Find Yourself in Solo Travel

When my children were ages 7 and 13, I took my first solo trip without my family.  I was a stay at home mom, with a busy photography business, and I was in desperate need of me time. 


I think most parents can understand my need to take a trip alone.  I spent my days cooking, cleaning, carpooling, meetings,  suddenly found myself over-worked, over-scheduled and a little under-appreciated.  Most parents feel this way, and I think it's good to admit it.   I forgot what it was like to just do something for myself.   And to go off the beaten path where the culture was completely foreign and learn something new about myself.

Thankfully, my husband was completely supportive.   He knew when he married me that I had a huge wanderlust, and after having kids, we had put traveling on a shelf.   Asia wasn't on his bucket list, like it was mine, so he was happy to take the kids for the week, and the grandparents happily agreed to watch them for the remainder.   I felt very fortunate. 

You Have To Lose Yourself, To Find Yourself

My first solo trip was a 3 week trek through China, Tibet and Hong Kong.  To be safe traveling solo, I chose Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) who specializes in small group and solo adventure travels.   Everyone in my group was from around the world and we all traveled to Beijing to meet.   The amazing trip included a 2-day train through the heart of China, a cruise down the Yangtze River, 4x4'ing to the Mongolian border where we walked on the most ancient part of The Great Wall, and an overnight stay at an artist village in old Wuhan.  The best part of the trip was flying over the vast himalayans in a small plane and traveling to mystical Tibet.   In Tibet we visited several monasteries and an orphanage.

My friends and family thought I was a little crazy to go so far away, on my own, for so long.  But the second I booked it, my heart soared. This had been a dream for me to see Asia.   No, I didn't run halfway around the world to get away from my family, some asked.   But, I did have that lingering mommy question, "Is this all there is - carpools and suburbia?”

"So, did you talk to a monk on a mountain top,"  my friend asked when I returned?  Absolutely, but he didn't have any answers for me.  The answers came from a small, poor Orphanage that I visited in Lhasa, Tibet.  That’s where I had my "ah-hah moment." 

So, did you talk to a monk on a mountain top?," my friend asked.

Sitting in a cold, lonely corner of the Orphanage, several love-hungry children begged for a place on my lap. Their faces covered in dried dirt and some tears. They couldn’t get enough of hugging me, and rocking two at a time on my knee in a small rocking chair.   I was completely humbled by the immense value of a mother's hug. These children had nothing, less than nothing.  No shoes, tattered clothes, a makeshift roof over their heads, just barely food and water to survive. They also had no jackets for the Tibetan winters, no toys or games, just each other for comfort and love.

My heart broke for each of them.   I wanted to take them all home.  As I sat there holding several who didn't want to release my hand, I thought how incredibly sad it was that they would never know the depth and power of a mother's love and devotion.  No one to take them to sport practices, no one to celebrate birthdays with them, no one to fight for or comfort them.

 I suddenly realized how blessed I was to have my two kids back home, in their warm beds, to love, scold, feed, worry and carpool every day.  Something so mundane suddenly appeared a monumentally important thing to be doing.   I realized my earlier fatigue was just a mommy indicator that I was giving my family my all.   I was blessed to have  a beautiful home to live in, abundance of food, and children to love deeply.   It hit me, if this is all there is, then yes, I'm very thankful and fulfilled with my carpools and suburban life.  And, boy my kids are lucky too!!   Had I not gone alone on this trip, I might not have learned to appreciate my life so passionately.

When I returned home, I made a point of sharing their story and these tough images with my family.  My kids wanted to do something to help the Orphanage, so we put on a Clothes Drive at their school and collected about 20 boxes of warm clothes.  We then shipped the boxes back to the Orphanage.   I later received a beautiful, handwritten "Thank You" from the Orphanage, which I shared with our kid's school.

I think it's moments like this that bring you the greatest reasons to travel solo. Don't let anything hold you back from your dreams. Traveling solo is a growing up experience, no matter your age.   It widens your horizons, beliefs and makes you a global citizen.  Below are pictures of my kids then and now.  Boy  have they grown!!  So proud.

Fine Art from Asia

Take home the beauty and splendor of China in these fine art prints or products. 

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Tracy McCrackin

Tracy Heschong-McCrackin is an award-winning writer and photographer, who has had her work recognized across the country.  Several of her images have been Editor Favorites at NatGeoYourShot.  

She started her photography studio 20 years ago and specialized in portraits, landscapes and commercial photography. Tracy draws much of her inspiration from her travels. She has a passion for investigating off the beaten path locations, cultures and individuals. It is those moments of exploration that her creativity is ignited and much of her artwork is born. She is a photographer, designer and travel blogger. Her gallery can be found at:


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