Take the plunge and travel solo

Thinking twice about booking that luxury hotel, or saving that road trip for someone special? Just do it, writes Harriet Minter. There’s no shame in going solo


Take the plunge and travel solo

When I first moved to the city, I couldn’t wait to be away from the countryside and grisly beaches of my childhood. I relished the fact that, at no point, was the city silent. But, after a while, I missed my old life and did what all city folk in need of a bit of bracing air do; I decided to take a mini-break. As research, I mooched around the local bookstore and picked up a copy of Mr & Mrs Smith, a glossy book of hotel reviews. It was love at first flick.

As the rain poured down in London town, I’d dream of the day when I and my other half could blow our life savings on a night at one of these hotels. Obviously, having read far too much Bridget Jones, I decided we’d get there in a convertible and have suitably seductive and wild sex in the four-poster bed. I wasn’t sure which of the amazing hotels I wanted to go to but, one thing I knew for sure, I wouldn’t be going alone.

Society does like to couple us up; party invitations always invite you to ‘bring a +1’, M&S sells meals for two, and, if you want to go away by yourself, be prepared to pay a single supplement. After all, think the holiday companies, who on earth would want to visit paradise alone?

So, although I bought those brochures, I never booked. It wasn’t so much that I feared travelling alone – I’d spent six months in Australia by myself; on a whim I’d taken myself off to Cuba for two weeks, forgetting that I spoke no Spanish – but there were some things I was holding out to do with someone else; I wanted to drive the Pacific Highway, as we screamed the lyrics to bad 1980s rock music. I wanted to book into a five-star hotel and not leave the room for the entire time. I even avoided Venice, because that’s where you go when you’re in love.

Then, one day, while perusing a former flame’s Instagram account, I saw him frolicking in the meadows of an expensive country house hotel, and was hit by a tidal wave of jealousy. Not for him, but for the hotel; that glorious, over-blown hotel. I moped about it for a few days, then did the only thing I could do; I booked a room and took myself. It was bliss. I went for walks, brought a book to dinner and ordered three courses with no one to hurry me. I bought myself a massage at the spa. In short, I had a date with myself and it was the best ever.

Since then, I’ve driven the Pacific Highway marvelling at the view and the sense of contentment I felt staring out at the ocean by myself. I’ve stayed in a five-star hotel and decided it was overrated. I haven’t been to Venice yet, but it’s on the list, and if I meet someone after, well, I can always go again.

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Photograph: Mark Harrison for Psychologies

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