My First Solo Vacation

Although I have traveled for work-related trips before without any family or friends several times, I had never truly traveled by myself for a vacation until I went to Des Moines, Iowa for a half marathon recently. I have heard several bloggers and podcasters say how much they enjoy solo travel and how everyone should try it at least once in their lives. After doing it myself this time, I have to say I truly did enjoy it.

Overall, there are many pros to traveling by yourself, which I’ll list some of here. Of course, everyone is different and I’m sure my perspective at this point in my life is unique to me. Still, some of what I’m about to say may inspire some of you to take your first solo trip or at least plant the seed. So here are some of the pros to traveling by yourself:

You can do whatever you want, when you want. As a mother, this one was pretty big for me. My daughter is now sixteen and for the past sixteen years, I’ve always had to consider my daughter’s wants and needs when on vacation. Yes, the easy way out would have been to have just left her at home with a close friend but I always felt like kids benefit from traveling the world so there was never a vacation that she didn’t go on with me.

When she was really young, I had to make sure she got her naps in and went to bed on time and when she was older I made sure I included her in the decision-making on what we did. This was the first time in sixteen years that I only thought about what I want to do and it was huge. I found myself skipping things I would have normally done (like going out for dessert just about every afternoon) and instead choosing things I know she wouldn’t have liked. Besides my daughter, there was also no husband’s wants to consider, which of course was also huge for me to not have to consider for once.

You can go to sleep whenever you want and wake up whenever you want. I realize this kind of goes under the first pro but it seems like to me it should get its own paragraph. Again, as a parent, this one is pretty big. Not having to consider anyone else in the room and being able to stay up as late as you want (and make as much noise as you want) and then wake up without anyone else waking you up is a big deal.

You really get to know yourself a bit better. When you’re by yourself 24/7 and are only in the company of strangers when you go out in public, you pretty quickly get into your own head. If you’re not already comfortable in your own skin, this could be pretty scary. Fortunately for me, during the pandemic, I read more self-help books than I had in my entire life because I went through a rough patch in my life. Because of that, I now see aspects of myself I couldn’t see before and know myself better than I ever have (I guess that’s one good thing to have come of the pandemic for me personally anyway).

You also get to know the place you’re staying better. Now this one surprised me. I’m not sure why but for the first time ever I felt like I learned my way around the area (Des Moines) almost immediately upon arrival. It could be the incredibly easy grid layout they had for the streets there, but I don’t think so. I’ve been to other Midwest cities and other cities that are laid out in a similar grid-style and I never felt like I figured my way around as quickly as I did in Des Moines. I think it was purely the fact that I had no one else to help me so I knew instinctively that I had better figure my way around quickly. Yes, of course I had Google Maps but I found myself turning it off after a couple of turns because I already knew where I was going.

Strangers will talk to you more when you’re by yourself. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who the stranger is. When I was in the Denver airport for a layover on my way to Des Moines, a woman sat next to me and started chatting away incessantly, something that would not have happened if I had been with someone else. She was obviously lonely and just wanted someone to talk to, but when she wouldn’t stop talking after what felt like a solid 30 minutes, I told her I needed to go to the restroom and slipped away. I’ve also noticed other strangers were more chatty with me at restaurants and other public places when I was by myself. Usually, this was a good thing.

Of course, the single biggest con that I can see with solo travel is you don’t have someone close to you to share special moments with. That stunning sunset, the unique sculpture, or the amazing dinner you had by yourself will just have to be enjoyed by you and you alone. The best you can do is snap a photo and send it to someone or make a video call but it will never be the same as if they were with you in-person. When I finished my half marathon in Des Moines, I made a video call to my daughter but of course that only lasted a few minutes and once I hung up I was still by myself.

Still, I agree that everyone should go on at least one solo vacation in their lives. I believe it’s good for the soul and who couldn’t use more of that?

Do you take solo vacations or do you always travel with friends or family? Are you curious about taking a vacation by yourself but never have? Tell me about your experience with solo travel.

Happy travels!

Donna

Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

19 thoughts on “My First Solo Vacation”

  1. I totally agree that how ever much you enjoy travelling with friends or family everyone should experience at least one overseas trip alone. I was never bored, gained confidence and spoke / met with to so many people I wouldn’t necessarily have done had I been accompanied Donna.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my Hal’s — the second one, actually! — I traveled to by myself because my husband had a conference. He came the night of the half. So I had a few days by myself ahead of time.

    Of course it was Austin, so we’d lived there 17 years & I was able to meet up with some friends plus I knew my way around.

    OTOH, previously I’d gone to a few conferences on my own for hobbies. The whole doing what you want, when you want — and not having to have the tv on — it’s an amazing feeling.

    However I don’t ever learn a new location quickly. I might learn it sooner because I’m not relying on my husband.

    I think traveling with someone & by yourself both have pros & cons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. I agree with all your points. I just discovered a fabulous-looking spa hotel in the middle of Wisconsin (that I WILL be going to and blogging about in the next year). Since we’re with my mom for Thanksgiving, I was telling her about it and she said, “If you want someone to go with, let me know.” Guess what I said . . .” You should meet Friend X there. I want to go by myself.” Fortunately, she took it well. The fact is, the rooms are expensive and she would have wanted to share, but I want a room to myself for many reasons, not least of which is the ability to get up when I want, turn on lights, make noise, etc., just like you mentioned. Also, it will be short (maybe two nights) and so I will not want to consider someone else’s wants with such a small amount of time to get in the things that I want to do. There are certain places I would actually prefer to go with the husband because we want to see them together, but sometimes a solo trip is just the thing.
    Happy Thanksgiving, Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I can’t wait to hear about this spa hotel! I completely agree about not wanting to share a room like that with your mom and that’s good she took your comment well. Not sure my mom would have. Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think if I went solo it would be to a place I’m very comfortable with and feel safe in like Ocean City. Otherwise I think I would feel bad/not enjoy it as much exploring a new place without Jason.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two racecations I took solo that come to mind are the London Marathon (it was my daughter’s senior prom weekend so I wanted my hubby to at least be there for her) and Lululemon’s Sea Wheeze Half in Vancouver. I do not hesitate to travel alone so these were no big deal for me at all and I enjoyed both immensely. It would’ve been nice to have family/friends with me when I crossed the finish line of my 6th World Marathon Major but what can you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow, those are great examples of solo vacations and I’m happy they turned out so well for you. I so badly want to run a half in Vancouver! Do you have a post from your trip there so I can get some tips from you?

      Like

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