It took me awhile after having my kids to start traveling on by myself first it was physically impossible because we were nursing exclusively. But as they got older, I started to have a few trips away. And even though I have now taken more than a handful of solo trips, there is still something weird that happens when I travel: I have a hard time making up my mind.
When I’m home, I am the decider-in-chief. I am full-on thinking about other people and making sure life moves forward. Who wants pancakes for breakfast, who has after-school activities, who is on dinner duty; these are all important questions that have answers and solutions, and I make sure they get answered and solved. And at work it is all about the clients and my staff and the business. Things that I enjoy or need, like taking a shower or going for a bike ride, either have to be planned and scheduled, or just squeezed in.
When I travel alone and am confronted with days where I get to make all the choices for only me, it’s a different story. I’ll be sprawled on a giant hotel bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows, just me and Google pondering my next move. Would I enjoy a luxurious (ie no kids in there with me) shower, where I get to be in the hot water without fear of stepping on a toy? Or would I prefer to order room service, get under the covers, and watch a thriller from beginning to end with no interruptions? Perhaps I’d like to head to a yoga or spin class. . . . Before you know it, an hour of my precious free time has flown by, unused, and then the pressure is on to hurry up and enjoy myself. God forbid I waste my free time!
I felt this decision paralysis in New York City this weekend. I really wanted to eat delicious, 4.8 star, 500+ ratings food. But when I got on Trip Advisor, Open Table, and Google to see what was good, I was drawn in by all the options. Eat close by, or jump in a cab? And what will be better, homemade Italian, or dim sum in China Town? I made my decision and was soon enjoying a four-course tasting menu at an Italian restaurant nearby. The attentive chef introduced the courses and kept the waiters on their toes by constantly dinging a little bell when food was ready to be served. There was an original painting of an exploding tomato with the most vibrant reds on the wall across from me. And the food and company were exquisite.
I’ve realized that to make the most out of my solo-travel, I have to engage in three easy steps. The first is to relax. There is never a BEST decision. There is only ever the best decision for right now. That takes the pressure off to choose the best way to spend my free time. Step 2 is to choose. I don’t have to choose the best thing to do, but I feel better when I choose something. Time limits are great for moving forward, so after 15 minutes of considering, it’s time to pick something and move on to actually enjoying it. Step 3 is to commit. Whatever I’ve decided to do, I will focus on that rather than wondering what else I could be doing with my free time.
And that’s my plan. Can’t wait to use them on my next solo trip.