Why a solo vacation is the best self-care a woman can give herself

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Why I think solo travel is a great form of self-care for women.

Unless you’ve lived under a rock the last couple of years, at some point you’ve heard (or even used) the term self-care.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s one of the better definitions I was able to find on the internet:

“Self-care is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. And in this case, overall health includes not just the physical, but the psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being.” Source

In theory self-care is simple;  it’s about taking care of yourself and being intentional about ensuring your well-being. However, it’s not nearly as easy to put into practice.

Especially for women.

On my solo trip to Mongolia last year

Us members of the “fairer sex” get the short end of the stick on so many levels.  We work more than men, yet get paid less; we’re constantly judged for our looks, marital status, and reproductive choices; and even when we’re more educated and capable than our male counterparts, we still lose elections (sorry Hillary), face, and are scrutinized unfairly.

We’re expected to be nurturers and provide emotional support, often at the expense of our own mental and emotional health.

And while more of us are becoming breadwinners within our families, many of us are still expected to, well, bake the bread, buy the groceries, and burp the baby once we get home.

But while it’s difficult to practice self-care when you’re consumed by work, cowed by societal expectations, and expected to care for others, I think it’s necessary and something we should implement on a regular basis.

Moreover, while nourishing your well-being can be as simple as treating yourself to a bubble bath or a long, uninterrupted session with your favourite novel,  I want to share why I think a solo vacation is the best self-care a woman can administer.

It’s all about you

One of the reasons I love and advocate female solo travel is that it gives us the ability to be selfish. So often we are expected to be selfless and are defined by our status(es) of sister/wife/mother/daughter– we take care of everyone else except ourselves.

But when you travel solo, there’s nobody to answer to but you. The beauty of a solo vacation lies in the ability to structure your days as you see fit: there are no quibbles about where to go to eat in the evening, or objections about visiting that obscure museum you’ve had your eye on since your arrival. You are free to experience your destination as you like and without having to cater to someone’s wants and desires. You make the decisions, you call the shots. It’s empowering.

Rolling solo dolo in India

You can recharge your batteries without interruption

Whether you’re a 12 hour flight or a 30 minute bus ride from home, separation from your daily routine– and those who “need” you– can give you space to relax and recharge. You’d be surprised how little people actually need you when you consciously make yourself unavailable and put yourself first: problems get solved without your input and disasters that normally require your assistance suddenly aren’t nearly as catastrophic.

This leaves you with the mental, emotional, and physical energy to discover your surroundings at your leisure without extra “noise” or “baggage”.  You can relinquish the job of nurturer and take on the job of explorer, fully engaging in activities (like yoga, hikes, etc.) that give you pleasure and bring you back to center.

You can be who you want to be

I enjoy travelling on my own not only because I can do what I want when I want, but also because I’m not limited or hampered by the opinions or expectations of friends, family, or colleagues who purport to “know me”.

So often us women conform to certain expectations or stereotypes in our social and professional circles for fear of coming off “too strong” (read: bitchy), amongst other things. In short, we have to “play the game” to be accepted, and it’s ridiculous and exhausting.

All by my lonesome in Chile’s Atacama Desert

When I travel solo, I can be who I want to be– whether that’s the wacky extroverted daredevil who dances on tables at the bar, or the introvert who retreats to her hotel room with a good book after a long day of solo sightseeing.

My point is that we can change identities like we change our t-shirts– a solo vacation away from the watchful eyes of friends and acquaintances gives us the chance to explore aspects of ourselves we wouldn’t explore back home for fear of being judged.  As our overall health hinges on our mental and emotional well-being, the ability to figure out who we are and/or reinvent ourselves is important.

Solo travel = great self-care for women

No matter your age, income level, marital status or reproductive status, a solo trip is something that every woman should do at some point.  It’s the ultimate form of self-care: a fantastic way to refocus on our unique needs and desires, a great way to build confidence, independence, and resilience, and necessary to shaping who we are as individuals.

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