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Yes, You Can: Take a Vacation by Yourself

Meeting the captain on the cruise ship
This is part of my Solo Living: Yes You Can series. Click here to find the intro and all the topics. Solo vacationing can be one of the most freeing and relaxing ways to travel. I'm sure you can think of at least one time when you took a trip only to have your getaway ruined by your companion.

I love a good vacation. There's nothing better than taking a few days off to decompress and get away from the stress of life. In my family, even when we didn't have a lot of money, it was considered important to have these little weekends. Sometimes we stayed with a family member. Sometimes, we would drive an hour away to the closest big city and spend a night in the Holiday Inn Holidome (remember those?). We thought that was big stuff. There was an indoor pool and a video game arcade. Sometimes Mom and Dad would go out for dinner, and we three girls would get to order pizza and watch TV ALONE.

It wasn't always easy sharing a hotel room with 5 people, 4 of them being female. We would have two beds, and had to rent a roll away bed. But we made it work. It was my family after all. When I became an adult, I took trips with friends -- most of the time, it was to the beach or the mountains. As time went on, and most of my friends got married, sometimes I could talk a girlfriend into leaving her husband for a few days for a girl's trip, but as time went on, that happened less and less.

I would see my friends showing off pictures with their spouse where they took a trip to some exotic location, or even something simple like a beach weekend. It's times like these I would really long for a spouse. It looked like so much fun.

A transition happened when I took yet another trip with a travel partner that didn't work out so well. At the time it seemed important to have someone with me. I realized what I really wanted to do was sleep in, drink coffee in front of ocean, walk along the beach, read books, and maybe eat some seafood. And I certainly didn't need anyone else to do any of those things. I told myself that the next time, I would try going alone. Well, I did, and I liked it. That's not to say I don't covet a good travel partner, but just because I don't have one doesn't mean I shouldn't take trips.

I have now taken a trip alone for the past five years. Most of the time, I choose the beach because it's so easy to enjoy it alone, but I have taken a cruise, as well.

Here's a few tips to getting the most out of the experience:

  • Choose the best room, even if you don't need all that space. You deserve it!
  • Commit yourself to eating quality food. Check TripAdvisor or Yelp for restaurants. Look at the top ten restaurants near you and choose something that sounds good. I have found very out of the way place using this method that I wouldn't have found otherwise. 
  • Don't be afraid to talk to people. If I'm at a restaurant and feel the Spirit move me, I'll strike up a conversation. You can meet interesting people. Just last night, I was on my out of the restaurant, and a nice elderly gentlemen said he hoped their conversation hadn't disturbed me. We chatted for a few minutes, and I ended up sitting down with him, his son, and daughter-in-law. They asked if they could buy me a drink, and we had the most wonderful evening. 
  • Since you're alone, you can do whatever you want. Go on a hike, look for furniture stores, visit a museum, eat ice cream. It's your time. Although it's tempting to just sit in your room and read a book, get out and see all the stuff you would if you had the perfect travel partner. Ask the locals for their favorite stops. 
Deck life

As you can tell, I prefer a low-key vacation. But if you are the wanting a travel excursion with lots of activities, there are a few I know of that are good for singles. The cruise I took was through a group called SinglesCruise. I really enjoyed my experience. They had lots of activities planned for the group like trivia night, karaoke, etc, so there was always something to do, but if you wanted to spend time alone, you could do that, too. They also provide a roommate matching service if you would prefer not to pay for a double occupancy room. 

Another company called G Adventures plans excursions where singles can join. They have different tracks, too, depending if you want to live like a local or do really physical stuff or be pampered. 

Taking a vacation by yourself doesn't have to be scary or boring. Once you try it, I think you will enjoy the experience of traveling solo.