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Your Ultimate Guide to a Solo-Travel Self Care Day in California

how a California city reinvigorated me, and how solo traveling helps you reconnect with yourself. Here is an in depth itinerary to my solo-travel self care day in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA.

the blue waves of a beach crashes on the tan sands. There are huge rocks and cliffs out on the horizon.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA is the closest thing you will get to a fairy tale land. It is filled with little shops and art galleries which look like they stepped straight out of a story book. I later learned that most of the architecture style was developed by a man named Hugh Comstock, who got his style from building houses for his wife's doll collection.

At the time, I had been crumbling under the pressure of college and struggling with my future prospects. I was lonely, confused, and lost in life. So after much fantasizing about running away to a far away place, I decided it was time to take some steps to getting out of the rut that I was in and reconnect with myself in the seaside city of Carmel.

6:44 a.m. : sunrise on the beach

First thing in the morning, I stepped out of my cottage-style hotel and went straight for the beach. Watching the sunrise helps with mood and depression so, I thought it would be the perfect way to start the morning. It was incredibly peaceful to go out to the shore with no one else in sight and watch the sun slowly peek through the horizon. And that's one of the wonderful things about solo travel - it gives you the freedom to be able to do things like this for yourself.

Me indulging in a self care sunrise, looking behind at the ocean on a grey morning.

It was quite a cloudy morning so I ended up just sitting on the beach journaling for hours. But to be able spend time alone with my thoughts, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy the tranquil scenery was refreshing to the soul.

10:30 a.m. : time for a self-care hike

Point Lobos is a nature reserve full of cliffs towering over the ocean, unlike anything I've ever seen before and it's just a quick drive south from Carmel.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to move your body. Therefore, I thought that it would be best save money on the Uber and try to walk half way there. I took the Scenic Road Walkway, which gave way to beautiful views of the beach and greenery around. My walk led to to Carmel Mission, a church and little architectural beauty where my Uber picked me up and drove me the rest of the way.

I am not over exaggerating when I say that hiking through Point Lobos, I got goose-bumps from all of it's natural beauty. There is nothing more freeing than standing on top of a cliff alone, gazing out into the vast ocean with the wind blowing through your hair. It's moments like these that ignited my true appreciation for this Earth and made me feel like I could take on the world.

the scenic cliffs of Point Lobos over blue water. There are seals in the water.
China Cove, Point Lobos: courtesy of TripAdvisor

2:00 p.m.: let's explore

After an exhilarating hike, it's time to see the little gems that the city of Carmel has to offer. I let my curiosities take control of me and wandered into every art gallery and bookstore that grasped my eye -and there were a lot.

Giving into the role of the tourist for a little bit was a refreshing way to spark my little sense of adventure. Being in a town where everything is new and letting your feet take you anywhere you want to go was empowering and made me fall in love with the local scenery. It was impossible not to appreciate the architectural, fairy-tale theme of the buildings. Bright colors where everywhere and flowers were blooming from every street corner. I stumbled into a little hidden bookshop where I found a secret garden lined with bamboo and wind chimes.

5:00 p.m. : treat yourself

Pasta, bread, lemon water, and an open book on a red, flower print tablecloth.

On vacation, it's the perfect time to let yourself have the things you wouldn't at home. Whether it's getting your nails done, hair did, buying new clothes... you deserve at least a little bit of luxury in your self care routine. For me, it was going out to a fancy restaurant.

I was pulled into this quaint little Italian place by the fresh smell of pasta and warm bread. I got the balcony view and let myself relax with a book while indulging in whatever I wanted to eat.

6:30 p.m.: reflect and relax

I wanted to end the day full circle and went back to where it all started -the beach. I sat down and gazed at the orange sunset with my journal and wrote about my day and how it made me feel.

a glowing orange sun over the horizon at a white sand beach. there is a green little hill to the right of the picture.
sunset at Carmel beach

Waking up early and truly soaking in nature, getting some exercise on a scenic hike, indulging in my curiosities by exploring new alleyways, treating myself to a nice dinner, and letting my thoughts air out in my journal made me feel at peace and was a wholesome way to express self care. It was really nice to force myself to forget about my troubles for a while. Of course, all of my stressors would still be there once I arrived back, but my period of reflection and deep thought gave me new insights on myself and all of the little sights I saw showed me how appreciative of life I should be.

It's not the cure-all for every woe, but when done right, solo travel can greatly contribute to the healing process.


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