I just got back from taking an extended trip to LA/Orange County. I was in town for SEJ Summit in Santa Monica, and decided to stay through the end of the week because I had never been to LA/OC outside of Disneyland twice. I made plans with my friends to go to Disneyland again on Saturday, but Thursday and Friday ended up being completely free, minus the work I had to do.
It was normal for me to stay a few extra days when I had to go somewhere, but until this trip, I was always either with my husband or meeting up with a friend that I’d spend that free time with before heading home. I headed down to Laguna Beach with my rental car and four nights in a hotel, not sure how the experience of vacationing by myself would pan out.
Would I be bored out of my mind?
Would people think I was weird?
Am I just spending extra money for no reason?
Destroy the Stigma
I like doing many things alone, probably more than things I like doing with other people. And due to some recent changes in my life (and those closest to me), I ended up really looking forward to this trip. I think the main thing I struggled with throughout the trip was thinking about what other people felt about me going. My husband assured me that he didn’t care, but I did feel weird having to tell friends in the area that I wasn’t doing anything extra or with other people over those two days.
It seemed like there was this stigma to going— but I soon realized that that was just something I was putting on myself. None of my local friends seemed to care I was a short drive away and didn’t want to see them. We were hanging out during my time there, so they actually applauded me to deciding to take some time to relax.
I think the stigma that we have to bust is the one we have with ourselves. In addition to feeling like it was frivolous or weird, I also had so many other thoughts race through my head— would I be safe? Would I get all my work done?
Before you go on a vacation by yourself, I recommend evaluating your worries and pushing them out of your mind. The truth is, no one usually cares about what you’re doing. Many just want to know. And, if you share details about your vacation alone, you might actually be applauded for taking care of yourself. (Something that is greatly lacking and not emphasized in our society today.)
You Can Slow Down and Focus
On the first day of my solo-cation, I soaked it in. I went to beach nearby and sat on a rock for a long time, watching the swimmers and listening to the waves. I moseyed back up to my hotel, where I got snacks (I didn’t want a proper lunch, and THAT IS OKAY on vacation), showered, then started working. Since most of my colleagues are used to me working in central time, and they all knew I wasn’t at home, there weren’t any pressing issues and no one went out of their way to bother me.
While my little vacay did have work built in, I didn’t rush it and only got the big projects done, pushing everything that wasn’t a priority to next week. While you certainly don’t have to work, I chose to because it was worth it to do a few hours of work each day and not worry or feel anxious that I was missing anything during my relaxation time. This low-pressure environment allowed me to focus on the three big projects I had to do and get them done all by deadline. If you are planning on working while by yourself in a new destination, you’ll find that it’s much easier to plow through projects you may have been putting off.
Do What You Want to Do
On that first day, I worked most of the afternoon, then decided I was going to the nearby Chinese restaurant for dinner. It had amazing reviews and I could walk there. I also don’t even enough “regular” Chinese in my every day life (it’s usually Panda Express, and while that’s awesome, there is a difference). I was actually excited. That was the true beauty of a solo-cation: I could whatever the hell I wanted. If I wanted Chinese, I would go get it. No compromises with travel buddies on where to eat.
On the second day, I worked in the AM, then I hiked and went to another beach to read a magazine and watch the surfers. I didn’t have to worry about keeping up with someone (or them keeping up with me) and I could take as much time as I wanted at certain points in the hike or on the beach. It was so liberating to be able to set my schedule.
While my travel companions have been more than agreeable, there’s just nothing like having the full power of a schedule all to yourself.
For me, adding on this little 3 day solo-cation was easy to maneuver. I added it on the end of a work trip so my airfare was covered. I don’t have kids, so I know I have a little more freedom than some to extend work trips, but I urge you to consider staying a few days after (or before) a work trip if it’s in a city you’d like to explore more.
Or, instead of exploring, you could just sit in a hotel room eating room service, enjoying the A/C at full blast, taking baths, and watching Forensic Files. That would be a solo-cation I wouldn’t turn down either.
While I know the initial reaction to taking a trip by yourself is usually a negative one, it is usually completely doable. Even if you can’t wrangle 3 extra days, try just a later flight, or even one extra night to relax and regroup.
I’m returning back to Kansas City completely free of the stress ball that had been residing in my chest for the last couple of weeks. My two solo working days let me get more done than usual, so I’m heading into my regular routine Monday completely caught up and ready to tackle new projects I’m working on. The sense of peace just a few days somewhere else can bring (especially by a beach) is hard to duplicate, and I’d urge everyone, especially those who tend to take too much on or who own a business, to consider doing a solo trip.