Five women share their stories…
I’m a travel writer, so at least once or twice a month, I head to the airport and embark on a trip with a group of absolute strangers. And over time, it has become my very favorite thing to do, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.
The first time I ever really took a solo trip was to an ashram in upstate New York. I had just been through a traumatizing breakup and I needed a major reset. I had a long weekend and about $ 500 in my bank account. The ashram was offering a happiness workshop for the holiday weekend with surprisingly affordable tuition, so I got on a bus and headed up.
I was petrified (I’m an introvert by nature) and spent the first few hours glued to my phone. But then, an older woman walked up to me and introduced herself and just like that the ice was broken.
Over the next few days, I meditated, hiked, ate, took yoga classes and spent several hours in the sauna with the fifteen or twenty women who were at the ashram that weekend. We cried, we laughed and we majorly over-shared the minutiae of our life stories. Seriously, those women know more about me than any therapist ever will. It was wonderful and so easy. There were no judgments, just willing listeners and a lot of love and support.
Years later, I’d love to say that those women are now my best friends, but the truth is that I don’t keep up with a single one of them. But in a way, I think that was part of the magic of the experience. We opened up to complete strangers, shared our deepest secrets and helped each other to return to our daily lives a little bit happier and more whole.
The greatest gift they gave me? The confidence to travel alone. So much so, that I have made a career out of doing the very thing that once so deeply scared me. And in turn I have been able to visit countries from Argentina to Egypt. And what a gift that is, to give someone the world.
Read on for stories from five other incredible, inspirational women who embrace solo travel (and brave retreats all on their own). You just might get inspired to try it too. If so, we have your answer: FP Escapes.
Kalisa Augustine, Energy Healer
Booking a retreat on my own always seemed like a luxury, an unattainable freedom, something out of my reach. I had a daughter when I was very young, and have always worked many jobs to provide for her. I carried that irrational motherhood guilt-trip story that I should sacrifice for her and do nothing for myself. But ultimately, that’s all bullshit. The universe always supports our desire to heal ourselves, claim our rest, and take ownership of our wellbeing. So finally, I let myself take some retreats.
When I was younger, I wanted information and training. I wanted community. One time I booked a yoga and meditation retreat where a group of women took a sailboat up the Hudson from NYC, and we did yoga on these old ruins on the banks of the river. It was so beautiful to meditate on that boat under sacred starlight on our way back home after asana on the shore. Later in my career as an energetic healer and mystic, my needs changed. Spirituality and counsel are my life. So, I am in a place where I need solitude on my retreats. I like to book lone cabins deep in nature, and spend time with myself completely unplugging and meditating in total silence. Nature rejuvenates me. These days I absolutely look forward to moments alone where I can commune with my higher self, surrounded by my crystals and wildlife.
If you want to take a retreat you should ask yourself, are you an introvert or extrovert? What do you want to gain out of a retreat? What is going on in life right now? Do you want to make new high-vibe friends? Do you want to tune into your physical body? Do you need silence? Perhaps it would be wise to reset your nutrition game? Is it information you’re after? I think just knowing what you need, and then being a boss and taking action towards making it happen, always attracts good things.
What is more powerful than a woman making the decision to take action steps towards her healing, and walking that path alone? There is just something poetically intimate about holding space for yourself and your highest potential, outside of the many hats we wear as females. It’s soothing to the soul to be present, with an open heart, on a healing retreat, whether you are alone or with a group.
Brittany Blake, Publicist
Not long ago, an acquaintance was leading a women’s wellness retreat at Jungle’s Edge in Nosara, Costa Rica. She just happened to check-in with me days before her departure. As it happened, I was in major need of a getaway and some quality time to focus on my wellbeing, so I decided to join.
Sure, I was hesitant to drop everything and travel out of the country with 15 strangers for a week. I was almost looking for reasons not to go. “Maybe flights will be too expensive” or “maybe I won’t get approval from work” I thought. But in the end, I decided that I needed the adventure and it was surprisingly affordable, so I booked a flight and 24 hours later I was on my way to Central America.
The experience really cleared my head and helped me to press the reset button. There was such a simplicity to living in this amazing, stress-free environment. Waking up to monkey chatter is surprisingly nice. In fact, I missed it the first morning I woke up back in New York.
I returned from that retreat with a wealth of knowledge about nutrition and wellness from the locals. I met incredible women from around the world who had amazing stories and I made new friends, many of who will be in my life forever. I had such an amazing-life-changing experience, and can’t wait for the next time I can take an adventure by myself. Taking that “you time” away from your day-to-day is crucial for self-love and growth.
Alexandra Bonetti, founder of Bari Studio
The best time to go away is never. There’s won’t be a great time to leave your life and responsibilities behind. So the first challenge is making the time. I own a business, have a puppy I take care of every day and a husband whose slippers I fluff every night. But if travel is important to you, you have to decide to give yourself the time and allow the pieces to fall into place. They will because they always do.
This past January, all the “it’s not the right time” odds were stacked against me. January is the busiest month for fitness, I was spearheading a few new projects, and we were launching a big campaign at Bari. Oh, and I was attempting to leave all of that behind to take a trip alone. For an entire month. I love traveling with my husband, family and friends — but at the start of the new year, I was craving introspection, exploration and clarity, all things I felt I needed in order to hit the proverbial reset button in a purposeful way.
So I did it. I left — by myself, for a month. And it was one of my favorite adventures ever. Traveling alone creates opportunities for conversations with yourself that are ‘inconvenient’ to have when we’re living in busy mode. Could you have these conversations with yourself on your couch with a Friends episode in the background? Maybe. But having the time, space and opportunity to explore the world on my own terms opened me up, gave me insight into myself and sent me back home feeling like a lighter, clearer, more ‘me’ version of myself.
Morgan Yakus, hypnotist and healer
The first time I traveled alone, my dad put me on a plane from NY to Los Angeles. I was eight years old. I was nervous and remember my face being red with tears. But, there happened to be another little boy around my same age traveling on his own. They brought him to sit with me and we chatted the whole flight. We remained pen pals for the next 20 years and I recently saw him and met his wife.
Anytime you take a trip, with someone else or by yourself it can be stressful. There are so many unknowns and what ifs. But, the experience of traveling alone can be freeing too.
Years ago, I decided to take off for eight months on a ’round the world ticket. First, I went backpacking through Southeast Asia and Australia. I started out with a friend from London who I had met the first time I traveled to Europe alone at age 23.
Four months into the trip it was time for me to venture out on my own. I remember the night before I set off, a traveler who was at the dinner table with me heard me say that I was leaving for Malaysia the next morning. She saw how nervous I was and said something to me that has stuck in my mind: “you are only as alone as you want to be.” And she was right! As soon as I arrived at the border city between Thailand and Malaysia, there was a couple that wanted to share a cab. Once I arrived at my destination, I met two funny Dutch guys who were staying in the huts across from me. One of them became my long-term boyfriend!
Since then I have been to many gatherings, conferences and retreats on my own. And sometimes, despite all my experiences, I still get nervous. As a hypnotist, I know that when the mind doesn’t know the future, it can trigger a fight or flight response. A helpful tool? Visualize yourself arriving safely at your destination, meeting great people and having fun. This allows the brain to feel that you are safe, which means you have more time to actually have fun!
Gabriella Campagna, actress
I took my first ‘yoga class’ in high school via a VHS tape from Kripalu. My friend Doug and I did it together. We were ballet dancers but also interested in spirituality and eastern thought. We kept doing those video classes and eventually the interest grew and led me to India. I spent a year there before college studying the language and culture, and immersing myself in all things meditation and yoga. Along with three other American students I spent 10 days doing a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat at Kopan Monastery in Nepal, as well as other shorter retreats at centers in Bodhgaya and Sarnath. The summer after my freshman year in college I found myself living at home with my parents in NYC without a job and at my mother’s encouragement signed up for a month-long 200 hr teacher training at Atmandanda Yoga, a studio in NYC. At 19 I was by far the youngest in the group of 10 women, and kind of nervous about doing it alone. As the days went on and we got to know each other, sweat together and chanted together, I found an amazing refuge in this little wolf pack of strong, interesting women. I loved hearing their stories and experiences about motherhood, spirituality, and health. We became our own community separate from the chaos of this crazy city (and in a way from my own friends who were out partying most nights). They didn’t judge me for my age and I got to come into the space and be whoever I wanted to be. To close the training we spent a weekend upstate in retreat all together. It was so special and I will keep those days close with me forever. I found such a sense of peace and freedom in nature, together with these beautiful beings supporting each other in our journey. Go on retreat alone! You will get out of your head, and free yourself from associations in a way that going with a friend, partner or family member will never allow. You can be alone when you want to be and connect when you feel inclined. It is a gift.