Can there be anything better than travelling? I came back from Puducherry (Pondicherry) two days back and what a trip it has been – not because the place is nice (it is) but travelling solo has its perks. And since I have been solo travelling for quite some time now, I would like to take the liberty to introduce you to all the FAQ’s, tips, recommendations and encouragement to try solo travelling at least once in your life time. Life is too short to die with regrets.
P.S. – Check out brilliant suggestions on books written by solo travellers in the end.
Let us start with the FAQs:
- Why do you solo travel?
- Don’t you get bored?
- Isn’t it costly to plan vacations alone?
- Are your parents okay with it?
- How are you comfortable with befriending strangers?
- Is it better than travelling with your family/friends/partner?
- Is it safe to travel alone, especially as a female?
- “You are an extrovert, it must be easy to travel alone.”
Why do you solo travel?
When I started solo travelling, these questions would agitate me. Simply because it made me think I somehow require permission to just be on my own. With time and more places that I have visited, I feel confident in answering the above questions now. My experiences are not unique—ask any solo traveller and they must have gone through the same initiation, so to speak.
For every solo traveller, the reason they do so can vary. I solo travel to learn, heal and believe in the basic goodness of humanity (and enjoy, of course!). In today’s world, it is so easy to sit comfortably at home in a bubble that is filled with distractions, and the content you consume is primarily manipulated to feed you more of what you feel is missing in your life. But actively bursting that bubbling repeatedly alone can do wonders. Breaking monotony is the key to sanity for me. It expands your thought process; challenges or confirms your thinking; you meet a variety of people and most of them are pretty nice. Additionally, travelling alone helps you build your self-resilience—the fact that you can manage things on your own no matter what gives confidence. It is the same feeling I get after running marathons—the feeling that everything is possible if you put your head into it.
Don’t you get bored?
I find this question intriguing. Is being bored a terrible thing? Are you uncomfortable being with yourself alone? Why is there a constant need to be with somebody all the time? On the contrary, I love travelling alone. If you travel with known bunch of people, chances are you will not make new friends or barely put any effort into knowing things that are different. The herd mentality kicks in and you are obliged to do what your group plans for all. Solo travelling is personal and customized. You are completely in control of your schedule, what activities to partake in, who to befriend and when to eat, relax and sleep. You are your own boss.
When there are so many solo travellers (there are many, trust me) out there to share your stories and listen to—how can one be bored at all? I suppose making decisions, planning, and researching, and owning responsibilities for yourself can be intimidating. But it is mostly the ‘unknown territory’ feeling that bugs people to not go solo. For eg. what if you get sick? I did get sick once on a trip and people around me were happy to help out. Know that you are not alone, and if you ask for help, you will get it. I still get the jitters before planning my trips. But once done, I am always left feeling grateful and contented.
Isn’t it costly to plan vacations alone?
It depends on the budget you distribute for your trip—you always have choices w.r.t travel, accommodation, and food. If you prefer staying in hostels vs hotels, travel via public transport vs taking an Uber, or eating at local restaurants vs eating at high-end restaurants—I promise you your expenses will lower manifold. It comes down to research and networking. Find people who have already visited the place and ask them for their suggestions. Social media platforms are great at answering these questions—so do not shy away from getting your hands dirty in finding expenses that you may incur during travel through thorough research online and offline.
Are your parents okay with it?
I get this a lot, and I understand why.
If you belong to a middle-class Asian family, chances are, your parents have no idea about solo travelling. Travelling to many is a luxury, meant to be taken when you have both time and money or after retirement. But hear me out – by the time you have all three, your health and energy will not be with you anymore. So, this is all the time you have—make the best of it. Start small; go to nearby places; keep your family members/close friends/partner informed. The more you travel, the better they get the gist of it. Baby steps my friend!
Another reason parents feel anxious is because of your safety. Going alone anywhere, whether for work or travel has its pros and cons. And you should be confident in handling them yourself. Keep reading to know tips on how to travel solo successfully in my next post.
How are you okay with befriending strangers?
People are strangers until you know about them. So, talking breaks that barrier. And you are nowhere obliged to talk to someone if you feel uncomfortable, but know that not everyone out there is bad or will harm you. Travelling will teach you otherwise—how people are nicer than the media, in general, depicts the situation to be. I won’t guarantee that everyone is great when you travel alone—so use your brain and conscience to know the difference between various conversations you have people. It’s nothing different that speaking to people at work or social gatherings.
Is it better than travelling with your family/friends/partner?
It is different. I cannot compare the experiences of travelling with familiar people vs travelling solo. It is not better or worse—but it is different, and a road not taken by many. While travelling solo, you are completely yourself. Your vulnerability lies in tackling the company of yourself in an unknown place. So you always keep learning and contemplating in these trips.
Is it safe to travel alone, especially as a female?
Again, research is your BFF. Do not put yourself in situations where you have no clue how to return to Point A. Understand the culture of the place you go and dress appropriately. Have an open mind, see, learn and remember safety should be your foremost priority—so act responsibly for yourself. And naivety is what you should overcome after every single trip. Take calculated decisions—stay put in groups, travel where there are lots of people, and find your tribe as soon as you reach your accommodation would be my suggestion. I think this is where most people go wrong—solo travelling does not mean you only travel alone. Instead, you travel with unfamiliar people who later become the best group of friends. You are just one trip away from meeting your bestie is my mantra.
“You are an extrovert, it must be easy to travel alone.”
Well, it’s a myth that you need to be an extrovert to travel fearlessly. I know many people who have a pretty tough time communicating or making friends easily, but they still take a leap of faith and travel, and blend in well with other solo travellers. Do not solo travel because others are doing it—but do it for yourself. I now congratulate people if I find out its their first solo trip!
If you find comfort in staying put in one place, that is great. But if you have solo travelling on your bucket list for a while—my question is—what is stopping you?
In Part 2—I will share how I plan my trips and some suggestions over the years that I think will be extremely helpful in charting your unknown territories. Also, how can I forget book recommendations on this topic?
Thank you so much for reading this post. Cheers!
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