Find New Inspiration in a Solo Vacation

Filed in Finding & Following Your Voice by on October 7, 2014 • views: 1293

Bridge 2Most of the time, when I take time off, I spend it with family or attending some sort of writer’s event.

But there’s one week a year when that’s not the case. A precious few days that I get all to myself.

It’s a vacation for one.

The Bliss of Being All By Yourself

I’ve run into a lot of folks who have never done such a thing. “You go all by yourself?” they ask. But it rarely fails—after I tell them a few details, I can see it in their eyes. “That sounds lovely,” they say. “I should do that.”

PathUnfortunately, they rarely do. For me, it’s become a necessity. I went one year without doing it, and felt “off” the rest of the year. Extra stressed. Without direction. Moving blindly from one month to the next. Getting more stressed.

After that, I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t miss another year.

A secret: Now, at the end of one vacation, I make reservations for the next one. Once it’s already in the books, it’s harder to back out.

Benefits of Traveling Solo

I’m not the only one who finds a solo trip to be a blessing. Carolyn Gregoire writes in a Huffington Post article:

“Aside from excitement, adventure and discovery, solo travel has another major advantage that you may not have considered: Stress relief. By affording the traveler the necessary time and solitude for reflection, relaxation and introspection, solo travel can go a long way in reducing stress levels.”

This is one of the main benefits for me. For the first few days, I’m still in stress mode. My mind’s going 90 miles an hour about everything that’s on my plate, from my projects due when I get back to where I’m at with my novels (final edits due now) to how my family is doing to the fact that I’d like to lose a couple pounds. I tell myself to slow down, breathe, and be in the moment about once every five minutes.

“Free from the distractions of daily life,” Gregoire says, “you can focus your full attention on absorbing the present moment with all your senses.”

Ocean ViewAnother thing that’s nice about traveling solo—you don’t have to worry about accommodating someone else. Though I have had some wonderful trips with family, the other person’s well being is always on my mind.

Traveling alone means that I can tune into what I need, which can be a truly healthful thing.

“One of the greatest luxuries of traveling alone is not having to adhere to anyone else’s schedule,” Gregoire says. “This means you can rest and unwind as much as you need, even if that means taking it slow for your whole trip.”

By far, though, the biggest benefit is the time to drain my brain and self-reflect. It usually takes about five days before I start to feel lighter and more relaxed. Then I can think about the year that’s passed, and start to brainstorm things I’d like to try in the year coming up.

I usually get a few books with new ideas to explore, and by the time I go home I have a number of plans in my back pocket—new approaches to my schedule, perhaps some shuffling of my client load, thoughts on new projects, and more.

Says blogger Sarah at the Ugly Duckling House,   “…after taking two trips by myself with nothing but my books to keep me company, I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunity to ‘brain dump’ and empty out all of the contents skipping around in my head. Sometimes your solutions may be right in front of you if you just give them a chance to work themselves out without any extra input or chatter.”

SunsetIt’s like those few precious days on my own give me a chance to reconnect with the person in the mirror, and find out what she really wants to accomplish in the next year—and what she thinks isn’t working right now.

Then I can course-correct with more confidence than I may feel trying to make similar decisions while in the midst of regular life.

Some Pictures to Whet Your Appetite

If you’ve never traveled alone or if it’s been awhile, you may want to consider planning a trip—especially if you’re a creative and regular life has the muse in hiding.

LighthouseIn the meantime, in case you’re stuck behind that computer with deadlines up to your neck, I wanted to share a few pictures (sprinkled throughout this post).

These were taken on my second day, during my brain-dump phase, when I took one of those journeys where you just follow a road and let it take you where it takes you.

I’ve heard that even gazing upon snapshots of nature can help reduce stress. They may also inspire you to get those reservations made for your next solo trip!

Have you taken a solo vacation?

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Comments (8)

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  1. Great post, Colleen! I try to do this once a year and love it. My husband understands. And I understand when he wants some time off, too. Allowing each other time off has actually improved our relationship.

    • Colleen says:

      Oh cool, Ann! I don’t meet many other people who do, but it’s so restorative. Not surprised on your relationship!

  2. Such a lovely post about the importance of “me” time, but also a reminder to bond with nature.
    I find the bonding with nature is often enhanced when I am alone.
    Without the person-to-person chatter, I’m better able to “hear” what nature is saying.

    • Colleen says:

      Thanks, Leslie! Yes, you’re right—I find that with nature, too. It sinks in a bit better. :O)

  3. angie says:

    I have taken a few trips overseas by myself after my divorce and am in the middle of planning my next one. I love traveling alone because it allows me to really get away from my hectic job that requires my constant attention and decision making. To shut the world off from your phone, computer, and emails is so relaxing. this time away allows the brain to unwind and shut down. or is scary to think about being alone especially in a foreign country but if you plan everything out ahead of time and have all your reservations booked, it makes it not so scary. I like just taking in the culture and scenery more than anything. 🙂

    • Colleen says:

      Wow, overseas! Good for you! I haven’t done that alone yet, just with family. Sounds like you experienced many of the same benefits I did, though. It is addictive, isn’t it? Once you experience that escape you want to do it again. Wishing you a lovely trip this year, and thanks for stopping by!

  4. Chere Hagopian says:

    I really would love to try this someday! One time I suggested taking just a weekend to be alone, and my husband did not get it. “Don’t you want to see your parents? You barely ever see them.” He wasn’t really objecting, just confused, but the guilt machine kicked in and I flew home instead. Next time I’ll refer him to this article!

    • Colleen says:

      It is hard for some people to understand—I think family, especially, as they want that time with you. But we need that time to de-stress and reflect. I’m better for family when I have that restorative time alone. Ha ha. Yes, feel free to use this post to support your next trip! :O)