In August of 2016, I visited London for the first time alone and it was one of the most challenging experiences I’ve had to date. I learned some great lessons which you can read about here, but what did I really do by myself for a week? How did I possibly enjoy travelling alone?
Let’s be real. It’s not necessarily as life-changing as they say. But, what the trip did do, was help me to learn self-care and how to pamper myself. I recently started following blogger, Maria Aldana under the name @earlgreystyle on Instagram. She’s all about pampering yourself in the smallest ways. Pampering yourself doesn’t always have to involve expensive facials or high-end spa treatments. Pampering yourself can simply mean making yourself a nice hot cup of tea to sip on while you read or watch a show, taking a long relaxing bath, doing face masks, journaling, drawing, etc. The list is endless. Whatever you enjoy doing, challenge yourself to make time to do it for yourself.
Travelling to London alone allowed me to learn to take my time and really live in the moment. Most mornings involved waking up on my own time. I would set my alarm to make sure I didn’t sleep in too much, but I still took my time. I woke up slowly and took a while doing my makeup- actually doing proper makeup technique, or what I thought was proper makeup technique. On the days where I made my own breakfast at my AirBnb, I worked slowly. Although, it was a little strange to be in someone else’s kitchen helping myself to jam for my toast and making tea, I really enjoyed being alone in an adorable little kitchen in England that looked into a small back garden. I truly embraced the morning, as opposed to the rushed mornings I was used to, where my tea would end up getting cold.
There were a couple of days that I spent my mornings eating breakfast at local cafés, two were located literally down the street from where I was staying, oh how I love European café culture! I wandered through the neighbourhood on my first full day in London and turned the corner to find a tiny café called Chellies Sandwich Bar. I brought a book with me to read while I waited for my order and honestly, it felt odd not to pull out my phone and scroll through social media as most of us normally do. I was unplugged and it was wonderful. I ate my food slowly, read a few pages, observed as a few other guests came into the café and enjoyed the peaceful feeling of sitting alone and eating my “Full English Breakfast” with other lone diners.
On another night, I had finished up some shopping at Primark and strolled through Kensington High Street. I got hungry and went and grabbed a bento box from some grab and go sushi place and decided to pick up a few British treats from Waitrose…but really, we have Cadbury in Canada so I didn’t stumble on anything so new and amazing. I still bought them anyway though, why not? I grabbed some chocolates, wandered over to the liquor section and grabbed the cutest tiny bottle of red wine and went back to the AirBnb to end off my night by indulging in chocolate, wine, Netflix and face masks I bought from Superdrug earlier. The best way to end a long day of walking around the busy city.
Of course, a vacation is essentially a time to treat yourself, but solo travel forces you to focus on you and only you. I brought home the lesson of embracing small moments in day-to-day life and remembering to take care of myself. Life gets busy, stressful and overwhelming. It’s so important to let yourself breathe and not let life pass you by. Unplug, de-stress, and pamper yourself in the simplest of ways.