Go on a solo trip, thank me later

We all know that 2020 has been a pretty tumultuous year. Things have been moving so quickly yet painstakingly slow. Everyone and everything is uncertain, and the world has changed in ways we didn’t see coming. So when it came to taking a week off work, the only thing that could possibly be nearly as enticing as an overseas holiday, is the thought of spending a few nights, by myself.

Since my return and my attempt to remain in the hazy, daydream of a cloud I felt I was floating on, lots of people have asked me about my time away. The overwhelming majority of people were shook that I would book an airbnb to myself, quickly followed by, ‘wow that sounds serene.’ I’m here to tell you – it was serene and these are the reasons you should book a little getaway for yourself as soon as possible.

When was the last time you did nothing?

Seriously, think about it. When was the last time you didn’t have somewhere to be, someone to meet, some timeline or deadline? When you can do what you want, when you want. When was the last time you laid on a pool chair and gazed up at the clouds floating overhead? Where you watched how the light turned from orange to pink? When you felt the cool change wash over you body as the sun set? When was the last time you just let time pass? No podcasts, no music, no phone calls, no pressure?

Daring to be present

There’s a lot of talk about being present and gratitude. Which can often take the back seat when we are stressed at work and in life. Being truly present can be scary, especially if you’re on your own. Sitting with and facing all the thoughts and feelings that you had pushed away, or weren’t quite ready to confront. It’s emotional, it take courage and it’s truly transformative.

What kind of cult did I sign up to where I thought that work was the be all and end all of everything?

Life is more important than work

What kind of cult did I sign up to where I thought that work was the be all and end all of everything? Having worked from home since March, there’s been a blurring of professional and personal life. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for my job, for the people I work with and the fact that I’m able to work from home. But in 2020, work has become stressful, tiring, exhausting and taken over (it’s literally taken over my dining room). Why is the thought of turning on ‘out of office’ emails for a few days so radical?

By stepping away and taking a deep breath, I’ve realised the crazy idea that life is fucking important. Put yourself first. In 10 years time will your boss remember the time you stayed back an extra hour? Unlikely. Get your work done, work hard, make yourself proud, then log the fuck off and get outside to enjoy your life.

If you need a day off, take it. If you need to take an extra long lunch, do it. Work-life balance is supposed to be give and take, but work is greedy. Take time back for yourself.

Do what’s important to you

The best thing about a solo trip away, is that you don’t need to think about what anyone else wants to do. No compromising on whether you want Italian or Japanese, no having to wait around or rush along, no having to consider anyone but yourself. In life we’re always juggling what we want along with what other people want. What makes other people happy. Well forget about it darling, this trip is all about you and making yourself happy. Want to sleep in til 10am and get a bacon and egg roll for brekky? Do it! Want to go for a 10km walk? Do it! The moral of the story is that you get to do whatever you want to do. You’ll be surprised at how foreign and good it feels.

Let your mind run wild

I realised that I didn’t speak to anyone except the person I ordered coffee from, for 3 days. How did I fill the time you ask? How did I not go crazy? I let my mind run wild. I felt like a kid again, someone who was coming up with crazy, big ideas, who was looking at things with a fresh perspective, someone who was curious and driven. In everyday life, we’re so bound by time, deadlines an commitments… suddenly having none of those meant that my mind could explore thoughts and ideas I hadn’t had the chance. And not just explore but actually change the way in which I fundamentally think about things (like why do I try so hard for everyone to like me?).

The most important thing…

Now that I’ve convinced you that you need to book a solo trip away, let me just say this. Look after yourself. Stay safe and prioritise yourself. It’s not often we’re given permission to do so, but sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to take deep, true care of yourself. 3 nights away was perfect, I think if I spent an additional 3 nights away, I would have got even more clarity from my past and directing me in the right direction for the future.

Do yourself a favour, book a solo trip. You’re welcome.

Re-inventing the stigma of Travelling Solo

Travelling alone. When you say it, alarm bells seem to sound in peoples minds thinking ‘haven’t you seen Taken?’ Yes I have seen Taken. Great movie. Other things that I get asked about are ‘aren’t you worried you’ll get pick-pocketed/raped/kidnapped/sold/murdered?’ Obviously yes, though not because I’m travelling alone. Just because there’s some messed up people out there, yes, even in Australia. Horrible things can happen to anyone in the world, and I want to make sure I’m out there, living my dream and enjoying myself whilst I can.

So, this is why I think travelling alone is great, and why it’s time to reinvent the stereotypes of young people (especially women) travelling alone.

You have to think for yourself.

I know it seems obvious, but when you’re used to asking your family/friends/google for help or directions, you can find yourself in some interesting situations. The most important thing when making decisions in foreign countries is, trusting your gut instinct, because more often than not, that’s the decision you should go with. Also thinking, would I tell my mum that? For the most part its probably no, and fair enough, we don’t want our mother’s to know every single thing about what we do. Maybe, would my future self/partner/significant other/best friend approve of this? I think this is an important question to ask because travelling alone can be associated with YOLO or living in the moment. And that’s fine, as long as you don’t wake up to find your passport, phone, money stolen and no recollection of the night before. Thinking for yourself is about making smart choices. You can still have exciting and memorable experiences from making smart decisions, you’re just eliminating unnecessary risk, and your safety overseas is definitely a priority.

Navigating foreign cities can be confusing, but when you nail it... it's an awesome feeling! http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/map-of-krakow/map-of-krakow.jpg
Navigating foreign cities can be confusing, but when you nail it… it’s an awesome feeling!
http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/map-of-krakow/map-of-krakow.jpg

 You have heaps of time to yourself.

Obviously. You’re travelling alone. On those 9 hour bus rides through the EuroTunnel, things can get a bit boring, however, I’ve had some of the best times on long bus and train rides. I remember being on a 5 hour bus ride from Galway to Derry/Londonderry in Ireland. I had my earphones in and my journal out. As I was reflecting on my adventures and staring out the window at the luscious green countryside, I was hit with this overwhelming internal feeling. It’s difficult to explain but everything just makes sense and you feel completely focused on who you are and what you want in life.

 You meet sooooo many people!

Because you are by yourself, you’re more likely to put yourself out there and start a conversation in a hostel room (because too much alone time can be, well, lonely). It just starts with a smile a ‘hello’ and ‘where are you from?’ The conversation just roles on from there. You begin to develop your own travelling ‘speech’ as I call it (but I’ll talk about that later).

The best thing about meeting other travellers is that they’re here to explore, just like you. Together, you might go grocery shopping together, on a day trip together or our to a bar together.

I remember on a pub crawl in Dublin (a lot of great things happened in Ireland) I met a great American guy who introduced me to his Danish friends. We partied all night long, explored Dublin the next day, exchanged details and a few months later, visited him in Paris!

I also remember on a walking tour of Budapest, I met three people from Romania but lived in Germany, but were visiting Budapest because the man and woman just got married and the other girl was the maid of honour who was doing her PhD in Budapest. You just meet some really interesting people. You may forget their names, but you’ll always have that one photo of them immortalized in your photo album, reminding you of how awesome some people are.

And the best part is… you don’t need to take any more awkward selfies, you have a new friend to help you out!

My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River - Budapest, Hungary
My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River – Budapest, Hungary

 You can go where you want to go.

When travelling in a group, with limited time in a city, different people want to see different sights or monuments, which can cause a bit of unnecessary conflict. But when you’re solo, you can hike up the top of Mt. Arthur in Edinburgh, or go to Musée D’Orsay instead of the Lourve in Paris or spend the morning at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, or you can chose to sleep in and catch up on sleep. It’s entirely up to you!

You tend not to spend as much money. (Yay saving money)

When you’re travelling by yourself, you’re completely OK with having 2minute noodles for lunch, dinner and maybe even breakfast sometimes. More money for those art galleries or pub crawls!

 You get an awesome workout!

Whether you’ve got a backpack or suitcase, you’re going to have a lot of luggage. Whilst you may be getting callouses on your hands and you feel like you can’t take one more step up those long cobblestone paths, think of the awesome workout you’re getting! You don’t need to spend any money on a gym because you’ve got no one to help you out with your luggage. However, when dealing with train station steps, it can be quite difficult. When I was carrying suitcases through on the Tube, people always offer to help with your luggage. Poor things. Don’t know what they’re getting themselves in for when they pick it up. Or if you’re tank enough by now, you can carry it yourself.

And not to forget all the walking you do over cities! I wish I carried a pedometer with me sometimes because cities like London and Paris which are HUGE… you would definitely rack up heaps of kilometres.

Conquering Arthur's Seat
Conquering Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh, Scotland

 Your confidence and ‘I can do anything’ attitude multiplies by a million.

You can navigate through London’s Tube system and order food in French and can understand what the waiter says (in French), you feel on top of the world! And rightfully so, all the skills you’ve learnt over your travels are paying off and things are running smoothly.

I think we should carry this awesome mindset beyond our travels and into our everyday lives. Imagine if you’re swamped by uni work (OK I don’t have to imagine it, that’s my reality right now), and you just think, ‘pft, if I can navigate the streets of Amsterdam at night, I can do this 2000 word essay.’ Yes, being in Amsterdam is way cooler than writing an essay on globalization, but that mindset can help you achieve anything you want! Take advantage of it!

 Not convinced yet?

I’ve had some amazing holidays with my friends and they’ve been absolutely incredible! However, when you’re new to a country or your friend is saving their money, I totally encourage you to jet set alone!

I promise it will be one of the most scary, exciting, nerve racking, limit pushing, incredible experiences of your life!

Any questions/comments/queries please let me know!

xxx

A