I Traveled With A Group And Had My Me-Time, Too
So, 'tis the season... for company outings, summertime fun with the family or the entire clan, and all that sunny, big group-bonding jazz. To a bubbly teenager, this sounds like an absolutely fun idea; to a twentysomething born with an endless wellspring of energy, it might sound synonymous to "time to party!"
But to a frail-sized tita like me, first thing that comes to mind is the hope that I'd be able to nap by the shore (in all its half-water, half-sand glory) in peace. Meanwhile, here's how I managed to find my necessary me-times on our recent trip up, up North, despite being with a group of ~fifteen sun-loving individuals.
THE PLACE HAS TO HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH ROOMS
So the resort we stayed at is called Sundowners Vacation Villas, which is, according to their Facebook page, a Santorini-inspired holiday home rental set in the beautiful city of Bolinao, Pangasinan. Also on the aforementioned Facebook page was an announcement that rooms are almost fully booked throughout the summer, so if interested, I strongly suggest you make a reservation as soon as possible. Don't waste time waiting for all concerned to reply and reach a consensus.
Having arrived from the long and winding drive (I didn't do any driving myself, but it was honestly a far-away place!), I kid you not when I say we didn't even have time to say "hello" to each other and exchange pleasantries. One by one, we each disappeared into the rooms (there's so many in one villa, I lost count!), obviously drawn by its beautiful interiors, and definitely thirsty-exhausted from the trip. I would say I was a mix of both, but more the latter.
It was nice to have my little me-time first thing, and I'm sure whoever else had to do personal business (e.g. record a live Instagram update, go to the comfort room, plan OOTDs, et cetera) had the privacy to do so, and it's all thanks to the spic and span space of our villa.
I REPEAT, IT HAS TO BE SUPER SPACIOUS
It goes without saying that every nook and cranny of the place is, as the young ones say, "Instagrammable". So at more occasions than I can count with my fingers, I did document the scenic views, holding my breath each time for the sake of stronger lungs and ab definition, and of course, for me to achieve stabilized videos and non-blurry photos. I mean, what could be more annoying than having a co-vacationer pass by and unknowingly ruin the picture, right? Thankfully, because our villa was huge and therefore, sulit, I never had that problem. And I sincerely hope I did not photo-bomb anyone else's shot. I don't think so.
THERE MUST BE A PRIVATE POOL AND A PUBLIC POOL
Because what if someone is busy taking photos of his or herself by the pool and you're itching for a swim? Well, if the resort you're staying at has a private pool that's for the villa's current dwellers plus a public pool for everyone else, then all our best interests are served.
Usually, at group outings, I like staying out by the beach (or the pool, whichever body of water is available) in the morning, when everyone else is asleep, or at noon, when everyone else is hiding from the sun. And I have to say, during this trip to Bolinao at Sundowners, I had the water all to myself countless of times, and I've got "receipts"—er, photos to prove it.
IF POSSIBLE, BRING ALONG A CLOSE FRIEND OR FAMILY
This person will make sure you won't sleep through the day, ensure that you adhere to the vacation house's guidelines, talk some sense into you if need be, and will keep you calm if in case you find yourself in need of a cool down. It's kind of like an energy-stabilizer in human form. My older sister, for example, was with me, and she let me borrow her sunglasses when I broke mine, a well-intended move, of course, that was energy-conserving. She also took a lot of my photos and I at once christened her an #InstagramAte.
COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL AT MEAL TIMES
Okay, while I do respect every human being's need for me-times, I also believe in the benefits of human interaction. So, at the very least, my advice is to join the group especially at meal times (think Jesus and his barkada of twelve), because you know what they say about "shared meals"—it's like being on a next level of friendship with whoever you have dined with.
AVAIL OF ROOM COFFEE SERVICE
Dessert and coffee time is acceptably a me-time thing. Curl in bed with a book, or chat with a co-tita in between sips. I would've said go outside and enjoy the view but mosquitoes are real everywhere in the Philippines. Unless you have arrived prepared with a citronella spray. In our villa, though, that wasn't much of a problem. Consider us lucky.
Anyway, I was more than glad with the fact that at Sundowners, they would gladly bring you your coffee, wherever you are (in the living room or the patio, not that the distance matters). I'd like to take the opportunity to also specially mention the resort's in-house restaurant, Nykos Kitchen and Bar, who served us with hearty meals that made all our hearts flutter, our food Instagrams pretty, and our stomachs full.
SPEAK WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN THE GROUP (BUT NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME)
Believe me when I say group travels are the best time to meet (and even re-meet) people. Just don't make the mistake of interacting with everyone all at the same time. Otherwise, you'll lose all your energy and will involuntarily need to go on a me-time, hermit-esque mode for three straight days.
I have mentioned that we were a group of approximately fifteen, and I'm happy to have more or less spoken with each breathing soul. It's when you'll usually discover each one's inner genius, and I must say, our group was made up of a very talented bunch.
TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS
I say this because taking photographs don't really use up as much social energy, right? Consider it a mini me-time alternative.
Not just for babies, but for titas, too. Contrary to popular belief, sleep isn't for the weak. It's for those who are in touch with reality and are willing to acknowledge the fact that a healthy human needs his or her sleep. After all, didn't we all travel all the way to our destination for some r&r? I had the best time indulging in my Zzz's at Sundowners, thank you very much. And with that, I'm off for my scheduled siesta.
Thank you to everyone at Sundowners Vacation Villas for accommodating us. The experience was wonderful! This trip also wouldn't have been possible without our good friend (a.k.a. our "glue"), Arles Sanchez —thank you, too.
Cover photo by Emerson Factor Leonor.