Go Solo: Open Your Eyes and Your Heart
It’s an Adventure! When I traveled with my kids when they were younger, my common phrase when things didn’t go as planned (which is quite frequently when you’re traveling with children) was “It’s an Adventure!” Of course they grumbled and made fun of me (and still do!), but now I know when things don’t go the way I plan, it is indeed an adventure. Whether in travel or in life.
My favorite adventure is solo travel. The absolute best place to travel to by yourself is Retreat in the Pines. Find your tribe at a retreat.
My divorce was messy, I was stressed, I needed to do something for myself. As I pondered my future, I knew I needed to do something to challenge my comfort zone and give me fresh perspective. I decided to take a trip by myself.
I started to plan. I was thrilled when I bought the plane ticket, excited as I booked a room with Airbnb (Airbnb is my first choice when I travel) and feeling proud of myself as I figured out the details of a trip to San Francisco for the Yoga Journal Conference with a few nights in Napa.
The days dizzily flew by with drama from the soon to be ex. Before I knew it, I was sitting on an airplane bound for San Francisco. As I relaxed back in my seat getting ready to enjoy some quiet time (the seat next to me blissfully empty – no children arguing or ex wiggling around making strange noises), I had a thought, “Holy S***! What was I thinking?!” By that time, luckily, it was too late to turn back. Aside from a few mishaps, where I repeated to myself “It’s an Adventure!” through gritted teeth, everything went remarkably well. And it was an adventure of the best kind, one where I found a new perspective, re-discovered myself and realized, I CAN do anything.
Maybe you’re not ready to fly across the country for a solo adventure. Try one of these adventures close to home:
- Go to an art or science museum. Wander through the museum at your own pace, choose to read the descriptions. Or not. Then enjoy a coffee or tea in the museum café. I’ve seen some of my favorite exhibits this way.
- Enjoy a movie, play or concert by yourself. Blessed silence! No one to distract you by talking during the good parts.
- Have lunch or dinner by yourself at one of your favorite restaurants. I’ve found sitting at the bar is ideal for this. You’ll be able to talk to the bartender or other diners. I’ve had great conversations and meals like this in cities all over the country.
Tips to get the most out of your solo adventure:
Choose a Big City – Some places – the beach, Disney, wine country where you’ll find mostly couples or families – may not be the best place for solo travel. I felt a little lost when I visited the beach and wine country by myself. In a city, you fit right in, there are lots of people on their own and they’re all doing their own thing.
Be Open – Normally when the guy in the seat next to me begins to chat me up, I give him the cold shoulder. I’m not interested in the mile high club, buddy. On the way to San Francisco, I talked back and heard some amazing things about the city we both loved.
Walk Everywhere You Possibly Can – You can see so much of a city when you walk. Or take public transportation. People watch. Get off your phone and look out the window. Enjoy the beauty, notice the underbelly, and take it all in. Savor the experience. It’s almost impossible now to get lost, so take a chance.
Explore the City like a Local – The true heart of a city resides within its residents. Slow down, smile, ask questions, talk to the locals, most of them are happy to help with directions or tips. I had a guy come up to me in NYC when I was looking warily at the subway entrance and tell me “Everybody takes the subway, it’s safe, you’ll be fine.” Find the local park, pizza place, dive bar and check it out. When I do that, I feel like I’m home in a city that I love.
Enjoy Downtime – As many things as you want to see and do, know that you’re not going to be able to get it all in. Enjoy time in a coffee shop or wine bar, maybe reading a book or newspaper watching the crowds go by.
Remember a key to being adventurous is putting down your phone. I know it’s a security blanket, but you’ll miss out on so much if you’re focused on your phone. Put it in your purse or pocket, I promise what you see will be so much more interesting than anything on your phone.
You can choose your adventures or you can let your adventures choose you. What will you choose?