Making the Case for Solo Travel

October 4, 2019 in Out in the World - No Comments

When was the last time you boarded a flight alone for a vacation alone? Or even took yourself out for dinner? Or to the movies? This week, I spent time with Yazmin here on The Modern Bee, and one thing that really resonated with me was her deciding to quit her job, pack her bags and head to Thailand to study yoga. While it doesn’t have to be as drastic as that, there’s something to be said about going it alone. It got me to thinking.

A few years ago, I was nursing a heartache. My sister suggested I take a trip alone somewhere, reconnect with myself, do what I wanted to do, but I dismissed her, saying I could “can’t possibly” vacation alone. While I’m no stranger to dining out alone or treating myself to a movie out, I was never comfortable with the idea of traveling gasp…alone. One night, I was watching Anthony Bourdain in Tanzania where he was at some obscure market that you really have to want to go to to get to. My dad came into the room and did a double take. “Hey, I’ve been there,” he said as he sat down next to me on the couch. “Oh, yeah? With who?” I asked. His answer came as a lightening bolt–“myself,” he said. He had been working in South Africa and decided to take himself on a little trip to Tanzania, not knowing a soul. I thought to myself, if he can do that, surely I can go to Charleston, South Carolina like I’ve always dreamed of. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I booked my flight on the show’s next commercial break.

To say I had the best time would be an understatement. The trip was entirely on my time. I saw the sights I wanted to see, stayed in a likely haunted old inn that tickled my soul, moved at my own pace, and hell, I even decided to go for dessert for breakfast one day. I was on a social media “hiatus,” and was gloriously unattached from that perspective which made the trip even more refreshing. I took photos on my Nikon and wrote postcards to my loved ones back home instead of texting. Sure, there were moments when I would tear up, not because I was alone in a city seemingly dominated by happy couples, but because I would see something like a display of hot sauce and pick one for my boyfriend before remembering he was now my ex. But ultimately, I was okay, I was at peace. Sure, it’s satisfying to experience something new or special with somebody else, but each experience I had during my time in Charleston reminded me that being alone was more than okay, because I make great, solid company for myself and I deserve to enjoy enriching experiences, whether alone or coupled.

When I’d eat out, I would often be asked if I would like to wait to order until the rest of my party arrived, to which I’d always respond to a shocked server, “I’m a party of one.” One such night after dinner at the now defunct Hominy Grill, I decided to buy a coffee mug from their store. Not just as a souvenir I would use everyday, but also to serve as a tangible reminder on the daily that I alone am enough, I alone am brave enough to get out there and explore and have adventures and I alone am worth it. Deep down, I knew this, but my few days in Charleston reinforced this and a simple mug reminds me of this each morning when I have my coffee or tea.

So whether you’re due for a solo trip to Thailand or even just a solo trip to that Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit you’d wanted to see but didn’t want to go alone, I warmly encourage you to just do it; you make greater company for yourself than you know. Have a wonderful weekend.

Spoiler alert–I married that ex-boyfriend and now whenever he uses my coffee mug, he reminds me of the special time I went to Charleston and that I’m always capable of what I think I “can’t possibly” do.

– Michaela

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