Gather round, readers, for we are about to get intimate.
32 was an awful, awful year for me. If you Google a list of Top 10 Stressful Life Events, I probably went through half of them or was dealing with the consequences of the other half. And though sheer will, friends and family, and a good dose of therapy (Hi, Dr. M!) have truly helped, the idea of spending my birthday in Chicago was a little too daunting for me. I needed to get away. I needed a vacation. I needed to go somewhere and forget that the previous 12 months had even existed.
But how does one Eat, Pray, Love a place without a $200,000 advance and the privilege of taking an entire year off from their day job? My 401(k) plan won’t feed itself, yo. I’m glad you asked! Since time immemorial, I have used travel as a way to take a break from dealing with life’s problems. This year was no different. Here is my 5-step plan for literally and metaphorically getting away from your problems.
1) Choose a place that’s you
If you only have a long weekend, like I did, pick a spot that isn’t necessarily familiar but will feel comfortable to who you are as a person. I chose Austin because I’m a city kind of girl, I like places that have thriving artistic communities, and I don’t understand traveling somewhere where you can’t eat to your heart’s content. The capital of Texas had all those requirements.
2) Only accept low-maintenance company
We all react to sadness and frustration differently. Some of us need to be with our 20 BFFs at all times. Others retreat into a solitary cave and take vows of silence. Whatever your method is, be sure to replicate it on your travels. I’m the type that can only have one or two hours of conversation before I need to be alone with my thoughts again. Therefore, I chose to be alone with a few bursts of social events planned in between. I met a friend for dinner at Licha’s Cantina my first night and was able to vent. I took an Austin Eats Food Truck Tour and, as the lone traveler in the group, the rest of the attendees went out of their way to chat me up. After that…hours and hours of being me, myself, and I. Until I headed to the next bar.
I have never been a big fan of feeling guilty about food because, um, seeing people beg for it as a child leaves an impression on your soul. But that’s a story for another time. HOWEVER, I understand that most of us have a tendency to limit ourselves whether it’s because of dietary reasons or because our partner only recognizes two food groups (pub grub and beer) or because our mom has decided to go gluten-free on top of her vegetarian tendencies and mild lactose intolerance. This is not the time to be so kind. My Austin weekend included Lucy’s Fried Chicken, La Barbecue, an assortment of East Side bars, and pretty much anything I wanted. At any time I wanted too.
4) Be random
Here is a list of things I did on a whim because I didn’t have to think about other people’s feelings:
- Walk for an hour to get to HOPE Outdoor Gallery only to stay for 10 minutes
- Go into Gypsy Lounge because the dude who was playing the saxophone had mad skills
- Wander over to BookPeople and stay to hear the students from the Ann Richards School of Young Woman Leaders read from their literary magazine
You do you. You do you.
5) Treat yo self!
The Firehouse Hostel was a fine enough place and had a pretty legit speakeasy bar to boot. But for my birthday, I splurged for a room in the super charming Hotel San Jose and then took myself out to dinner to trendy Odd Duck. It was a good reminder that, though being an adult can sometimes be overwhelming, it has its perks too. Like being able to indulge in 3 glasses of champagne without a care in the world.
Here’s to 33 being full of travel and wonder!
Our podcast will be up this week! Come to our official launch party tomorrow at Celtic Crown Pub for a night of music, travel trivia and storytelling. Shindig begins at 6:30 pm. More info here.