Why I occasionally treat myself to a solo vacation.
Whenever you go on a trip with others, which I LOVE to do, don't get me wrong, you know that it will be a trip of compromises - as one does in life! One likes to visit museums, the other likes sitting on terraces for hours . One likes to drive around visiting the local landmarks, the other one likes to sit and just read a book. Oh and with kids multiply the compromising by 10! I mean basically you're just happy when they are happy so off to a city vintage shopping, off to find the best coffee in Paris - yeah mine are already young adults so there you have it, they are turning out just like me :). And yes, it's fun and exciting. We all need those happy moments that we can share with friends and / or with our loved ones!
But I am also an advocate for going on trips by yourself, so called 'solo traveling', because it could give you some valuable insights and it could work wonders for you, if you are open to it.
I'd like to share a few of my personal experiences here, in the hope to motivate and inspire you.
if you make friends with yourself, you will never feel alone.
Traveling alone allows me to get uncomfortable with myself
Have you ever had a cup of coffee by yourself in a crowded café? Probably. But have you had to eat dinners evening after evening by yourself while you are literally watching people next to you having intimate conversations? Eating by yourself can start out somewhat uneasy. What do you do? Where do you look at? Are you going to grab your phone, a book, flirt with the waiter? The important thing is to observe all the things that go through your mind as you are sitting there by yourself. "I am so pathetic. I miss my kids. Oh my god, that couple has nothing to talk about - already. I feel uncomfortable. Why is nobody noticing me. Why is everybody staring at me. Oh my, that girl looks unhealthy."
Just noticing and observing the inner critic can be such an eye opener. Don't judge yourself, just observe and smile and recognize what the thinking mind does automatically. You will start to recognize ingrained patterns and once you recognize them, you can make conscious decisions, even to let them go.
Traveling alone allows me to fully live according to my own cycle, my own flow
I sleep when I am tired, I eat when I am hungry, I wake up when I have had enough sleep. When I feel like walking in nature, I walk in nature, when I feel the need to read, I read. You get my drift. There is no compromise. There is no real sense of time either, other than MY time. You tune in to what you want and what you need. Selfish? Maybe. Important? Definitely. In this chaotic life we have created we play different roles which brings with them different responsibilities. Being a mother, a friend, an employee, a daughter, a partner. You, willingly and unwillingly, to some extent go with the flow of what is expected of you. Just think about it.
It is important to discover your own flow. To disengage of all of these roles and to fully embrace being in the present with yourself and to discover who you really are without all of these distractions, without anything to hang on to or to be identified with. It works on a restorative level. You will find peace and rest in being with yourself.
When I travel alone I rediscover my creative mind
I don't go out looking for it. Things just pop in my mind. Ideas for new projects, solutions for problems I have been dealing with. The universe just opens itself up to you. I also literally get creative. I write, I draw, I create and take pictures. It's like an infinite well of a creative source is just pouring out and has waited to be at good use.
Being in a totally different environment asks of you to be brave
To possibly do things you would never have done by yourself, ever. Walk up to someone for a chat, drive on foreign roads for miles, learn surfing or go horse riding. Finally you realize you can do more than you think!
The most important of all;
When all of the known is extracted and you are alone, the mind is free and open.
Clarity and focus return - most probably after a period of feeling intense emotions, letting all there is flow freely. Suddenly you see yourself making lists of goals, of things you want to change in your life. What serves you, what doesn't serve you anymore. You get mentally prepared for letting go, for making change.
Long story short, being alone in a foreign place can give clarity, focus, it will boost your self-esteem and you will return to your routine liberated and with a new dose of energy. Being alone and doing the work can work as an accelerator. Since I have been discovering the benefits of solo travel I have been making it a priority in my life. I hope to have inspired you to take up to treat yourself to a little solo adventure soon!
All images were taken during my trip to Portugal, where I stayed at Monte d'Agua Homestay and where I hopefully will organize an Ocean themed retreat next year. If you would like to stay tuned, you can subscribe for our newsletter here.