How we celebrated: our favorite travel ideas for milestones


Friends who honeymooned in Japan in 2018 returned delighted to Kurokawa Onsen in the mountains of Kyushu. The following summer, on a work trip to nearby Fukuoka, I diverted their trip for myself. The Japanese have a specific word for traveling alone: hitoritabi. The timing fit well with my impending 40th birthday. When you’re this age and single, you think the only special person in your life might be you. The obvious solution is to make the celebration part of your daily life.

Most of my solo trips had been the equivalent of the sweatpants trip – unabashedly relaxed, akin to a shrug. So I took a question that singles often ponder—Would you like to go out with yourself? —And significantly increased the stake: Would you like to spend your honeymoon on your own?

This is how I ended up in this tub, taking the most memorable breaths of my life. It was a deeply intimate moment: me and the world, me with the world, me in the world. I’m amazed that the Japanese, besides having words for solo travel and forest light, don’t have words for the first full body expiration of a lavish vacation. They should.

The evening continued with a 10-course dinner. “For me?!” I screamed when the waiter in a kimono led me to my private dining room. Then, sated, I warmed up in the fireplace, the flames licking its copper basin. I slept like a starfish which I would love to see the newlyweds try.

The next morning, I found an outdoor waterfall bath at Ikoi Ryokan, as well as a small shop where I bought a koi tapestry. But my favorite place was the hot cave baths at the Yama no Yado Shinmeikan ryokan, whose sparkling pools poured into a labyrinth of figure-eight loops.

I had already given up my clothes, but there in the cave I felt the weight of other worries fly away too: impending middle age, my win-loss state of mind, and even the latent pressures. to be in Japan, with its endless protocols, greeting and the highly choreographed exchange of business cards. Suddenly there was no one to please except me, and the journey turned into a pilgrimage to find a new me, a man of possibility rather than prudence. You could hardly reproach me, already naturally, for showing me a little navel-gazing.

Then all of a sudden I really let go and started singing lines from the Little Mermaid tune “Part of your world.” “How many wonders can a cave contain?” ” I sang. Only one: this glorious freedom.

I realized when I came out of my reverie that I was no longer alone. There, watching my great performance, was a group of young, muscular South Korean rangers on a team-building trip. They too were naked.

I’m blushing. They applauded. We all laughed and went to eat fried horse meat patties, a local specialty, at a nearby restaurant.

That’s not how honeymoons usually go, I know. Or heists. But maybe honor among thieves could start with me. I was happy with what I consumed on this bachelor honeymoon: a celebration of myself, a party of one. —Richard Morgan

The bachelorette cruise

Lazy pool days, no bar, 10 friends and 1,900 strangers, that was my bachelorette party. Our crew chose a three-day Caribbean cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line largely because of its all-inclusive nature, but also for the convenience of getting together throughout the day. Off the ship we explored Key West (Ernest Hemingway’s six-toed cats were a big hit) and snorkeled Grand Bahama Island. But my favorite memories have been on board, in surprisingly intimate moments, like discovering a quiet upper deck for sunbathing or rearranging bar furniture so we can all sit together. The cruise was the perfect adult getaway for a group of young people in their 30s, which also allowed us to please our inner children, sing our hearts out during karaoke, and relish sweet service and fries at the end of the evening. —Stephanie Wu

Destination wedding

For one writer, a reservation date turned out to be more than just a wedding announcement – it was the catalyst for a never-ending family reunion.


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