The first time I ever technically traveled alone was to new York. I was about 23 and our family was all going for a few days, but I had some vacation time to use up and it had been a stressful summer so I decided to get a feel for the solo travel experience and fly in a day early. So for the first time in my life I’d be all alone in another city for almost 36 hours. At this point I had already been to new York a few times and already had my favorite areas and had done all the touristy things so these 36 hours were just for me. I went shopping along Broadway got lost in Soho and sat in central park and people watched. By the late afternoon I was tired and a little cranky for reasons I couldn’t figure out and as I sat in the park on that beautiful sunny fall day I realized that I don’t have to cram my time with things to do. I was there to relax. I had no one to answer to, no one to entertain and this trip was all about me. So I threw the rest of my itinerary out the window and sat in the park and just did nothing. I Started getting hungry but really didn’t feel like interacting with other humans so on the way back to the hotel I stopped at the store and grabbed chips and other snacks then stopped at a liquor store and bought myself a bottle of nice wine. I sat in the hotel room and had wine and junk food for dinner while watching terrible TV and spend the evening blissfully relaxed.
Every time I’ve traveled since then I always remember that night. It’s a great reminder that it’s ok to take a mini break from your travels. You’ve paid good money for your room so you might as well use it. The statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and Amsterdam Canals aren’t going anywhere any time soon so you can take an evening (or a morning or even mid afternoon nap) to just recharge. If you’re forcing yourself to see every sight and do every activity you’re just going to burn yourself out and you won’t enjoy it. And some of my favorite travel memories are from these quiet breaks in the middle of a whirlwind of culture and touring.
We were recently in Scotland as a family and one night after an early dinner we piled into my parents bed with face masks and watched a movie. We could have been running around Inverness looking at the lights shining on the castles or exploring the nightlife but having that quiet close family time was so nice and made sure we were all rested and ready for an early morning full Scottish breakfast and a few hours of driving.
So try it next time you’re away. Don’t feel guilty about “missing out” or that you’re “wasting” time. Do what feels right and take care of yourself first