Real talk: I’m not a seasoned travler. I spent my summers in the Midwest going on weekend driving vacations. I didn’t get on a plane until graduate school and didn’t leave the country until after I’d turned 30. I’m only just getting into the groove when it comes to knowing what types of travel I’m into. Sometimes, travel seems intimidating and I’ve been grateful to have so many willing travel buddies to guide me and share experiences with me over the past few years.
In the last few months, however, I’ve really been slipping into a season of introversion and desiring to spend more time with myself and those with whom I have really close soul connections. When it became quite obvious recently that it was time for a getaway, I made the conscious choice to travel alone. I booked a last minute trip to Tulum, Mexico (read more about my travel experience and recommendations here) with the clear intention of reconnecting with my intuition, which I’d lost sight of during a recent season of business.
For this trip, I made a lot of very specific choice that really enhanced my ability to disconnect from the day-to-day and reconnect with myself in a way that was deep and profound. Truly, I had one of the most beautiful and clarity-filled days of my life recently while sitting on the beach in Tulum, staring into the ocean and listening to the sounds of nature.
I wanted to share with you some of the choices I made which greatly impacted my ability to have this sacred time with myself.
If it wasn’t obvious…I traveled solo.
I knew I needed uninterrupted time to sit with my thoughts. While it’s possible to achieve this with a travel partner, I know I would have struggled to truly let go had I had another person to converse with. Furthermore, I didn’t have to worry about planning around another person’s agenda or needs. I was able to be 100% self-centered, and sometimes that’s much-needed.
I traveled sober.
If you’re new here, I don’t drink. I haven’t for about 2.5 years and it’s a really important component of my personal growth journey. When it comes to vacation, it would be easy to make an exception. It would be easy to say yes to a cocktail to help me relax on the plane, to ease the discomfort of sitting with my own thoughts, to numb my senses and help the hours pass, or to act as a social lubricant in an unfamiliar place. But for me, easy (in this sense at least) is agreeing to live a mediocre life, and that’s just not what I want at my core. The simple fact is, the choice to be alcohol-free is the single most impactful decision I’ve made in my life and “cheating” in the name of vacation doesn’t make sense for me. Now, I could go on about how important this choice continues to be, but if you’re interested, I debunk some of the myths about sober travel over on this post.
I made it a point to be alone.
First, let me not discount the power and beauty of connecting with new people when you travel. I think this is an absolutely wonderful experience. However, this wasn’t the experience I planned for this trip. I didn’t sign up for a retreat where I would have a guide and be able to meet other solo travelers. I didn’t hop on an app, or try to meet others to entertain me. I found comfort in my own discomfort, grabbed a book and my journal and chose to dine and sit alone with only my thoughts. Could I do this same thing during my everyday life, sure, but I often don’t take a break from the hustle to do so. Giving myself this gift of time was a beautiful thing.
Because the purpose of this trip was to disconnect, I tried my best to limit my access to technology. I refused to open any work-related apps and made a pact to limit my screen time mostly to map and camera usage. The fact that connectivity in Tulum is sometimes spotty helped, but I also made it a point to turn off my cell data so that I wouldn’t be tempted. This was actually a challenge. I found that many of the beach clubs offered free WI-FI. It took tremendous discipline to avoid the temptation to scroll. I wasn’t perfect, but I was pretty darn good and this practice was really refreshing.
I had no agenda.
Nothing. I didn’t schedule an activity or make dinner reservations or set an alarm (except for the day I wanted to see the sunrise/sunset). I just meandered about with no place to be and, damnit, it felt good. This is an area that made being alone rather beneficial because I didn’t have to bend to meet anyone else’s needs and desires. I took casual bike rides up and down the beach strip, stopping along the way wherever I wanted to poke around. I ate and drank when and where I wanted. I changed my mind about a million times without worrying about frustrating anyone with my fickleness. While I feel I flourish with structure, I also think it’s tremendously important to challenge yourself with the discomfort of completely breaking your routine every now and then.
What I can’t capture effectively in a blog post is how absolutely wonderful it feels to give yourself the opportunity to truly sit with your own thoughts. They say that it typically takes several days of “vacation” for the average person to disconnect and reach relaxation. I’m happy to report that I was able to achieve this state in less than 24-hours. I know solo travel can be intimidating and not extremely practical in some situations, but I also encourage you to consider that it might be possible and extremely beneficial.