(TL;DR – Go, just GO.)
You know it’s happened — you’re burnt out, struggling to navigate each day with a sense of accomplishment, or with some pretense that things are OK and you’re not sick to the core with the day-to-day work. You’re living percariously near the edge now, and Lord knows you’re tired.
Know what? This is not something you need to sleep off. It’s something you need to work off. So when you get stuck in this phase, take that solo weekend trip, the little energizer bunny for your soul. Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Book the cheapest flight out. Fly to anywhere.
It doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s cheap and to somewhere you’ve never been before. Better yet, fly to somewhere where the people speak a completely different language.
Book it for this weekend. That’s right, this coming weekend. Face it, you won’t have time to plan for it anyway, so take it the moment you have a free weekend. Fly off Friday night, and get back Sunday night. You can sleep on the plane anyway.
Step 2: Book a nice, safe accommodation.
Especially if you’re a solo female traveler, the last thing you need is to worry about navigating dark alleyways and dodgy hostels with uncomfortable bed. Get a legitimate one, with tons of TripAdvisor stars. You won’t want to stinge on this one, especially if you’ve taken a budget flight out.
Step 3: Get lost.
Sure, slot in some touristy stuff if you want, but don’t get too stressed over it. Yes, don’t obsess over other people’s idea of Must-Go and Must-See. Forget about taking the obligatory photo in front of some signboard that everyone has a photo of.
The point of the trip is to disconnect and recharge, so instead of forcing yourself to hit all the major landmarks. The point is to get lost and then find yourself, yes, hopefully in every sense of the word. So, arm yourself with maps and a pair of comfortable shoes and just get lost. Go hiking in the wilderness (Hire a guide or join a day tour if you wanna), or just wander around the city. Don’t worry too much about the destination, this time it’s about the journey. Just make sure you can make it back at the end of the day for safety’s sake.
Who knows, you may end up discovering some interesting things along the way!
Step 4: Have one amazing meal, table for one.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, but make sure you have one fantastic and amazing local meal and do it alone. Ignore the look and stare that nobody is actually giving you. Strike up a conversation with the service staff if you feel like conversation. Ask them for recommendations for local delicacies and try everything. There is nothing wrong and definitely no shame in taking a solo trip. So get out there and eat up a storm.
Yes, definitely order dessert.
Step 5: Do something completely different,
If you’re a first-time solo traveler, then you’re already on the right track. There really are lots of merit in doing it alone. I really encourage every girl to take a solo trip at least once in your life. I promise you you’ll come back with a better understanding of yourself, what you can and cannot handle.
Be sure to use this short weekend to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Maybe ride an elephant NOT(!), better ideas are take a hike, go paragliding, check out the local cafe, join a local cooking class or learn some local handicraft. Eat some insects. Either way, you will head home with some #myholsarebetterthanyours stories to tell.
Step 6: Strike up a conversation with a stranger, and talk about your job.
This is where things get interesting. Talk to the people in your hotel/hostel, or even a taxi driver or meet some people in a bar. And as they get to know you better, talk about your job. The thing about talking to absolute strangers about your work is that two possible outcomes can happen.
One, you find a new-found respect for your work. Maybe the person you’re speaking to offers a new perspective, or maybe you somehow remember why you enjoy that job so much in the first place. Being reminded of your initial resolve for doing what you do can be a powerful thing.
Two, you don’t find anything great about your job, and you learn something else new about yourself instead. Maybe you talk about your job as a dental assistant, but you end up feeling more enthusiastic about the field of advertising. Maybe you meet someone with a cool and interesting job, and it inspires you to think harder about (switching) your career path.
The thing about talking about yourself to others, especially people from completely different cultures and lives is that it helps you reflect on yourself more than you ever could in your own comfortable little bubble at home. It forces you to think bigger and wider. And harder.
Step 7: Gain new perspective.
If you end up getting all the way to the end of the trip in one piece, completely exhausted with a stockpile of stories to tell, then you know you’ve done it right. We live in a culture where being alone and taking risks aren’t normal things to do, and pushing yourself to take this impromptu thing would be the riskiest thing you’ve done. You’ve done something completely out of your comfort zone, you’ve been independent and enjoyed your own company, in a place where you don’t know anyone. And for a whole weekend, your only responsibility was to yourself.
Bring this new perspective back to your work and life. See your job in a new light, maybe feel inspired to take up new classes or talk to more strangers. It’s not a country-hopping trip by far, but it was your trip, and you will come home, a little changed.
So now , go get lost.