I'm in Kauai and I'm writing.
But it's not work.
Usually as I travel I will write to get things down for future articles. But here in Kauai my drive to write is somewhat different.
I'm inspired to write. Yes, I write to share what I'm experiencing with you but also because the thoughts, themes and even the language are springing to mind. What a pleasure!
I'm currently at a resort. People may look at me with my computer and think, what a shame that she can't leave work alone. But in fact, I'm simply following my desire to write. And for me, this is an indication that this trip is good for my soul.
Destinations for Solo Travel That Are Good for the Soul
I'm back home now and I've done a bit of surfing to see what's been written about travel that is good for the soul. By soul I mean the essence of you.
Most of what I've read argues that travel is good for the soul because it sets you up for learning, for dealing with new situations and uncertainty, for taking you out of your comfort zone and connecting you to the world in new ways. I think this is all good for you as a person functioning in this world but I don't see this as necessarily good for your soul – for helping you relax into yourself and getting to the essence of you.
My trip to Kauai was special in this regard. I felt like I was getting closer to my essence. I’ve returned and dreamed about it like I have never done with my travels in the past. But why has this happened now? What made Kauai so different? Why did it touch my soul? And if I, or you, were to look for a soul-satisfying trip again, what would we look for? I’m going to try to break it down.
- Time. This trip was two weeks long and at about the 8th or 9th day I really felt myself sink into my own rhythm. I knew the place well enough that I was no longer figuring things out and I could live may day without a lot of planning and still have lots to do. So I think two weeks my be the minimum amount of time required to really allow a trip to penetrate your soul. Longer is better.
- Tranquility. Yes, New York or London, big cities with lots of frenzy can be good for the soul that lacks intensity. But many of us suffer from too much frenzy. Everything is slow in Kauai. Even the traffic is slow. It sometimes gets to 50 mph, but that's about it. And if I was going slower than the person behind me appeared to want to go, it wasn't a problem. I simply pulled over and let them pass. This slow island instilled calm into my soul.
- Nature. A New Yorker article, How Trees Calm Us Down, concludes “If someone offers you ten thousand dollars or ten trees, take the trees.” It relates research showing the many ways that trees are good for our health and our soul. Kauai offers lots of trees and lots of nature. Whether kayaking or hiking or simply going to the beach, I got a good dose of trees every day.
- Freedom. This might be freedom from responsibilities, the freedom to play like you can't at home, the freedom to talk to people or not, or simply the freedom to do nothing all day. Whichever it is, I think freedom is an important aspect of travel that's good for the soul.
I think these four elements are what contributed to this trip being so special. I think looking for these in a destination will make the difference between travel that is fun, educational, relaxing and/or rewarding and travel that is good for the soul.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on solo travel that's good for the soul in the comments.