When I was made redundant in November, I had big plans. I was going to live in Paris for three months and have a European adventure like Donna in Mamma Mia (the second film is now the basis of all life’s decisions).
In reality, I spent my time applying for jobs. So when I actually got one two weeks ago, I realised I was an official Free Agent and could go anywhere I wanted to on a spontaneous holiday.
While drunk, I would scroll through pages of AirBnb like it was porn. I considered Provence, Athens, Los Angeles, Dublin and New York.
In the end, I spent a weekend in Windsor.
A weekend was definitely enough – and not just because of the ladybird infestation in my room. In the space of just two days I went through a lot of emotions – it felt like therapy.
Stage One: I am so excited for Me-Time
You’re on the train/plane on the way to your exotic/rainy destination. Headphones are in and Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Breakaway’ is blaring out as you look out the window. As you smile at passing trees, you look ahead to your weekend away and imagine all the writing, reading and exploring you’re going to get done (as well as self-care, self-love and meditation, of course.)
Stage Two: Instagram filter on everything
Arrive at the hotel/hostel/campsite. While you are on this trip for yourself alone, it is essential that your Instagram followers know where you are. And that the aesthetic is on point.
Stage Three: Wonder what friends are up to
Open your suitcase and half-heartedly unpack it (is there any point if you’re only staying one night?)
Lying on the massive double bed, thinking how hard it is and how much you miss your home, so you text your Mum and Dad / housemates to see what they’re up to. Tell them that you’re already feeling very relaxed and “having such a wholesome time”.
Stage Four: Digital detox and forced relaxation
Accidentally scroll on Instagram for two hours, then realise that you’re meant to be here to ‘get away from it all’ (spoken in Made in Chelsea voice, of course), Turn off your phone and run a bath, blasting out your favourite ABBA tunes (and slyly hope that your neighbours can hear as preemptive payback for the noises they will make later that night).
Stage Five: Dinner for One
After a solid 15 minutes of relaxation, it’s time to get all dolled up for dinner. In Bridget Jones’s Diary, Daniel Cleaver said, ‘if you’re going to travel alone, do it in style’ and the same goes for eating alone – looking nice is essential.
There’s a long queue to get into the dining area and the maitre d’ asks you, “Yes?” and you say, “Table for one?” and he says, “For one? Do you work here?” and you are forced to say, “No, I’m a guest” and everyone involved feels embarrassed. You are showed to your table near the bar, where there is a group of youths. Everyone is either on a Stag Do, family holiday or couples’ mini-break. You see no other solo eaters, so wolf down your dinner and pay the bill. You’re out of there within 20 minutes.
Stage Six: Loneliness and despair
As you take off the several layers of makeup, you wonder why on Earth you thought it would be a good idea to go to dinner in a restaurant on your own in a couples’ hotel. Then you wonder why you went on holiday on your own in the first place. From here, there’s a dangerous spiral, where you wonder how many “real” friends you have and whether anybody would notice if you died in this bug-infested room.
Sombre thoughts are put on hold as you notice there’s a massive TV. Enjoy a few episodes of ‘The Big Bang Theory’.
Stage Seven: The conflicted convict
The next morning you have a slight lie-in as you barely got any sleep due to uncomfortable bed/couple next door banging like it was the apocalypse. At about 10am you get ready and pack all your things away (knickers and toothbrush) and head downstairs to check out.
Even as you leave the hotel, you feel conflicted: you miss having your own space, but you’re excited for human interaction.