CrossFit/ Happiness/ Running/ Travel

Why I Take Solo Vacations (and recommend you do too)

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.

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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. 

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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.

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Crossfit Carolina Beach NC

Crossfit Carolina Beach

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.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Carolina Beach Pier

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?

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  • Kayla

    I really love this post! I totally agree with you. I think it’s so important to be able to hang out with yourself and not get anxious or uncomfortable. I mean, you’re the only one who truly knows what you need, right? have an amazing time!

  • lauren

    Teri, I SO needed this right now. I have always been a very independent person and would go on day trips by myself. I’m going to meet my husband in France on his work trip next week for a quick weekend and found out that he has to work all day Thursday and Friday so I’ll be solo. I was really bummed and was letting it drag me down. This inspired me to take advantage of it and just relax, go with the flow, and do what I want to do for a day or two. Thanks!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]

      Oh this was good timing! I hope you had a wonderful time the past two days! What did you end up doing?

  • Lesley

    I really resonated with this post! I haven’t had a solo getaway in a long time but when I was younger I frequently did mini vacations by myself and loved it. I should do it again! It’s true, even when you are with people you love, you still have that urge or “anxious” feeling about something so simple as making someone else breakfast. It’s nice to just relax!

  • Mary

    oh I LOVE to travel alone. make my own schedule, do my thing. some days that means jam packed with activities, other days it means sitting in bed all day watching movies. I will say though, I love travelling with my sister more. we both do our own things, set our own schedules, and if one of us is doing something the other wants to join in on, awesome. if not- we do things solo. it works out very nicely!

  • Holly

    you know i’m with you on this one! have a restful, relaxing vacation my dear. love you!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed

    Idk, I’m SO social, I’m not sure I’d enjoy it. I really like having a partner in crime. Maybe once I have kids this would be more appealing haha.

  • Kristi

    That sounds great. With little ones and a hubby it’s so not in the cards for me. If this is something you’ll want to continue, definitely make it a point to demonstrate all those reasons to your future husband. I’m definitely past the point of being able to score an entire vacation alone. I still think kiddos should see their mom have time away from them and everyone survive it.

  • Andrea

    Teri, I already thought you were awesome and with this post it’s confirmed. I agree, we need to all practice self care and allow ourselves indulgences in life. Especially women. We often put everyone before ourselves, trying to do it all, and often find ourselves burnt out. In the end that way of being doesn’t really serve anyone. My oldest friend often travels internationally alone – Thailand, India – I admire that. I have yet to do it myself but love the idea of starting with a quiet weekend at the beach. Writing at 9am with coffee is heaven for me so I’m glad you got to enjoy the indulgence today. Happy weekend!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]

      Your comment put a big smile on my face. 🙂

      That is so impressive she travels internationally alone. That would take a LOT of courage for me to do that!

  • Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl

    I feel like I’ve let myself feel lonely too often to fully embrace a true solo vacation, but on this trip to England I am spending several weekday going around by myself as friends are working. I think it is a good mix of being with others (who are the primary reason I am here, to visit them!) but also doing my own thing. I felt indulgent just doing a long run, relaxing at a cafe, and meeting a friend for supper yesterday because I wasn’t technically taking full advantage of being here by doing tons of tourism. But it was what I wanted and needed!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]

      that sounds like a perfect combo on a trip!! And I loooove relaxing at a cafe – what is it about a quaint cafe that is just perfect?

    • Elaine

      I am struck by the way you say you “let yourself feel lonely,” (an empowered choice) instead of how I usually say “I’m so lonely.” (a helpless victim mentailty) What an amazing epiphany for me. It’s my job to seek the remedy to loneliness. Thank you for that!

      I think for me, a solo vacation whether that means a day of no commitments at home, or a refreshing change of scenery by actually going away, is absolutely vital. It helps me reflect, and I almost always have defining moments, whispers about how to shift my perspective or direction. It also helps me be a stronger more differentiated individual when I rejoin society.

      Lovely article, lovely thoughts and comments following it too.

  • Nancy

    I need to start vacationing elsewhere, than flying back home to my parents home lol 🙁 That doesn’t really count as solo vacationing to me.

  • Annie

    I LOVE solo trips!! I’ve taken a few – one night in Glenwood Springs, CO, a few nights to myself in Roatan, Honduras, a couple nights in Iceland, and some solo camping in the Olympic Mountains in WA. Truly so peaceful and good for the soul. It feels so nice to not have to feel guilty about sleeping as long as you want, eating what you want, reading as long as you want, etc. What always strikes me are the comments I receive from others- people seem so taken aback when they learn that I travel alone. Also, as women we’re constantly told that we’re in continual danger of being assaulted. I think it’s important to be mindful of safety, but I also think it prevents a lot of women from venturing out on their own for travels and adventures (and passing judgment on others who do). This post inspired me to plan a few solo days away soon!!!

    • Laura

      I was just commenting and noticed yours here, Annie 🙂 You have inspired me to venture out on my own – you’re awesome!
      I meant to share, one of my favorite adventure bloggers is Adventures of the Pint – she does a ton of summit hikes and solo trips, check her out. Also, Tiffany Epiphany – she is headed to Europe for a few months of travel!

    • Teri [a foodie stays fit]

      I think you’re totally right that women have been conditioned to be scared, which is sad. I often feel that way myself! All your solo trips sounds AMAZING!

  • Rachel M.

    I have always been a totally independent type of person, so when I needed a vacation I had no problem with going alone. True, if I had a significant other it might have been nice as well but I have no regrets about venturing out on my own. I decided to go on a cruise by myself – something I’ve enjoyed with family in the past. It felt great. I picked the cruise line, the destinations I wanted and once on board picked the excursions I wanted, ate where and when I wanted. I left time for doing new things (hello scuba diving!) and for relaxing as well, and never felt guilty about sitting around doing nothing. It was awesome and so rejuvenating. Many of the people I met couldn’t believe I was there alone but having conveyed a sense of confidence they all ended up thinking it was really cool. I would totally go again!

  • Katie

    Looks like you’re having an incredible time…talk about relaxing & stress free… The introvert part in me LOVES having alone/me time, it recharges my “batteries” every time! Which has been an adjustment with kiddos but I’m working on it 😉

  • Laura

    Great post. Self care is very important, and solo travel is a great way to get some quality alone time!
    I have been fortunate to travel by myself to several family events (believe me, I relish solo airplane travel!) and last year, I took a few days to explore Boulder, Colorado totally on my own. It was great, I loved it and can’t wait to plan another trip soon.
    Enjoy your time this weekend!

  • Kristen

    You have me wanting to take a mini vacation alone! It sounds heavenly. I would definitely want to have my husband and daughter join me after a couple days though.

  • Livi @ Eat, Pray, Work It Out

    I’ve never traveled alone but I definitely want to!