Have you ever travelled somewhere alone?
I was talking to a friend last month who had just gotten back from a yoga retreat in Costa Rica: an adventure she went on completely solo — and solo by choice.
She had been overcome by this powerful feeling of needing to take a trip alone, and before thinking too hard about it, she committed. She mentioned that some parts of it were uncomfortable, like navigating from the airport to the resort and eating dinner alone, but overall it was very transformational and she actually met some good friends while she was there.
Her story and the idea of travelling alone kept resurfacing in my mind after we spoke. I was pretty intrigued because I knew that doing something like that would be uncomfortable for me, at least in some ways. I've only ever travelled with my family, friends or partner and everything always gets planned and executed together.
At the end of February my boyfriend Matt embarked on a (more or less) six week long trip for work, so I was alone in the apartment and feeling bogged down by my own work when I had the sudden desire to look up yoga retreats or spa getaways in Ontario. I stopped what I was working on and started Googling, and after checking out a handful of options I narrowed in on the Briar's Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe. It was only an hour drive, it was reasonably priced, and they had availability only a week and a half away.
I committed immediately before I had too much time to come up with reasons why not to go. Being so spontaneous and the feeling of seeing the confirmation page was so empowering in itself. I won't lie — I considered asking a person or two if they wanted to join me but opted instead to stand firm in needing to give this a try on my own. I'm glad I did!
Here are the key takeaways from my experience of travelling somewhere for a few days completely on my own, so you can decide if it's something that might be for you:
While this may be obvious, it forced me to face the discomforts of aloneness. Booking, financing, planning, navigating to the resort, eating meals in a nice restaurant and sleeping in an unfamiliar place was a lot of things to try alone for the first time, and in a short window.
I'd say the most uncomfortable of all was the sleeping part. The Briar's has been around since the 1800s, so needless to say it's a creaky old building, and I'm easily freaked out. To make matters worse, it's a very slow season for them right now so there were very few people, if any, staying in the same wing of the building as me. It was dead quiet, except when the odd person walked past my room and it made the floorboards creak, as if someone was walking right next to my bed. Or maybe someone really was walking right next to my bed, but let's not think about that...
I was more aware of the strangers around me and noticed things that I may not have, if my attention were focused on a travel companion. For example, for two of my meals there was a young mother there with her baby and they were travelling alone too. There were also a couple other older ladies there by themselves. Without trying I heard bits of other people's conversations and was intrigued by some of the things they said. If I were having dinner with someone, I would have been zoned out of most of the happenings around me.
It gave me the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts for almost three whole days, and it actually wasn't so bad! Typically when it's just me and my thoughts and I have any kind of stress happening in my life, it's torture. I think this time creating the boundaries with work (the vacation auto-responder is an effective way of achieving work-life separation) and being in a new environment with the goal of stress-release and relaxation helped put my mind at ease. I surprisingly thought very little about work and instead was noticing the things around me more.
On a similar note, it allowed me to enjoy my own company in a way that I haven't done before. And I'm not so bad to hang out with! Though, that is a biased opinion...
Overall, it felt rewarding and empowering that I planned and experienced the getaway completely on my own. It was really nice being by myself and just reflecting and doing whatever I wanted to do, like spending lots of time in the pool — which I barely shared with anyone.
At the same time, there were a lot of moments that I couldn't help but think would be nice to share with someone in my life. Now I can say that I've travelled and stayed somewhere alone, and next time I look forward to having a companion again!