Table of Contents
- Traveling Solo
- Minimalism and Intention
- United States Self-Discovery Destinations
- International Self-Discovery Destinations
- Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery
With a leaping heart, I stepped out of the plane and into a new adventure. But it wasn’t just a new place; it was a new me. A self discovery trip could be your next big breakthrough on your path to personal growth. You will have the opportunity to reset, refocus, and reevaluate yourself in a foreign or exotic place.
Self-discovery trips are simply a journey of figuring out who you are and what role you have in this vast universe. It is the unraveling of identity, often involving a deep-dive into spirituality and mindfulness.
There is no final destination, but rather a commitment to continuous growth. Personal discovery can completely transform your life if you dedicate yourself to the process.
Many of us are so focused on the external world that we forget to really get to know ourselves. Sometimes it takes a change of scenery and strangers all around to bring us back to our true self. Paradoxically, going outside of yourself can shift your focus deeper inside.
While not everyone is going to have the time or money for a full on “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, you can still prioritize your own personal growth journey with a self-discovery trip. Many of the best destinations may be closer than you think.
There is nothing more immersive and transformative than traveling alone. At first it may sound lonely or even dangerous, but I can assure you that solo travel is a powerful experience. It was the best thing I ever did for discovering my core spirit.
When we are stripped of any links to “who we were”, we are more free to become who we want to be. A significant other or a close friend can be wonderful to travel with, however they can also easily distract you from the inner work you seek to do. You are also far more likely to meet new people and have unique cultural experiences when you travel alone.
When you go somewhere that no-one knows your name, you are able to more freely and honestly look at yourself from an external point of view. This “outside-looking-in” observational mindset is at the core of any mindfulness practice. You can observe yourself without judgement and notice what you want to improve.
Minimalism and Intention
Before embarking, remember that the key to a self-discovery adventure is minimalism. When planning your personal exploration, you may feel called to leave behind most of your belongings that you would typically take on vacation. Research a few destinations and pack light so that you can focus more closely on internal reflection and mindfulness.
Set a clear intention or goal to focus on during your trip. This could be anything from “relaxing”, to “de-stressing”, to “figuring out my purpose”, or just “learning to love myself more”. Write it down and return to it as your guide for this self-discovery trip.
Whatever your goals or interests, one of these 10 destinations may offer the self-discovery breakthrough you’ve been craving.
United States Self-Discovery Destinations
The Oregon Coast
Misty dreamlike mornings morph into vibrant sunny days in the forests and beaches along Oregon’s Pacific coastline. With secluded cabins, Airbnbs, and retreat centers abound, the Oregon Coast is a profound setting for reflection.
Walking along the white sand beaches and watching seals sunbathe on the rocks, you might just figure out what’s been holding you back from pursuing your dreams.
Where the mountains seem to touch the clouds and the sky unfolds in a vast incomprehensible abyss above, Montana is called Big Sky Country for a reason. Wide open spaces, deep verdant forests, and dreamy crystal blue lakes are the perfect place to unwind and find yourself.
The silence and awe-inspiring beauty of the northern Rockies is a catalyst for discovering more about your true self. Picturesque lodging and camping opportunities are all over this ski town in the dazzling summer months. There is solitude abound for journaling and being with Nature.
Taos, New Mexico
If the beach or forests don’t speak to you, maybe the beautiful emptiness of the desert will catapult you into personal discovery. Edward Abbey wrote:
“What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.”
Taos is a rugged high desert town in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Full of Native American heritage, historical artifacts, and breathtaking jagged peaks, this arid southwestern escape is full of opportunity for personal reflection.
Blue Sky Retreat Center is a notable bed and breakfast, sweat lodge, and meditation center for spiritual seekers in the area. The Golden Willow Retreat offers more structured, in-depth workshops and retreats for those going through intensive self-healing or recovery from trauma as part of their self-discovery journey.
On a bobbing boat through majestic icebergs and snowy mountain peaks, you might just spot a breaching whale in the distance. Alaska is considered the last frontier of untouched wilderness and wildlife. There is hardly a better place to go deep within and remember who you are in this crazy world.
Nearly 20% of visitors to Alaska are solo travelers seeking to unplug in a nature-immersed experience. You can fly into Anchorage or Fairbanks and easily access rural wild areas from there.
Lodges like Alaska Heavenly Lodge and retreats like River Women Alaska Wellness Retreat have transformed many people’s personal wellness journeys. Don’t forget to go on a whale watching boat tour and a hike in Denali National Park!
Mount Shasta, California
This mystical volcano is known around the world for its powerful spiritual energy. At the southern tip of the Cascade Range, Mount Shasta is the second highest peak in the range, surrounded by pine forests, summer wildflowers, and magical crisp lakes.
The hippie town of Mt. Shasta boasts a humble natural foods co-op, farmers market, and plenty of crystal and tea shops for the spiritually minded. You can also drink some of the cleanest water in the country at the headwaters of the Sacramento River in the city park.
A majestic road allows you to drive almost to the top of the mountain, where you can camp or take off hiking for even greater solitude and vision quests. Local guides like Mt. Shasta Spiritual Tours add heightened energy and guided experiences for mindfulness or spiritual seekers visiting the area.
International Self-Discovery Destinations
In my experience, discovering yourself requires a bit of romanticism. You need to fall in love with yourself and romanticize the exquisite possibilities for your life. What better place to journal and reflect than in the cafes of Florence as sip coffee and overlook the Arno River?
Spend a few days roaming through museums and gardens, soaking in the Mediterranean air, observing Renaissance art, and enjoying local cuisine like Bistecca all Fiorentina or Papardelle. The sights and smells of this vibrant city will inspire you to look within and appreciate what makes you uniquely yourself.
Imagine hiking through the pristine Spanish countryside along paths still used by bears and wolves in Somiedo Natural park. The Walking in Spirit 7 day spiritual retreat incorporates walking, hiking, mindfulness, and meditation into an all inclusive guided self-discovery experience. This region is known for its historic villages, orchards, and lush green landscapes.
You can also spend some time in the colorful nearby town of Cudillero (voted the most beautiful town in Spain). Right where the mountains meet the sea, there are plenty of epic vistas and quiet cafes to read, write, and soak in the moments.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is a mecca for solo travelers with an interest in mindfulness or eastern philosophy. Being a predominantly Buddhist country, Thai people hold equality of the sexes and non-harming ethos at the highest regard. It is extremely safe for a solo traveler and abound with a diversity of people, landscapes, and incredible food.
I highly recommend visiting temples and monasteries that are off-the-beaten-path of tourist destinations. Vipassana meditation retreats are particularly popular in this region of the country.
For a shorter commitment, a 2 day silent meditation retreat workshop at Monk Chat University of Chiang Mai is a challenging and rewarding experience for anyone seeking to calm their mind and learn more about local Buddhist practices.
It’s hard to talk about spiritual or self-discovery trips without mentioning Bali. This relaxing Hindu island off the coast of Indonesia is overflowing with spas, yoga classes, organic restaurants, beaches, and wellness retreats.
If you’re looking for a more tropical or resort-like experience, Bali is the place for you to unwind and explore the inner workings of your soul. Many yoga and detox retreats offer personalized experiences and even pampering massages or holistic health treatments.
For a more cultural experience, be sure to explore other parts of the island and traditional Balinese healing modalities.
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Unlike many tourist areas, New Zealand is a magnet for mindful travelers seeking extravagant landscapes and an escape in nature. Like Cudillero, Spain, this coastal town is another magical location where mountains intersect with the ocean.
Swimming with dolphins, whale watching, sea kayaking and breathtaking helicopter flights are a few of the transformative activities that Kaikoura offers. An abundant diversity of wildlife and kind locals are the ideal combo for a solo traveler seeking time for reflection without feeling lonely.
Journal Prompts for Self-Discovery
Wherever you decide to go, be sure to bring a journal. Writing and “brain-dumping” your experiences onto the page can have profound impacts on your journey. You will be able to look back at what you wrote for months and years to come, using your words as a guide for deeper personal growth.
Here are 5 journal prompts to maximize the value of your self-discovery retreat and keep you thinking about the beautiful possibilities to come:
- What do I love most about myself? How can I love myself more?
- Write a vision of who you want to be in 5-10 years. Write in present tense and don’t be afraid to dream big. Include all the details of place, smell, taste, touch, emotion, and what you will be thinking at that time. Let your imagination flow and don’t stop to edit it.
- Write a letter to yourself five years ago. Give your younger self advice and guidance, and forgive them for any mistakes or regrets.
- Complete this sentence: “If money were no object, I would ________”. Explore the possibilities for your life without limits.
- What are your core values? Are you living in alignment with them?
Now, get out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to the profound gifts of travel and self- discovery trips! Remember, “it’s about the journey, not the destination” is a cliche for a reason. Savor every moment along the way.