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My Empowered Solo Trip

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend contributor

For these few days, I would focus on myself …

I recently spent a long weekend in the Bahamas…on my own. Yes, I left my kids and husband at home and trekked to Freeport, Grand Bahama. At the airport, I sipped coffee, flipped through magazines and chatted with strangers.

Why are those few things important? Because as much as I love traveling with my kids, when I’m on my own, it’s so much easier for me to be just me. My kids are amazing and I love traveling with them, but our trips tend to revolve around their needs and desires.

For these few days, I could focus on myself, would focus on myself.

A much needed solo trip

Grand Bahama IslandI had been undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer and thought the worst was behind me, I had won. But I was wrong and fears of more surgery and further treatment were consuming me. I needed to go somewhere not only beautiful and serene, but also sunny and, to be frank, joyful. Travel empowers me like nothing else in this world and a few days of exploration, on my own time, was just what my soul needed.

The logistics of going away without the kids are never easy. My husband has a very successful and fulfilling career, but managing the kid’s schedules completely overwhelms him. One time while I was touring Vail, he texted me about the spare house keys (he ended up breaking a basement window to break into our house).

When I travel alone now, I leave it all behind me and simply let it all go. Whatever breaks can always be fixed.

Headed to paradise

Grand Lucayan Resort, BahamasMy destination in Freeport was the Grand Lucayan, a sprawling resort on a beautiful stretch of land. I spent my days lounging on the beach, wading in the sea, exercising, enjoying the spa, sipping cocktails by the sea, swimming, munching on Caribbean cuisine and reading and writing. 

I thought about the decisions I would have to make about my new diagnosis from time to time, but I didn’t spend my time worrying. Rather I fed my soul doing the things I love to do.

Located less than 70 miles off the coast of Florida, the Grand Lucayan is known for its secluded beachfront, wildlife habitats, tropical gardens and charming nearby neighborhoods. The 740 room property is perched on 7.5 acres of lush beaches punctuated with palm trees and lush foliage. Newly renovated, the rooms are comfortable and breezy – all with ocean views. And you’ll find the expected 24-hour room service, a kid’s club (at a new hotel next door), a daily activity schedule, a life- sized chessboard, pools, hot tubs, swim-up bars and hammocks. You’ll also find a full-service spa, golf course, tennis courts and nearby shopping.

Transporting activities

beachside with Cheryl Strayed's WildOn my first morning, I rented a bike to see the island - $10 for 2 hours. I rode through local neighborhoods bathed in rich and vibrant colors and found myself at a local beach for a swim and picnic. Riding a bike is something I’ve embraced since I was first told I had cancer. As I peddle, my brain unhinges and takes me places where I am no longer sick.

But the beaches, those are the real gems of Grand Bahama. I couldn’t get enough of them, whether it was floating by the shore or lounging and reading on the beach. For this trip, I consumed a novel by Cheryl Strayed, Wild. It’s a tale of a woman who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail on her own for several months. I thrive on adventures of brave, spirited women – this trip especially.

When I travel with my kids, I rarely have time to spend an unlimited amount of time just lounging. I had forgotten what it was like to spend hours doing anything, yet alone have time to take in my surroundings and breathe it all in. I loved the beach’s strong sense of tranquility with the accompanying soundtrack of soothing waves. It felt like a calm to the storm that had been stirring around in my mind since my diagnosis. 

Salt water, the sea, time for just me – they have the power to heal.

Time to relax at the spa

The spa at the Grand Lucayan offers every treatment imaginable – I opted for a one-hour facial, which left me glowing. I also took extra time in the sauna and steam room to make the most of my spa afternoon. It was truly the first time in many months that I felt completely relaxed and I hope to take some of that feeling into the operating room next month.

Dipping into my bucket list

swimming with dolphins in the BahamasOn my second day, I decided to fulfill a dream I’ve long had: to swim with dolphins. Cancer has definitely made me realize that this life is finite. While I don’t plan on leaving my place in it anytime soon, I’ve learned there’s power in seizing opportunity. This was an opportunity I didn’t plan on passing up.

Directly across the street from the Grand Lucayan is UNEXSO, the Underwater Explorers Society, which offers professionally led dolphin experiences. I didn’t need a life jacket since I can swim reasonable well, so I dove right into the deep water with the dolphins. They were racing each other, and it was just as fun as swimming with a real person. Then we gently tapped the water, spun our bodies around, to prompt them to turn around, speak, splash and wave. To top it off, I was told to pucker up my lips and one of the dolphins landed a lovely kiss on my lips.

Taking time out at the port Lucaya marketplace

shopping at Port LucayaI also spent time shopping at Port Lucaya Marketplace, a waterfront shopping center directly across the street from the Grand Lucayan. It has over 80 boutiques, vendors and restaurants and is a good place to pick up gifts or local art (it’s important to remember that sales tax is included in all purchases).

There’s a variety of restaurants from Greek to Bahamian to American to Chinese to Italian to Mexican and more, as well as a homemade ice-cream parlor. I sat happily at dinner reading my book, feeling empowered, pure and tanned and wandered around the shops and vendors in the evenings.

All in all, my solo adventure to the Bahamas was rejuvenating. I came back home ready to take on the next phase of my treatment. A brief trip on my own was what I needed to clear my head, fulfill a life dream and look ahead to a lifetime full of wanderlust and making fantasy vacations happen.

If you plan to visit the Grand Lucayan them online at Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn or read their reviews on TripAdvisor

Have you ever traveled solo for the good of your health? Ever been to Bahamas? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!

About Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink ~ @HollyChronicles

Holly Rosen Fink ~ @HollyChroniclesHolly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert with over 15 years’ experience increasing brand awareness and sales at leading publishing houses and media companies. She is the founder of TheCultureTripper.com and is a current contributor to This Girl Travels, Ciao Bambino, Family Vacation Critic, The Broad Side, BlogHer and Women & Hollywood.

Last year she edited Come Closer: How Tourism is Shaping the Future of Nations and associate produced the off-off-Broadway hit The Best of Everything and the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother.

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