Not ready to quit your job and your family and travel for a living? Wanting to try your first solo trip a little closer to home than Nepal? Me too. This last week I recently went on my first solo (non-work) vacation. This is not so much a where to go on your solo travels, but really a how to frame your travels.
What is your intent?
Is your trip some well-earned time away for some R&R? Or perhaps, this is an adventure for personal growth. How about a combination of both? The first step is to ask yourself, what am I hoping to get out of this? To be clear, your intent should not be a plan. Most restful vacations and/or personal growth moments are not born from rigidity. They are born from a healthy balance of intent and flexibility. The most important piece of your intent is that we remember it is not a check-list. You may or may not get to all of your intentions and you may not do all of them well. Your intent is not a plan, think of it like a direction for your energy, energy flows where intention goes. For so many of us, solo vacations are rare, use them wisely and make sure you return home a better version of yourself.
Taking public transit
Taking long showers
Dial down the cell usage
Getting lost (having days without a plan)
Doing something creative
Catching up on your reading
Talking to strangers
Going to a community event
Do something that is outside of your norm. This could be a yoga class, skydiving, or eating dinner out alone. The first night I dined out solo on my last trip, a toddler in a high chair looked over at me and asked, “Mama, why is she alone?”. Yikes, I think I actually broke into a sweat. Could it get more awkward? The mom looked up at me, her eyes darted away and she ignored her son. So, this was not me learning to scuba dive, but I put myself out there and it got kind of weird. The good news is I recovered and went on to more uncomfortable things with success, as will you.
It is possible that you rolled out solo to get away from your people. Work people, family friends; we all need a minute. That being said, truly appreciating and experiencing a new community is much easier if you make friends with the “locals” or other wanderers. This is not a new trick, alone or with friends and family this is how you find the good stuff. Make fast friends with all of the service workers. Your servers, bartenders, front desk staff and shop owners, they know where all the best food is, they know the ins and outs of timing and access to activities. The most important thing to do is smile and make eye contact, it’s amazing how many people will talk to you if you just look up. Put you phone away and see the people and community that surrounds you. Yes; google it, map it, yelp it, photograph it, then put it away. Be present.
Solo Dining Tips
Sit at the community table
Sit at the bar
Bring a book, map of the area or journal
Chips and salsa keep you super busy
Dine early or late, it’s easiest to get a seat and bonus, the server has more time to chat and share their thoughts on must dos and must sees.
Set Your Baggage Free, We Need Less Not More
Like it or not there is some inherent challenges being a party of one. Some can come from an already programmed toddler that believes it is unusual to be alone. Some can come from a bad server that is concerned that your party of one is taking up space, your bill will be small resulting in a small tip. Some can come from others in your life that have a “it must be nice for you” attitude. These are all things we can move through with ease if we don’t take it personally and we circle back to our intent.
The larger more difficult baggage concerning solo travel can be our own. This baggage can take the form of projecting or assuming judgment or lack of support from a partner or co-worker that is holding down the fort while you are gone. It can also take the form of feeling guilt for leaving your kids, dog, your business, your boyfriend or spouse behind. Newsflash, it turns out they will live without you and will probably be better off if you come back renewed and refreshed than if you had stayed stressed out and haggard. This is easier said than done and will take some practice. So, the best way to move beyond this is to travel solo more often. Remember, you do not need to cross an ocean, climb a mountain or take a month off. You can do plan a two-day trip to the next county over. There is plenty to explore close to home too.
Make an appointment with yourself to rediscover you: the you without work, the you without family, the you that is growing and learning. You are amazing, take some time to get reacquainted.