but I like to think of this trip as a little fine-tuning.

my spanish getaway: traveling abroad all alone
A selfie in my hotel room in Spain moments before I set out for the day.

I was able to rejuvenate my soul, energize my mind, and come home refreshed. It was something that I was happy to have been a part of, one that I hope to do again, and something that I recommend for others.



Mary, a native of Rockford, Illinois, attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where she received her BA in Secondary Art Education. In 2007, she moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after accepting a position as a high school visual arts teacher with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She and her husband, Collin, who is a teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, reside in Cedar Rapids with their daughters, Zoey and Munroe. Zoey is five and Munroe will be turning one in October 2016. In addition to being a full time mommy, full time teacher, and writer for the mom’s blog, she is also a professional artist who has shown and published works both nationally and internationally. Mary enjoys traveling, painting, and most of all, spending time with her family.


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