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From bubble baths to yoga, meditation and affirmations, self-care can take many forms for many people. Sure, as people begin to look inward more for peace and self-realization, these old faithful ways of taking care of self are usually the first ones we turn to. But when a variety of factors, from the personal to the political and social, make everyday life stressful and very difficult to navigate, it’s time to try something different.

On the go since I was 18, from that young age I fell in love with traveling and the discovery of the unknown. In the beginning, my desire to see the world was largely about gaining social currency, collecting passport stamps, having new experiences, and getting as far away from the Midwest as I could. As I traveled and moved around, first to San Francisco, then to New York, and a few other places around the world, I was transformed a bit by each place I inhabited.

Traveling gave me the space and opportunity to reinvent myself, reassess my life, and recharge when necessary. I was often solo on most of these journeys, but I didn’t mind. Instead, I found the alone time cathartic, giving me the ability to dig deep within myself and discover parts of me I didn’t know were there. Over time, traveling as a solo female became an important and necessary part of my self-care routine for several reasons. Here are a few that might encourage you to roam the world solo when a quick self-help pick-me-up just isn’t enough.

You get to do what you want to do.

The biggest reason I advocate for women to travel alone more is that it allows you to be selfish in a way we are often not allowed. When traveling with family and friends, one must take the ideas and desires of others into account. Solo travel allows you to decide your own itinerary, structure your day as you see fit and deviate from it if you so choose. Calling the shots and indulging in whims at will can be extremely empowering, especially if your life isn’t usually so footloose and fancy-free.

You have the chance to break out of your comfort zone.

I often credit my first trip outside of the States, a study abroad opportunity in Amsterdam, as being the jump-off point for my journey to weight loss. It was during those eight months abroad that I began to do more exercise-related activities like running and cycling. Back home, I would have been too insecure to go running in a park. But away from home, I felt encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone. I suddenly didn’t care so much how I was perceived. Traveling solo is the perfect time to step outside of your normal, to try a new cuisine, do an activity you’ve always been curious about, and/or wear an outfit you might not usually have the guts to. The stakes are low when no one knows your name.

You can detox from it all.

Relax and recharge away from your everyday stresses. Partying and exploring is all fun and good, but vacationing alone provides ample time to curl up with that book you’ve been meaning to finish, get some much-needed journaling done, or to simply sit back and assess the trials and tribulations of your life.

In a world where women are expected to be all things at once for everyone but themselves, a solo trip is a fantastic way of indulging and prioritizing yourself. It can be hard not to let your individuality fall to the wayside in lieu of all of the other roles we play in life, but going it alone can be just what you need to reconnect with yourself while giving your mind, body and spirit a break.

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