I have been researching a lot about the opportunities of Solo Travel for Women in India off lately. Some of the research has been through my own experience and most have been through web research.
I am in no way biased towards women as compared to men, but I just feel we should travel more and travel often. I am also a big advocate of Solo Travelling. Though it’s great to travel with a partner, family, or in a group, but, like many other solo travelers and travel writers, I also particularly favor the idea that one should at least travel solo once in their lifetime.
Some may think it’s sad or may even go to the outrageous extent of believing that people who travel alone are lonely and depressed and heartbroken, but honestly I travel solo because I love it that way and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Some of my favorite (and other Solo travelers’ too) reasons to travel SOLO are:
- It’s an experience like never before.
Travelling solo is not the same as driving to work alone every day or visiting your parents or relatives in a different city during your summer holidays. Though, the later can be categorized as solo travelling depending upon how you go about it. Travelling solo to an entirely new country or even a city is an experience that you may never have experienced before. To start with, it makes you more responsible and teaches you the sense of ownership (you would have to own all your problems when you miss the last train back home from the small village station and have no place to sleep for the night). Also, it makes you more confident about the decisions you take and even better, it makes you a pro at taking good decisions (of course this happens after learning from a series of bad decisions).
- It opens your mind and your thoughts.
I would admit that at times I am confused whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. When I returned after my first solo trip, nothing was same anymore. I smiled often (people must have thought I am weird). I have no troubles striking conversations with strangers (weirdo, again). I have become more helpful towards people (which most appreciate). I am now allergic to hypocrisy and close-minded people even more than I was before (no offence to anybody but it’s just my thought). I now refuse to accept anything that doesn’t have logic in it (or prove me wrong if you can). I absolutely do not understand people who live their lives without any aim, let alone passion. I also strongly believe in speaking what’s in my mind (when you don’t ask the answer is always NO!).
But then, I at times feel that all of this makes me an anomaly (Yes! Finally! I have been dying to use this word).
- Only you are in charge of your schedule.
This one is my favorite. Let me explain why:
So in March this year I visited Darjeeling for the first time. The initial plan was to stay for 3-4 days but I ended up spending around 10 days. I won’t lie and tell you that I was entirely solo, but I was travelling with a French girl who I met in Goa and we soon became really pally and started travelling together a bit since it was her first time in India and she was a little hesitant (obvious!). But, then she has been travelling solo for some time so we both had an amazing adjustment. For example, I am not an early morning person. So she knew she never had to wait for me for breakfast. We almost every day met around 11. She either was back in the room by then or we met each other at a predecided point. Likewise, she slept early than I used to so we always ate dinner around 8:00 pm so she could go to bed early and I could do my work. When I fell sick (for just a day, she knew she could carry on with her plans exploring the city as I didn’t feel like getting up from the bed.
Now, comes the next part – quite literally. My Darjeeling Tour#2- a weekend trip with mom and my cousin for 3D/2N.
Who watches cheesy Indian sitcoms on a weekend vacation? Why do I have to go for a walk with two other people who barely can make it after 15 minutes of walking? Why do we have to stop at every shop selling jewelry and clothes when it’s pre-decided that the shopping will be done on the day of departure? The Buddhist temple is half hours walk from the hotel alright, but I have done it alone before so what’s the problem now? I love sitting by the window with coffee and my cigarette and write, think, or just look no matter how cold it is and I don’t fall ill. How difficult it is to understand?
- Make a plan… Change it… Change it yet again. Who cares!
My first stop when I started travelling was Goa. I planned to volunteer there for 3 weeks and then decide what to do next. I came back home after 3 months! I never imagined that I would visit the Sundarbans, but I did! I went to Darjeeling for 3-4 days and stayed 10! I couldn’t get direct tickets from Darjeeling (NJP) to Varanasi so I booked morning tickets from Darjeeling (NJP) to Kolkata and evening tickets for Kolkata to Varanasi for the same day. I had to visit McLeodganj from Varanasi but I landed in Delhi and fell ill. Who was bothered because of all these changes in my plans? Not a soul. On the contrary, if I was travelling with a partner, and if it was not me with all these modifications but him/her, would I be bothered? Hell! You can’t imagine!!
- There’s no better cure to heartbreak than travelling SOLO (trust me).
Like every normal person out there, I also have suffered from my share of heartbreaks. When I initially came up with this crazy plan of travelling solo, I never thought about the core reason why I wanted to take a time-out. It’s only during the New Year’s Eve party among the guests and volunteers living at the property where I volunteered at, in Goa that we all came up with this crazy game. We were all given a shot glass of vodka, a marker, and a piece of paper. We had to write one thing that we wanted to let go off – a person, a memory, a failed plan… Anything that we didn’t want to carry with ourselves to the upcoming fresh year… And then one of us lights fire to his/her chit we do a relay (as in we light our chits from the fire of somebody else’s chit). And at the end of it drink our Vodka shots (bottoms up). Everybody did it. And, quite magically I have never looked back (and I would like to believe that none of the others did too).
- Hola. Priviat. Bonjour. Pryvitannie. Ahoj (pronounced as Ahoy).
No I am not mad and these are not typos. These are just how to say Hi/Hello in different languages – Spanish, Russian, French, Belorussian, Czech (from left to right).
Bragging you see? This is what happens when you travel alone. You are not in the company of someone you know so you don’t really spend all your time only talking to them. You are open to meet new people and speak to them. You learn about countries, cultures, rituals, and languages.
- You become more open-minded towards relationships and attachments.
I keep repeating this that most people think I am outrageously daring and stupid and that perhaps my family is the worst when it comes to instilling Indian values and traditions in me. This may be true for some (but I don’t think those ‘some’ even read my blog), but for most of you who have known me personally and have contributed in making me be the person I am today, you know I am anyway pretty open about a lot of things.
During my travels, I have learnt a few things. Now, these things do not at all mean I am going against my traditions and cultural values, but I only think that we need to broaden our horizons.
If there were no pressure of attachments or to form a relationship to hang out with someone, there will be lesser heartbreaks and more memories (good ones). Marriage and being in love are two very great gifts that humankind has. And, this is all the more a strong reason for none of us to rush into it unless we are sure. I am not, I don’t know if I ever will be. But that in no way means I can’t make friends, that I can’t date, or that I can’t hang out with someone I like for as long as we both are comfortable and within one place.
This has also made me value my relationships (with family), and helped me filter people (those who are really my friends and those who are not even close).
- If you think you only have 1 family in a lifetime you are wrong.
Try travelling alone to a place and telling your host or wherever you say that you are all by yourself and it’s your first time here and you are on a tight budget. Before you know, half of your meals re going to be on the house, and you will be offered to be driven and shown around the popular destinations nearby.
- This is your only chance at ME time.
Do I need to explain why and how? Okay. I will do it. But, a short one okay?
In your normal day-to-day life, this is what your schedule is most likely:
Alarm rings > You put it to snooze> It rings again after 10 mins> You wake up >You brush your teeth, take a bath, eat breakfast and get ready for work > You leave for work in your car, public bus, metro> You reach office > You work> You take a lunch break> You work> You go home> You do your personal tasks (if any)> You eat dinner> You set your alarm> You go to bed.
Also, when you are 3 you start with kindergarten and for the next 13-14 years you are in school, then for the next 3 years you are in college, then another 2 years you get your MBA, by 23 you have a well-paying cubicle job, by 26 you are married, by 27 you have kids, and before you know you are 60 and retired.
So, where in all this did you live for YOURself?
- One time when I was in Nicaragua….
No. I haven’t been to Nicaragua. But, when you have traveled alone to one or many parts of the world you definitely have had all the experiences I listed above. Which means, at any given gathering or party, you probably have a dozen of stories to tell. Depending upon the people around you, you will either be tagged the self-bragging super bitch or a**hole, or become an instant hit with the single and eligible bachelors in the room.
Oh! And you also get to flaunt that travel-sexiness that you have acquired over the time travelling alone and feel no hesitation in flirting a little.
- You can proudly say “Oh I did because I had the balls to do so”.
Travelling isn’t a BIG thing but let’s face the truth, it’s not a thing everybody can do. This type of travel requires you to get out of your comfort zone, leave the leisure and comfort of your home, take risks, make your own plans, stay mentally prepared for those plans to fail at any time, get lost and even mugged maybe, feel homesick when you celebrate your birthday alone or in company of total strangers, spend Christmas and New-year away from family, fall ill, miss your flight, cause break-ups with partners back home, and above all – DECIDE TO DO IT AT THE FIRST PLACE! So, you know it, I know it, and everybody knows it – this is not a child’s play. Thus, when you finally do it, be proud of it. But, please do yourself a favor and don’t be a tourist at a random touristy place, rather be a traveler and exploit your horizons. Take that extra step. Push that extra mile. Do what you may have never imagined in your sane mind. Get crazy, get weird. Just LIVE!!
Have you ever traveled alone or want? What was your experience?