Cast your mind back to the last romantic break that you had.
Did you and your amour skip around giddily in the surf, splashing one another and laughing cutely together? Did you spoon-feed each other spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp-style – but with zero tomato spillage?
Or, did you start snarking at each other three hours in, after being allocated the room with the car park view? Did you quietly prod your partner to complain but instead he sank one too many beers, and the whole thing became a charade – a cheap parody to the rose-tinted spectacle that you carried in your head?
The problem with romantic breaks is that the reality rarely lives up to the hype.
Even if you don’t end up arguing outright, the pressure of the situation somehow conspires to make things go wrong. The need to Be Together and Have Fun is often so self-conscious, it ends up sabotaging the whole thing.
Far better, then, to set out solo. Regardless of whether you’re in a relationship, solo weekends are the ultimate indulgence. Oh, the joy of having no-one to answer to but yourself…
Precious alone time
The average UK employee puts in 68 days’ of overtime a year, with Londoners alone putting in 100 more hours a year than the rest of Britain. Simultaneously, our job satisfaction level ranks as one of the lowest in the world, and over half of us are unhappy in our jobs.
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Unlike romantic breaks, you’re not worried about what anyone else thinks. Instead, you gain space to reflect on what it is that *you* want, away from the noise of everyday life.
Meeting new people
With a romantic break, you’re tied to the same person for 48 hours on end.
Of course, this can be glorious. In time-honoured style, you might not even make it out of bed during that period. But, truth be told, it can also be stressful. You’ve got no-one else to rely on but each other, and both of you are caught up in the same insular loop.
When you travel alone, you throw open the doors of your world. Even if you’re pretty shy about meeting new people, you end up doing just that – in a process that sends your self-belief soaring.
It’s not just empty words, either; research shows that single people are more sociable than their married counterparts, simply because they’re more attuned to those around them. The same goes for solo travel; your inward gaze automatically turns outwards when you’re alone.
Take more risks
When you’re on holiday with someone that you know, it’s easy to get sucked into the same-old. You have your own familiar routines, and you know each other’s comfort zones. It’s all very reassuring. But exciting? Thrilling? Perhaps not.
We know that risk-taking is linked to greater life satisfaction but ironically, few of us are willing to take the gamble. When you travel alone, however, you’re far more likely to roll the dice, on two fronts.
First, you’re dabbling in the unknown: you don’t know exactly where you will go, or who you’ll meet (or, if you’re in a group, whether you’ll get on with them).
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Secondly, away from the expectations of those who know you, you’re far more likely to break boundaries and try things that you wouldn’t normally think of doing. You’re exploring yourself and, in doing so, you stretch the boundaries of your own limitations. This is especially true when you travel with strangers, as you have the impetus to behave more bravely than perhaps you would in everyday life.
Putting yourself first
Ultimately, solo weekends are about putting yourself first. Forget the needs, demands or desires of anyone else. It’s all about numero uno. And really, what’s so wrong with that?
Putting your wants above other people is such a no-no these days that we need a wellbeing trend to make it OK. “Self-care” means “having a mandate to take care of yourself, for a change”.
But, welcome as this notion is, why should we feel the need to trumpet it up as a policy? Why can’t it just be a given?
Controlling your destiny
Autonomy – “the feeling that your activities and habits are self-chosen and self-endorsed” – is the foremost contributor to happiness. Conversely, lack of control makes us very unhappy. And unhappiness, as we all know, has a habit of pivoting and bouncing off those around us.
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So, forget canoodling on a beach with a significant other. Taking a weekend alone puts your soul – yes, that one-of-a-kind flame that sits right at the very heart of you – firmly in the driving seat: no shortcuts or compromises.
And pandering to that inner core is about as romantic as it gets.
Solo getaways in Europe
Travelling alone makes the world go round. Here’s how to seize the moment with your own bite-sized solo getaway…
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