Many of you know that I consider my family my biggest treasure. They are my strength, my love, my joy, and the source of fun. So when an opportunity came up to take a trip without them, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But, it turned out to be an amazing experience, and I am sharing what solo travel taught me about myself.
This cruise was gifted to me by Carnival Cruise Lines. All thoughts are 100% my own. #PTHCarnival #ChooseFun #CruisingCarnival
Several months ago, I had the opportunity to set sail on the high seas as part of the Permission To Hustle Retreat At Sea. This blog conference brought together 40 amazing digital influencers together for learning, and fun too!
I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be chosen for this opportunity. And then, once I was selected, how much I wanted to go. And when my husband said “ok honey you can go”, the excitement grew even more!
I paid my conference fee, booked my flights, and then had my first anxiety attack. Could I do this? Can I fly on my own? What if I make a fool of myself in customs?
Research Helped With Overcoming My Anxiety
So, how did I start to combat that anxiety? Well, first of all, I knew that I couldn’t get a refund for my flights or my conference fee, so I knew that I didn’t want to waste that money.
So I did what I do best: use my bookselling skills to grab a guide book and start reading. And making notes. And Googling things. And reading posts from the bloggers that were on the first cruise retreat.
And you know what? A lot of it paid off because I knew where to go after studying the airport map. I didn’t feel like I was wandering around looking like a total dork. Normally when I travel, I am with my husband, so I follow his lead. But you know what? I found that I could navigate the airport on my own. I could fly by myself. And I could grab my own luggage off the conveyor belt.
I also shared the evening at a local hotel with a bunch of fun and crazy gals. I was nervous as all heck, but it turned out to be a good time. I found a fellow Star Wars fan that I ended up spending time with on & off the ship.
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I’m Still Not Good About Making New Friends
I have never been one of those people that had tons of friends. The school years were brutal, and they left a deep scar on me. I will tell you, I was absolutely TERRIFIED about being with 38 people I never met in real life.
Will I like them?
Will I fit in?
What if I end up being by myself all the time?
Yeah, it was hard. I think I kept myself pretty closed off and spent more time by myself that I should have. But one of the things I really remember is sitting on the balcony with my roommate and opening up a bit about my life and what I was feeling. That is pretty much the most I have ever shared with anyone outside of my family, and I am glad I shared it with Patty.
Patty, I still remember the champagne, the ocean breeze, and the amazement we had in God’s beauty. That conversation meant a lot to me, as did sharing our cabin. Even though my snoring probably kept you awake.
In hindsight, I wish I would have put myself out there more and joined in for the sake of joining in, and not feeling like I was just tagging along. Maybe another time.
Solo Travel Also Taught Me It Is Fun To Try Something New!
Ok, so once I made it through the first scary part, it was time to board the ship. Thank goodness I had a seasoned cruise traveler to show us the way. Seeing the ship for the first time is absolutely amazing!
Let’s Talk About The Carnival Paradise:
And then the “me time” started off with a bang! Or was it a beverage? In any case, on the back of the Carnival Paradise, there is an adult-only deck called the Serenity Deck. It was a great place for a first-time cruiser to start taking in everything.
The single most important things I learned about myself on the Serenity Deck was that I was stressed and wound up tight. I didn’t even realize how much until I stretched out on that lounge chair in the sun, closed my eyes, and felt the tension drain away. So much happened in the previous year that I kept bottled in, and I was finally able to let it go.
The Serenity Deck was definitely living up to its name.
And one thing you cannot miss when sailing out of Tampa: sailing under the bridge. Patty and I were on our balcony when I took these pictures. It was breathtaking!
Fun With Food & Drinks
Yes, of course I am starting out with the two best things about the ship: eating and drinking. There is something for everyone, trust me. Have food allergies? They have that covered too! Don’t be afraid to talk to your server at dinner, they can plan you meal the night before.
You can enjoy a burger at Guy’s Burger joint:
Pair it with a delicious drink from the Red Frog Rum Bar:
And, of course, there is the buffet. One of my favorites for breakfast, I love that I can sample a little of everything and not worrying about paying for it since it is all included. Yay for food!
I loved sitting by the window watching the world wake up in Cozumel before we left for our excursion.
And don’t forget you can dine in one of the dining areas. There is good food and even some dinner entertainment.
And, of course, you must try an after dinner chocolate martini! Definitely something I looked forward to before heading out for a night on the ship.
Things To Do On The Ship
There is so many things you can do on the ship for passengers of ALL ages. From the pool, to the arcade, to a miniature golf, even a casino for the adults, there is so much your family can do while the ship is at sea. Inside or outside, you have much to enjoy!
What solo travel taught me was that I was perfectly content to stretch out on the lounger after our conference session and just people watch. Seeing families having fun, enjoying the sights & sounds, and enjoying that incredible food!
I think one of the things I enjoyed the most was hanging out at the Comedy Club for evening entertainment. Made me feel young again, and reminded me of a time when life wasn’t so stressful. What a great way to unwind.
I also let loose a little bit and spent one of the nights dancing on the Lido Deck. Yeah, not up to speed on the current dances, but had fun dancing to old favorites. The ocean breeze and people having fun was an extremely relaxing part of my trip. And the Serenity Deck turned into an adult-only dance club and that was a lot of fun with new friends!
Shore Excursions And More
The Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Paradise had two ports of call: Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico. For someone that was never there before, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
From the beach club:
To swimming with the sting rays:
I even kissed one of these guys, it is supposed to bring 7 years of good luck! That was definitely a cool experience, and the sting rays seemed to know the people that came to visit. I highly recommend that excursion.
To enjoying the shops in Cozumel:
The shore excursions were worth it. Our ports of call were switched due to weather, and it turned out to be a blessing because we ended up with beautiful days at each port of call. When it was all over, there was still time to take a nap to be rested for the evening. The beds on the Carnival Paradise were pretty awesome, and I had no problem enjoying them.
Our stateroom attendant was amazing. We always had enough of everything, there were special food treats waiting for us, and fun towel animals too!
Adults Can Be Kids Too!
And the water slides? Let’s just say they weren’t just for kids either. While I didn’t try it, a lot of my fellow cruisers did. The point is, when you are aboard the Carnival Paradise you can choose to have fun anyway you like it!
Ok, one of the things I had the most fun doing was the Dr. Seuss breakfast. Yes, I am an adult. And yes, my kids are adults and they weren’t with me. So what, we had a blast!! Once again, my roomie and I had fun being kids.
They had such cute decorations for the tables, too!
A few of the fun foods we experienced!
And, you can’t have a Dr. Seuss breakfast without Green Eggs and Ham!
That was definitely one of those experiences I enjoyed, since I am a HUGE Dr. Seuss fan. It was a fun way to start the day, and fun to be with others as well!
Investing In My Business Is An Important Thing
So, this trip wasn’t all about fun and sun. I was there to learn and to find ways to make my business better than it was. I learned so many things, it was hard to know where to start. And, believe it or not, I joined TikTok. I am not very active, and like this trip, I spend more time observing than joining in.
I also got some great information about how to write without sounding like a commercial for a product. I need to weave them into my story and not try to weave me into theirs. I need to learn to be raw and real and relatable. And that was eye-opening.
I learned some great tips about social media, which I need to put into practice. Soon. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
And SEO. So much I don’t know, but now I have a solid plan for moving forward and updating some of those horrible, what-was-I-thinking posts.
Solo Travel Also Taught Me How Special My Family Is
As much fun as I had, there really is NO place like home with the people you love. There was nothing like spending all day traveling, and then coming down the escalator to see the man you love waiting to greet you with a kiss and a hug.
And to grab that now very overweight suitcase off the luggage carousel.
I truly did enjoy the experience, and am glad that I went.
Here are what some of my fellow cruisers thought about the trip:
- Top Must-Haves For Your Cruise from Love, Joleen
- What To Wear On A Cruise from The Gray Ruby Diaries
- Six Ways To Practice Self-Care During A Cruise by The Cubicle Chick
Final Thoughts On What Solo Travel Taught Me
So my final thoughts about what solo travel taught me is this: I can do it. I think it is something I would do again if the proper opportunity came across my path again. It was so neat to see new places like the Grand Cayman islands and Cozumel Mexico.
And solo travel may be what I need when I need to relax and refill my buckets.
Spending more time with these ladies meant a lot, as well.
And guess what? I didn’t make a fool of myself during airport security. And customs? No problems there because I was relaxed and refreshed. Seriously, this trip was just what I needed and I am glad that I went! So I hope you enjoyed reading about what solo travel taught me.
Cool Things For Solo Travel
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