Simon shares his first experience of planning and going on holiday with a few friends since he started living alone.
There are some aspects of solo living you may not necessarily think will lead to significant changes but soon come to light after years of living with a partner. When reality hits, you realise living alone means things are different now.
I have just returned from my first holiday since I started living alone. I naively assumed that the whole holidaying process would be pretty much the same as it was when I was living with someone. I could not have been more wrong. Every aspect of the ‘adventure’ seemed alien to me. It all started from the initial planning right through to the journey home. Allow me to explain…
Making holiday plans
Between the years 2006 and 2021, my holidaying experiences entirely consisted of going away with my partner and family. Frequently, there would be the occasional parent, in-law or another relative in attendance. All the holiday planning, packing and ‘holiday admin’ always involved the same people. Living alone moves the goalposts on that issue – suddenly, going on holiday meant finding other people who would join me! I had a couple of options:
Real solo travel
This is a great choice for many people, but while I enjoy my own company, this feels like a big step for me. I’m not a ‘make friends with anyone’ type of person, and I suffer from anxiety. I’d love to one day get the courage to try some solo travel, but I’m not quite there yet.
Find people to go with
Obviously! But who? Luckily, I do have a few friends who either also live alone or are in a position to be able to commit to a few days away. I’m not the best at initiating, but I summoned the bravery to throw it out there to a few mates and asked them if they fancied a break and holiday abroad.
Planning, researching and getting there
A couple of friends responded with a thumbs up, and after a lot of meticulous research (by me!), the three of us decided on a few days in Vilnius, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is the capital of Lithuania. Ten minutes after booking flights and accommodation, I discovered that the average temperature for the week we would be travelling there was minus 10. You live and learn!
Prepping for a holiday is easier when you can divide up the tasks. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you’re moving house, but the list of annoying little tasks never seems to end.
Sorting out travel toiletries (decanting shampoo is like a surgical procedure!), passports, travel insurance, currency, and transport to the airport, to mention a few of the tasks that need to be done. And that’s before I’ve even begun to try and squeeze four days’ worth of warm clothing into a 10kg case. It was all so much easier when I was living with somebody else.
Living alone means that every morning you wake up and don’t have to worry about anyone else when it comes to a morning routine. Can’t be bothered to shower or make yourself look presentable? So what, it can wait. Don’t fancy getting dressed? No worries, there’s nobody to see you.
Being on holiday with friends changes things on that front somewhat. Not only do I have to look vaguely presentable (your mileage may vary), but I need to make morning small talk!
At this point, I would insert the screaming emoji. I mean, I love chatting with my friends, and we had a great laugh over the course of the holiday, but first thing in the morning, I want to have a quiet coffee and sit in silence. I consider it a perk of solo living. This desire for peace is multiplied by ten when the previous evening involved being persuaded to try multiple shots of an unspecified 50%+ local brew.
I’m also a meticulous planner when I’m at home alone, and this extended to the holiday. Whether it was visiting local attractions, choosing a restaurant or sorting out the evening bar crawl, I had a military-quality plan of action.
Armed with the rather excellent Wanderlog app, nothing could go wrong, and nothing did go wrong. Until day three, when I fancied a break from map reading, so downed tools for a while. Biggest mistake ever. My friends had absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. Ten minutes of aimless wandering was all I could cope with. How can people go to a beautiful city and not have a plan for what to do?!
Back to reality
Coming back from holiday is always a comedown. After days of exploring, being largely carefree and having fun, the reality of daily life takes some adjusting. To my surprise, I found this a much bigger issue now that I live alone.
I wanted to talk about my holiday. I wanted to share the unpacking, washing and all the other ‘just back from a holiday’ duties. I wanted to ease back into things. Instead, within a few hours of returning, I was taking my car in for a service and trying unsuccessfully to tackle some work.
So was it worth it?
Absolutely! There’s probably a slightly negative tone to this article, purely because I am highlighting the issues I faced when going on holiday as a solo traveller – and a neurodiverse one at that!
But the truth of the matter is that all of the issues were one hundred per cent worth tackling and overcoming. Vilnius is a fantastic city brimming with beautiful buildings, friendly people and superb restaurants. I had an amazing time with my friends and created a load of great memories.
In fact, I think the fact that I live alone made it all the more memorable. It made the whole experience feel even more like a ‘change’, and ultimately that is what you what from
So if you are living alone and unsure about whether you should go on holiday with friends, I would urge you to give it a go. Whether you want to travel solo or with others is entirely up to you, but weigh everything up and decide how you will get the best possible experience from your break. And if you can cope with minus 10 temperatures, I can highly recommend a trip to Lithuania.