“You’re doing WHAT?!”
That was the most common reaction I received upon sharing my 30th birthday plans. (ICYMI, I did a – gasp – solo mystery vacay via Pack Up + Go!)
But it wasn’t the surprise part that startled most, it was the solo part.
Most people gazed at me with sympathetic eyes, ready to whip out their violins and throw me a pity party because they thought it was such a tragedy that I’d have to go somewhere by my little lonesome. Like it was automatically assumed that I must be sad and alone if I had to travel by myself.
In a world that preaches self-love and acceptance – why is it so unfathomable that one would want to spend time alone? I actually like spending time with myself and I think it’s a concept that should be more widely embraced.
Let me assure you, I have friends. I have a core group of besties that I would die for. I have the best parents in the entire world, a little brother I adore more than anything, and a husband of almost 7 years – all of whom most definitely would have gone with me if I had asked them to. But I didn’t.
For my 30th birthday, I wanted to go on an adventure and have an experience that was solely mine. If you’ve never traveled solo, I could see how this might sound crazy. But I’ve had some of the absolute best experiences of my life all by myself. Hear me out.
Four years ago I took my first solo trip (to LA). My travel companion was supposed to be my husband, but he found himself suddenly unable to go. Instead of canceling the trip, I had the craziest idea. What if I went by myself? And instead of doing all of the couple-focused activities I had on the itinerary… What if I went solo and did whatever the hell I wanted?
So I did. I stayed in beautiful historic downtown Pasadena where I walked everywhere to take in (and fall in love with) the scenery. I attended the IMATS for the first time. I got my makeup and hair professionally done just for the hell of it. I swam naked at a spa with a bunch of strangers. I ate what I wanted to and I drank what I wanted to and I didn’t consult any other soul about where to go and what to do.
It was one of the most liberating experiences of my entire life and I will forever cherish the memory of that trip… and the fire it lit within me. That trip empowered me to be fearless. It proved to me that I can do whatever I want without anyone holding my hand or telling me how. Forever after that trip, I stood a little taller and spoke a little louder and took solace in knowing that I am in complete control of my own happiness.
Since then I’ve embarked on over a dozen solo trips, each one of them exciting, empowering, and enlightening in their own way. And my most recent was no different.
On my solo 30th trip to Denver, I ignored my phone (not completely, but more than I usually do). I wandered with no particular place to go, staring at the mountains and breathing in the mile-high air. I ate elk hotdogs and drank multiple bottles of Champagne. I got a Vichy shower (Google it). I ate pot gummies (legally!), blasted Amy Winehouse and danced around my haunted hotel room in a plushy robe. It was cozy and relaxing and everything I wanted to be. These moments were not only perfect, but completely my own, with no one around to effect my energy. (Except the ghosts.)
Throughout it all, I reflected on the 30 years of beautiful life I’ve been blessed to live. I normally reserve my use of the term “blessed” for sarcastic hashtagging purposes, but in this case, I truly mean it.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t go on trips with people you love. Do that! I do it too. I’m just saying that if one of those people you love happens to be you and you decide to travel alone, you might just discover a new part of yourself and have the best time of your life.
I know I did.