Holidaying Solo – Idyllic or Isolating?

For the past few days I have been in La Rochelle & Il de Re. Alone.

When you tell people you’re going on holiday alone (not work-related) there is a definite dichotomy of reactions. The first being jealously-ish; “what I wouldn’t give for three days alone, how idyllic”, the second being pity-ish, “oh, won’t you be lonely”. Then there was the unhelpful advice. “Please don’t go anywhere by yourself”. Dad, I’ll be going everywhere by myself. That’s the point.
I decided to take my first solo trip in the interim between jobs. I had a short four day gap and I guess I thought going away would symbolically close one chapter and begin the next. And La Rochelle? It was cheap to fly to and handsome enough on Pinterest.
The first night was dreadful. Being a Sunday, everything was closed. I’d imagined sitting by the harbour, eating fruits de mer, drinking wine, feeling rather French and rather pleased with myself. The reality was a cheese + tomato panini from a street vendor. Day 2, much better. I blissfully cycled around the perimeter of the Il de Re fuelled by carbohydrates from each towns’ market. Day 3, I think I’m in the swing of it. Finding peace sitting still in one place, drinking coffee, watching people come, go, consume. You kind of get that Sonder thing.
So, idyllic or isolating? Idyllic definitely, because of the landscape. And idyllic also because there was no one to judge me for eating the entire French baguette I promised I’d only finish half of. Isolating, not really. I didn’t say defensively “I’m alone, not lonely” at all. But I definitely missed being able to share discovering a new city/restaurant/viewpoint with someone else.
Tips, thoughts, reflections:
  • Take multiple books, a mix of genres.
  • Time goes quickly when you’re alone so don’t feel guilty for lying in. An ‘hour’ spent in a coffee shop will be 7 minutes in reality.
  • Download Duolingo. I’m 4% fluent in French now, apparently.
  • Choose somewhere big enough to keep busy. I love to cycle so visting Il de Re was perfect. And cycling doesn’t require a companion.
  • You might not have a tremendous moment of self-realisation or clarity of you own existence, but that’s okay. Just find the next bakery.