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Why I Take Solo Vacations (and you should too)

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I took my first solo vacation when I was 21, working in a high-pressured job at Goldman Sachs. I’ve traveled alone every year since. And you should too. Here why I love solo travel, where I’ve traveled alone and what I do with myself. I also shared a few tips for females traveling alone.

I started my annual tradition of solo vacations about 13 years ago. The original purpose of my first solo vacation was a small break about a year into my first real job. As much as I loved the competitive environment at Goldman Sachs, I started to feel a little frayed. So I booked 2.5 days in Park City, Utah and the solo time was HEAVENLY. And since then, I’ve taken annual solo vacations.

As the years have gone on, my need to travel alone has increased even more. While my career progressed, responsibilities and pressure at work also increased. Life responsibilities increased – relationships, launching and growing side businesses, moving. All good things, most of the time, but without intentional breaks, it’s easy to unintentionally burn out.

The real breaking point was earlier this year. I was working 80+ hours a week while also training for the Boston Marathon, running 55-65 miles a week. I started having panic attacks and not sleeping well. I was absolutely burned out and in desperate need of a break.

My trip to Boulder couldn’t have come at a better time. While my husband came with me for a few days to run the 10K, I stayed a couple extra days to have some time on my own. And the mountains are my FAVORITE spot for solo time.

solo travel hiking in boulder CO

Jacket | top | leggings | glasses

Why you should travel alone

I love my friends and family dearly, and I love spending time with them and traveling with them. But traveling alone and having precious time alone, away from the responsibilities of work and home, is crucial for my mental health. Why?

It’s so nice do whatever I want, when I want, with no concessions, no schedule, no consideration of others. It sounds a bit selfish, right? Yeah, it is. That’s the point.

It’s so rare that we live just for ourselves without considering others – and that is a good thing. We can’t all walk around being selfish and self-centered jerks in our daily lives.

But I’m a FIRM believer in self care and one of the best ways to ensure self care happens is taking a solo vacation because there is no one else to take care of but yourself.

jacket | top

But what if I get lonely?

I have talked to many people about solo vacationing, and a lot of them say the same thing: “I love the idea, but I think I’d feel lonely!” so let me speak to that. That’s one of the main purposes of solo travel.

LET YOURSELF FEEL LONELY. It can help you realize that you are enough, without others. It can help you realize that you’re braver than you give yourself credit. And it will help you appreciate those in your life even more when you come home. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

It’s a good thing to get a little bit out of your comfort zone for the sake of self care. If that means being brave and going to a restaurant on a date with yourself, then take a book and do it. And if you are self conscious, remember that it’s easier to do things solo without being self conscious about what others think when you’re in a place where no one knows you.

keep utah wild

glasses | shorts | waterbottle | watch (read my review here)

How should I spend my solo vacation?

That is completely up to you, but I’ll share some of my favorite ways to spend a weekend alone.

I love early mornings, especially at the beach, but generally if I am taking a solo vacation, that means that I have been seriously lacking some sleep leading up to vacation. So I will either let myself sleep in and not worry about “all the hours I lost in the day.” If I was traveling with others, I would feel the pressure to get up to make sure they weren’t waiting on me and to make sure coffee was ready and breakfast was planned out.

Another thing I love on a solo trip is working out without needing to rush home to shower and start my workday. I always do some research before my trip and find out if there is a gym or class nearby that I could try on my vacation. I also go on lots of walks or hikes when I travel alone. And it is so relaxing to go on a long run with no time restraints so I can stop and take in the views as much as I want.

And my must-do on a solo vacation is a spa visit. I love getting a massage or facial and hanging out at the spa, reading books and hiding from my cell phone.

The key is to find things that feel indulgent – and DO THEM. 

fire tower wildflowers
tomales point trail

The perks of traveling alone

I love traveling with others and sharing in new experiences or relishing in the comfort of familiar places. But when you travel with others, there is naturally give and take and more effort that goes into planning and deciding what to do. When I travel by myself, I set the schedule (or lack thereof), and I make all the decisions. And both of those are really good for me.

I tend to OVER-schedule life so when I travel alone, I try not to set a schedule and just go with the flow (which then benefits others I travel with because I have practice in being less planner crazy).

And I can be extremely indecisive (my closest friends are nodding their heads vigorously) and traveling alone forces me to make all the decisions, even something as simple as where to eat and when to workout.

Traveling alone also gives me lots of time to think. At home, there is always something to do and I get so focused on getting things done, that I rarely leave truly quiet time. Without all the responsibilities and pressures of home, I’m more inclined to take it easy and be kind to myself.

It’s too easy for me to exchange self care for productivity, and solo vacations gently put me back in my place.

Zap running camp in Boone NC

glasses | tank | watch | headband

How to plan a solo vacation and where to go

Sometimes I do 100% solo vacations and other times I have someone meet me after a few days – both are great. Many times my husband will have to work, and he will only be able to join for half the trip, so instead of leaving with him, I turn the second half into a solo vacation.

Often times, solo vacations are somewhat planned for me. Recently, I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K and I had time in my schedule to add two extra days on the end of the trip for a mini vacation. I went on hikes, tried all the restaurants I had time for, and enjoyed every second in beautiful Colorado.  And the best part? My hotel had horrible wifi so work wasn’t even an option!

A few ideas to inspire your solo travel trip planning:

  • Tack on extra days alone at the end of the trip.
  • Book a resort that is out of season. I love to stay at ski lodges in the summer and I’m able to find great deals when I do that.
  • Hire a travel agent to help you find a spot where you feel comfortable traveling alone. I can’t recommend Heather Christopher enough – she’s planned multiple trips for us, including Ireland and our honeymoon. (Here’s a post about what it’s like working with Heather.)
  • Check your points on your credit card. I often completely forget that I have credit cards points and am able to take a trip at a super discounted price using those.
    • I’ve been really happy with my Capital One Venture credit card for earning points. (Not sponsored! I worked in financial services for 13 years — competitors — so I never really shared what I recommend for banks and credit cards. But now I’m happy to!)
  • Go to running camp. It’s a great way to dip your toe into traveling solo without being totally on your own.
  • Have a staycation. What hotel would you recommend to someone visiting your city? What would you tell them are must-do’s? Book a room at that nice hotel and do what you’d recommend. We so rarely explore our own cities.
  • Pause your inbox and tell everyone you are busy. Don’t make plans. Just stay home and enjoy time alone.

UGG slippers | Striped PJ pants

Where I’ve traveled solo:

Sometimes I was completely solo for the entire time and other times I met up with someone at some point during the time. I like both options. (If I blogged about the solo vacation, I linked it below.) I know there are other places but I can’t remember!

One thing I haven’t ventured into is solo international travel. That still freaks me out but someday I hope to do it! Paris is at the top of my list for a solo vacation. I’ve been before but I’d love to go back on my own.

Tips for females traveling alone

There are definitely things to consider as a female traveling alone, but a little common sense goes a long way. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Be judicious about where you stay and know your comfort level with different types of accommodations.
    • Are you okay being in an AirBnb/VRBO rental by yourself?
    • What about sharing an AirBNB with others in the same building?
    • Or, do you like the comfort of a hotel with others around?
    • Everyone feels differently about these situations so evaluate what makes YOU feel the most comfortable. This may take some trial and error to figure it out.
  • Is the area where you’re staying safe to walk around before the sun is up or as it starts to get dark?
    • Think about morning walks or walking home from dinner.
  • If you’ll have a car, is your parking area well lit?

If you’ve traveled alone, what did you love about it? Any tips? If you haven’t, what holds you back?

You may also like: How to use packing cubes & pack with only a carry-on

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    39 responses to “Why I Take Solo Vacations (and you should too)”

    1. I really love this post! I totally agree with you. I think it’s so important to be able to hang out with yourself and not get anxious or uncomfortable. I mean, you’re the only one who truly knows what you need, right? have an amazing time!

    2. Teri, I SO needed this right now. I have always been a very independent person and would go on day trips by myself. I’m going to meet my husband in France on his work trip next week for a quick weekend and found out that he has to work all day Thursday and Friday so I’ll be solo. I was really bummed and was letting it drag me down. This inspired me to take advantage of it and just relax, go with the flow, and do what I want to do for a day or two. Thanks!

    3. I really resonated with this post! I haven’t had a solo getaway in a long time but when I was younger I frequently did mini vacations by myself and loved it. I should do it again! It’s true, even when you are with people you love, you still have that urge or “anxious” feeling about something so simple as making someone else breakfast. It’s nice to just relax!

    4. oh I LOVE to travel alone. make my own schedule, do my thing. some days that means jam packed with activities, other days it means sitting in bed all day watching movies. I will say though, I love travelling with my sister more. we both do our own things, set our own schedules, and if one of us is doing something the other wants to join in on, awesome. if not- we do things solo. it works out very nicely!

    5. That sounds great. With little ones and a hubby it’s so not in the cards for me. If this is something you’ll want to continue, definitely make it a point to demonstrate all those reasons to your future husband. I’m definitely past the point of being able to score an entire vacation alone. I still think kiddos should see their mom have time away from them and everyone survive it.

    6. Teri, I already thought you were awesome and with this post it’s confirmed. I agree, we need to all practice self care and allow ourselves indulgences in life. Especially women. We often put everyone before ourselves, trying to do it all, and often find ourselves burnt out. In the end that way of being doesn’t really serve anyone. My oldest friend often travels internationally alone – Thailand, India – I admire that. I have yet to do it myself but love the idea of starting with a quiet weekend at the beach. Writing at 9am with coffee is heaven for me so I’m glad you got to enjoy the indulgence today. Happy weekend!

    7. I feel like I’ve let myself feel lonely too often to fully embrace a true solo vacation, but on this trip to England I am spending several weekday going around by myself as friends are working. I think it is a good mix of being with others (who are the primary reason I am here, to visit them!) but also doing my own thing. I felt indulgent just doing a long run, relaxing at a cafe, and meeting a friend for supper yesterday because I wasn’t technically taking full advantage of being here by doing tons of tourism. But it was what I wanted and needed!

      • I am struck by the way you say you “let yourself feel lonely,” (an empowered choice) instead of how I usually say “I’m so lonely.” (a helpless victim mentailty) What an amazing epiphany for me. It’s my job to seek the remedy to loneliness. Thank you for that!

        I think for me, a solo vacation whether that means a day of no commitments at home, or a refreshing change of scenery by actually going away, is absolutely vital. It helps me reflect, and I almost always have defining moments, whispers about how to shift my perspective or direction. It also helps me be a stronger more differentiated individual when I rejoin society.

        Lovely article, lovely thoughts and comments following it too.

    8. I need to start vacationing elsewhere, than flying back home to my parents home lol 🙁 That doesn’t really count as solo vacationing to me.

    9. I LOVE solo trips!! I’ve taken a few – one night in Glenwood Springs, CO, a few nights to myself in Roatan, Honduras, a couple nights in Iceland, and some solo camping in the Olympic Mountains in WA. Truly so peaceful and good for the soul. It feels so nice to not have to feel guilty about sleeping as long as you want, eating what you want, reading as long as you want, etc. What always strikes me are the comments I receive from others- people seem so taken aback when they learn that I travel alone. Also, as women we’re constantly told that we’re in continual danger of being assaulted. I think it’s important to be mindful of safety, but I also think it prevents a lot of women from venturing out on their own for travels and adventures (and passing judgment on others who do). This post inspired me to plan a few solo days away soon!!!

      • I was just commenting and noticed yours here, Annie 🙂 You have inspired me to venture out on my own – you’re awesome!
        I meant to share, one of my favorite adventure bloggers is Adventures of the Pint – she does a ton of summit hikes and solo trips, check her out. Also, Tiffany Epiphany – she is headed to Europe for a few months of travel!

    10. I have always been a totally independent type of person, so when I needed a vacation I had no problem with going alone. True, if I had a significant other it might have been nice as well but I have no regrets about venturing out on my own. I decided to go on a cruise by myself – something I’ve enjoyed with family in the past. It felt great. I picked the cruise line, the destinations I wanted and once on board picked the excursions I wanted, ate where and when I wanted. I left time for doing new things (hello scuba diving!) and for relaxing as well, and never felt guilty about sitting around doing nothing. It was awesome and so rejuvenating. Many of the people I met couldn’t believe I was there alone but having conveyed a sense of confidence they all ended up thinking it was really cool. I would totally go again!

    11. Looks like you’re having an incredible time…talk about relaxing & stress free… The introvert part in me LOVES having alone/me time, it recharges my “batteries” every time! Which has been an adjustment with kiddos but I’m working on it 😉

    12. Great post. Self care is very important, and solo travel is a great way to get some quality alone time!
      I have been fortunate to travel by myself to several family events (believe me, I relish solo airplane travel!) and last year, I took a few days to explore Boulder, Colorado totally on my own. It was great, I loved it and can’t wait to plan another trip soon.
      Enjoy your time this weekend!

    13. You have me wanting to take a mini vacation alone! It sounds heavenly. I would definitely want to have my husband and daughter join me after a couple days though.

    14. I love solo travel!! I always dreamed of visiting Paris, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I decided to take a 3 week summer French course at the American University in Paris. This way I was able to meet some people to tour around with (and take some pictures of me 😉 ). But I was able to knock so many things off of my personal bucket list while I was there!

    15. Great advice! I’ve done multiple trips by myself, including traveling internationally (while I was studying abroad in college). One other tip is eating at the bar, especially around lunch time. You’d be surprised how many people are traveling solo for the same reasons! A simple “have you eaten here before?” or “where are you from” can get a good conversation started. So, for those social butterflies out there (not me!) you can still get your people fix haha

    16. This is such a fantastic post. So many people (particularly women) are not very good at being ‘properly selfish’ and just taking some time out on their own. Really enjoyable read so thank you!

    17. I just went on my first solo international trip last fall. I went to Germany and Austria and it was wonderful! If reading about solo female travel interests you, I recommend Stephanie Rosenbloom’s memoir, Alone Time, discussing her travel to four cities in each season: Paris in the spring, Istanbul in the summer, Florence in the fall, and New York City in the winter. Also, the podcast, Women Who Travel, is great!

      • That’s awesome you traveled solo internationally!! I’m so impressed! And thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve been to Paris once and I’m itching to go back. And I LOVE NYC in the winter – I went for the first time last December (I’d only been in the summer previously) and it was great!

    18. I’m doing my first real solo vacation starting next week. A 10 day backpacking trip in Scotland. I picked it because I don’t have to worry about safety or a language barrier, but I’m nervous regardless!

    19. Married 40yrs and nothing is better than a getaway with the person I love more in this world

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