In this post I talked about being a good host, and likewise I think it’s…
The last few years with travel have felt like a whirlwind. First we couldn’t go anywhere for the foreseeable future. Then once we could safely venture out of our homes, we felt this need to make up for lost time. If we weren’t planning long-awaited reunions with friends and family, we were revenge traveling and making up for the bucket list trips we had to cancel. Now that the dust has figuratively settled, it feels like we have space in our lives for the kind of trip that’s meant to restore and rejuvenate. This is why I think everyone should consider planning at least one solo wellness vacation this year.
Why We Should All Enjoy a Solo Wellness Vacation
For Our Mental Health
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that mental health is just as important as my physical and emotional health. One of the many ways we can improve our mental health is through travel. Everything from the act of planning a trip to immersing ourselves in a new culture has proven to help boost moods and mentally stimulate.
When you plan a solo wellness vacation, you’re planning something just for yourself. What’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? What’s something you’ve always wanted to do? This is your chance to be selfish! On your solo trip, you won’t have to worry about compromising your itinerary or dragging someone along to something they don’t really want to do.
To Challenge Ourselves
Traveling solo can be a bit of a challenge! But I promise it’s the good kind of challenge that’ll leave you feeling empowered and with more self-confidence than when you started. If you’re someone who’s constantly surrounded by people, traveling solo is a good way to show you how to not only rely on yourself but how to enjoy your own company. If you’re someone who’s often alone already, traveling solo will put you in a new destination and may even give you opportunities to chat with new people and make friends.
No matter what your life is like in the day to day, a solo trip allows you to challenge yourself and, as a result, grow.
There’s a key difference between rest and restoration. We can feel rested on a full night’s sleep without necessarily feeling restored and rejuvenated. Feeling restored goes deeper than the physical and that’s where taking a solo trip can come in. Restorative travel is when you physically, mentally, and emotionally take a break from your day to day life. This break allows you to just breathe, recharge, and break free of the daily barriers that prevent you from thinking outside of the box.
My best advice when taking a solo wellness vacation is to carve out some time to reflect on your current life and use your fresh perspective to re-assess any conflict or obstacles you’re dealing with.
To Spark Creativity
Another reason I love a good solo wellness vacation is that it often helps spark my creativity and gets those engines running again. As I’ve said many times in this post, traveling solo is all about YOU. How often do we ever get to make any decision or plan where we don’t have to worry about anyone but ourselves?
Because of this, we can indulge in activities or interests that might take a backseat in normal life. Let’s say your day job is as an accountant or occupational therapist or lawyer but you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook vegan or dance salsa. Plan your solo wellness vacation somewhere where you can fully indulge in your passion. You never know where this can lead.
How to Plan Your Solo Wellness Vacation
Keep it simple
At the end of the day, a solo wellness vacation should be kept simple. The more you overcomplicate it, the less it becomes a wellness vacation and the more it becomes an oblication (or obligation vacation!)
Don’t try to fit in too many different destinations in one trip, and make sure to leave yourself time to just relax and enjoy your surroundings. No need to schedule activities and make reservations from sunrise to sundown.
Make sure it’s at least 1-2 hours away
For a true solo wellness vacation, make sure you’re traveling at least 1-2 hours away. You want to be far enough away from home that you simply cannot stress about dishes that may need to be washed, bills that need to be paid, or basements that need to be organized. If you do a staycation down the block, it’s all too easy to slip home and back into normal life.
Plus, those hours of travel are important to the restoration process. They allow you to sort of veg out and listen to some great tunes or put on a podcast you’ve been wanting to listen to.
Focus on activities that are there to purely spark joy
When planning what you want to do on this solo wellness vacation, make sure you focus on activities that are there to simply spark joy. Don’t force yourself to do anything just because it’s the “thing to do” in a city. Instead look for anything that delights you! Choose activities that require no mental energy other than having the time of your life.
Personally, I love seeing what locals do to find joy in their day to day and joining in. For example, in Texas, they go dancing not just for special occasions but every single week! And in China, there are kite clubs in local parks where they make everything from tiny butterflies to 100ft trains. One discovery I still think about is the fact that locals in Bern will go about their day with dry bags and swimsuits. If it’s nice out, they’ll change into their swimsuits, stuff their clothes in their dry bag, and cut across the Aare River to get home. Imagine if part of your commute included some swimming!
Again – make sure it’s SOLO
I keep adding these reminders to make sure your trip is solo because I know just how hard it is to do anything truly alone. I have a husband, kids, family, friends, and countless colleagues in the travel industry – I would know!
But committing to a solo wellness vacation is so important, and I really, really urge you to make sure you don’t bend even a little as you plan for yours. There will always be other trips you can take with people, let this one be just for you.
Great Ideas for a Solo Wellness Vacation
A Day or Weekend Trip in a Small Town
Truly, all a solo wellness vacation has to entail is you hopping in your car or on the train and traveling to a cute small town. My key for finding fun small towns is to look for independent bookstores. They’re usually a good indication of a vibrant community and existence of other cool small businesses and restaurants. I like to use Bookshop.org to search for them.
Really for a bit of self-care, you don’t have to commit to getting on a plane and traveling for a week or more. It sometimes just requires a day trip or even a weekend getaway somewhere a few hours away.
A Road Trip Somewhere Beautiful
If you can’t tell from the many road trips I’ve taken on “Places to Love,” I love a good road trip. There’s something freeing about just getting into a car, putting on my favorite music, and driving with no real plans or destinations in mind. This way I can just stop where I feel like and get to know places I might never have had a chance to visit otherwise.
One great example I can think of is Mom’s Pie House in Julian, CA. Hands down has some of the best apple pie I’ve ever tasted in my life. The shop owner, Anita Nichols, has been making them from scratch since 1984. The tiny town of Julian, though, is quite a ways from any major city and I would have never had a chance to try this pie if I wasn’t road tripping through Southern California.
For all our “Places to Love” road trips, watch these episodes:
- Texas Hill Country
- Donegal, Ireland
- Sonoma County, CA
- Coastal Maine
- Genesee River Valley, NY
- Belfast & Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland
- California Road Trip
A Culture City Break
For those of you that may prefer not to have to worry about parking during your solo wellness vacation, I do love a good culture city. These are the kind of cities that have history living right in between all the world class museums, diverse restaurants, and trendy coffee shops.
Of course, the most obvious example is none other than Paris with all its arrondissements, croissants, and people watching opportunities. However, there are so many cities that fall under the definition of a “culture city,” you’d be surprised by how close some of them are.
An Outdoors Adventure
Why not try a multi-day trek or hike? Some of the most stunning natural landscapes are best seen with a backpack strapped to your back and the comfiest hiking boots tied to your feet! There’s something truly restorative above spending your days just focusing on moving forward and drinking in your surroundings. Look to treks like the Banff Highline Traverse in Canada, Tour du Mont Blanc which spans France, Italy, and Switzerland, or the Annapurna Circuit Trek in Nepal. Really, the opportunities for an outdoor trek are endless when you begin looking into it.
I mean, you don’t have to ask me to explain my love of cruises. There’s a reason I love having both Holland America Line and AmaWaterways as two of our “Places to Love” sponsors and why I’m running an HAL cruise to Norway this summer. Cruises are a way to enjoy a lot in a short amount of time, and for someone on a solo wellness vacation who may be worried about too much solitude, they make it easy to meet new people. On select cruises to Europe Amawaterways offers specially designed single occupancy staterooms with French balconies with no additional supplemental fee. Holland America also has solo cabins and is considered one of the best cruise lines for solo travelers. Sometimes cruises are the only way you can truly enjoy a destination, like with the Inside Passage of Alaska, which is largely inaccessible via roads.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about solo wellness vacations and why we should all be planning one of our own this year! Have you ever taken your own solo trip for any of the above reasons? Tell me about it below!