I am currently sitting on the patio of a beach condo I rented for a few days in Carolina Beach, which is on the North Carolina coast, just outside of Wilmington.
I started my annual tradition of solo vacations 9 years ago. I was working for Goldman Sachs at the time and I LOVED my job; I worked with really, really smart people and had fantastic bosses my entire time there. I enjoyed the work and was challenged. It was also an extremely competitive environment, part of which I thrived on, and part of which really burned me out. I hadn’t taken any time off in a while and was feeling frayed. I finally booked a 2.5 day trip to Park City, by myself. I got a great room at nice resort (Utah travel tip: you can get sweet discounts at all the super nice lodges in the summer and don’t have to deal with all that pesky snow 😉 ). I worked out, I went shopping, I got a massage, I went to restaurants by myself, I hiked by myself (on a well-travel path – safety first!). It was HEAVENLY. It was also really empowering.
I love my friends and family dearly, and I love spending time with them and traveling them. But there is something about a solo vacation and that precious alone time, away from the responsibilities of work and home. Being able to do whatever I want, when I want, with no concessions or no schedule. It sounds a bit selfish, right? Yeah, it is. That’s the point. It’s so rare that we live just for ourselves without considering others – and that is a good thing. We can’t all walk around being selfish and self-centered assholes in our daily lives. But I’m a FIRM believer in self care (and I have a blog post dedicated to that topic alone in the works!), and one of the best ways to ensure self care happens is taking a solo vacation. Find things that feel indulgent – and DO THEM.
I love running and doing CrossFit and did both of those yesterday. I went to CrossFit Carolina Beach and then took an easy run. But I also make a point to fit leisurely walks and/or yoga into my vacation. Both of those are a big change from my normal workout routine and feel like completely indulgent self-care.
I love early mornings (especially at the beach) but I’ve been seriously lacking in sleep. So I slept in until 8 AM this morning and didn’t worry about “all the hours I lost in the day.” Again, it felt super indulgent. If I had been with someone else, I would have felt the pressure to get up to make sure they weren’t waiting on me and to make sure coffee was ready and breakfast was planned out.
I love writing and I’ve realized I do my best writing in the mornings, but with my current schedule, I rarely have time to write before heading into the office. Being able to sit on the deck and write this post at 9 AM feels super indulgent.
I love traveling with others and sharing in new experiences or relishing in the comfort of familiar places. But when you travel with others, there is naturally give and take and more effort that goes into planning and deciding what to do. When I travel by myself, I set the schedule (or lack thereof), and I make all the decisions. And both of those are really good for me – I tend to OVER-schedule so when I travel alone, I try not to set a schedule and just go with the flow (which then benefits others I travel with because I have practice in being less planner crazy.;). And I can be extremely indecisive (my closest friends are nodding their heads vigorously) and traveling alone forces me to make all the decisions, even something as simple as where to eat and when to workout.
Traveling alone also gives me lots of time to think. At home, there is always something to do and I get so focused on getting things done, that I rarely leave truly quiet time. My walks turn into walks listening podcasts. My runs turn into “what music will help me run the fastest?” An evening alone turns into folding laundry with the Food Network on. None of these are bad – but it fills my brain with other things and doesn’t leave space for my own thoughts to come through. Without all the responsibilities and pressures of home, I’m more inclined to take it easy and be easy on myself. But something about being with others on vacation trips the circuit to get back into “go go go” mode so I don’t inconvenience anyone; I try to do all “my things” as quickly and efficiently as possible, defeating the purpose of vacation. And I think women are especially prone to this – we want to make others happy so much (which is a beautiful and lovely trait), but we often exchange our self care and mental health in doing so.
Sometimes I do 100% solo vacations and other times I have someone meet me after a few days – both are great. I have a friend coming to the beach later this evening and she’ll be with me through Sunday. I’m excited to have some company but I’m relishing in my alone time for the rest of the day. So with that, I’m off to go on a walk and find some breakfast and maybe a yoga class later!
Do you travel alone? Does it scare you? I hear from a lot of people that they’re uncomfortable with it. Granted you need to be smart about where you go and where you stay, but I think it’s definitely feasible!
If you’ve traveled alone, what did you love about it? Any tips? If you haven’t, where would you want to go?