I took myself on vacation and it was the best. Now you should too!
When I started this blog, its intentions were to highlight beauty trends and my experience in the classroom. I have to realize my experience outside the classroom and away from the vanity are just as educational and beautiful.
When the clock struck midnight on the first of January this year, I made a resolution to myself to travel more. I have been itching to take a trip for longer than I can count. However, there were so many reasons why I was not taking the trip. The biggest reason was I did not have friends who could commit to taking a trip with me. Whether it was the countless weddings my friends and I attended or the pending births there was never a good time to take that girls trip. I was tired of waiting for all the stars to align and seeing countless Instagram posts that made me ooze with jealousy. Admit it too, you feel the same way when you are in bed watching stories after a long day at work. After coming to that realization, I then had to conquer my fear of traveling solo, as an introvert. I am by no means the most outgoing, sociable person, so going away having to do all of it for myself was a bit intimidating. But as I pressed purchase on my first vacation there was no turning back. I was putting myself out there.
And I did not need to turn back. I just returned from my first solo trip from London, England. There were many reasons why I choose a hop across the pond. You may think its a cop out, its basically NYC with an accent and a more efficient public transportation system (the later is beyond true). Initially, it was because I was familiar with the city. My junior year of college, I spent a semester interning for an energy trading company and fell madly, deeply in love with the city. But since my return stateside junior year, I wanted to turn back around to visit. In full transparency, I did research other places on my bucket list, but the pull was so strong. For my first solo trip it was the perfect choice because it eliminated nerves of the unknown. I was familiar enough with the workings of the city. So my mind was made up, London it was.
When I was looking for lodging, I looked into all my options. Since I would be traveling by myself, I wanted to feel safe, so I needed to have familiarity with the area or know it would have plenty of transportation options. Within my budget, I looked at both hotels and AirBnBs. Most of the hotels were boutiques that for a single traveler were sad, bland rooms; the AirBnBs were just as similar. I finally found a DoubleTree by the Tate Britain and the River Thames to meet all my wants. On a map, it seemed far from the closest tube stop, Pimlico. However, it was the same walk I take every morning to the subway to get to work. Truthfully, I was comforted by staying at a hotel chain that I trusted.
Once all the logistics were booked, I had to just wait and wait. As each day passed, I became increasingly more and more excited. I knew that I needed to take advantage of my time there, and being that I am type B+/A- personality, I planned my days out, with room for flexibility. What was so nice about traveling by myself when planning my days, I never needed to consult anyone about what they wanted to do. There were no discussions about where we wanted to eat, what we wanted to do, when we wanted to leave. I was in control and did not have to stress that every person was not having their needs met. My needs were met, when they needed to be met. I knew I could not do everything London had to over. After reviewing my list of places I wanted to visit, I hit up the majority of what was on my list. I was able to go the street markets I spent my weekends at in college. I made reservations to have high tea with a good book. I visited various museums. I spent the day in my old neighborhood. I strolled through a park or two. I even said hi to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. And I shopped. Oh did I shop. There was never a time when I had to leave before I was done, or stick to my plan because the group was going in another direction. It was refreshing to be able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted. There never was a point where I felt disappointed I could not do something. The only person I could blame in this situation was me. When with a group, we often have to compromise, which is important, however I never had to. I ate where I wanted to, did what I wanted to, left when I wanted to.
Before leaving for my trip, I was nervous there would become a point where I would get lonely spending five days by myself. Prior to the start of my trip, I thought I might feel self-conscious eating alone at restaurants. The only person allowing me to feel that was myself. As an introvert, I do not normally go out of my way to make small talk with the people around me. However, I was taken aback by my natural ease into the conversation. I am not sure if it was a wall I let down or a level of self-consciousness I no longer had time for. Despite what one might think, all the Brits I encountered were incredibly warm and friendly. In addition, I was incredibly active. From the time I woke up, I was on the go. I was absorbing the experiences and moving non-stop. I wondered if there was no time to feel alone. Had I chosen to take me on a beach vacation, would I have had a similar experience? I would be spending my time differently. I guess I will just have to put this theory to a test. As well, international phone plans also make it easy to keep in touch with family. However, when I was out, I did not keep my head buried in my screen. I was there to experience the city.
At the front of any woman’s mind traveling as a single is her safety. It's the world we live in. There was only one moment that I was concerned with it. I knew that once that feeling hit, I hailed a cab and got back to my hotel. Nothing is worth more than my safety. However, for my experience, I was familiar with the area and knew what areas to avoid. Prior to leaving for a trip, it is important to understand and research the area. If staying at a hotel, consult the concierge as they know the areas to visit or avoid.
I cannot advocated for taking yourself on a vacation by yourself. There is no reason why you should not wait around for the trip to happen. Take that trip you want, and enjoy your time with yourself. You just might learn a lot about yourself. The travel bug has left its mark on me, and now it’s time to start saving for my next adventure.