I met up with a travel buddy recently and we were talking about our adventures during the Summer. He said how depressing he found it returning from being away and asked me if I felt the same.
I replied, actually no, and he gave me a quizzical look.Read more: Three ways that Solo Travel shaped my Summer
I explained that as I hadn’t really travelled solo at all during the past three years, and that going to Greece in June had been my first beach holiday in the best part of a decade, my week-long break to Corfu had felt all-the-more-special. I’d had a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable time which had, admittedly, gone far too quickly.
But, I pointed out to him, aside from the holiday itself, heading off away had also shaped my entire Summer.
Getting on a plane on my own for the first time since Spring 2019 gave me a new-found confidence to tackle all kinds of lovely things that I thought I’d never do again, given the C and P words. Since heading out to Corfu, I’ve also been a solotripster to Scotland, Bedfordshire and Northumberland. But apart from those travels, it’s also added some lovely new things to my life which I otherwise wouldn’t have had.
So I’d like to share with the three ways that solo travel has certainly changed my Summer, and perhaps my life, for the better.
1. Body confidence
I’ve never really been one for flaunting my flesh. But, having shed more than three stones in weight during the past 18 months, and deciding to embark on a proper beach holiday, I needed to invest in some new clothes. Not being the richest woman alive, some of the items were new-to-me from Vinted. I also made some not-so-insignificant investments in terms of brand-new swimwear (hello Tahitian tankini!), shorts and vest tops. The deal I made with myself was that if I spent the money, I needed to make sure that I wore the things I’d bought, not just the week I was away, but all-Summer-long too.
Baring arms, legs and wobbly bits in between felt surprisingly good. In Greece I swam and I walked and I showed a surprising amount of skin. And it didn’t matter: it felt, for want of a cliché, liberating.
More surprisingly, I actually didn’t care when I got home, either. I haven’t got my legs out in the UK for more than 30 years. Turns out I’ve been a bit of an idiot: nobody minds if my limbs are blue and riddled with cellulite. And even if they do, then *I* don’t actually give a stuff. The feelings of freedom, and fresh air on my legs, far outweigh any sense of shame I have about my pudgy pins.
2. Walking and drinking
Since deciding to embark on a ‘weight loss journey’, which is what they call a plain old diet these days, walking has become my new thing and I’d hoped to head out to Greece in late May or early June in order to be able to spend the vast majority of my time boot-tootling. But I wasn’t able to get away from work when I wanted, so I ended up heading off during the third week of June. This meant that day-long hikes were much more challenging than I had anticipated. North West Corfu is mountainous so the walks I did of 12-or-so miles felt much more arduous, given the incline and the heat.
My mum was a keen walker and I always remember her saying that she loved a pint of shandy after a day up-and-down-dale. So beer, which is something I haven’t drunk in a long time, somehow became my reward after a long, hot day in my hiking boots. Started in Greece, it has become something of a ritual. Having a post-walk pint is now something I love. It’s a special moment, a time to slurp and celebrate the miles under my belt, while soothing my aching limbs and the blisters on the bottom of my feet. I sit and smile and relax and feel good.
But post-walk drinking wasn’t just about booze. In Scotland in July, I went to an exhibition at the lovely Kirkcaldy Galleries and sipped seemingly endless gallons of Earl Grey, poured from a lovely enamel teapot. I decided there and then that I would acquire one just like it on my return home. So I did. And every time I use it, it reminds me of my wonderful time that weekend.
3. Actually living life again
I think the biggest thing about this Summer was the fact that getting on a plane signalled my Return to Real Life. Shortly before the P word began, I was in a place where I needed to rejoin reality but, unfortunately, I wasn’t afforded the opportunity. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever travel to another country again. But, despite being a mask-wearing-worrier on the flight, I somehow made it to Greece and from there I didn’t really need to fret about the C word quite so much, since it was easy to be outdoors in the fresh air.
It was absolutely what I needed.
In more ways than one.
Aside from the solo pursuits I love, this Summer I’ve been out for dinner, I’ve been to the pub, I’ve been on organised tours and walks, I’ve been to exhibitions, I’ve been to shops, I’ve been to the cinema, I’ve been to the theatre.
I’ve hosted a party. I’ve hugged my friends.
I’ve done all the things that make me feel like me.
And so back to my travel buddy. Do I feel sad that my holiday is over? Of course. Actual Greece was fantastic. Booking a flight to Corfu was super-scary at the time. But it was absolutely the very best thing I could have done.
If I hadn’t have gone in the first place then I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to embrace the wonderful Summer I’ve had.
A Summer for which I feel incredibly grateful and blessed.
Well, that’s all – I hope you’re all keeping well, my lovelies. We know that things continue to be incredibly difficult in many ways but, while I’m not oblivious, that isn’t what my blog is about.
My five-year anniversary of solong.blog is coming up soon and, while twelve months ago I wondered whether to renew, this year I will definitely be reclaiming my domain, for I feel that I have many more stories to share with you during the remainder of 2022 and into next year.
Take care and travel happily my lovelies