Q. My husband died a while ago, and I’m thinking about taking my first vacation without him. Can you suggest trips or activities that might work? Are there special issues I should consider?
The answer is yes—and yes. We’re all different and have different needs, interests and preferences. But these are key questions to think about:
1) Should you go alone or with someone you know? Some of us feel comfortable vacationing alone, especially if we’ve done it before and had good experiences (for example in our single days). Others can’t conceive of traveling without company. If you don’t want to go alone, can you think of a suitable companion? Is this an easy person to be with, especially if you’re sharing a room? It’s one thing to go to dinner with someone, another to spend five or ten days together.
(2) Should you go on a tour, a cruise, or try another option? The choices are endless. A friend of mine went to a spa alone. Or you can center a vacation on an interest of yours, such as art, archeology, gardens, bird watching, or history. Museums and college alumni associations offer tours and cruises. Check out the Sierra Club for outdoor vacations (for beginners on up), as well as volunteer vacations.
My own first vacation as a widow was a “bridge cruise.” I had never ever traveled alone, except for a few business trips. Playing bridge (which I had recently taken up), the built-in social life, and cruising to intriguing destinations seemed like a perfect combination. At dinner, I would sit with other group members who shared a central interest. If I wasn’t comfortable with them, I could switch to another table the next night. Another plus was the structure of daily lessons and practice play, and the opportunity to meet new people. Many other specialized cruises focus on literature, politics, films, food, and a long list of other subjects.
(3) Should you take a “dry run” first? Six months before the cruise, I took a mini-trip to visit friends in San Antonio and Los Angeles. These were people who cared about me. I could be totally myself and feel safe. I spent three days in each place—not too long, but long enough. This trip gave me confidence to try something more adventurous the next time. You don’t have to go far to try this. A weekend with easy-to-be-with friends or family a two-hour drive away can be an important experience. You can learn a lot about yourself.
Do mention such possibilities to others and get their feedback. Frequently people offer great ideas and information you’d never have thought of on your own.
If you have a question for Florence, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist, author—and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Images via stock.xchng: ajpetebyu1 (top), mer2008 (middle), Juanra (bottom)