It is easier now than ever to travel. With a few taps on a key board and a click of a mouse, you can read dozens of reviews for lodging, restaurants and entertainment; you can get a visual on the hotel; print exact directions from the airport to your first destination; and locate running, hiking, or biking routes. A single email, or Facebook post, generates numerous recommendations and contacts for nearly any place you might want to go.
We live in an amazing time of freedom and empowerment, and especially as women, a solo trip, is a beautiful way to express it.
I will be forever grateful to Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book, Eat, Pray, Love was hot off the press the year I got divorced and it profoundly shifted the way I saw myself in the world – from being afraid and alone to the possibility of being brave and adventurous. And, while, financially, I couldn’t pack my bags for distant and extraordinary locations, I could still be brave and adventurous by exploring local towns or neighborhoods and learning the art of comfortably, and contentedly, sitting alone at a table enjoying a meal in a restaurant.
Happily, in recent years, my solo jaunts have included sunny, ocean-side towns in California – I grant you, hardly exotic locations, like Indonesia, Argentina, or Mozambique. However, a recent workshop in Tiburon, followed by two days of exploring in San Francisco, offered me fresh adventure, along with the opportunity to stretch my comfort zone just a little wider, which for me, is the allure of travel. Solo travel is a powerful reminder of just how resourceful I am – I return home with a significant confidence boost and a reinforced sense of independence.
Traveling alone also provides me with a fantastic opportunity to hang out with myself; to truly practice the art of being my own best friend. And, to open to and savor the magical encounters … the right person … the perfect conversation … the synchronistic moment.
There is so much magic and power in organizing a solo adventure. Here are some of the gifts waiting for you in your own travels – nearby or to lands far away:
Perspective. A wider, generous view of our world.
Traveling opens the door to a variety of cultures with its unique architecture, customs and languages; a gorgeous reminder of the diversity and beauty of people. Traveling provides a new way in which to see yourself in action: to discover exactly how resourceful you are; to notice what you take for granted, what you complain about, what delights you; or to see when and how old patterns show up, because they will, even on vacation, and to decide if you will learn from their arrival on the scene.
Trust. Traveling is trust in action.
Trusting the luggage will arrive; trusting you’ve packed the right stuff or that you can find what you need when you need it; trusting your abilities to navigate safely from point A to point B and discerning who to trust when you need to ask for directions. Traveling is about trusting in the kindness of strangers and exercising your gut instincts. It is about learning to trust in the unfolding, the serendipity of a chance conversation, and the magic of being in the right place at the right time. It is about trusting it will all be easy and flow (or that you can handle it when it isn’t).
Courage. It is stepping into the unknown.
It is the willingness to handle whatever comes your way. It takes courage to embrace, and listen to, the part of yourself who is confident and capable enough to travel alone. It is courageous to craft the “me” time to go exploring, solo. It is courageous to hang out with yourself for several days at a time with no one else to act as a buffer. And truthfully, you don’t really know what is around the next corner, or behind that door…and there is so much possibility in that realization.
Preferences. It is clarity.
It is about perfecting the art of dialing into your preferences, from moment to moment. You get to decide when to wake up and start the day exploring, when and where to stop for lunch, what shop to browse, what museum to see, and the most perfect spot for you to watch the setting sun. The absolute beauty of solo travel is this: it gets to be all about you and your interactions with whomever or whatever is sharing the space at that moment.
Awareness. It is being completely awake, alert, and in the present moment.
It offers the deliciousness of a slow stroll through a neighborhood, soaking in the sights and sounds. It allows for a keen awareness of where you are in time and space as everything is new and different. It affords a special magic as your perspective shifts in relation to whatever is going on around you and inside you.
Planning. Self-direction and self-determination.
You get to lay out the plan and make all the arrangements. When traveling with a group or companion it is easy (and necessary) to share responsibility. A solo trip is where you get to explore the edges of your comfort zone – just how much will you plan – what will you leave to chance and serendipity? There is no one else to rely on or to blame – there is freedom and responsibility in that.
May you bask in your own solo adventure this summer; perhaps it will only take you as far as the next town or to distant cities across the globe. No matter. What is important is this: that you use this time to stretch outside your comfort zone, to discover how resourceful you are, to trust in the unfolding and magic of the day – it is turning out exactly as it should be. May you discover a new sense of power, freedom, and confidence – after all, the best of you will emerge in the adventure.