I’ve always been one who does well on her own. Reading a good book on a rainy day, sitting in an empty theater enjoying a matinee, or going on a long walk with just my headphones for company.
I relish quiet solitude of alone-time, but I’m no hermit. In between bouts of self-imposed loner-ness, I crave time with family and friends. Since my husband has worked for the airlines for decades, I’ve become expert with fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants adventures, traveling the world together and with family and friends. But some of the most meaningful trips have been the ones I was brave enough to take on my own.
There’s something exhilarating about showing up to a new place where nobody knows you. It’s an opportunity to have experiences you might not have had otherwise. Imagine that you can meet others who’ve never heard your story before! Or getting to know someone with a whole different take on life that inspires you in ways you never dreamed!
As Guest Services Manager for Las Olas Surf Safaris for over a decade, women share their anxiety of going to a different country, dealing with customs, foreign exchange, and a language they don’t know. And I understand apprehension about meeting new people and worrying about connecting. I totally get it. It is scary to venture into the unknown, especially by yourself!
But imagine this: At Las Olas, your sister travelers all share a common goal. Yeah, they want to have fun, relax, and conquer a new sport, but most important, they want—no—they need to take a minute away from their busy lives and concentrate on themselves. In other words, your week away at Las Olas is all about you. It’s about the sound of the waves you’ll hear from your villa. It’s about your sore muscles after a satisfying day of paddling. It’s about the sun rising across your terrace. It’s about the heavenly food you just can’t get back home. And it’s about sharing stories and laughing with your new friends.
Want to step out of your comfort zone? I’ve devised some easy challenges to help you on your way.
Table for One
We’ve all grabbed lunch alone—it’s no big deal. We find ourselves thumbing up and down Facebook, browsing through magazines, or deep in a book. These distractions get us through the meal without really looking around and engaging. Now try something different. Get dressed up, make a reservation, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for a table for one. Speak to the staff, smile at your fellow diners, and even strike up a conversation. Do this a few times and you may even become a regular. Here’s my favorite spot at home in Carmel: La Bicyclette.
If you dream of traveling the world, first get into the spirit by learning a new language. You don’t need to become fluent, but getting the basics down and being able to order your meal or asking directions to your hotel is extremely satisfying. Don’t be afraid to try. Your effort will be appreciated by the locals. One of my favorite language apps is Duolingo.
Hop the Bus
Whatever your usual mode of transportation, try something new next time. Take the bus to work. Or train, or bike, or walk. Whether it’s seeing another part of your city less traveled or sitting next to a stranger on the train and saying hello, you’ll get out of your comfort zone and get to know your hometown a little better. I always walk to the office taking different routes, and listening to music on my headset makes the morning commute a joy. Try Transit App for real-time schedules on your phone.
Overdress for Fun
Remember way back when everyone wore hats and gloves every day? You don’t have to go that far, but next time you go out for the day, try dressing up a little. It will do wonders for your confidence. When I look for inspiration, I look to Paris. Not in Paris? Try The Every Girl for a helpful guide to effortless style.
Do you love to hike? Walk the beach? Do yoga? I do, too, but unless someone’s knocking on my door and pointing to their watch, I have a hard time getting motivated to exercise. Joining a workout group is a great way to hold each other accountable. You’ll get in shape and make new friends. It’s a win-win! MeetUp is a great resource.
Hands in the Air (like you just don’t care)
Music has been a constant companion my entire life and going to rock concerts was one of my greatest joys. As I grew older, naturally my rock gods and the audience aged right alongside me. While nostalgia’s always nice, next time go to a fresh show with the cool kids. I recently saw Twenty One Pilots with my 19 year-old daughter, and the energy and excitement that flowed through the auditorium was thrilling. You’ll jump and dance and remember what it’s like to be 20 again. Want to know who’s coming your way? Bands In Town will keep you posted.
Don’t wait for anyone else to begin your adventure. It all starts with you and it starts today.
Jackie Sanders is the Las Olas Surf Safaris Director of Guest Services and lives in Carmel, California with her husband and daughter. When not busy arranging surf trips for women, you’ll find Jackie hiking in Big Sur, playing tennis, reading, writing and traveling.