For most people, the travel itch usually hits closer to warmer, sunnier weather, but for me, the desire to shake up my environment and routine is strongest at the beginning of a new year. In January 2020, I left the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. to embark on a silent meditation retreat in the Berkshires of Massachusetts after a busy holiday season. A few years earlier, I spent the start of my year in Santa Fe, writing and resting in the desert. Yet another year, I took a solo trip to Costa Rica to practice yoga and learn leadership skills before jumping into a life coach certification program.
Save for the past two years because of the pandemic, I’ve relished in this self-made tradition of taking a solo trip in January. For me, a winter retreat isn’t so much a vacation, filled to the brim with activities. It’s more of a time to rest, reflect, and set intentions for the year ahead. It’s an opportunity for self-growth and to learn something new. The magic of a New Year’s trip is that you can tailor it to your needs, dreams, and goals for whatever you’d like to manifest in 2023.
Here are just a few reasons why solo travel in January is worthwhile and how planning a New Year’s solo trip sets me up for a beautiful year ahead.
Solo travel means starting the year outside your comfort zone.
Traveling to new places is a great way to grow and learn, especially when you’re traveling solo. I’ve found that the familiarity of my home and my hometown can sometimes make it easier to stay in my comfort zone—and keep my thinking small. We are shaped so much by the places and people we spend the most time with, so traveling allows us to explore our own identities in a new way.
There’s something thrilling about traveling to a new place where no one knows who you are. It can grant you a little more freedom to present yourself in whatever way feels true to you in the moment. Especially if you’d like to bring a specific energy into the new year, leaning into different sides of your identity on a trip can be a fun way to experiment and cultivate a new sense of self-esteem and growth.
It’s an opportunity to rest and reset.
Staycations are lovely, but getting away is like a permission slip for rest. Maybe it’s just me, but I always experience lingering feelings of guilt when I consciously choose to rest at home, where responsibilities lurk around every corner. If the intention of your trip is to rest and reset, a fluffy hotel bed and room service can feel indulgent and purposeful. December is the busiest month of the year for so many of us, and with the holiday season behind us come January, carving out time to take a big, long exhale is a wonderful way to practice self-care and start your year off right.
A solo trip can inspire new creative ideas for the year ahead.
Shaking up your environment is a great way to start fresh and clear your mind, especially at the start of a new year. Experiencing new places and meeting new people forces us out of our everyday routines, which can in turn inspire new ideas, interests, and even personal projects and goals. Traveling solo also means you only have yourself to rely on, and fewer distractions can allow you the space to really pay attention to your surroundings, your thoughts, and yourself. Try keeping a journal on your solo trip, and take it with you wherever you go. You never know when inspiration will strike!
Solo travel can give you newfound confidence.
Stepping out of your normal environment takes courage, especially if you are traveling alone. It takes guts to navigate a new place all by yourself! And sitting down in a hotel room, coffee shop, or poolside lounge chair to dream up new goals for the year ahead can be a powerful ritual. Setting aside time to invest in yourself and your personal development is something that should be savored and celebrated. At the end of the trip, you’ll come home with fresh energy, a rested body and mind, and a few days’ worth of new experiences—which is exactly what the “new year, new me” mindset is all about anyway.
Plus, any sort of travel, whether you’re doing it solo or not, comes with its ups and downs. Overcoming challenges that arise, like getting lost or missing a flight, can also build confidence. Knowing that you can stay calm and tackle any curveball that comes your way is a welcome reminder for the beginning of a new year. Solo travel can show you that you’re strong and capable of handling whatever 2023 may have in store for you.