Last year I took a trip to Japan by myself and it was a blissful experience. I had the full freedom to do exactly what I wanted to do, on my own time. In the absence of making sure someone else was having a good time, I could actually make sure that I was having a meaningful trip instead. On the last day of my trip, I vowed to always make the time to travel on my own.
As the founder of Mend, a self care app for heartbreak and beyond, I’ve found that one of the things that actually helps in the mending process is solo travel. Breakups have a way of making you question who you are and what you need. Traveling alone allows you to focus inward and get in touch with yourself. You learn what you like, what you need in order to best take care of yourself, and you’re able to make lots of new memories rather than focus on old ones. And the best part is you don’t have to answer to anyone, you get to take your time in places you love, and you can focus on being present.
If you’ve just gone through a breakup and have been thinking about, or already booked, your post-breakup trip, here are some tips to make the solo travel a valuable part of your mending journey.
Get clear on how you want to spend your time
If you’re not used to traveling alone, you may have never asked yourself these crucial questions: “What do I really want out of this trip?” “How do I want to spend my time?” Maybe you love museums and your previous trips never allowed you the freedom to spend a full day getting lost in a museum. Maybe you really love unplanned time to just people watch and be spontaneous. Whatever it is, think about how you’d really like to spend this time, and take advantage of your ability to do that without affecting anyone else’s trip.
Set aside time to reflect daily
Whether you journal on your phone or in a small notebook you bring with you, reflection time during a trip is such a precious gift. Often times we don’t do this when we’re traveling with other people because there’s pressure to be “on.” One of the beautiful aspects of traveling solo is that you can do whatever you want, including taking the time to reflect on your experience and where you are in your life right now. Morning writing can be a great way to prepare yourself for the day and ground you, and evening reflection can be a great way to process your experiences that day and reflect on your emotions.
Find routine if you’re feeling anxious
If you start to feel anxious or lonely on a trip, it can be helpful to build in a little routine so that things feel more familiar even in an unfamiliar place. For example, if you’re in the same city for a while, maybe you want to pick a coffee shop where you get your coffee every morning so that it removes the stress of finding a new place every morning. It could also be as simple as meditating at the same time every morning in the same spot.
Practice self care on the go
Travel can take a toll, and traveling solo can get tiring at times because you are completely in charge 100% of the time. Don’t forget to take time to practice self care, whether it’s taking a few extra minutes to take a bath in the morning, or stretching in the evening.
Carve out time to exercise
Exercise is such an important way to boost your mood, whether you’re traveling or not, and it can also help kickstart your system if you’re feeling sluggish from jetlag or too many pastries. Whether you get out for a walk or you drop in for a yoga class, make sure you prioritize moving your body. Group classes are a great way to connect to people locally and feel less alone if you’re starting to feel a little isolated on a trip.
Make yourself a playlist
Make a playlist ahead of time so that it’s your soundtrack throughout your trip. Every day you can add in songs that you hear in restaurants and while you’re out, and then it will be like a time capsule whenever you want to go back and remember the feeling of that trip.
Find your community
There’s no better time to make friends and connect to new people than when you’re traveling alone. Solo travel opens you up in a way that traveling with others doesn’t – that’s one of the wonderful things about it. Smile to strangers when you’re out and be open to spontaneous conversations, and also leverage communities like Behere to feel like you’re home away from home.
Safety is important when you’re traveling alone. Although it’s nice to disconnect and get a break from your normal day-to-day, it’s also a good idea to check in with people at home, to make sure they know where you are. You don’t have to keep a dozen text conversations going with your friends and family back home, but it’s a good idea to choose one family member or friend to check in with and share your travel plans (flight info, where you’re staying, etc).
Eating alone can be a bit intimidating if you’re not used to it, but it can also be a really pleasurable experience if you’re mindful. We rarely mindfully eat when we’re eating with other people or when we’re scarfing down lunch at our desks during the work week. When you’re eating meals on your own during a trip, take the time to chew slowly and really savor each flavor. You’ll be amazed at how much more you enjoy your meals when you’re not distracted by your phone or anyone else.
Elle Huerta is the CEO and founder of Mend, a self care app for heartbreak
and beyond. You can download Mend in the App Store, check out the blog
at letsmend.com, or find inspiration and humor at @letsmend on Instagram.