Oooooh, does chill run down your spine when you hear someone says ‘Solo traveling? The discomfort in your chest? What happens if you get stranded somewhere? Daunting moments in the airport? Those who had traveled alone will understand this feeling.
I came from a very conservative Indian family that one doesn’t allow a woman to travel far away places let alone outside of the country. Growing up, I always had the urge to break away from the Indian ‘taboo‘ (yeah, that makes me a rebel in some ways), while I respect my traditions I always felt that fathers and mothers of little Indian girls could have done it differently. Instead of breaking our wings to fly, they should look at us and say ‘yes, women can – Yes, YOU can‘. Here’s my story on how I decided to spread my wings and fly across the seas and came to realize that I am so much more than what I think I am. While some argue this is a scary feeling, others say that it’s the best way to see the world! If you’re getting ready for your first solo trip and wondering what it’s like, you’re going to LOVE this article. On the other hand, if you had traveled alone – you will totally relate to me.
I remembered breaking the silence to my mom when I told her that I will be going for a holiday – ALONE. I received a BIG NO from her! She gave me all the possible reasons to stay and I must say, it is not because of trust issues but it’s because my mother has always been worried about my well-being. And, I will put down my guts and say it – It wasn’t all that easy persuading my mother – especially when you are raised by a single mother you can pretty much guess how it went.
Jokes aside, when I purchased my very first air ticket I was happily excited and at the same time, I was disappointed that I was going against my mother’s wishes. On my first travel, I WhatsApp’ed my mother and told her, ‘I needed to find myself and if it doesn’t happen now, it will never happen to me. When the shadow of my family’s name is removed from me, who am I really?‘ Finally, my mother agreed halfheartedly (I love you, mom, for trusting me!!).
So what happens when you travel for the First Time?
- I had cold feet that I almost lost my mind!
There will come a point where your brain will start speaking to you facing your heart and ask “WHAT were you thinking?!” I felt that everyone was watching me because I was alone. I was so cautious that I held my bags tightly especially when the engine revs up for take-off or when trudging through the airport to find my next gate. You will question your sanity for solo traveling and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea. Give it some time. Solo traveling reveals itself to you – Slowly and blossoms in all its emotional races as a truly life-changing experience.
- You’ll begin to trust in your decision making.
One of the best things about solo travel is that I make the decisions. Be it booking for a taxi or choosing a valuable deal for a hotel – It’s all on me. When you travel alone, you are in charge. You will learn to be responsible as you will have no one else to please with your decisions or blame for results.
- You will realize you have a gut feeling and you will learn to use it.
Call it your instinct – At times something inside will tell you something just isn’t right. Your instinct will tell you to get the hell out of the place that you’re in, and you should listen to it. After traveling alone for a while, the reason why you will develop this instinct is that you are all by yourself. You will end up being more aware of your surroundings than how you would have been if you were with a friend. Yes, solo travel is fun but you should be aware that not all areas in this world are safe. Even if they are, you never know what goes inside someone’s mind. At times if your instinct is telling you something, you should listen to it.
- You will feel lonely at times.
Loneliness is unavoidable when you travel solo and I feel it’s good that this kicked in. As long as you don’t embrace it, you will not be happy with your own company. I remembered when I was flying past the skies of Europe and I witness the most beautiful sunset from up the sky! The clouds turned orange and the gradient of colors was purple and red and all I could think of where is the blue sky! It looked magnificent and my excitement turned sour because I couldn’t share it with my loved ones and at that moment, I missed my little brother. I wish he could have seen this with me, we would have laughed and shared something worthwhile. I learned that moment that being alone for large quantities of time can be daunting – but I just roll with it. It’s surprising that I started loving my own company along the way.
- You’ll be a PRO in photography!
One of the best lessons I learned is getting smart with the smartphone. You don’t necessarily need an expensive camera to get a unique picture. When you are alone, your mind gets creative in getting interesting pictures to send over to your family. I finally learned the art of clicking epic pictures!
- YOU WILL END UP HAVING LOTSA FUN!
Believe it or not, the trip gets exciting and you will end up having the best moment of your life!! You will end up doing things that you never imagined you could. You will learn to survive on your own and will have a lot of fun doing so. I am a selfie person, so that makes me go ga-ga !! I click at everything and anything that I see, even if I am sitting alone in the hotel room.
Solo traveling offers opportunities to learn different skills. The first is becoming a very good observer. Sometimes many things happen at the same time. Sometimes nothing happens. Most of the time, you will play a guessing game when you don’t understand. But observing all the time.
Perhaps it’ll happen when you’re confidently sipping your coffee in a beautiful cafe but there will come a point where you’ll realize just how strong you can be on your own. It is a beautiful discovery to know you are wiser, stronger and you get to understand your needs and you will be more confident than you’ve given yourself credit for. Solo traveling will undoubtedly reveal all layers of your personality to you. When there is no one there to hold your hand you will surprise yourself by how you’ll approach local people easily just to strike up a friendly ‘hello’ effortlessly and venture out proudly.
Yes, I know it sounds cliche but traveling alone will open your mind and make you see things a little differently. It happens because most of us live our lives in an autopilot mode and get into a routine. Many of us don’t shut up and spend enough time alone with our thoughts.