What am I now? A female solo travel blogger?
This week I am going to Germany. ON MY OWN. As I rarely leave the country without three constantly squabbling accessories, and a husband to shuffle the passports and sort out the car hire, it’ll be a shock to the system. But on the plus side I’ll have time to consider how accessible a selection of German towns and cities are for families with young kids or granny in tow… without having to actually have young kids or granny in tow…
Going solo and my crisis of identity
I go to pack my case. And then I realise I don’t possess one. How have I reached the tender age of 44 without possessing a compact and easily wheel-able Louis Vuitton? Of course I have a raft of travel bags, trailers and rucksacks that over the years have transported the tear stained possessions of three children as well as tons of nappies, bread sticks and more recently Nintendo DS games. But no case for the girl about town.
I run around the house to see if anyone else has a viable suitcase. Granny has a shopping trolley. The other Granny has a case the size of a sofa and it’s already packed full of Christmas presents she has sourced over the last eight months. Matthew has a selection of kit bags that smell of yesterday’s feet. Hannah has a lilac Disney Princess case. For a moment I imagine turning up at the airport with that? Not going to happen.
The Disney suitcase precipitates a minor identity crisis. Who am I on this trip? I can’t be a family travel blogger; not without the family. I could easily be a backpacker, but I want to take a girly suitcase. Could I be a female solo travel blogger? Nah, I’m married and anyway I don’t have enough attitude.
Because I’m worth it
But there are advantages to solo travel, of that I’m sure. In the past, there has been an absolute ban on hair straighteners. This week I will straighten the life out of my hair. I will wash it everyday, because I’m worth it. I will take more than three pairs of knickers and take pleasure in ignoring Stuart’s ‘wash one, dry one, wear one’ adventure touring rule. Not that that always worked out.
It will be a very different trip without having to organise a family onto the underground in a strange and unfamiliar city. Will I constantly feel as though I’ve left something back at the hotel? It will be a strange experience to eat dinner without having to convince anyone that prawns aren’t the spawn of the devil and that goulash isn’t ‘goo mash.’
But I won’t be able to forget the family for long. The point of the trip is to look at ‘barrier free’ Germany. In Mainz, Koblenz, Eifel and Dusseldorf, I’ll be seeing how they cater for all the family. From people like my mother in law who don’t walk very well, to mothers who can’t go anywhere without a double buggy. I’ll be seeing what a modern European tourist board is doing to cater for all these different groups, and checking out some family friendly hotels, parks and museums. On this trip I will be a single mum without the kids looking at how a mum can get around with the kids. Still following me?
Because I can do it
I’m not sure Stuart thinks I’m up to it. He keeps printing out itineraries and checking flight details. But I’m not sure he knows what he’s doing. He printed out the Delta Air Lines flight details on flights24.com this morning. Doesn’t he know where Germany is? If he doesn’t chill out I might just take up his offer and have that long weekend in New York.
An alarming prospect
I have to admit I’m scared. Not of travelling alone. I am very excited about being able to read a book in peace for five minutes and have a glass of wine without someone throwing it into my lap. I’m more scared about Stuart being home alone with the kids. Not because he’s disorganised, but because he does the whole domestic thing better than me. Or shall I say different to me. By the time I return on Saturday, there will be a whole new regime in place. New routines will have been established involving participation by all. A packed lunch production line will be in place. All the furniture will have been reorganised. Democracy will veer towards dictatorship. A mum shaped gap will have closed, leaving me out in the cold until chaos reigns once more. There will be no excuses for not doing the washing. There will be no excess food in the fridge and lists will have been made for every activity that it is possible to have a list for.
Another suitcase in another hall?
There will be no chance of littering the hall with my case. Oh dear, a case! What to do? I’ll have to tape some friends for a grown up bag, otherwise I’ll be checking in at the Lufthansa desk with a vomit lilac Disney Princess bag. And people will think I’m a Disney blogger.