For the last few years, I have been hungry for an all-inclusive beach vacation. I have fond memories of a romantic getaway to the Sandals resort in Negril, Jamaica, years ago with a former love, as well as a relaxing girls’ trip to Antigua and I’d like to experience those pleasures again. Alas, there’s no present love partner in my life and trips with the girls have dropped off as my friends have gotten married and started families of their own. What’s a girl to do?
Most of my travel over the years has been to visit friends and family across the U.S. It’s wonderful to have places to go to escape the brutal winters and day-to-day life of home, and I’m fortunate to have loved ones who will accomodate me when I visit. Unfortunately, as of yet I do not have any friends who own condos on tropical beaches with unlimited prepared food, drinks and activities.
The majority of my social circle is paired up and generally plan their own vacations for themselves, so when I was looking for travel companions to take this beach vacation, I came up short. The few single friends I do have never seem to have travel in their budgets. I lamented this fact on a phone call to my bachelor father and he said “I’m in!”. Our subsequent trip birding in the wildlife refuges of Central Florida was a great time to bond, get away from home for awhile and enjoy wildlife. While we did get some pool and beach time in, it didn’t scratch my itch for the booze-fueled slothfest that awaited me on some Caribbean island. By a stroke of luck, a married couple of friends I met up with on this birding trip with Dad mentioned they were going to Jamaica in June, and were already booked at an all-inclusive resort in Ocho Rios. Would I like to come along? This was my chance!
As much as I love the Midwest and will fiercely defend it to people who consider it nothing more than a boring, culture deprived flyover region, the naysayers do have a good point on the flyover part. All flights to Jamaica were going to require an overnight layover for me. I wouldn’t give up easily, so I persisted in looking for better flight options over the next few weeks. Aha! Just yesterday, I found one leaving at 5 a.m. and arriving in Montego Bay just 30 minutes after my friends at 3 in the afternoon. My excitement quickly turned into disappointment when I discovered by this time, their resort had no available rooms. Seems it wasn’t meant to be this trip.
They had also mentioned having a 7 night Caribbean cruise booked for December, so I asked if they minded a tagalong for that. I have never been on a cruise and it’s something I’ve had a vague interest in, once I get over the fear of being on one of those Norwalk virus infested death capsules. Most importantly, there would be sun, fun and surf and I would get to experience something new. My friend filled me in on all the things she and her husband had planned including reservations for bikes on three of the island stops. Although they’ve never said or done anything to make me feel unwelcome, I’m starting to feel the awkwardness of injecting myself into a married couple’s vacation plans. How much can I reasonably expect to do with them on this trip? How much time will I be spending alone? And if I’m going to spend most of the time alone anyway, why not do the all-inclusive I had my heart set on in the first place?
I’ve considered for awhile the possibility of taking a solo vacation. Part of me feels it would be a liberating, exciting adventure (even if I spent the majority of it planted on a resort keeping to myself, with a day trip or two if I’m feeling particularly ambitious). The other part of me fears it would get lonely, or depressing even. I felt a pang while seeing couples of all ages walking the beach in Florida last month. On the other hand, what if I got unwanted attention while alone in a foreign place? I suppose I could run through all sorts of scenarios in my head or I can just buck up and do it.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to accept another married couple friends’ offer to visit them in North Carolina this summer and hang out at their pool.
Have you ever traveled alone? What was your experience? How did you feel – was it exciting, lonely, relaxing? I’d love to hear from others.