By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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MP900386054I don’t know if I can do it.

This week, for the first time in my life ever, I will be traveling alone.

For those accustomed to business trips, as well as others with scattered family and friends, this likely sounds crazy. After all, I’m past the half-century mark age-wise, but the farthest I’ve ever been by myself is the Jersey Shore, and until now I’ve always had a dog in tow. Anyone who travels with a dog knows you are most definitely not alone when the dog is whining and climbing on the back seat and barking at the gas station attendant through the car window.

But this trip is different. No dog, no husband, no kids. Just me. And I’m not sure if I can handle it.

I don’t care much for traveling. I like it when I get to where I’m going, but the getting there? Not so much. Multiple body scans and the mere thought of taking off my shoes and standing barefoot or in my socks on a germ-infested rug at the airport make me feel light-headed.

Plus, I consider myself directionally dyslexic. I could get lost driving around the block in my own development. Currently, a bridge is out in my neighborhood, and having to direct people to my house via an alternate route gives me a mini panic attack, despite the fact that I’ve lived here for over 25 years. Since I’ll be renting a car and driving to my destination after the flight, well, let’s just say the odds are slim to none that I’ll get where I’m going without getting lost and being significantly late.

But none of the above is what worries me. (Well, not too much, anyway.)

What worries me is the packing.

See, up until now, my forays in travel have been primarily family affairs. In addition to my husband and myself, trips always involved at least two, and usually all three, kids. And, although they are all well into their twenties and have been for some time, I have inserted myself into the packing process every time a suitcase makes its appearance.

In my defense, when you have little kids and you’re the mom, you either pack for them or give them lists of what to pack, checking and double checking to make sure your son brings underwear and your daughters don’t bring 18 bathing suits apiece. You make sure your husband has at least one outfit for a night out, along with shoes and socks. And let’s not forget the personal care items. I mean, who else but the mom is going to remember everyone’s medicines, toothbrushes, band-aids and Q-tips?

Generally, the packing process takes about a week, from listing what everyone should bring to making sure the laundry is clean, to hauling out the suitcases from the attic, to running to the drug store to stock up on travel sizes of all the stuff you need to bring but isn’t allowed on the plane in the size container you already have it in. (Someone is scoring big on that racket, for sure.) The actual packing of the suitcases is a project in itself, requiring copious amounts of clear plastic bags as well as a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out of them–primarily so my daughters can, in fact, bring 18 bathing suits apiece.

It’s an arduous undertaking, but one that I’m well-practiced in. Until now, that is.

Because now, I’m packing a single suitcase, just for me. I only have to worry about my own clothes and itty-bitty bottles of shampoo. The only bathing suits I need to pack are my own. Ditto for shoes, toothbrushes and Q-tips.

You’d think I’d be grateful to have an opportunity to think of just myself, but I’ve been hyper-ventilating for days, afraid that I’m missing something simply because there’s so much less to miss. I could handle multiple people, bags and supplies with ease. Now that I’m on my own, though, I’m overwhelmed–by simplicity.

I know it’s just a matter of de-programming. Packing and traveling for one has got to be easier than doing the same with an entourage. And there is the matter of a lovely drive, by myself, with full control of the radio and no whining dog, to look forward to.

You know, I think I’ll be just fine.

What’s your take on traveling alone? Click “comments” below and share!