This article was originally published on February 4, 2011
By Therese Cunniff, 12-time traveler, Weymouth, Massachusetts
As a child, we never traveled very far from home for family vacations, spending our summers visiting Cape Cod and the mountains of New Hampshire. And when I was married, I didn’t travel a lot with my husband. So, when my marriage ended, I found myself having to support my three children, a dog, and a mortgage on the house. I went back to school and worked extremely hard to provide the best for my children. I wanted to set a good example for my kids and teach them to appreciate everything they have.
Now that my children are grown with families of their own, I decided that it’s my time. I live in the same house that I spent all of my married life, and rather than spend money on finding a larger home, I’ve chosen to see what’s out there in the world and begin expanding my horizons by traveling.
I’ve never wanted to be a burden to my children. So instead of having them worry about how they would divide their time with each side of the family during the holidays, I pulled them aside one year and said, “Kids, no need to worry about coming over for Christmas, I’m going to Thailand! But don’t worry, I’ll send you postcards from the road.”
Praca do Comércio (Commerce Square) in Lisbon, Portugal, is home to one of the tallest Christmas trees in Europe—pictured here.
Since that first trip, I’ve traveled on many adventures with OAT, including trips to Peru, China, Antarctica, and Turkey. And during all of these trips, I’ve chosen to be matched with a roommate. I’m used to the small groups offered by OAT, so I was a little apprehensive about Grand Circle’s larger group size. But after hearing wonderful stories about Spain (a place I’ve always wanted to visit) from my dear friend Mary, and seeing that Grand Circle was offering a free Single Supplement, I knew my next journey would be on Grand Circle’s Spain & Portugal in Depth vacation.
I chose to travel on the pre-trip to Bilbao, Spain—and it was amazing. There was a couple on the trip with me, and they were just lovely. Since we traveled during Christmas, lights greeted us everywhere we went, which helped to keep the spirit of the season alive for me. And once we joined our group for the main trip, I realized that there was no need to worry about the larger group size. Everyone was wonderful! There was always someone to join me in doing whatever it was I wanted to do. I always had a companion to eat, explore the city, or simply to sit and chat with. It was a completely different kind of freedom I hadn’t enjoyed before on an OAT adventure, since I always felt as though I needed to hang out with my selected roommate.
I loved so much about my trip to Spain and Portugal, from the time of year we visited (it seemed as though each city tried to outdo the next with their Christmas lights!) to visiting the place where Picasso was born to entering a bull ring, where we met a young matador-in-training wearing an elaborately jeweled costume. It truly was an amazing trip, and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel with Grand Circle again.
Therese and the aspiring matador she met during a visit to a bull ring.
Since I made the decision to begin traveling the world, I’ve learned that each new place I visit brings a new dimension to my life. It’s a big world out there. And the more you travel, the more you understand—which helps that large world not seem so massive anymore. What have my travel experiences taught me? That’s simple. Travel keeps me young. It’s the best gift I’ve ever given myself.
Do you travel on your own? I'd love to hear about your experiences as a solo traveler. Email them to me at email@example.com.
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