Photo by Markus Trienke
If you’ve ever backpacked through Europe, flowed your way a yoga training in Bali or escaped to the convenience of an all-inclusive in Mexico, you know what an impact traveling can have your psyche.
As a way to release stress, supercharge your zen and help you release any underlying passive-aggressive tension you have toward your manager, getting out of town is a recommended venture for any overworked professional. And while vacation with your significant other, your best friends or your family is usually the go-to route, there are many benefits of heading out … all by your bad self.
As travel expert Janice Holly Booth explains, a solo trip provides a great potential for growth — especially if you’re not someone who usually prefers this mode of jet-setting. Not only does it allow you the time for to exercise your brave bone, but it gives you the permission — and the encouragement — to be introspective and reflective.
“Solitude allows you to separate from distractions — including a travel partner — and find stillness so you can turn the next key. Introspection lets you figure out who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. It’s important for determining what you want, but equally important, what you don’t want,” Booth explains.
So how do you know it’s time to take one of these getaways? Whenever you feel like you’re ready and up for it, but also when you drive by these mile markers in your career:
The one before you start a new job
Congratulations, pop the champagne — and hold on tight. The period between packing your desk and clearing your inbox at your current gig as you transition to a new role is, well, a lot. While this is an exciting period — you moved up the ladder and earned a pay increase, woohoo! — it’s also ripe with stress. As Booth notes, many professionals will feel immense demand and find themselves maxed out as they tie up loose ends.
Before you accept that job offer, make sure you negotiate time in between your end and start date to take the one trip you’ve always dreamed of. And more importantly, Booth says the one that was difficult to pull off when you were shackled with a 9 to 5 schedule.
“Whatever that is — riding horses across Romania; skiing for 30 days; culinary school in Paris — do it now because you may not be able to do it until later, much later, if at all,” she adds.
The one after you got laid off
Blame it on incompatibility with a manager, a quarter you were too shy on deliverables, restructuring or the elimination of position—but you somehow, you find yourself unemployed. While money is definitely a touchy topic during this period of your career, it’s a time when you should prioritize your mental health … and traveling. It might seem counterproductive when you feel the pinch of a budget sans-salary, but it could be the experience that helps you reevaluate your trajectory.
Booth says it’s important to go somewhere you’ve never been, do something you’ve never done and put yourself in a place where you’re challenged. How come? Whether it’s surfing, climbing a big ‘ole mountain or eating dinner alone in a romantic city center, stepping outside of your comfort zone will help you learn new skills and build new confidence after a letdown.
Need some inspo? Booth went dogsledding to find new fodder for writing. “Driving sled dogs forced me back to beginner status, to humility, which helped me shed ego, hurt feelings, and anger, all of the negative emotions that were keeping me from thinking clearly. That solo trip allowed me to decide what I really wanted for the next chapter in my life,” she says.
The one to spark creativity
Even if your job doesn’t require intense collaboration or artistic brilliance, creativity flows into every aspect of most industries. Whether it’s been smart with problem-solving, how you present yourself or your ability to mass produce new ideas, having a stream of consciousness will make you more successful. That’s why Booth recommends a retreat that focuses on creation to propel you out of a funk.
“Art classes or retreats are hands-down the very best way to get your creative juices flowing. Creating art is one big exercise in problem-solving. Singing, painting, sculpting, music, even stand-up comedy: all of these will force the right side of your brain to start sparking ideas and solutions. Plus, art retreats and classes are really fun. Where else are you encouraged to make mistakes for the sake of learning?” she explains.
The one when you’re about to start a company
It’s the leap of ‘Oh f@&24j2lj!!*’ that so many entrepreneurs must take. It’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s terrible, it’s wonderful – it’s all of the makings of a company that could be disruptive. When you’re ready to go out on that limb and build a concept from the ground up, Booth says to go on a trip where you do something that you never had the guts to do before.
Whether it’s underwater caving, canyoneering, downhill mountain-biking, wilderness survival school, bungee jumping, skydiving — whatever, the point is to push yourself to where you think you can’t do the thing you’re about to do – but you do it. “Once you’re able to step over that fear, you can use that confidence in any future scenario. Trust me, when you’ve survived a 300-foot blind rappel through a waterfall, a little corporate glitch won’t even make you blink,” she says.