I’m in the midst of planning for my first overseas vacation in ten years (Toronto a few years ago does not count, sorry Canada!), and as the days bring me closer to departure, the excitement within continues to swell by the hour. You see, I need this vacation for more than just the obvious R&R it will bring. While I’ll be staying with friends during most of my time in South Korea, my days will be primarily filled with solo travel, and I have planned it this way intentionally.
For one thing, solo travel for me has historically brought out the creativeness inside of me. It’s the type of creativeness that has struggled to emerge lately due to my hard deadline-driven job, which literally zaps the energy out of me, leaving me completely destroyed long after I have left the office for the day or weekend. With this vacation, I look forward to spending my days being able to take my time experiencing my surroundings, spending my week according to my own agenda, following my own rules at my own pace, eating whatever the hell I want (I’ve been working with a nutritionist since February in anticipation for this trip and by the time I leave for Korea in late May, I will have lost at least ten pounds!) and allowing myself the opportunity to truly be alone with my own thoughts and observations. Whenever I have a prolonged opportunity to do all this, wonderful things happen to me, and I look forward to everything about this vacation, even the super long flight which will give me the chance to completely unwind. (I even have some stylish compression socks, cozy slippers, a really stylish roller, and just purchased on Amazon a beautiful Vera Bradley tote which will double as my travel purse where I will also keep my iPad stocked full of downloaded movies and a good book or two.)
Needless to say, the creative expectations that I know will result from this trip are very much reflected in my packing list, which includes a compact point and shoot digital camera, my external hard drive, a selfie-stick for my iPhone (because when you’re traveling solo, there might not always be someone around to snap a photo of you at Gyeongbokgung Palace or Bongeunsa Temple), a handheld mp3 recorder as I plan to conduct a few field interviews, a good old-fashioned paper journal and pen, and many other tools to help me on this creative journey.
While I used to be very nervous about traveling alone, I have reached a stage in my life where I’ve realized the value of solo trips and the freedom they bring. For example, I may want to spend an entire morning touring a Buddhist temple only to take an extended lunch break at a little cafe where I can download my photos and blog about my visit. Or I may wish to “go off schedule” and visit a museum, do some shopping, or wander the neighborhoods taking photos. This will truly be “me time” and loneliness does not bother me, nor do I have many safety concerns (I used to live in Korea, after all, and with the support of my friends there who have opened their home to me, I could not be in better hands).
Group trips can be fun, but solo trips are almost better, in my opinion. Have you ever taken a solo trip? What have you liked or disliked about the experience?