“I wandered everywhere, through cities and countries wide. And everywhere I went, the world was on my side.” –Roman Payne
Have you been to a place where you know absolutely NO ONE. Yes, not a soul and it’s just you with your back-pack?
I have. And it is absolutely thrilling. In fact I must admit that the first time you travel solo, it can be a ‘butterflies in stomach’ kinda experience. Possibly, for many, it could be the first time in your life, ‘you only have yourself to rely on’ kind of experience.
It all begins with small experiences such as nobody to hold your bag when you go to the loo. And then grander experiences like having no penny beyond the cab fare to the airport left in your pocket, starving till the flight attendant serves you food, being locked out of your hostel and having no where to go!!!
I have had all of these experiences over my years of solo travel. And I have cherished each one of these experiences…
Travelling alone doesn’t mean I am a loner. I equally enjoy travelling with friends and family. But travelling alone, well it feels like a cleansing experience. Generally travelling by itself is very cleansing, but travelling alone is taking it a few notches higher and a few levels deeper-like a deep tissue cleanser!!!!
But more than anything, it is such an empowering experience. You become the master of your soul during your trip alone, immaterial whether you are a man or a woman.
Here are my 17 reasons why I am totally in love with travelling alone, by myself:
- The journey to the travel is more beautiful than the actual trip: Because you are travelling alone, you invest extra time in checking, re-checking your hotel, the ticket is taken care-off by you. You meticulously check on the cheapest deals and the best prices. You become pro at filling Visa forms so much so that people call you to take your advice on what to write in a particular column on the form for their respective trips. You know the price range of the ticket rates to the cities you have traveled to, at the back of your hand. Mine do. Now, I am a little extreme. My favourite hobby is to go through the world map over the weekend and make plan to go to a new place soon!!!!!
- You know much information about the place even before you land: When you travel alone, you are your own guide. It is immaterial whether you will find a guide there or no. Also, a woman travelling alone definitely knows to do her research well. You know the exchange rate well, the language, the way of dressing and the manner of speaking, the places to go to, etc.
- You are well aware of the fact that there is no fall back plan: You need to manage your money very well. That gives you full power to spend and save the money that you have. You could use it wisely or spend it loosely- you have to bear the consequence of your decisions. I have landed in a situation where I only had the money to take me to the airport left with me on that particular day. And it was evident that I couldn’t afford to eat much and was my crankiest best. I was glad that it was my last day in that city and all I had to pay for was the fare to the airport.
- You can do whatever you feel like on your trip: ok, you are not into touristy things! Fine. Don’t go to touristy places. You want to get up late and just take a stroll in the local market? Go ahead. There is no one to make a plan for you on your trip. You make your own plan and execute it. Isn’t that liberating?
- You meet new people and share new experiences with them: I have met the best of people on my travels and I continue to be friends with them. When you travel in a group, you tend to hang around and chill with those whom you are travelling with. But, travelling alone you tend to meet interesting people that possibly you wound have never encountered in your life. Like I met Fong Tsit from Hong Kong on my train ride to the Santa Claus village and I ended up having the most wonderful time with her when we reached the destination. Or I met Maurice Janssen from Netherlands on my trip to Nilgiris and it has been over three years and several trips of great times with him. Or meeting my room-mate Sokratis Zor with whom I attended a great concert in Stockholm.
- You can modify and moderate your travel plans as per your wish: you wanted to go to place X but you went to place Y, fine. There is nobody to dispute your decision. Like when I was in Bali, a reduced to day from my stay in Ubud and headed to the beaches straight. Or my last few days in Scandanavia were completely unbooked!
- You pack your luggage sensibly: You know you have to carry your own baggage through that crowded bus or train. Sometimes it is not affordable for a solo traveler to take a cab. Hence, public transport is your best friend. When you know that you are lugging around your own luggage, naturally you tend to take lesser stuff.
- You are suddenly aware of the small things around you, that you could have missed otherwise: Things like warm breeze against your cheeks, that musician playing flute at the corner of the road, etc. catch your attention.
- You are more cautious and responsible: You have to take care of your own passport, your own currency, that expensive jacket that you are carrying on your arm. You can’t afford to be irresponsible.
- The whole logistics of travelling alone is simple: Even for the best of travel planner, it can be challenging to coordinate a trip when it comes to managing a group of people. You have to take time away from your work match it with other’s date. You can definitely overcome the challenge by planning it way in advance. But, if you have less time, then planning a trip with a group can be super stressful. So if you don’t find a travel partner on short notice, well, it could be your time to pack your bags and travel anyway.
- You get your time alone to introspect: Yes, travelling alone is a great introspective experience. You can just sit down by a beach, look within or just stare at the sun, without having the compulsion of striking a conversation with someone.
- Your mind expands: For most part of our life we are confined to a finite way of living. Expected people, places, patterns, etc. Travelling alone can challenge this and open your mind to new experiences. You step out of all of these predictable things and step out of your comfort zone.
- You own your experiences: Whatever experience you have during the travel whether good or bad, it is your own. Getting duped by a cabbie in Bali for double the amount of money is your own experience or getting food at night in the middle of a deserted village in Israel by two helpful strangers. These are your experiences, guided by your good or bad judgments and nobody can partake in that. There is no one to applaud and no one to blame either.
- You start trusting your intuition more: You will definitely sharpen your ability to judge in the correct manner, not just depending on facts but going by the gut feeling too. You learn how to read the situations better and the take appropriate action.
- Anonymity is bliss: Nobody knows who you are as you are not travelling with familiar faces. You can do all the experiments that you wanted to do without fear of having people around to judge. How about singing a local song at a karaoke?
- Meet locals and get to know about a place better: The experience that you have travelling alone is different from a guided trip experience. I tend to chat a lot with locals than going through guide books for the required place. And from my experience, locals open up to a solo traveler more as compared to a group of people. Also, many times it has happened to me on my solo trips that I looked to act less like a tourist and more like a local because of getting a local guidance. Hence, you get a completely different treatment from many other locals.
- You come back home with the best possible travel stories which only you have to share and no one else. Isn’t that super awesome?
“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can inhibit us from observing others; we become taken up with adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, we have to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”
― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel