Francesca Specter, podcast host and author of Alonement, explains why she’s created a community around being happily, comfortably, life-affirmingly solo. Plus, she’s providing an exclusive Flash Pack adventure discount for Alonement community members – keep reading to find out more…
Up until the age of 27, I was secretly terrified of doing anything alone. An extrovert who felt energised by being around others – equally comfortable working the room at a party as hanging out with my best friends – the only person I avoided time with was, well, myself. And here’s a not-at-all comprehensive list of the things I missed out on as a result.
Home-cooked meals for one. Reading fiction. Visiting galleries. Watching new releases at the cinema. Meditating. Journaling. And, for me, one of the most significant things I missed out on was travelling the world, in little and large ways: whether it was visiting the Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park, London – a half-hour bus ride from where I live – or the historical city of Kyoto in Japan.
It’s a sentiment we don’t express enough: that so many of the things that compromise a rich, well-led life involve being able to spend time, comfortably, within oneself. Being able to justify to yourself that that’s *enough* – that you don’t have to wait for a partner, or a tight-knit group of like-minded friends, in order to travel.
Life moves in funny ways. For me, it was actually a crisis of sorts: a break-up in late 2018, which found me living alone and single at a time when all my friends were in relationships, that forced me to face my avoidance of time alone. In 2019 I made a New Year’s resolution to try spending more time alone and turn that into quality time. It was a concept that I coined the word for, ‘alonement’, to describe restorative, fulfilling positive time alone (because I could find no equivalent in the English language). It changed my life.
Alonement isn’t something that comes automatically. It’s a process of building up solitude skills (like social skills, but for being alone). Journaling, for instance, helped me build up the skill of being comfortable with my own thoughts, through befriending myself on paper. The interior of my mind was no longer a scary place; it was a rich and fruitful one.
I made a New Year’s resolution to try spending more time alone.
Whether or not that sounds radical to you (and I personally believe small practices can be the most radical) it was the skill that empowered me to start spending longer periods of time alone. Part of alonement is simply learning through doing time alone. Whether it was a cosy night in alone or a going out for my first restaurant meal for one, I proved myself to myself – learning that it was not only a bearable experience, but an actively enjoyable one.
Solo travel and the ability to embrace alonement go hand-in-hand. Travel is, for many of us, something we yearn for, one of the greatest pleasures of life, but equally it’s something we often see as off-limits because we’re socially conditioned to think we have to travel with someone. Even the word ‘alone’ has negative connotations; which is exactly why I coined and later trademarked the word alonement, to describe alone time that is inherently positive.
Learning ‘alonement’ isn’t just a useful day-to-day skill: it’s a value, and it can be the thing that liberates you to do solo travel, as it was for me. Once you learn to live alone it opens up the world for you – and the culmination of this, in my experience, is solo travel.
After embracing alonement on home turf, I began to explore solo travel. Romantic weekends away in Paris, bachata dancing in Madrid, a week in Chicago. I found the confidence to go at it alone – to know travel was an experience that was just as fulfilling by myself, and sometimes even more so (not least because it allowed me to be more mindful, curious and in the moment).
The only problem was the obstacles faced as a solo traveller, like the dreaded single supplement, which comes from things like hotel room pricing being based around two sharing, or occasionally having to manage all the logistics of a trip by myself (the one undeniable benefit of a holiday companion is the shared admin).
I don’t believe any of these smaller issues should be a barrier to alonement, however. Like my initial fear of time alone, they’re simply things to conquer. Because alonement is too important a value to neglect.
Once you learn to live alone it opens up the world for you.
I spent too many years of my life missing out – and I know I’m not the only one. In fact, that’s why I wrote my book Alonement: How To Be Alone & Absolutely Own It, and why I continue to host my podcast Alonement – first and foremost, to create a guide and a community around being happily, comfortably, life-affirmingly solo.
Discovering Flash Pack has been a game-changer for me because it opens up solo travel even more. Like alonement, Flash Pack is a community based around being alone – removing the obstacles faced by solo travellers (like the single supplement) while enabling them to embrace the fun parts. Travelling as part of a group gives you the best of both worlds: quality solo travel, but also a network of like-minded solo travellers to be part of (because, in my experience, balancing sociable time and alonement is absolutely key to enjoying both states).
Crucially, it’s about not having to wait until a partner or a willing group of friends comes alone to travel with you. Because, whatever your situation, your life (and travel dreams) can begin right now – as long as you have the courage to go at it alone. And Flash Pack makes that one bit easier.
Love Alonement? Get a discount on your next Flash Pack adventure
Francesca Specter is host of the podcast Alonement – all about the positive side of spending time alone. To celebrate this community, and the joys of solo travel, Flash Pack is giving listeners of Alonement £100 off their next adventure with Flash Pack.
To claim this offer, simply quote the discount code “ALONEMENT” when booking your next Flash Pack escape. Happy travels!
Images: The Common Wanderer/Flash Pack, Francesca Specter